Saturday, May 21, 2005

If Andrew Cleaned Up His Act And Walked His Talk

An Essay And Miracle Story
by AD


I might be wrong but I would not agree with all those who see Andrew as an evil incarnate who is only after the power and his own egoic goals. I think he has a lot to offer to some people, at least on the preliminary level of self-knowledge, or rather ego-knowledge, which are not the whole story of the spiritual life but an important first step.

He just needs to clean up his act… and that's a serious job, is he up to it? will he do it? Who knows?

People like him will be around as long as there is a need for that kind of “teachers” and the need is created by some unquestioned collective beliefs like; "Only someone else can show me the way to God", or "other people are more spiritual then I", etc. or just people who think they need this kind of thing as they cannot find it anywhere else or in themselves or in existing churches or religions. It’s a spiritual market gap he fills to cater to some of the unexamined human "wants & needs & beliefs". As long as there is a demand for something the service will be provided sooner or later by Andrew or someone else.

Which of course does not excuse his barbaric behaviour towards the people around him a one bit. Prostitution is also a problem, the prostitutes too provide a kind of service catering to human needs and will be here as long as the demand exists.

So whom do we blame? The prostitutes? Or the guys who go to prostitutes for service and keep them in business? Or just Human Ignorance? If the guys stop going there, the prostitution would die, same with people like Andrew, as long as there is a demand for people like him, he will be in business…spiritual Sado-Masochism?...spiritual ecstazy mixed with a hudge dose of existential and emotional pain, it's a volitale mixture.

I'd like to believe, although I do not know for sure, that initially AC motivation has been pure, perhaps still is and he has not set himself up to rip people off financially, emotionally and spiritually. Yet obviously he got seriously corrupted somewhere on the way as the people around him allowed themselves to be mesmerised by him and hand him more and more power and control over their lives in the hope of getting from him whatever that was they projected,that they will get.

His financial status, over the years, also has become very powerful and perhaps being there on top, it’s extremely difficult to stay innocent and uncorrupted. Again saying all that, this does not excuse his behaviour one dot. It is the responsibility of the spiritual teacher to find skilful ways to deal with such unholy temptations, it is his own private yoga.

I think that half of the time he does not have a clue what he is doing, he is just groping in the dark, and he often said this himself that he “makes things up as he goes along”.

This is not surprising, as often noticed and expressed on this blog, he has no spiritual teacher himself, he never lived in highly structured spiritual community, he also never had normal job, family, kids, etc. His circumstances and lifestyle is just so very uncommon, so it is understood that he might lack the understanding and wisdom to relate to people who actually have full-time jobs, family life, kids, normal friends, etc.

His only pseudo “spiritual teachers” since about year 2000 seems to be people like Ken Wilber and Don Beck, as even the language in which he present his current teaching is borrowed from the ideas and expressions from those two men, I hope that they are aware of it. As I did not known him earlier I’m not sure who were his favourite “idols” before that.

It is all OK, as long as he himself believes in what he is saying about his teaching, that it is “made up and changed as he goes along” and do not behave as if it is the "final and absolute" teaching and imposes it cruelly on his students with no room for challenge, true free dialogue, questioning or deep inquiry. The only possible “dialogues and deep inquiry” are usually only limited to contemplate his five tenets. On one hand he is asking people on his retreats to “have guts, courage, think deeply” on the other hand, closer to home, he is punitively discouraging any challenge, discussions or questioning of the validity of any part of his teaching or himself as a teacher.Again this is a very tricky and dangerous situation for any human being to be in, because if he is wrong, he will fall from a very high place and might not survive it as a spiritual teacher or even a person. His castle already started to crumble.

I think that even this very sorry situation is still remediable with a huge dose of true conscience and humility on his part. I do assume of course that he has it.
Again, “true conscience and humility” are at the very top of his favourite topics at the retreats. It seems that now he needs a dose of his own medicine in homoeopathic form; “Likes Cures Likes.”

Lets just imagine that we all heard a story called "Andrew Walks His Talk":

“Andrew decided to get a dose of his own homeopathic medicine and for the sake of all, for the sake of peace and harmony in this world, and for the sake of his own conscience and soul he decided to face everything and avoid nothing:

He quickly and extensively apologised to all the many students that have been abused while trying on them his “ever changeable, new and improved spiritual formulas” and failing.

He deeply acknowledged his responsibility and wrong doings.

He soon after sold both of his lavish estates, in Foxhollow and London, and gave all the money back to the people that over the years have been emotionally blackmailed to give it to him.

He also gave the magazine away as a Spiritual Gift to all those people who actually do all the hard work for the Magazine and to all those who have been doing it for years and left.

The rest of the money he donated to charities plus all the expensive designer clothes to go with it.

He also sold his expensive cars and uses public transport, as now he feels one with the universe and started to care about the environment, experiencing it a part of his own body, mind & spirit.

As a daily spiritual practice he and his wife have chosen “service to others” and now visit all those who for years have been serving them. Now Andrew and his wife for a change do their cooking, cleaning, ironing, gardening, etc for free and are grateful for the opportunity to serve and deepen their own humility.

Afterwards he has gone into seclusion for a couple of years to reflect deeply on his actions and to find out if he still has a calling to be a spiritual teacher.
Eventually he has returned into the world, with free conscience, ever-present humility and the restored sense of purity and innocence, he has changed, and became less ignorant, more enlightened, more sensitive and aware, more compassionate.

