Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not Forgotten – The Story Of Caroline Franklyn

by Mario Puljiz

[Mario Puljiz was a formal student of Andrew Cohen, in his European community, from 1995-2000. He was a friend of Caroline Franklyn.]

Caroline Franklyn was in her late seventies at the time of her death and, having been of delicate health for some time, it seemed of little surprise that despite her remarkable spirit she passed away in London just before Christmas 1999. Caroline was also Andrew Cohen’s most elderly formal student in the UK and had been his devoted disciple for the last seven years of her life.

Caroline was no ordinary woman. Born in 1920 in the Austrian capital of Vienna, she married at 17 and moved to the then Czechoslovakian capital of Prague where she and her husband ran a perfumery on the main Wenceslas Square. After Czechoslovakia was annexed into the German Reich in early 1939, Caroline and her husband became two of the many Jewish refugees who sought safety and freedom in England. They were granted an entry and eventually settled in Hendon, North London. In 1945 Caroline gave birth to their daughter and she carried on working tirelessly with her husband, rebuilding their life in England. Besides bringing up her daughter, Caroline ran her own interior design business and alongside that she also nursed her ill husband for number of years before his death. Some time after his loss, Caroline learnt by chance about J. Krishnamurti. Through the writings and spoken words of the old master she began pursuing a deep and heartfelt spiritual interest and throughout the 70’s and early 80’s she regularly travelled to see him teach in England and abroad. Krishnaji was undoubtedly the source of tremendous spiritual inspiration for Caroline and someone who she greatly respected.

A few years after Krishnamurti’s death in 1986 Caroline came across a young American teacher called Andrew Cohen and soon his passionate call to awaken ignited fire in her heart once more. When he formed his new community in London in the early ’90s Caroline became a member, and soon also one of Cohen’s first formal students in the UK. Caroline’s life was taking yet another unexpected but thrilling turn – now in her early seventies she had a new and inspiring spiritual teacher, she belonged to his close-knit community of students and, perhaps the most important of all, she again felt that tangible promise of waking up in this very life.

Caroline dressed well and much younger than her age; she was bright, lively and warm hearted person who was unafraid of speaking her mind even when that meant going against the "party line" in Andrew Cohen’s community. While at times she undoubtedly got things wrong or was overconfident in her ways, she also rarely shied away from being herself, for better or worse. In a community where adopting uniform views on a range of issues - from matters spiritual to one’s taste in films and clothes - was of crucial importance, Caroline’s views were often different and therefore frequently considered unsuitable. Add to this the fact that Caroline, despite her spirit and vitality, was also an elderly person who could not always keep up with the busy and often exhausting lifestyle in the community, and you will get a picture of someone who was a bit different from the majority of Andrew Cohen’s students.

Caroline’s sense of independence was most probably the legacy of her extraordinary life; to leave her home under life-threatening circumstances, move to a foreign country and start an altogether new life against the background of a world war she undoubtedly had to be both strong and determined. There was also her long and profound connection with Krishnamurti, who taught the necessity of independence from religious organizations as they inevitably grow to be an obstacle to one’s freedom instead of, as they tend to claim, the entrance gates of it. Caroline never physically moved into Cohen’s community and carried on living in her townhouse in the leafy London suburb of Richmond. She was therefore in many ways out of the reach of the long dictating arm of the community on a day-to-day basis. This also enabled her to regularly see and be in touch with her family who she very much loved and did not want to leave behind; cutting off or reducing contacts with one’s family was one of the prices to pay for physically living in the community, as families were perceived as an obstacle to one’s freedom. However, Caroline was at the same time a very devoted student of Andrew Cohen’s and she regularly made a number of long weekly journeys to the community to attend meetings, events and video showings. Her family confirmed that she always spoke about her teacher and her community with love and pride and that in their eyes her spiritual life gave Caroline a wonderful and invigorating lease of life at her advanced age.

The first hint of what was to come for Caroline appeared in January 1998 when, during the Rishikesh Retreat in India, Andrew Cohen unleashed a vitriolic attack on the formal women students in the community. He accused them of being insufficiently devoted to him, manipulative, untrustworthy and therefore in need of a deep and complete inner change. The women were pushed into an endless series of meetings in which they were asked to declare their faithfulness to Cohen, confess to the charges of manipulation and repent their sins in order to come clean. Over the following weeks and months many of the formal female students (including Caroline), verbally battered and emotionally broken as a result of those meetings, were forced to step down and become lay students. Even some of us formal men, well used to intense meetings in which one could be verbally attacked or reprimanded by the group for his perceived egotistical tendencies, privately considered those meetings to be just too severe.

