Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Part 2 – A Response To Andrew Cohen's "Declaration of Integrity"

Some Personal Recollections
by S.A.


[Former What Is Enlightement? magazine editor S.A. provides further reflections in response to Andrew Cohen's recent attempt on his blog to explain his conduct which has been the subject of widespread criticism.]

I’d like to add a little personal background to my previous post so that readers can understand the kind of perplexity produced in sincere students by some of the situations described in this blog.

I remember clearly the first time I saw Andrew Cohen instruct one student to hit another. We were seated in a circle talking with him on a beach by the Ganges in Rishikesh. A male student made a remark to which Andrew took exception, and he instructed a female student sitting next to the speaker to punch him in the shoulder. Judging by both the sound produced and the pained expression on the victim’s face, it was clearly a powerful blow. However, the student accepted this ‘gesture’ without protest, and the conversation continued as if nothing had happened. At the time, this did not strike me as so outlandish as to require rationalization, and taking my cues from the group, I allowed myself to accept it. The “contextual” presumption was clearly that the student had benefited from this skillful response to a remark that, in Andrew’s perception, was a manifestation of “ego.”

I recently recalled this ‘early’ incident while mulling over a couple of later ones that I have always found far more troubling, and the interesting thing about it is that I vividly remember both a) the negative effect it produced in me and b) my willingness to ignore it. Energetically and philosophically, the atmosphere around Andrew is dynamic and charged, and in such an atmosphere it is a given that many accepted conventions of thought and behavior are suspended. Indeed, it is doubtful that many of us would have been with Andrew had this not been the case. Under such circumstances, incidents such as this one evoked in me—simultaneously—contradictory ‘levels’ of internal response, from cognitive dissonance (‘something is wrong here’) to business-as-usual (‘everything here is perfect’).

A few years later, I was in an evening men’s meeting at Foxhollow at which everyone was supposedly “together” with the exception of one student who was expressing what was consensually interpreted as “doubt.” Andrew’s informer for that evening, having left the room to tell him what was happening in the meeting, returned to ask us if, with the exception of that student, we were all “really together.” We answered yes, then waited while our emissary went back to Andrew for further instructions. These were not long in coming: We were to gather outside, where enough vehicles would arrive to take us all down to the lake. There, we were each to punch the doubter in the right shoulder, after which he was to submerge himself several times in the cold water while shouting “Freedom has no history!”

As I was riding down to the lake in the moonlight surrounded by my ‘brothers-in-arms’ in the back of a pick-up truck, I asked myself what was really going on here. Was this what I’d signed on for when I’d become a formal student—organized group violence, torture and humiliation? Whatever they were calling it—tough love, purification—my alarm bells were going off and it was suddenly clear to me that I was in the midst of a situation that would probably precipitate my departure from the community. Under the circumstances, (hopefully) needless to say, these were sentiments that produced tremendous confusion and inner conflict given my genuine devotion to the stated principles and aspirations of our communal life. Was I then a hypocrite? And if so, which was the greater hypocrisy: the toleration of violence against a brother, or of my own doubts as to Andrew’s wisdom and purity of motivation? I recognized in this moment that as a so-called ‘spiritual commando’ I was likely to prove utterly inadequate. Should I be more ashamed of this, or of my craven unwillingness to admit it then and there and accept the probable physical consequences? In the end I participated in this ritual without comment. One of the final shoulder blows was so effectively administered by a military-trained member of Andrew’s security team (also a holistic healer!) that it produced a nauseating pop I can still hear and a wince I can still see. After his ordeal was over, however, the student thanked us for helping him to overcome his doubt, and remains (to his credit?) a longstanding member of Andrew’s community.
On another occasion it fell to me to report to Andrew on the progress of a similar ritual recounted elsewhere in this blog, that of an editorial colleague (since departed) who’d been required to submerge himself in the frozen lake one hundred times while yelling repeatedly, “I am an asshole!” Entering his office I encountered Andrew with several of his committed students, who laughed derisively at my secondhand account of this student’s ordeal (e.g., having to relocate to less conspicuous waterfront and start over), congratulating Andrew when he asserted proudly that “things like this happen only around me,” and enthusiastically affirming his insistence that no other contemporary teacher had the “outrageous integrity” to prescribe such ruthless austerities.

Why am I reporting these incidents? For two reasons: First, I am tired of hearing it said that people should simply “get over” the effects of such experiences and carry on with their lives as if nothing had happened. Second and more importantly, both the confusion produced by such incidents, and their legitimacy as facilitators of spiritual development, are crucial topics for discussion. Why? Because they help to explain why so many people who had—and in many cases still have—feelings of incredible respect, gratitude and devotion for Andrew Cohen, have nevertheless felt compelled to move on. It is far less polarizing to approach the issue with this possibility in mind than simply to impugn the integrity of those who dare to speak out. And if a “context” and “practices” of this nature have prompted so many to leave who might otherwise have preferred to stay, it would be well for Andrew and his present community to be humbly aware of that and, as the saying goes, to face into it.