He now supports himself as most people do in this world, as not to be regarded as “special or better”, by working as a musician and lives in a small two-bedroom house somewhere.

He and his wife share the domestic duties and responsibilities together, again as not to be regarded as “special, different or better”; they no longer have free servants.

He is still filled with spiritual enthusiasm, with grace, deep humility and he realises that the True Purpose of Enlightenment really is to serve the world and fellow human beings, to help to alleviate their suffering, rather then make fellow human beings serve him in the name of Enlightenment and contribute to world suffering.

He fulfils that purpose by running occasional retreats, renting the premises elsewhere already made for that purpose. He keeps the cost to bare minimum and offers free places, so as many people as possible can participate, as he deeply realised that after all spiritual teaching is his true vocation in life”.

Miracles do happen.
If that were to happen I’d be the first to book myself on his retreat.

AD

55 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AD, you have a good and kind heart. I absolutely loved your fairy tale and who knows if your story could not become a reality, after all we change with time.

Experience has taught me that there is more hope for a fallen sinner, then a man who sits on his throne, like Andrew, but again reversals can and do happen. By Andrew letting go and letting God, a true miracle will then be witnessed by all of us.

Saturday, 21 May, 2005  
Blogger E said...

This is wonderfully put and well within Andrew's reach - after all, if what he says is true, why not give up all the money, cars, nice haircuts, mansions - who's giving them up anyway?

Sometimes people like Andrew give the cynical part of me hope. As long as people feel a need to give their time and talents to ego-bloated hucksters I always have a "backup" career as a guru. What is interesting is that, even though I am "unenlightened" (whatever that means) I wouldn't do it because even I can see the repercussions and pain such actions cause. They make the world worse not better and anyone with half an inch of forehead should be able to see that. These repurcussions are real and not "illusions" of the ego.

The ego is part of the game. I am so amazed that people think you can destroy it. That's like saying we should cut our lungs out so we quit wasting air or remove our digestive tracts so there is more food to go around. The ego is part of the human experience and always will be.

I don't know Andrew but I've met people who studied with him and he is creating more bad press for himself than a racist with a radio show. I expect he will "undo" himself soon enough. Like Amrit Desai (also of the MASS area) he may find himself ejected from his own community.

Sunday, 22 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, Andrew, quite contrary
how does your garden grow;
are the roses red and white
shining forth God's pure Light;
are the songbirds trilling
or ravens circling in the middle;
Are the rivers flowing freely
with lovers swooning meekly;
do you see your reflection brightly
in the lake of tears nightly;
the tears come from everyone
that you have hurt and undone;
all have flown beyond the sky and now wave to you goodbye.

Sunday, 22 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again I'm amazed at the lack of context for so many of these posts. How many of you have any idea what Andrew is really doing? How many of you have any idea the purpose of the centers in the US and in London? To say that Andrew should give away his centers, the magazine, fancy cars, etc is ridicules and in my opinion it is offensive to the many students who are involved very actively and personally in these endeavors. No one involved in the magazine feels that it is Andrew's magazine - it is also their magazine and they deeply care about its evolution. Everyone living in and /or running these centers feels very much responsible for, and a part of, their direction. This is not a one-man show here and no one who is looking with any real objectivity, or has actually been involved, could say that it is. The centers are not for Andrew's use in the way that is described here. The center in Foxhollow is primarily a non-profit organization that runs a magazine, a Speakers Series, an on-line media center and more. This is also true in London. Andrew does not have a fancy car - he has a fairly old Volvo. Andrew lives in a simple home on the Foxhollow property and his wife runs his household. Cooking and cleaning is done collectively throughout the centers, and speaking from personal experience - his students are very well cared for. Give it up people....some people have left Andrew - fair enough, not everyone wants the level of intensity of the life around him. It is not an easy life - Andrew makes that clear from the beginning and no one would argue this fact. However what Andrew is doing in the world is very highly regarded by many many experts, leaders and spiritual authorities throughout the world. Not everyone has to like him, but at least try to keep it real, objective and true or this blog is often not true.

I do not wish to give my name here but I am a long-time student of Andrew’s who has also decided to move away from the community.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you moving on and if it's such a great movement for man kind, why wouldn't you give your name? I would think you would be proud to say that you were a "Andrew" student.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To previous poster:
You mention:How many of you have any idea what Andrew is really doing". I hear same over and over again, but receive no report of anyone as to how he has helped them or done one positive thing for sociey, and humanity as a whole. Has he given to the poor and less fortunate members among us some of his millions?. No, he is pursuing his own egoistic goals.

Andrew mentions over and over again, freedom for the sake of all. My sister is a sociopath who took all of my mother's savings, home etc. and left her homeless, and just recently she told me that she did so for the freedom and the sake of all.

So again what is it that Andrew is doing to help all of humanity, except pursue his own selfish desires and to be unique and different.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the above poster who mentioned "Has he given to the poor and less fortunate members among us some of his millions?"

I have to say that I have one close friend who recounted a true story to me in which Andrew did just that. He apparently never sought any repayment and the jesture was given with no attachment.

Just to keep the record straight.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Rosebud said...

To anonymous poster re Andrew parting with his money:

That is great news about Andrew giving millions to another. I do question the need for you to mention that this is a true story, which makes me suspicious about it's validity being conveyed to you second hand by a friend, and apparently means appearing(but not necessarily real or true), but besides all this, if it is true, I tip my hat in appreciation.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also know that Andrew has given students gifts over the years...clothing and otherwise.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
I also know that Andrew has given students gifts over the years...clothing and otherwise.