While stepping down meant a welcome temporary relief for the demoted female students, it did not mean the end of their suffering. They were still forced to attend a number of weekly meetings with selected formal women who were perceived by Cohen to be in good spiritual shape. In those meetings, whose supposed aim was to "help" those women to "rise up" and become formal students once more, they were again subjected to the same scenario to the one before – forced confessions, verbal abuse and aggression. Looking back it was of no surprise that Caroline, dejected and of delicate health (she had a condition that would at times cause her difficulties in breathing), never "came through" in those meetings and never regained her formal student status.

Many of we formal students lost sight of Caroline after that. This was a common though often unspoken practice in the formal community – once someone stepped down to a lower echelon they were practically isolated from their former peers and, while they could still attend public meetings and events, they were considered not to be doing well and consequently not paid much attention to. Only later did I learn of Caroline’s heartache at being cruelly sidelined after so many years of deep involvement in the community. But to Cohen and to us she was just another casualty of "the war against the ego" who in essence deserved what she got, the same as everyone else in her position.

Towards the end of 1999 Andrew Cohen came to London to conduct public teachings and, amongst all, Caroline came to see him too. For us students in London it was a rare opportunity to see Cohen in person as he spent most of the year travelling and lecturing around the world. If one wanted to speak to him directly about one’s practice, spiritual development, or any other issue, this was the opportunity. Caroline approached Debbie, one of Cohen’s senior students, after the teaching on Saturday 11 December 1999 and asked if she could see the master privately. Caroline said later that Debbie responded to her in a contemptuous manner, telling her that she was not going to see her teacher that evening. Soon after the exchange was over, Caroline left the teaching venue disheartened and in no doubt that her teacher was not going to see her.

Caroline arrived home after a long drive back to Richmond from Central London where the teachings were held. Her home phone rang and on the other end was another senior student of Andrew Cohen’s, Steve Brett, calling to discuss why she had not waited at the venue to see her master. Caroline’s explanation that she had been told by Debbie that she could not see Cohen, fell on deaf ears. Brett strongly reprimanded Caroline for leaving the venue without waiting to be seen by her teacher, particularly as she herself had asked to see him. Caroline nevertheless protested her innocence as she simply did not think that she had done anything wrong. But Caroline’s response here was undoubtedly another clear sign to Andrew Cohen of how independent and egotistical she was in her stubborn refusal to humble herself and admit her “mistake.” To him there was no doubt that it was Caroline who was wrong here and she needed to be told that in no uncertain terms. After the conversation ended Caroline was deeply shaken and upset. She felt wronged and blamed for something that, in her mind, was never true; she was also dismayed by how strongly she was reprimanded by Brett for her apparent mistake.

The following day, on Sunday 12 December 1999, her phone rang once more and it was again Steve Brett on the other end of the line. Clearly dissatisfied that in the previous phone call Caroline had not "cracked" under his pressure and "admitted her sin," Steve Brett went on to deliver a renewed but far more devastating attack on Caroline. Caroline said later that the conversation lasted for about forty five minutes and that during it Brett repeatedly insulted her with a ferocity that left her completely traumatized. Caroline said that she had to keep the phone handset away from her ear on many occasions as Brett was literally shouting at her from the other side. She was told that she was going to “die a miserable old woman” and how awful it was on her part that she had dared to leave the venue without waiting to see Cohen. Without any consideration whatsoever for her physical and spiritual frailty, Brett again and again furiously scolded Caroline for her apparent egotistical and independent ways that completely infuriated her teacher. Caroline was told that, instead of surrendering her soul to Andrew Cohen now that she was coming close to dying, she was still holding on to her small life and her ego and would die as such. Caroline also spoke about her intuitive feeling that Cohen was in the room with Brett, listening to the latter delivering his attack.

