Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Some Common Misunderstandings of 'Two Truths Doctrine' in Nondual Philosophies that May Impede Recognition and Discussion of Painful Situations

by Anonymous

[Note from The Editors: The following remarkably lucid (and scholarly) article was originally posted as a comment to the article Vimala Thakar’s Concealed Criticism and Andrew Cohen’s Treatment of Women—The Investigation Continues. We thought it might be good at this juncture to quiet the dogs of war, take a deep breath and consider its clarifying wisdom on the relationship between experiences of the absolute and conduct in the relative--often a tricky and confusing matter.]

1) From a lettery by Tim Conway


“…the greatest sages of India have long cautioned that enlightened spiritual vision must function on two levels:

the absolute level of (paramarthika satyam)
the conventional, "relatively real" level of truth (vyavaharika satyam).

(Note: In Buddhadharma this is known as 'Two Truths Doctrine' and an interested reader can find an article about it on Wikipedia)

Conway writes: 'Thus, the sages, when speaking from the absolute level of parlance, say that, indeed, everything is Divine, all is Brahman, nothing is wrong (in fact, no-thing is really happening!), it's all the perfect leela of the One.

‘But, on the relative or conventional level, the level of earthly conduct, these sages strongly uphold the Dharma of righteous action, ahimsa, purity, and so forth.

'Such sages thus say that, in the absolute view, everything is okay, but on the relative level they are quite adamant that certain behaviors are wrong, sinful, or just inappropriate and should be stopped.

‘For devotees of the Lord to sit back and just say that "everything is divine," which is certainly true on the absolute level, but then do nothing about evils and injustices that occur within the dream of earthly life because "it is all divine" --is a terrible avoidance of basic duty on behalf of Dharma. With this apathy and flawed attitude, none of the great evils of history would have ever been resisted and overcome.

"…one can in fact see everything as Divine leela, but still be quite active in an engaged spirituality on behalf of socio-economic justice issues. (unquote)

(from the article by Renard entitled ‘A Hot Potato’) http://www.advaya.nl/

2) “I still like the expression ‘Advaita Shuffle’ for what I mean here. It points to secretly (or unconsciously) removing a subject that is experienced as threatening or uneasy to a level where that uneasy matter has ‘dissolved’; in other words dissolved into the very substance it consists of indeed: Consciousness itself, pure Knowing.

‘A smuggletrick is used in order not to be accountable as an individual (because ‘the individual’ is seen as unreal). And that accountability is precisely what this is all about.

“What actually is accountability?

”It means being open to the reality of all levels, no matter how temporal and relative, and being ready to resonate with those levels. It also means a readiness to listen to comments or observations that may refer to a specific attitude which could be a blind spot for us.

“Even though one has seen and ‘experienced’ deeply that one is nothing else but undifferentiated, homogeneous Consciousness, one still is, when relating to people, a visual and behaving figure who could be mistaken sometimes. And nothing or no one is getting any benefit from hiding behind ‘Consciousness’ when one is mistaken. (Unquote)

3) Over forty years ago, Sanskrit scholar Aghendanda Bharati, an Austrian born Sanyassi monk in India, tartly described a abuse of two truths doctrine-- used by some Indian scripture scholars or religious professionals when they wanted to avoid admitting that they had lost an argument because their logic was flawed or their understanding or use of textual material had been faulty.

Bharati reported, ”I learned the stereotypical method of rebuttal common to all traditions of religious doctrine in India: The moment discursive thought (that is, thought that is based on reaching a conclusion through use of reason and verifiable /falsifiable evidence) would jeopardize the axiomatic perfection of the text, the critic is given a simple line:

‘Your argument may be intellectually valid but what of it? Only those who have seen the light can see the consistency of the text. Only those who have experienced the truth from within can see that intellectual argument is of no avail in the end.’

"This would hardly be objectionable were the atmosphere among Indian scholastics purely non-discursive.

‘But’ wrote Bharati ‘this is not true: the theologians avail themselves of refined scholastic argument all the time, but they jettison all of it the moment their axioms are impugned.’

(Bharati, from his memoir The Ochre Robe pages 132 to 133)
The confusion of different levels of reality listed by Tim Conway can be the product of an innocent misunderstanding — a misunderstanding that seems common on the spiritual path and that frequently goes uncorrected.

The distortions of two truths doctrine described by Renard as a ‘smuggletrick’ and a 'steoreotypical method of rebuttal' by Bharati are harder to identify and correct.

Confrontation is often frowned on in spiritual communities, with the result that problems go undiscussed and uncorrected.