Wow. I'm impressed. Gifts given for slave labor.
I can almost hear Billie Holiday singing:
Rich relations give, crust of bread and such; you can have your fill, just don't take too much.....God bless the chile who's got his own.

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sham, do we have any idea what he is doing ? I think most of us have a fair idea that he is more about himself than humanity. The sooner the finanical records come to light the better.

Craig T

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I hear the sounds of the townspeople storming Dr. Frankenstein's Castle?

Monday, 23 May, 2005  
Anonymous Rosebud said...

Short dialogue between Andrew and Ken:

Andrew sits in his bathtub filled with sterilized $1,ooo bills up to his neck. His wife pours buckets of money over his head as Ken comes for unexpected visit.

"Andrew, what in the world is going on here?".

"Ken this is true power which takes me beyond the max, I can never get enough to power off on into the higher worlds".

"Have you lost your mind Andrew, don't you know that your former students are overflowing the welfare offices collecting food stamps, and you are bathing in their money".

Ah, Ken, let them it cake instead".

Tuesday, 24 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I would like to hear more from the crazed person who thinks building a magazine is going to do shit about evolution or the world or humanity. Why don't we just get Murdoch to do it? So come on tell us why this is so good for everyone / anyone ? Tell us why your doing it ?

Tuesday, 24 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous long-term student, who now left the community.

You said that we “don’t know what Andrew is trying to do”, so can you please tell us what it’s so great that you see Andrew is doing? and why therefore you no longer want to be a part of it, by leaving his community?
Also it would be helpful if you say where on his student’s ladder have you been; at the bottom – the beginner student, the middle or the top, inner circle of AC’s students? And for how many years?

When it comes to Andrew “trying to do things” and actually “doing things” these are two very separate issues and I understand that on this blog we are concerned with what actually is happening and not that much with what Andrew is “trying to do “.
“Trying to do things” usually means something happening in the realm of imagination, something that has not manifested as yet in the material realm. There is no great harm in imagining things.

One thing is certain when it comes to AC's "doing", is that after almost 20 years of teaching his students, he is not getting any results. This is not my personal opinion, but something Andrew does repeats a lot on his retreats to all gathered, he says: ”my students just do not GET IT, not even my long-term students, they all just don’t get my teaching “.
I always found it very discouraging to hear that, and have told him so and asked about what chance any newcomer has if even his very long-term students just “DON’T GET IT”.

It is very easy to see that there can be three simple reasons for this lack of success:

The teacher is very inadequate in what he is doing or,
The teaching is inadequate or false, as it has no power when applied in practice, to deeply transform individuals and lead them to Freedom or,
All the students are just terribly dumb and stupid and that’s why they “CANNOT GET IT”.

What Andrew is “trying to do” is not really that important or problematic to anyone, as it has not happened yet.

Yet what has had happened it seem to be of grave concern to all involved, as you’d come to a similar conclusion if you actually read this blog from the beginning and understood the reasons for it’s coming into being.

PS. When it comes to the “giving his students his old clothes” there could be a simpler reason, he did put on weigh in the last few years, that’s one reason. The other is; have you ever seen a Celebrity or a Pop Idol to wear twice the same designer outfit ? it is just not a done thing.
Even if he gives all his clothes away and walks naked from now on, he still will not undo the huge amount of negative karma he has created for himself.
God is not that cheap !

AD

Tuesday, 24 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AD - of course, you are entitled to your opinions - fair enough. I thought your comment abotu ANdrew putting on weight was cheap - undignified and unnecessary. I found it difficult to take you completely serious, as a result.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasnt cheap its basically true he is losing his ability to play romantic charades with the female students as a result and the he looks to be trying use his suit jackets as corsets , why not just buy a larger size like most men? Cause he's all wrapped up in his ego, he looks to be mutton dressed as lamb .

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of no spiritual teacher who has ridiculed other teachers the way Cohen has.

He's fair game.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it is “cheap” but it could be true. Most people do give their clothes away regularly, mostly when they outgrown them, yet it does not make them the World Messiah. Not that this is really important in the discussion we’re having, I just wanted to point to a number of other possibilities.

Sure, none of his students would have left him, if he was only guilty of “putting on weight”, personally I think it suits him.

The more important point I was trying to make is that AC it seems never considered all the three possibilities, I mentioned in my previous post, why none of his students ever “gets his teaching”.

He only considered one of the possibilities, which is, that the students somehow are at fault and therefore he was trying to improve his experimental spiritual formulas hoping he will get better outcome with them.
That resulted in abuse and the students eventually leaving him for good sooner or later. Some people have apparently a very high "abuse threshold" where others have a very low one, depending on their psychological make up.

AC never considered that perhaps it is he or his teaching that is inadequate to bring about the results he promised them (Freedom) and not the abilities of the students. This is only a hypothesis, but I think it sort of makes a good sense.

AD

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No its his poor choice of student and their inability to live up to their sacred oath to want freedom above all else, dont't blame the holy man for man's sins, Andrew is beyond anything that this world has ever seen, Ken wilber and Don beck recognise his absolute perfection he has been sent to us by god himself. You people will be cast into eternal hell.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Freebird said...

To previous anonymous poster:

With compassion and love I tell you the truth that you are worshipping an idol in Andrew Cohen. Your love should be directed to The One God, the true God.