Anyone who has been a student of Andrew Cohen’s will know of his deep need to control all the important aspects of life in his community. Quite literally nothing of significance happened in the community without him either initiating it or giving his clear prior approval. For a senior student to deliver such lengthy and astonishingly brutal feedback to Caroline after her apparent big mistake with her teacher who was also in London at the time, points to only one thing to me. Brett, acting as a mouthpiece, only delivered what Andrew Cohen had instructed him to deliver. This deliberately destructive feedback was clearly aimed at breaking Caroline’s internal defences and getting her to finally realise how detrimental her independent conduct was to her "spiritual progress" and, perhaps even more significantly, how displeased Andrew Cohen was about her "self-willed ways." Disturbingly, Brett was neither the first nor the last to deliver such damaging “feedback.” Many of us were at some point asked by our teacher, himself well-versed in employing righteous anger when giving reflections, to "blast" another student for their apparent egotistical tendencies and we unquestioningly did just that. Made to believe that only complete obedience to Andrew Cohen would bring us enlightenment, we became the clear perpetrators of many devious and dark power games orchestrated by him. Brett in this case was no exception.

However, in this particular case the student spoken to was not a typical Andrew Cohen student – the relatively young, enormously devoted and resilient type who could, in spite of all the emotional ache, survive such fierce feedback, admit the alleged “sins” no matter whether they were actually true or not and respond with a bouquet of flowers and a written apology expressing their love for and devotion to the master. Here the person spoken to was an elderly long term student in vulnerable spiritual and physical circumstances who was still reeling after a deeply upsetting first phone call the evening before. Despite her great spirit she was already shaken, clearly unprepared and not expecting yet another, albeit far more devastating, feedback phonecall. Brett, possibly also in order to impress our teacher which we often tried to do when given any sort of tasks personally from him, delivered an exceedingly harsh and unforgiving tirade to someone who was absolutely not in the position to take it. This is why the consequences and the eventual outcome of this incident are particularly ghastly.

After the conversation had ended Caroline Franklyn was not the same person anymore. Under Brett’s enormous pressure her spirit was finally broken; bullied into believing that what he’d been telling her was indeed true, she took it all to her heart utterly and completely. She later told her loved ones that the "conversation" had emotionally shattered her and that she did not have any willingness to live anymore. A profound sense of alienation, fear and psychological torment filled her soul and she could see no purpose or way forward anymore, neither in her spiritual pursuit nor in her life as a whole. Her health started worsening and she became bed bound within days, a complete shadow of the person she had always been. Caroline’s family soon came to help, thinking initially that it was just an unusually bad attack coming from her breathing condition. However, they soon realised through talking to Caroline that the predicament here was very different. Having learnt about the disturbing incidents with Steve Brett and seeing the immediate sharp deterioration of Caroline’s health that was the result of it, Caroline’s family understandably felt that they did not want Andrew Cohen’s students around Caroline at all. They were deeply worried that any further direct contact with the community would only aggravate Caroline’s already increasingly fragile condition. What they primarily wanted was to secure a peaceful and healing environment within which their beloved mother and grandmother could recover from this sudden and devastating shock. They remember receiving phonecalls from what they recall to be female formal students from the community enquiring about Caroline’s condition. However, the family was uneasy about these calls - they never felt that this interest in Caroline’s condition was genuine and considered it to be an orchestrated information-gathering and damage limitation exercise on the part of Andrew Cohen and his organization.

Caroline’s health kept worsening and on 20 December 1999 she was taken to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London’s Chelsea district, where her family hoped she would have the best chance to recover. Little did they know they were witnessing the last days and hours of Caroline’s life but more than anything it was the state that she was in during this period - haunted, tormented and fearful of further attacks – that shocked them to the core. In spite of the doctor’s and family’s attempts to sooth Caroline’s pain and remedy her spirit back to life, they were now increasingly worried that they were losing her. In their desperation the family decided to contact Andrew Cohen through his London centre and they pleaded to him to send a message to Caroline in hope that a loving word from her teacher could bring her spirit back to life. Andrew Cohen sent a message via phonecall through one of his senior students and his message to Caroline was one of love and forgiveness. By that time Caroline was already largely unconscious although when the message was communicated to her, her eyes opened for a split second and her hand grip became momentarily stronger only to weaken shortly afterwards.

Caroline Franklyn died in the Royal Brompton Hospital in London on 23 December 1999 at the age of seventy nine, only eleven days after the second phone conversation with Steve Brett. She died with a broken heart and in a state of absolute inner terror and anguish, a wonderful and brave human spirit who fought against many odds in her life, and was finally destroyed by those that she loved and devoted her spiritual life to. Caroline’s family believe that she would have certainly carried on living had her spirit not been mercilessly crushed to the point that she tragically gave up on life. Her illness, while undoubtedly serious, was still of a periodical and manageable nature and she had successfully kept it under control in the past.