It is also quite difficult to identify and rebut this kind of argumentation when one is under severe stress--- often the case when one is undergoing the ordeal of discovering that a beloved spiritual community or teacher has become hurtful.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Call To Action And A Letter To Bill O’Reilly

P.O.’ed Old Man Leads The Way

Recently, a new contributor to What Enlightenment??! has been leading a rousing call to action against the authoritarian abuse and exploitation of followers by self-styled "guru" Andrew Cohen. P.O.'ed Old Man explained that he is the grandfather of a victim of Cohen's manipulation and abuse. PO'ed felt most of us were making a mistake--we shouldn't just get mad, we should do something about it:
My grand daughter spent 5 years with Andrew and she never spoke a word to me during that time. I read some of his stuff and I think you folks miss the point , there is a lot of fancy language around what he says but he seems to me to be simply a fraud who takes advantage of people. My grand daughter now visits me all the time, she’s not very well, though. Andrew took a beautiful women and turned her into a fearful depressed person, it’s like he sucked the spirit out of her and left only a confused shell.

I appreciate all of your contributions I have read them all it makes me sad to see what’s happened to my grand daughter, really sad that a life has been so destroyed by someone she chose to put trust in. I hope one day someone finds a way of stopping him.

P.O.'ed suggested in another comment going after Cohen's "Achilles heel"—his financial exploitation of followers. He explained he would do it himself, but for his advanced age:
These kinds of cults always have a shadow side. Some of this shadow is exposed through this blog, I am sure there are more lies and deceit below the surface. People who act like this are usually projecting some hidden truths. My bet is that his financial model is very tightly controlled. No one really knows what’s happening except for a few (probably outside the community), these accountants and lawyers would have created not for profit trusts that are under the control of Andrew, these trusts are the then siphoned by way of special charges for consultancy , dubious outside services .My grand daughter was continuously asked for money, she gave over some $28,000 in the last 2 years.

The focus on financial donation I believe shows his weakness. I believe an IRS audit and exposure of how his multi million dollar empire is run would go a long way toward bringing his evil empire down.

If I was younger I would do it myself.

In further posted comments, P.O.'ed got quite specific in his recommendations for how former Cohen followers could empower themselves and stop further abuse by Cohen, suggesting the questions that should be asked, and a course of action to get an investigation started:
Does he for instance draw down as a cost of providing leadership services?
Does he pay his wife a wage?
Are the charges that make up the costs reasonable expenses?
Are assets sold to third parties for below market rates ?
Are assets bought from third parties at above market rates?
Who are the directors of the non profit trust ? What are their fees for such services?
The laws and compliance issues around not for profits require substantial paperwork and compliance to federal laws, from what I have told he seems to have an obsession with money so I wouldn’t be surprised that this might be the key to his undoing.

all you need is a tenacious accountant most of the stuff you need can be found on the public record.

There are other things you could find out as well. there maybe directors who are also benefit from his favor at the magazine. These directors could be targeted (for instance the spiral dynamics guy). If I was younger I would do it myself.

I have some experience here and I find it odd that he qualifies under the federal laws required for non profits, in fact I would be amazed if he did. If doesn’t provide any community services of any substance. the fact that he writes books hardly qualifies him under federal law nor does running a commune.

So I would be interested in any comments that specifically outline the structure of his organization and financial affairs. I have read back through here and apart from the summary liabilities, income and assets I have not detected a lot of depth in understanding in these issues by the ex members.

Does he keep these issues separate?

Does he employ outsiders in order to quarantine knowledge of these issues from members?

If it’s all been explored before fair enough, my apologies

I think you should all petition the IRS to ask for a full investigation of the activities and accounts of the organization

IRS at 1-800-829-0433

I think you should also contact the Congressman John Oliver and alert them to this website and request an investigation.


Those of you who have more serious cases of abuse should take the time make a sworn statement to accompany a personal letter to Congressman Oliver.

You should also send sworn statements to Senator John Kerry and Edward Kennedy

Folks this is America believe in the system, believe in your cause and make the effort. I will have my granddaughter to do the same.

Hal, I would also suggest you print this blog with accompanying financial statements and send to every news organization in the country requesting and investigation .

Cohen’s story would make very good press as he is living like a billionaire. The mansions, international travel and cars make good press. 60 minutes would make him look like the greedy cruel man you have all found him to be.

Only then will many of you get the peace that you deserve.

To make it easy for anyone who wants to take P.O.'ed up on his call to action, in a subsequent posted comment, he provided us with more numbers to call:
Call the IRS today and request they investigate EnlightenNext Inc for fraud at 1-800-829-0433.

Call Congressman John Oliver 202-225-5335 and request he investigate the non profit status on Enlightennext Inc and the fraudulent practices of self proclaimed guru Andrew Cohen.