Anddrew does not acknowledge the One God. He speaks of an Absolute, unknown, but not God whom I know as The One Lord.

God is not a respecter of people and, therefore, Andrew is not special nor unique, nor do the endorsements of Wilber and Beck mean that what they say is true.

The students are sincere spiritual seekers who have been abused and exploited. They are dear human beings, worthy and greatly loved.

Try looking at your perceptions of how things truly are. You are living within an illusion and must break through with truth.

Blessings and much love
Freebird

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous One said...

We humans play a silly game. We want so desperately to be special, to matter, to stand out as an individual of importance. Too bad this desperate desire is based on a big misconception that we exist as a separate individuated self. The easiest way to convince ourselves that we can realize our impossible goal is to hook up with one who declares himself as having already arrived. Beliefs are convenient tools to create the illusion of attaining anything we choose to desire. We can believe we are "saved", especially if we have a teacher we believe to be the conveyor of the supreme Truth. Let's be honest with ourselves. Like little children, we have played make believe and put on quite a show. Trouble is, beliefs are not facts. Sooner or later the make-up slips and Reality goes "Boo!" We get quite a shock. We become dissillusioned (thank God), we try desperately to hold the whole sham together for awhile, but inside we know the jig is up.
No sense throwing blame around that our leader didn't manage to hold our make-believe world together. It is impossible to maintain a lie forever. But we have all been pretending together so no one is more to blame than another.
How about we grow up? How about we put away our make-believe costumes and just stand naked in the Truth of Being Now? All alone together... All ONE together. Not knowing anything in particular except the fact that we exist as manifestations of Consciousness. Not more important than any other manifestation of Consciousness. Not better than, not superior to, not less than, not inferior to...
Gee its so silent and still in this disrobed state of aware Presence. It is Peace, It is Humility, It is Surrender...it is REAL. We are nothing in particular, we are Absolutely Nothing in particular. A blade of grass, a grain of sand, a dust mite, a human being, a thought, a feeling, a word...all nothing in particular. NOTHING - no thing - poof!

Wednesday, 25 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous that says we’ll all “be cast away into eternal hell”.
When I stayed in Andrew community I eventually did developed a quite poor opinion of the students I met, yet you managed to lower it even further. Your expression demonstrates again the pathological inability to think or to hold any rational argument in a kind or friendly way.
You displayed the aggression, violence and the insanity bordering on fanaticism, which I found so repulsive when I stayed in the community over 3 years ago… it seems things get even worse since.

If you really care that much about AC why don’t you tell us why you regard AC so highly “he was sent by god”, how did you benefited so far? how did your life benefited others in this world ? In what form?
Instead you rant in zealous fanatic way at others who disagree with your opinions of AC, but then I suppose this is something you learned from your teacher.
If you look at the history of mankind and even very recent events in New York, fanatic zealously brings only destruction, violence, death and suffering to this world.
By reacting the way you did, you did no service to AC but to the contrary.

AD

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Bruce Ryan said...

If Napoleon had B-52s

If Napoleon had B-52s we’d all be speaking French. AD, your essay is, I’m afraid, an attempt to light up the dark side of AC. Your intentions are noble but deeply misguided. But what you don’t see is that the windows are closed and the blinds are shut on that side. How else to explain his stonewalling of the essay THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING CLEAR? That was his opportunity to come clean. He didn’t. Even his hired hit man could not respond. We all know what this means: he’s run out of bullets. The claim that “he makes up and changes things” as he goes along is hardly evidence of his flexibility and openness to the truth. What he makes up and changes are tactics and strategies to implement his fraudulent dharma. This pseudo-idea that freedom is a choice has never been put on the table and probably never will be, so he is as far from being open to the truth as one can imagine. That’s why his so-called “changes” are always limited to imbecilic ideas like: should I dump a can of paint over her head or slap her across the face? Where’s the flexibility and openness in that?

On the other hand I like your idea that Ken Wilbur has been a sort of teacher for AC since 2000. I never quite thought of it that way before. It is actually quite amusing when one thinks about it: a classic case of the blind leading the blind. I suspect that if one peers beneath the prose of each one might even be able to make a case for it. That is why it is incumbent on all of us to get very clear on exactly who Ken Wilber is. I must preface these remarks by acknowledging that my understanding of him is limited only to those essays and dialogues he’s published in WIE. I did try once to read a massive tome he had written on the synthesis of something or other in western thought but it was larded with so many unexamined ideas about the spiritual path I had to put it down after a few chapters. Sorry about that, Ken. At any rate my vision of Ken Wilber may be a bit too narrow here and if I misunderstand him I do apologize and I will be happy to revise my views if someone wants to educate me further on this topic.

That having been said, if one chooses to read his written work one should clearly keep in mind that Mr. Wilber, by his own admission, is not a man of the cloth. One could not in good faith describe him even as a seeker. The best we can say for him is that he is the crown-jewel of all fans of the spiritual path. What this means is that he takes a kind of academic or scholarly approach to the understanding of spiritual matters. He is therefore a partisan of mind. No one who is a partisan of the mind can understand the really deep spiritual issues. That’s because they are not the kind of issues that can be accessed by the mind. One must walk the spiritual path itself in order to understand them. But one can walk that path only by submitting every dimension of what he or she brings into the world as a human being to the laws that govern that path: the body; the emotions, and the mind. One cannot pick and choose between these and say “You can have my heart and body, but you can’t have my mind!” There is no bargaining with God. Yet this is exactly what Ken Wilber is trying to do. Being madly in love with his own mind, he refuses to submit it to God! That is why, despite all his knowledge, despite all his brilliance, despite his many deep insights into the spiritual process, I feel quite confident in the claim that he does not know what he is talking about. If you read his works, his knowledge is the knowledge of a scholar. His insights are the insights of an academic. Both are lifeless. What I mean by this is that they do not present the seeker with the kind of information which leads to liberation. In this sense Ken Wilber is very much like the fellow who writes reams of material on the mechanics of the automobile but cannot hang an engine.