During that same time I was a formal student in the London community and the described events that were unfolding around Caroline were initially not known to us. However, the message was soon sent to all formal students directly from Andrew Cohen that none of us must get involved with anything regarding Caroline as she had "blown it with him." We were told that this was a great mistake on Caroline’s part and that, now that her health was rapidly deteriorating, we must leave it to Andrew Cohen only to communicate and deal with her. This directive also meant not speaking to or spreading this story amongst the students from the lower community ranks; this rule indeed applied to all messages we formal students ever received from Andrew Cohen. We were never told about the conversations between Brett and Caroline that initiated Caroline’s rapid health decline and subsequent death. Many of us also sensed from the announcement that Caroline was in psychological pain that was so often the result of making any significant mistake with Cohen.

A few days later a message came through that Caroline had died. We were told that her family did not want any of us at her funeral and we, knowing that it had been a process so difficult that our teacher had to personally deal with it, left it at that. Some of us formal students privately felt that at least an announcement should be made to everyone that one of our own had passed away so we could come together as a community in her honour. However, nothing came from our teacher regarding that and, as he had already taken charge of the whole situation and specifically told us not to get involved in anything regarding Caroline, we obediently kept quiet, questioned nothing and in the end did nothing.

I was not the only one who felt in shock about Caroline’s death and who had to suppress all the conflicting feelings in order to obey my teacher’s order not to get involved. This was a type of robotic, unreal response that many formal students habitually employed when dealing with our incompatible internal responses which had to be restrained in order to conform to the "party line" or a directive from above. Our silence here, and by our I mean of formal and senior students, was the perfect response from the obedient disciple point of view but absolutely shameful from the human point of view. I know of one case where a lay student, entirely unaware of the imposed ban, brought up the issue of community silence about Caroline’s death and was promptly and strongly reprimanded by a senior student for being suspicious and doubtful of his teacher’s conduct and intentions. This ensured that any other possible questioning voices in the lay community knew what was going to come their way if they were to bring up the issue again.

The community announcement about Caroline Franklyn’s death was never made and the whole case was swiftly put behind and quickly forgotten. It was indeed as if Caroline had never existed – her name was rarely if ever mentioned by Cohen or his senior and formal students and the full scale of the events surrounding her death was never exposed within the community. Caroline was cremated in the Hoop Lane Crematorium in Golders Green in London and her ashes are buried in the woodlands near Alsford in Hampshire close to the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Centre. A wreath ring of white flowers was the only thing that was sent from the community for her funeral. A handful of former Cohen students were the only people from all her years spent with him that came to pay their respects. Caroline’s daughter approached some of them after the funeral and asked: “Why did she have to die like that?” struggling to grasp why her mother had to exit this world haunted and in anguish. The family decided afterwards to take the matters further and wrote a letter personally to Andrew Cohen to obtain explanations about the events preceding the sudden deterioration of Caroline’s health that led to her death. He never answered.

Mario Puljiz
London UK


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mario, thank you so much for sharing Caroline's sad and tragic story with us. It is all a bit much to hear and let in, the cold-hearted lack of compassion and even common-sense of Andrew and those doing his bidding. I'm shocked that even in his too-little-too-late message to her of "love and forgiveness" that Andrew didn't beg Caroline to forgive HIM for literally bullying her to death and abusing the trust she had given him as his student.

Thursday, 19 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a very sad story.
The fact is that Andrew is offering nothing short of ego-death in his teaching. This means there is nothing for the person in his organization. No compassion, no understanding, no empathy, no support, no love.
He is committed to murdering ego and everyone needs to realize what this truly means. He is not offering social or humanitarian aid in any form. He is offering death to personal values. Strength of character, autonomy, independance, a warm and caring heart, connection with others through loving service...these are not experiences to be sought through association with Andrew Cohen.
When a frail old woman is crushed at his command, what was the ego-dead response to her passing?
The crux of the matter is whether Andrew's vision of Enlightenment is in fact correct and true. What kind of world would his vision create? What would be the qualities of the ego-dead humans he is seeking to engender? Could these automatons function without his complete control and direction?
Surely the only way to live the kind of vision Andrew is proffering would be to accept and embrace living in total Ignorance. No need for compassion, understanding, patience, kindness, empathy, love.
The only requisite would be the ability to follow orders blindly....but what happens when Andrew dies? Who would take over control of the automatons then? If even his most senior students falter after years of devotion and blind obedience, who is waiting in the wings to assume the absolute dictatorship of the peons below?
Wake up! What is missing from this picture?