The imposing infrastructure now at Andrew’s disposal was co-created by him and many students who believed wholeheartedly in his realization and vision for humanity, and who in many cases still share that vision and acknowledge Andrew’s contribution to their development as cosmic citizens. It is high time that Andrew made his peace with these people by acknowledging and accepting their experiences as his students, and by encouraging his present students to do the same rather than inveigling them into a selective public relations campaign that serves his image rather than the whole truth.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really excellent post(s) Simeon, thank you.

Mario

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Blogger Bjorn said...

Dear Simeon, really excellent piece. Thank you for stating it so clearly. This is the kind of attitude and behaviour that always had put me off within Andrew's community. I had always considered it be behaviour common to certain people, whether "spiritual" or otherwise, and and that Andrew displayed this kind of "macho" attitude I usually put it down to his New York american personality, but really didn't like when students thought and felt they had free licence to adapt similar behaviour. It just stood out to be bullying and superiority. Many ambitious students willingly climbing over other students to score points with Andrew, or so they believed.
I watched with bemusement but knew sooner or later this would lead to my departure. But, there are also many warm hearted students who will not tarnish themselves with this kind of bullying behaviour that some use to "practice" their own "leadership" qualities.
Once again I am reminded of the enormous resposibility one have over ones actions if one have great authority over other people. They will leap over opportunities to "promote" themselves in the name of truth. Wanting to emulate the teachers personality. Dress or otherwise.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post, Simeon. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to speak about your internal process through all of this. It helps me so very much to read this blog, it really does. Having been involved with a "spiritual teacher" who is strikingly similar to Andrew, I've also reflected on moments that felt surreal; moments where I saw and experienced things that caused alarm bells to sound off inside of me, but at the same time I was unable to speak up and say, "Please stop. This is sick and wrong." I've struggled with guilt over all of this... over not seeing just how destructive and sick this teacher was (and still is) and not doing anything about it or trying to stop it.

I know I made decisions based on the information I had at the time, from the lens I had at the time. In some moments I have a certain level of compassion towards my little self about that. Now my lens is clear (or more clear) and now what do I do? Maybe I don't need to "do" anything, but I gotta tell ya, some moments still haunt me. I know I need to let go of this stuff or at least learn how to smile at it. But, most importantly, some people I love very much still trust this person. That is what bothers me the most.

See, I saw inappropriate sexual behavior (in the name of Tantra, of course. What a deal. Now you can be totally obsessed with sex and call it religion. Who can resist union with the Divine, plus being a special, chosen student/shakti/devotee?). I am SO upset about this it's hard to type.

It was damaging to very vunerable people and they are still wounded from it. I witnessed financial "donations" that were just plain wrong. I saw a teacher who said one thing and lived a totally different, secretive and very DARK life. I'm talking icky dark. I saw it all. I saw it because I was their partner. It's hard to keep those kinds of secrets from someone you live with.
(Turns out.) But they tried.

I went through the whole thing... self doubt, questioning my egoic reactions, thinking I was crazy... the whole enchilada. Ultimately I found a way to trust my own insides and hear my own voice, heart, and spirit again, instead of the voice of this person.

So I left. I still have relationships with some who followed this person, and some are still "hooked in." Some know there is "something wrong", too. I am talking about truly wonderful, loving people here. People you see and just want to hug right away.

I have been very careful about what I say, since my leaving caused a bit of a ripple to go out into the community. I was strongly connected to this particular teacher and folks have been scratchng their heads about the whole thing. (Including me.) People are asking why and I don't know what to say other than watered down general comments that aren't anywhere near as honest as I'd like to be. That leaves me feeling like a great big fake. It really does. I walk away from those conversations totally pissed off at myself.

See, I deeply question whether it's my responsibility to "out" this teacher. If I say something, am I interfering with that teacher and student's karma or whatever else needs to play out? Please don't anybody yell at me for asking that question. That is honestly where I am at in this moment.

Yet I know people could be hurt if they stay involved with this person. Some won't, too. It's my perception that this teacher is very selective about who gets close and who doesn't; no different than what I sense about Andrew. I really don't know what to do, so I've just kept it to myself or talked to a couple people who are totally outside of the situation.

This relates so much to what I've kept up on with this blog since it came about. I've read it and thought about this and prayed for those who were harmed by Andrew. The teacher I was involved with is just as charismatic, attractive, and compelling. I belive this teacher has the capacity to get to Andrew's "level" of influence.

It's a troubling thing... spiritual teachers who have this sacred responsibility who just do whatever they want, no matter who it hurts. Some don't even have the capacity to think about whether or not it hurts anybody, because after all, they are a guru (self-prescribed). It's "crazy wisdom."

It's perfectly appropriate to have a reaction to behavior that is ethically and spiritually wrong. But somehow it gets turned around and those who "smell something bad" end up skaking their heads, walking away muttering to themselves and questioning the very fiber of their being, while wondering if they are crazy or bad or just so full of ego that they can't trust what they know in their hearts and spirits to be true. Does THAT lead to enlightenment? Ignoring our hearts? I just don't think so anymore.