What Ken Wilber really lacks is an authentic vision of the truth. What I mean by this is that he never speaks from his own experience – always from someone else’s. He cannot. Even though a right understanding of experience in the end is the foundation of the spiritual path, that understanding cannot reveal itself from an academic chair. Thus his written material is filled with comparisons of what this one said to what that one said, what this movement was about to what that movement was about, etc., etc. All of it issues from mind. Take a look, e.g., at his dialogues with Andrew Cohen. He never takes a risk. He never disagrees. He never goes out on a limb. He never challenges Andrew on any of his ideas. Thus they are nothing but obsequious attempts to rubberstamp that teacher’s viewpoint. Ditto his remarks on Da Free John some years ago. Of course AC loves to have those kind of people around him.

The stark fact remains, however, that if Ken Wilber really understood the Dharma he would not even associate with Andrew Cohen! This observation should give us some insight into what their association is really about. It comes from a more sinister dimension: they are both cut from the same cloth. Ken Wilber’s penchant for hobnobbing with newly-crowned spiritual teachers is clear as a bell. How can one explain it since, by his own admission, he is not walking the spiritual path? The answer is that all this hobnobbing provides him with a perfect platform to parade his love of his life – his own mind. Ditto Andrew Cohen. In Andrew’s case, however that mind has proven itself to be deeply flawed by ego.

It might be useful here to point out the lesson of this association to all of us who walk the spiritual path. If one is truly interested in Liberation one must not allow oneself to be led astray by knowledge-mongerers. Walking the spiritual path does not require the addition of any kind of knowledge whatsoever. All it requires is a deep recognition of the circumstances of one’s own birth. That recognition will create an impulse in one that is precisely the opposite of the impulse controlling Ken Wilber. It is an impulse to simplify. It is an impulse not to accumulate knowledge, but to get rid of that and anything else which stands in the way of Liberation.

In my opinion Ken Wilber has a lot to answer for…

Bruce

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Freebird said...

Dear Bruce,
Very well said.
Love from Freebird

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bruce,

You perhaps are right, when you say that I might be misguided, after all I did not know AC personally and left the community soon after I experienced emotional cruelty and saw the signs of what’s there to come if I stay.

My heart goes out to all those abused students who left and to those who are still with him.
I do not absolve AC from what he has done to them and yet I do feel sorry for him, because if he still got any conscience left, he must be suffering terribly, he must be in hell.

AD

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce I could not have said it better

Craig T

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...in a kind or friendly way."

AD - to come back to your comments about Andrew's weight. They were not very kind or friendly. It got referred to in an earlier usbmission - you dismissed it and even went on further with it, and the way his clothes fit. How does that serve anything? It may seem small and irrelevent, but it you did express it - while also expressing a disdain for cruelty. Be friendly, be kind - be consistent - keep what you express in line with what you expect of others.

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
AD - to come back to your comments about Andrew's weight.

Puh-leeze, let's not. Don't fall for this AD. I mean this is such a petty diversion from everything important that has been said. An impolite comment or jest on someone's appearance compared to real abuse and harm by Andrew...really, we don't need to go there. If someone wants to defend Andrew, can't you come up with anything more significant than this kind of nit-picking?

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Freebird said...

To anonymous poster:
..."in a kind and friendly way"...

For us to respond with sensitivity and fairness we need to know who you are. Are you also the anonymous poster who ended a comment with:"you people will be cast into eternal hell". If not, tell us, otherwise we must assume that you are trying to distract us from our purpose of this blog.

Andrew has nade tons of unkind and wicked remarks about other teachers together with insulting many students verbally and physically, and has given them cruel nicknames, yet you worship Andrew, so why pick on AD.

I sense a deeper need in you then a mere weight discussion about Andrew. Care to share?
Blessings
Freebird

Thursday, 26 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you people need a little more perspective ok some of the practices are questionable but on a world scale they are haardly abusive, face slapping was done by all to all, cold lakes and 1000,s prostrations were voluntary, the finger was never cut off and more fool him for making such a silly offer in the first place, the paint over the head was plain stupid on Andrews part but remember it was done by others on his instructions (not by him), Ernst didnt see his kid because thats what he chose to do , he also chose to tell his kid about her mothers mistakes, then you folk want to endlessly endlessly play the victim, be sure i am not saying hes any great spiritual figure, not am I defending it in his name but it does seem a bit odd that there iss no reckoning with personal responsibility to be found in this blog, nor is there a reflection about anything good hes done for the world like the WIE, ok he isnt Mother Theresa to be sure but he aint Free John either , he's kind of a middling middle of the road fool who obviously has some charism, he is not the messaih nor is he the devil , you folk empowered him, and he did give you a warning before it all started,

Friday, 27 May, 2005  
Blogger Hal said...