Thursday, 19 January, 2006  
Blogger MeroSathi said...

How devastating and upsetting this is to hear. More and more we hear the extent of Andrew and his strange hierarchical entourage’s "off-the-rails" behavior, and the regrettable impact it has on so many. I was not around at this time, but I, like so many knew Caroline, if only occasionally and peripherally. She was nevertheless, a part of our “family”, and she was an inspiration to all for having the strength and interest at her age to participate in a spiritual program that was usually too much to bear for the young and healthy.
Thank you, Mario for your very well-rounded post and for reviving such a caring memory and story of Caroline. I hope you are doing really well and its great to hear from you.
But man, it is just ringing louder and louder isn’t it, that by some great tragedy, the man so many of us once thought of as the most brilliant teacher of his time, has become “dangerously misguided” – misguided and therefore misguiding in his unrelenting and absolute belief in his infallibility and in the rightness of his mission to control everyone’s lives around him to the extreme.
Personally, regarding this blog, I haven’t always agreed to the spirit and direction taking place in this forum; nevertheless, I have for a long time felt that it was relevant and neceassary that there be a place like this, to speak about what wasn’t working with Andrew, so people could sort it out, and make sense of impressions and facts that were previously invalidated or quickly pushed aside. Being involved with Andrew, as I recall, it was about our interest in the truth above all - as Andrew used to say, a heroic and fearless interest in the truth. This implies being willing to go in directions that are not guaranteed safe or necessarily to smell clean. I guess the challenge is how to do that without losing sight of what we knew to be genuine, and ultimately of benefit to us. It’s kind of like when relationships don’t work out. How do we hold our own dignity without mindlessly trashing the other person, how do we learn from what happened, take responsibility for our side, but also hold the other accurately accountable for praise and blame, so to speak.. With Andrew I am beginning to realize, that can be very dicey, as there is a mixture of profound spiritual insight with some other areas looking more and more blatantly lacking in skillfulness and basic humanity and humility. There are some very powerful dynamics which take place in the group situation of a spiritual community, and that takes some time to sort out.
Over the past months I had begun to believe that most of the really outrageous news about Andrew's unskillful tactics were already out there - published on this blog.
But now my sense is that so many former students will slowly begin to come forward and speak out - people I imagine who have sat by in great conflict out of respect for what their teacher had given to their lives, out of recognition that they too had things to work out and therefore shouldn't speak out, etc. Now perhaps, they will begin to tell their story or their realizations about all of this. They will do this more and more not to satifsy a need for their own healing, although that is perfectly valid, but also because, fueled by the true stories of others they have known and loved, they will feel that they now must begin to speak out, if for no other reason than that others can be warned!
There are so many areas to talk about, issues of power, hierarchical rigidity, wierdness and callousness around sexuality, hostile indifference to family relationships, a complete two-faced directive about money and right livelihood, about a total double-standard in judging the integrity of other spiritual teachers, etc., etc. There is a lot of light to shed! In all these areas so many us of had to squelch and push away again and again the deeper wisdom messages which were warning each of us about this direction that Andrew was heading. If at all you were like me, you just couldn't believe it because it had been one of the deepest, richest, most satisfying yet challenging time of our lives, one where we were genuinely touched by something sacred. And yet.....oh boy the “and yet” keeps getting bigger and bigger every moment!
We were so many of us deeply touched and inspired, genuinely! We fed off Andrew's tapping into and tugging on our innate human values of goodness and the longing for it to be a greater visible force in our lives and in this world. What happened? Where, at what point, did it all start to go awry? I would be very curious for anyone who has any clarifying insight into that matter.
I personally believe that the most effective response to all this, rather than getting caught up in years of working out confusion and upset and outrage (and I don’t mean we should stop the dialogue here), is to strive to show our lives going beyond this crazed deviation and contribute in our lives and try to be a force for good. There are SO many deeply inspirational people out there doing incredible work, attempting to bring forth some real goodness in themselves and in others, working at it honestly and humbly, at times stumbling, without it all pointing back to some singular uber-individual who everyone has to focus on. I think it’s about this human family, about strenghthening it with more and more people tapping into deep wisdom and having that humble, inspire, inform, share and drive their lives. It’s not all about Andrew…. Spiritual wisdom and support is out there and I have found it strengthening to recognize and look past the whole drama that has been so much of our lives with Andrew and start to step into the love and passion for the dharma in new ways….
Peace and best wishes to all -

Thursday, 19 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mario, thanks for a beautifully written account of perhaps the most outrageous example of unskillful means ever documented.