But, despite his age, P.O.'ed isn't stopping there. Showing the fortitude, tenacity and just plain guts that must have helped this vet get through many tough scrapes before in his long life—and calling to mind the "we're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" attitude that it takes to stop a shameless manipulator and abuser like Cohen, now P.O.'ed has written to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, calling for Cohen's harmful antics to be publicized and the public warned by putting him on O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone."

P.O.'ed is an example to all of us of how not to lie down for abusers and exploiters like Cohen, but get up and do something about them. His letter to O'Reilly, which he copied to us and asked me to post, is reproduced below:

Letter To Bill O'Reilly
by P.O.'ed Old Man

Dear Bill,

I am 81 year old retired war vet I enjoy your show and watch it every day .

About 9 years ago my grand daughter joined a cult run by self styled guru Andrew Cohen. During the time she was in the cult she never spoke to myself or her parents. About 4 years ago she eventually realized that the leader was a manipulative and abusive person and left. When she tried to leave she was subject to harassment and physical abuse. Since then she has tried to take her own life but the worst seems to be over. Her doctor attributes her bipolar disorder to the shocking abuse she received directly at the hands of Andrew Cohen.

My granddaughter is not alone. Literally hundreds of people have suffered a the hands of this so called guru. A victim’s site called What Enlightenment??! can be found at this URL:

and here

Please read the stories of these people carefully and you will see a deplorable pattern of abuse that literally goes back 2 decades. Even his mother wrote a damning book on the her son:

and there have been many other books from ex cult members. You can find a good summary of his history here:

Cohen travels the world, drives luxury cars and lives on a 220 acre estate in Lenox, MA, all under the umbrella of a non profit organization called Enlightennext Inc. I have provided links to this cult leader’s financial returns below. This guru pays himself exorbitant wages and director’s fees while his followers (volunteers) get paid nothing. This man is laughing at America, he is destroying people’s lives and dodges taxes by abusing the purpose of his non profit tax structure.

Bill, I fought for America and this isn’t the America I fought for and its not the America many of my fallen friends fought to protect. This guy is laughing at us all!

Please do an old man a favor and put this guy in the “No Spin” zone for me.

This guy needs to be stopped and the laws need to be changed so people cannot abuse the non profit protection designed to protect bono fide charities. I am getting a little old to take part but I am sure you can find plenty of ex cult members. I have asked the ones who would like to provide information to email you directly. I think seeing justice done would help my granddaughter heal. Thanks in advance. Put the bastard on full cycle and spin him good.

P.O. Box 2360
Lenox, MA 01240

2004 Guidestar Financial Docs

2003 Guidestar Financial Docs

2002 Guidestar Financial Docs

The following are links to the UK financial reports



CC Hal please copy this to the site minus my email address and identification details . I want everyone who wants to participate to email Bill O’Reilly asap. I feel comfortable the Bill will pick this up and run with it and even if he doesn’t somebody at Fox will. I want to put this guy behind bars where he belongs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Remarkable Consistency

by Aaron
(Blogger name gniz)

I have read a great deal about the Cohen situation, whether it be the books that are available, WIE magazine itself, blogs on Cohen’s website, and the reports on this blog. There is REMARKABLE consistency in the stories that are recounted about the behavior of this group. If there were a trial, I believe there is simply overwhelming circumstantial evidence as to what has occurred on Cohen’s watch.

The similarity of language used by people who are in the fold of Andrew’s group is just astounding. Using those buzzwords (evolution, conditioning, shedding of the ego, the impersonality of enlightenment). It seems to me that anyone using just a bit of discrimination can see that this is a sham. I am sorry to say it that way, to perhaps belittle what is so important to many people in this forum.

Andrew’s new phase seems to be that he is now stating that groups of students are enlightened, but only through their “group mind communication” and only under his direction. Notice his pattern is to make sure that he is the driving force behind everything and that nothing can continue without his help. If he claimed that “individual students” were enlightened, then they could potentially break away and threaten his reign.

But this way he gets to have his cake and eat it too. By proclaiming this new version of enlightenment through group communication, he gets to claim victory (like Bush in Iraq) without actually letting anyone move on and become adults. He is still big Daddy, responsible for making sure that people attain this supposed state.

What is this big evolution that everyone keeps talking about? Sorry, but it sounds like vague New Age bullshit to me. Being conscious of the moment, being present to my life is the only thing that seems sane to me. I don’t need Andrew Cohen or anyone else to do that. I could sit in a 6 foot by 6 foot box and be present. I can do it while I shop for groceries.

The ultimate egotism, it seems to me, is to claim that humans, and particularly this group of humans, are the standard bearers of conscious “evolution” of the universe. Give me a break. It’s just life. Pay attention.

Buy your groceries. Watch a movie. Pay attention. Simple.
No need for dumb gurus.


BTW, I actually have a guru and teacher. He lives miles away, doesn’t expect worship or money and doesn’t tell me how to live my life.