In response to the last comment:
I think it is hard if you were never there to understand the pervasiveness of fear and abuse in the community. It isn't any one thing. It's the sum of many attacks on one's freedom of choice, one's autonomy, one's own discrimination and, ultimately, one's humanity that created an environment that tends to overwhelm, injure and, in the end, discourage and scar community members.

It is disturbing yet ironic that some people criticize those who discuss their experience here vulnerably and accuse them of playing the victim. Instead, it seems to me that the person who most played the victim in Cohen's community was Cohen himself. He was the one who constantly complained that he was being betrayed, hurt, having his "blood" spilled, and being, essentially, abused by his own students. He was the one who demanded constant apologies, flowers, money, gifts and other retribution and proofs of contrition from those students who he felt hurt by. I suppose his own skewed feeling of being the victim of abuse justified, for him, his "retaliatory" abuse of others. So the paradigm of abuser and victim is one of Cohen's creation--one that, when in the guru-student relationship, is one that is hard to escape. I think that people speaking frankly and vulnerably about their experience here is one step toward escaping that paradigm, and not necessarily a reinforcement of it. I think it should be encouraged and not criticized.

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said hal! andrew has plenty of self-aggrandizing people and disciples around him. there needs to be a forum for the people that do not agree with him anylonger -due to their experiences with him-. the dark side is there, why keep it hidden in our code of silence? or why put people down for having the courage to break through? it takes a lots of guts to come out, and that should be recognized.
the wheat will be separated from the shaft naturally anyways....

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your saying the sum of the parts is worse than the acute nature of an individual abuse, like a disease the impact can be seen and felt but the virus is in fact hidden from the sufferer , at least while they are in the community the suffer enters into a state of denial for want of a better term, where in fact the rational everyday grasp on reality is layed down or suspended by a set of meme’s or ideas that constitute a different foundation on reality, these foundations constitute the new principals that one lives ones life by within the community and in so doing this the followers enter into a different reality , that can only be grasped by outsiders if they adopt the precepts, in a vulgar sense you were tricked into seeing the world systematically differently than your average joe, the average joe seeing the world with a different tool box of assumptions, when our assumptions change wrt the reality we live in the manifestation of that reality is completely different, in effect he offered an new reality for the followers, full of functions and features, in this new reality you get freedom, bliss, happiness, etc you get to play a part in something exciting, this grandiose reality , he is an illusionist of sorts, hypno-therapeutical conceptualizer you become transfixed by ideas or concepts , it just seems to me that building a virtual nursing home for the abused is only an initial step in the healing process, you need to break free of the ideas or concepts themselves, when you read back the blog seems to want to argue the merits, mistakes and flaws of the false reality, you seem to want to continue the conceptualization by re designing it so that it fits better, there is certainly a tendency to want to demonize him, when in reality demonizing him is just the shadow or the mirror of what you’ve already done, arguing against his concepts is just doing the same thing and worshipping his concepts in reverse, you could spend allot of time wasting time trying to break free from what is essentially a group mental illness , you see for the individual constantly denouncing him like this might not be any healthier than following him without question, its just the mirror of the former life. If you really want to heal you need to de mystify him not out conceptualize him, he is mentally ill, he is an immoral manipulative pretender, if you feel passionate about healing go take him on properly, do the right thing for humanity, if he really is the virulent pest eradicate his teachings and reputation , expose the financial affairs, take him on 60 minutes, seek more powerful allies , take civil action in the courts for the abuse, jointly litigate for 100M for pain and suffering, if he really is a parasite then like any parasite he needs to be neutralized and if you really are all so damaged you need to be compensated, as much as this might confront you all what your doing won’t stop him, wont heal yourselves, wont protect future students all it will do is prolong the suffering, you need to take the next step, so rather than seeing this as a put down to those of you in the exCohen Nursing home, maybe you should see this as a message from a tough old matron, this tough old matron is saying if you dont get out of bed and start walking, if you don’t start to rehabilitate yourselves, if you don’t undertake to experience the pain of completely healing you never will, so enough is enough by all means help people who have just left, but don’t stagnate there keep moving.

So I would like to see some discussion about what comes next, if you really believe him to be the asshole you clearly believe he is then you cant stay in the nursing home forever.

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The New Dirty Word—‘Victim’

In Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, one of the definitions of 'victim' reads 'One who is harmed or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency or condition.'

This term is descriptive but in the seeker's community it has become heavily shame-freighted and pejorative. It is time to ask why this is so. 'Victim' used to be descriptive but in the seekers community it has been turned into a club to beat people with.

These days the word ‘victim' has aquired such a negative connotative in the seekers community,that people may feel afraid to admit that they are in harmful sitautions where the word ‘victim’ is accurate. As a result, they may stay in that bad situation much longer than they otherwise would have.

There may well be unexamined ideas and language games endemic to the seekers community which dis-empower students and augment the power of hurtful teachers, and that this kicks in before the twain have met. Shame about the use of the word 'victim' may be a contributing factor.

As a result of this language game, studetns may stay in hurtful situations longer than they need to –and do this because they were socialized on the seeker’s circuit to experience the word 'victim' as shameful,and to deny they are in a situation where the word is applicable.

This may be how many people in the seekers’ community lose their voices--because a useful, descriptive word ('victim') has become freighted with shame and not enough people are standing back and asking why, or asking who is being empowered and who is being dis-empowered by this language game.