I also greatly appreciate Merosathi's comments. I would just make a small comment that I don't necessarily think Andrew "became" dangerously misguided. It seems that he was pretty consistent in his vehement "in your face" rebukes delivered first or second hand, throughout the 5 years I was with him.

Thursday, 19 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On the Guru Phenomenon....."
read the article here.

Friday, 20 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post was very painful to read and matched my experience of being a woman in the community after Andrew decided to take on women's conditioning....I didn't know Caroline well because I lived in the American community but definitely never knew what actually happened. It's horrible to see how out of control it all started to get. And though I have no doubt that Andrew had no intention to cause this kind of harm to's still a painful and horrible story.

I was one of the women and students or Andrew who was on both sides of the process Mario described here. At different times in my years with Andrew I was both the one doing the humiliating and then for many years one of the ones being humiliated. In the time since I left the community for good I have gone through a lot and am facing how much was wrong that I denied and ignored while there. It's a long, painful and freeing experience. Even though I will never go back, I still would never change having been involved with Andrew and I have no doubt that so much of who I am now is due to all those years with him. Yet I also know that there was pain caused, and damage done, that will take many years to find my way through....
I have also still had so much guilt about all the times that I acted as the humiliater in the community...and of course as one of Andrew's women students I had to face how easily I could be on a power trip. After reading Mario's post yesterday, I cried for awhile because I think maybe for the first time I could see in his description of Steve's painful role with Caroline how much Andrew pushed us to be aggressive (especially if we were one of his leaders) And then later, when we had fallen from grace for one reason or another, accused us of the same aggression and power tripping that he often encouraged and supported in us. I'm not trying to excuse my own behavior and is scary how easy it was to act that way and basically do anything to remain close to Andrew....but he didn't make it any easier.

Anyway...I know a lot of people won't like the fact that this is written anonymously but sometimes it's the only way we can speak freely.

Friday, 20 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the last "anonymous" - thanks for writing- I for one feel I've understood more where you were all coming from having been mainly on the receiving end of the humiliation handed out in the community. Also to Mario - I know you took a lot of care with that post and it's important to have gotten it out there.

Saturday, 21 January, 2006  
Anonymous Paul C said...

This would have to be single most heart wrenching post i have read here thus far. If you ever come to Sydney again Andrew (and i know at least one of your worker bees would be reading this), your going to get this whole forum printed off and thrown at you!

Saturday, 21 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Caroline

The Fruits of Suffering
Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also
those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering
they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits
we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our
comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the
generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this.
And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have bourne be forgiveness.

Found on a scrap of paper at the liberation of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany

Saturday, 21 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul C

I have had some similiar thoughts. He needs to be confronted not just on the internet but in person.

Craig T

Sunday, 22 January, 2006  
Anonymous Dragan Matijevic said...

Thank you Mario for taking such great care to investigate and write this article - I know how many years it took you to complete it. It is a worthy tribute to a very brave lady.

The article not only reveals a crime that Andrew Cohen wanted hidden from the public, but it also shows so much of what was really happening behind the scenes in the so-called community.

Regarding a belief expressed in one of the previous comments… The author says she is certain that "Andrew had no intention to cause this kind of harm to Caroline".

I think that Andrew knew exactly what he was doing. A person with his experience and understanding of human nature could not stab someone's heart with such ferocity and severity and then say, "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to."

I think the crime against Caroline was a crime without precedent; cruel, calculated, disguised and therefore abominable.

When some of my other friends were leaving the community, Andrew told them they would be haunted and would also fry in hell. What was the intention behind this? To save those ego-ridden souls from themselves (as his students would like to believe)? Or was it to enslave them?

Telling someone they have no character and are a total failure, and that if they don't return to the sheepfold and behave, they are doomed, is a cruel and vindictive act. Yet Andrew’s remaining students interpret it as the ultimate act of compassion!

The story that Andrew does everything out of ‘love’ permits the greatest cruelties of all: his students relinquish their autonomy, their responsibility and their hearts.

It seems to me that spirituality when corrupted is more insidious and grotesque than the political corruption that prevails in the West at the moment. But what they have in common is that they both dish out disguised fascism while pretending to give us freedom.

With best wishes to all,

Dragan Matijevic

Tuesday, 24 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Dragan's comments. Knowing the situation that Caroline had initially been rebuffed with her request to see Andrew, it is unavoidably clear that persisting on berating her for leaving could only have a detrimental effect on her. It just seems such an angry, agressive, vindictive reaction to something that wasn't being seen clearly at all.

Tuesday, 24 January, 2006  
Anonymous Drago said...

First of all, well done Mario, Thank you.
I knew Caroline well (I was a formal student for 7 years), and I was a great fond of her. The news about her death left me numb and confused because in the community we had nowhere to express how this made us feel, so I am really glad you have written a tribute to her, because Caroline deserved it.
After reading Mario’s article the following scene came in front of my eyes…
…I was in a position to see Cohen quite often when he was in London, I can’t remember how did Caroline come into the conversation, but he said laughing “You can not teach an old dog new tricks”, I looked at him puzzled, and he repeated getting close into my face “YOU CAN NOT TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS”, going on saying how stubborn she is and so on and on… (that was when Caroline had a difficult time and a few months later she became a lay student). I wasn’t too shocked at the time because I heard him making a number of bad comments about various people, but looking back I think this was a metaphor, illustrating what he really thought about her.

Only recently I heard the full story about Caroline, and this Cohen’s comment just added to the deep sadness I feel about the way she left this world.

Drago, London, UK

Tuesday, 24 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I've seen over the years, I think it's quite possible that Andrew just doesn't like older people.

Friday, 27 January, 2006  
Anonymous Andre Malagodi said...

Many thanks for giving some space for Caroline. I remember her vividly from my time in the community in London. Caroline wasn't always the easiest to discuss with, but I had a lot of respect for her views and her experience. At the time, when I heard the whole story about Steve's phone calls I was shocked, I could hardly believe that Steve could be so unloving, he ironically was one of the few senior people that I had a great respect for, but that did die quickly after that. I personally remember the times of having tea with Caroline as warm and great memories, which I will always cherish.

I was involved for a few years at the end of the nineties and the one thing that for me shocked me more than anything else was the weekend when I decided to announce to my fellow serious students that I was leaving, from that second over the 2 most excruciating days ever, I was viewed and treated as the devil. I remember vividly one student in a discussion on the weekend asking me in front of the group "so how is it to sit here amidst us all being the representative of doubt?", wow I was totally blown away by the total lack of respect for my own choice over my life. These where people I had shared my most intimate thoughts, feelings and views with and in the final case, they chose to throw all of that out the window, what a shame, so many people I loved dearly, which I never spoke to again (miss you all still). I remember this happening to another student a few years earlier, a lovely man called Dragan (Mr. Puppeteer), here was a man that gave his life to the benefit of others (he ran a puppet circus that he toured former Yugoslavia with to bring some joy and hope to kids of that war torn region), being pushed to stay... I never understood it and expressed that in the meeting, for which I was attacked. Why is the choice of man so poorly respected in this community?

Andrew always said that the most important and overriding tenet of enlightenment was clarity of intent, so what is it that is so wrong about changing your mind, if you have given 12 - 36 - 100 months of your life to pursue something with all of your heart and you decide to change your mind and realise that what you thought you wanted was not what you wanted? I can still to this day not reconcile Andrew's disappointment with people leaving, he again always stated "It's never enough until it is too much", so again what is wrong about realising a personal limit and saying, "hey, this, this is actually too much, I can't go there right now, I need time to look at that"?

I have found a great teaching in the diamond approach and ironically I realised how much of a parrot I had become of Andrew's views and how despite thinking I had deep experience, in-sight with the teachings I found that much of it was not my own.

To those of you in Andrew's community who secretly read these lines, be a light upon yourself, take the time you need, if Andrew needs you to move in a tempo that you are not prepared for, stand up for your own self, sacrificing that for anyone is never worth it.

ex-Marin, Boston and London communitee

Monday, 30 January, 2006  
Anonymous Smadar Carmon said...