When words are used as clubs to shame and beat people with, especially survivors, the seeker’s community needs to question this in order to stay healthy.

Taking Back the Word 'Victim'

*** When people are under severe stress, their bodies and minds are constricted and cannot access deep insight, or at best, may have brief flashes but cannot readily stablize that insight. In such a state of constriction, feeling harmed/victimized is often the ONLY way suffering stressed people can know about their predicament—-for they may be too stressed to reach sophisticated insight.

And, if they trust their perceptions, feeling victimized is all that they need to know to recognize that they need to get out.

It’s like a smoke detector. Feeling victimized cannot give the deep insight needed for healing, but gives an energy boost stressed people need in order to remove ourselves from stress and then get to a safer place that will support healing.

Smoke detectors don’t solve what caused the fire—but they will cause people to wake up, grab their stuff and leave before the house burns down and takes them with it. The people in that burning house don’t need to know what caused the fire. Their immediate need is an early warning from the smoke detector that the fire has started and that they need to grab thier stuff and run.

If people are shamed out of feeling harmed/victimized (because the term ‘victim’ has become a dirty word on the Seekers Circuit) they may lose access to early warning signs that they are no longer being challenged in a healthy way, but a line has been crossed and their bodies and minds are being harmed--or others are being harmed.

If suffering people have been taught to fear the word 'victim' they will fear to admit they are in a situation where the words ‘harm’ and ‘victim’ are descriptive and appropriate,. because the words 'victim' and 'harm' have been shame-freighted, and they dread being ridiculed. If in an abusive community, these people will have heard plenty of this shaming language already.

The seeker who fears to use or think the words 'harm' or 'victim' who fears to feel the experiences tied to these words, fears to admit being in a hurtful situation becomes inwardly mute. They are like a house without a functioning smoke detector. They risk remaining for much too long in a situation that harms them because this language game has estranged them from what their pain receptors are trying to tell them.

Shaming comments about 'playing the victim' are also very wounding to those who manage to extract themselves and leave. This shaming language makes survivors constrict and cringe, hampers access to deep insight, adds to stress they are already under, augments the self-loathing they were already taught to feel in a hurtful group. This cuts them off from emotional energy needed to for healing--and makes Dharma practice much more difficult.

Therefore respecting the experience of feeling harmed or betrayed is essential for early recovery. Shame about admitting one has been harmed will hamper early recovery.

It is regrettable that in many sectors of the seekers community there appears to be a sophisticated rhetoric for shaming persons who report having been harmed by spiritual malpractitioners, and who try to report this so that others can avoid being wounded.

Common examples are to accuse people of 'wallowing in the victim role' of being weak, ungrateful, etc.

You know the drill. As suggested above, to feel harmed is the same as being victimized. If people are afraid to admit they feel harmed, they will stay in bad situations and get hurt, instead of trusting their guts and getting out. The pattern of shaming people for use of the word 'victim' is part of the process that dis-empowers seekers and empowers hurtful teachers--and its in place before seeker and teacher even meet.

The seekers community will become much healthier when it can begin to question why 'victim' became such a shame-freighted word.

In more sophisticated manifestations, this shame-the-victim rhetoric may use the language of healing and psychotherapy, but will experienced by survivors as deeply hurtful and confusing, and if not recognized for what it is, has the effect of delaying healing, augments the sufferer's already considerable self loathing, and delay rather than support healing.

Still another version of this shame rhetoric is the argument that advising seekers on how to protect their own welfare by doing research and applying critical thinking to teachers and groups is ‘cynical’ ‘unspiritual’ that ‘you’re not a real seeker unless you accept risk’ and that offering consumer education to seekers ‘insults their intelligence’ or ‘coddles people.’

No less a person than the Dalai Lama has advised that students examine prospective teachers with the utmost care before becoming their disciples. Alexander Berzin, in his book Healthy Relationships With Spiritual Teachers quotes many Tibetan texts demonstrating that it is part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to assess the qualifications of teachers and he lists the detailed standards that guide how this is done. Tibetan Buddhism derives in turn from earlier traditions of Indian Buddhism, and from Hinduism. Real spiritual traditions teach that critical thinking and discernment are part of Dharma practice, support it and do not subvert it.

In very advanced healing, when survivors have reclaimed their voices, they will discover that the victim role has become constricting, like a pair of shoes we have outgrown. Only when a survivor has reached this point, can he or she examine and eventually discard the victim mindset.

***But the only persons who can properly invite the survivor to question whether the victim concept supports healing are persons who know the survivor well, love that person, care for his or her ultimate welfare, **and who have no emotional or social investment in supporting the situation where that person reported being harmed.

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I wasn't the one who talked about eternal hell, and my response to AD about her 'unfriendly' comment regarding Andrew's weight does not imply that I worship, or idolize Andrew Cohen. All I was saying was let's not be hypocrites. Let's not do what we are criticizing others (Andrew, in this case) for. It may seem small and petty, but is it?

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is disturbing yet ironic that some people criticize those who discuss their experience here vulnerably and accuse them of playing the victim."

Very true, Hal. On both sides. Those who have spoken out against Andrew have often been attacked and criticized. Also, those who have attempted to given a supportive view of him and his actions have often been attacked and criticized (sometimes even more harshly). People on both sides are being vulnerable and should not be attacked...what good does that do?

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commend all of you former students for your bravery and great courage in sharing your stories.