Mario, great article. In reading this tragic story about a person I loved, it has taken me through my whole experience of being Andrew's student. It clearly shows the megalomania, small minded and small hearted ways Andrew was conducting the community. I'm curios as of why people are still writing under anonymous, (dare I ask?) I assume there are different reasons, but could it be that they are still afraid of Andrew?
Smadar, former student.

Tuesday, 31 January, 2006  
Anonymous Philip Roddis said...

I read with great interest the January 11th contribution from Stas - whom I remember with affection from my own days as a London student of Andrew - on the Aristotelian x or not-x, "I'm Absolutely Right or Insane", logic. I too have come to the conclusion Stas has drawn. He's nuts - or as the man himself might put it, A Truly Liberated Ego.

You can draw this conclusion simply by playing by his rules, but opting for the right rather than left side of the formulation. You can draw it from the empirical data now building up as - thanks to this blog and the Tarlo/der Braak books - the walls of silence come down. Or you can draw it through simple reflection on the laws of psychology. Not the laws you get from textbooks but from your own experience: what happens to the grip on reality of a man who isolates himself from negative feedback (even the most minor) by insisting, in the name of the "guru principle", on unquestioning loyalty and "respect" (read: sycophancy) from all who come close? A man who, on failing to get these things, can have no further dealings with the recalcitrant? A man incapable, in short, of any relationship - other than one of short term expediency - between equals?

(On that last point read, in Luna Tarlo's Mother of God, the passage where she meets anti-guru U.G. Krishnamurti. Asked by Luna what would happen - this is before The Split - if Poonja were to publicly disown Andrew, UGK replies without hesitation: "he will claim to have surpassed his former master". Divine prophecy? No, simple appliance of the laws of the human psyche: laws we were foolish enough to believe Andrew had transcended.)

For all his frequent claims that he will Stand In The Truth after every single one of his students has left him, it is my belief that Andrew Cohen needs his students far more than they (whatever they might now think) need him. His is an enormous ego - which, by the way, is pretty much his definition of insanity - requiring ever greater sacrifices from others. So far the situation falls short of WACO and Jonestown proportions, but the same dialectics are at play.

And it's a tragedy for him. (Though one eclipsed by those he has brought down on others - see, for example, Mario's recent contribution on Caroline.) I no longer consider myself "spiritual" - I'm far more interested in the psychology of it all - but anyone who ever saw Andrew Cohen teach knew they were in the presence of someone remarkable, and not just in the negative sense. Maybe he is a genius in his way.

Alas, genius and remarkability do not come proofed against madness.

Tuesday, 31 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really awful.

When will Andrew's fat ego be dying anytime soon?

This Cohen person's vision of enlightenment is NEITHER correct nor true.

Saturday, 18 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a twenty-two year old girl who's mother has been involved with Andrew Cohen for the past 14 years. i have never really taken too much of an interest in his teachings despite my mothers efforts but have always simply lived with him in our lives quite contentedly as i have always perceived it as being a very good thing for my mother. She is a very dynamic and charismatic woman and andrews teachings only seem to add to that. They appear to have made her independent, comfident and she is able to show me a different and challenging way of looking at life that i don't get from anywhere else.
However i have always had some concerns about certain aspects of his teaching, mainly the hierarchicle structure he employs. After reading caroline's story i obviously now have some deeper concerns about the way my mother may be being treated within the community. The Rishikesh retreat was mentioned which i know my mother was at although i doubt she was aware of the womens treatment as she doesn't live in one of the communities and isn't one of the most senior students. Therefore i doubt she has experienced too much of the abuse mentionted but is it just a matter of time as i'm sure she will be a student of andrews for a very long time?
I would be extremely grateful to any of the ex or current students for helping me to understand what it is that my mother is involved with.

Tuesday, 27 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a student of Andrews for 2 years. I was very close to him although I would not have called myself a member of the "inner circle". I have read this blog from time to time but until reading Mario's tribute to Caroline I have never felt moved to post anything. This was so sad, so horrendous, I wanted to cry, I can't get it out of my mind. Andrew needs to be arrested. This is the only way to stop his madness and sadistic behavior. I lived with Steve Brett for a while and when he would put me down in discust the way that he does and the way he must have put Caroline down, I would visualise him wearing a Nazi uniform. And that is indeed what he is, a Nazi soldier and so we know who that makes Andrew. They are responsible for her death, I don't know about England but in the U.S. they could be charged with a crime. Still it is a crime against humanity and some how, some where it will come back to him.

Tuesday, 19 December, 2006  

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