As a survivor of severe spiritual abuse, I remember how difficult it was to come to term in facing the truth that, yes, I had been a victim and severely abused. There was a tremendous disbelief and denial that what had happened to me really did happen. It was like a dream I wished would go away upon awakening, yet it lingered and stayed instead.

Would I not have listened to my inner voice calling me to look at what happened to me, and face reality in truth, I most likely would have never healed and would have moved on with my life as a fractured Spirit. It takes great courage to face the truth about abuse, and spiritual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes committed.

It took great desire and love within myself, and many years to be able to forgive and finally reach healing.

I thank God for my freedom today.

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous

How many times have you posted the same message?

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous poster:
In response to: "How many times have you posted the same message".

A testimony for freedom you find repetitious, yet the anonymous poster who repeatedly spoke of being sensitive to remarks about Andrew's weight did not disturb you as something that was repeated over and over again. I find that odd for you to be so aware of my testimony, while bypassing trivial things.

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Therefore respecting the experience of feeling harmed or betrayed is essential for early recovery. Shame about admitting one has been harmed will hamper early recovery.

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Stuart said...

***quoting***
Therefore respecting the experience of feeling harmed or betrayed is essential for early recovery.
***end quote*

It depends what you mean by "respecting the experience." Seeing things clearly is always helpful, so if one has the feeling "I've been harmed, I've been betrayed, I'm a victim," there's no reason to deny or avoid the feeling, no reason to add judgements to it, such as "It's bad that I feel like a victim."

And it's equally unnecessary to make judgments like "It's good that I feel like a victim." It's unnecessary to treat the feeling of victimhood as anything other than a feeling.

Cultivating or valuing a feeling of victimhood isn't essential. All the time, in situations "spiritual" or otherwise, people get into situations they don't like, so they decide to change things. People do this all the time without claiming or cultivating victimhood, so it's hardly essential.

It's a common and fundamental teaching that our actions and decisions matter. If I want to change something, I can put forth my effort to effect the change. There's a reason that "victim" has negative connotations: if one cultivates victimhood, it suggests precisely that other people have fundamental control over our lives, thus devaluing the importance of our own day-to-day, moment-to-moment decisions and actions.

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The level of sensitivity on some of these issues is pretty extreme, victim hood is negative if continued for to long it blocks healing and progress, its not an insult its just commonsense. As soon as someone suggests that people move on from victim hood there is an outcry, the poster who might suggest such things is criticized as lacking compassion, then we have long discussions about what a victim is, victimhood and people rights to wallow in it (sorry my interpretation not a criticism just an observation), so you folk can go on and on and on about stuff, that’s up to you but if there is nothing of a substantive nature left to say then its time to move to the next stage, that is to take action in line with your beliefs , if you folk have been abused then take class action, if you have suffered from lack of wages etc seek compensation, if you feel you have to warn others demonstrate at his meetings, post summaries and links on spiritual websites, review his books on Amazon, take the story to 60 minutes, write to your senator , inform the IRS (he hardly sounds like a bonafide non profit, publish the details of his financials, find out who gets paid as directors and publish their names ( I heard Ken Wilber and Don Beck were directors), adjoin them to class action litigation there are literally hundreds of things you can do, the website was a good start but if he is the guy you say he is (you have convinced me) then he needs to be stopped and probably punished for his behavior.

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Bruce said...

A MIND THAT IS NOT SUBMITTED TO GOD IS A MIND SUBMITTED TO EGO...

For a romp through the egoic structures of Ken Wilber's mind please go here: http://strippingthe gurus.comstgsamplechapters/wilber.asp. It looks like the situation is far worse than than one could imagine. Apparently this "Einstein Of Consciousness" knows so little about himself that he cannot even recognize his own ego when he sees it! Perhaps this is the reason his followers think he is a Boddhisatva! One question: if he cannot recognize his own ego in action, how can that ego ever be transcended??? (My deepest gratitude to the courageous blogger who sent me this link.)

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://strippingthe gurus.comstgsamplechapters/wilber.asp is an invalid link - can anyone provide the correct link?

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

put / in after the .com and it works fine

Monday, 30 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comment was not trivial. Anonymous missed the point and responded with disrespect.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Hugh said...

I think Andrew is cool no matter what you guys write.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To previous poster
re: trivial

You have taken your sensitivity re remarks about Andrew's weight to the limit, and everything said by us appears as a personal attack upon you. How about honoring others who disagree with you.

None of us is perfect, not even a one, which includes you. If you feel justified that you have been wronged by me or other posters in our comments, then knowing that you are right in the way you feel and see things should be enough and end right there and then.

I can be sensitive to you and still disagree.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't take it as a personal attack on me (what we're apparently trying to sort out here is much more important that any of us as individuals), and I don't mind others disagreeing with me - let's be respectful towards each other, not think that we know where another is coming from in doing so, and 'be kind and friendly'. This latest response is the closest to that, yet. End of the issue, as far as I am concerned.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a 'check-in'? Where are we all at, where are we going with this, what do we want from this? I'd like to hear what contributors think?

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To previous poster"
Don't ask. The issue has ended and we can move on with our purpose. Hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: trivial, anonymous poster

I acknowledge you, your response to me, the ending of the issue, and stating that my address to you was kind and friendly.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is our purpose?

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  
Anonymous Rich Howe said...

To "What is our purpose?"

Our common purpose is to find and celebrate the best that Andrew has taught us.

Tuesday, 31 May, 2005  

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