Please, please forgive me for my rant... I know this blog isn't about me and my little experience. But there's a common theme here. What do we, as spiritual folks or those spiritually inclined to seek and love and try to live where there's lots of light... what do we do when we come across a teacher who does these things? Who holds these folks accountable? Are they accountable? Or do we just walk away, chalk it up to experience and hope nobody else gets hurt? My tummy says I can't live with that.

One thing I know is this: I will for the rest of my life be very leery about spiritual teachers. I gotta tell ya, I hear the word "teacher" or "community" and me little hackles go UP. My mind really wants to snap shut, or ask some uncomfortable and down right nosy questions. I don't plan on walking around like that forever, either. Just for now. I know there's a continuum there somewhere and I'm definitely on it. Where, I'm not sure that really exists anyway. (Now there's the rub.)

Is there some group or guideline or forum or some tangible thing that exists where this can be talked about? Is there a place folks come come together and put on a pot of coffee or tea and visit about this stuff? Huh? Cuz there's lots of "teachers" out there and some of them are really causing a ruckus. I'm not saying that folks should sit around and bitch and feel vicitmized either. I'm just saying that I feel pulled from the inside to do something about it or at least talk about it, but I don't know where to start. Just typing this out on this day helps a bit.

Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your post is enlightening Simeon. The Inner Circle is a world unto itself and to find out what transpires in the name of Evolutionary Enlightenment certainly raises questions that will probably never be addressed by those responsible for abusive actions. Perhaps burning in the Light of Truth is too much to ask of those who demand it from others, but wouldn't it be thrilling to actually have a dialogue and investigation into these issues? All that ever appears in response to these serious concerns are slams against the victims and arrogant disregard of the facts of what happened. I keep checking back on this site in hopes that one day I will find a serious reckoning has occurred. Contrary to what Andrew's supporters probably feel, this is not a crucifiction that is going on here. It is simply an enquiry into what happened and why. It did happen and no "Declaration of Integrity" can change the facts. What is needed is an actual demonstration of Integrity in action. Anything less is empty posturing.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would be "an actual demonstration of Integrity in action". How would that look, and who decides - and on what grounds is that decision made?

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the previous poster asks: "What would be "an actual demonstration of Integrity in action". How would that look, and who decides - and on what grounds is that decision made?"

Well, for starters, I would say that instead of just generally claiming to have integrity, you actually address some specific charges or criticisms made against your actions. You take responsibility for them, and either state why you feel they were appropriate -- or if they were "mistakes", you admit that (instead of having one of your students, like Carter, come in on your behalf and say that you never said you were "perfect". This is not a demonstration of integrity. It's rather insulting to all concerned.) Shouldn't such demonstrated integrity be expected of anyone in any position of authority, let alone a spiritual teacher leading the way?

If one wants to create the appearance of being humble, and having integrity, you just say the words, as Andrew has done so far. If you want to demonstrate integrity, and really show that you don't believe you have always acted perfectly (a dangerous position), then you indicate specifically where you have gone wrong and own that, apologize or whatever. What past, present and future students don't need is a political-style spin of the issue. In all the allegations and criticisms it is his across the board avoidance of addressing specifics that frankly is what is so concerning about Andrew Cohen

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might be very helpful to investigate whether there is a process of selective recruitment going on here.

Simeon wrote:

"Energetically and philosophically, the atmosphere around Andrew is dynamic and charged, and in such an atmosphere it is a given that many accepted conventions of thought and behavior are suspended.

"Indeed, it is doubtful that many of us would have been with Andrew had this not been the case. "

Is it possible that it is only those persons who crave intensity and who seek high risk and who demonstrate a willingness to obey orders to insult and harm others who are actually the ones selected for the inner circle?'

If this is the case, then it may be that AC prefers a specific type of person to form his entourage--and if you assemble a group composed only of persons who are indealistic, highly assertive, crave risk and challenge, but who have been persuaded that kindness is weakness and willingness to rationalize cruelty is a sign of spiritual maturity--this creates a social context in which behavior can rapidly spiral out of control.

And once people are persuaded to behave in ways that they are ashamed of, this instills shame. And if a person carries out cruelty on orders from a leader, that person becomes what has been termed a 'victim perpetrator'--you become complicit in the leader's violent behavior.

Violating one's own moral standards by harming others on orders from a charismatic leader often leads to shock and confusion and one feels all the more dependent on this same leader for guidance. Thus the trap is sprung.

One great hazard of being recruited into the inner circle of an abusive leader is that if you are persuaded to harm others, the victims will often make excuses for the leader, but will instead put all the blame on the members of the entourage who were turned into victim perpetrators.

Rajneesh is an example--he was merely deported from the US back to India, while members of his inner circle were the ones who served the jail time.

And if victim perpetrators find the courage to leave, they often bear a terrible burden of shame and it can take a long time to sort this out and then speak up.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

Bjorn and Simeon,

I wouldn't feel bad about doing what Andrew told you to do. We are all essentially innocent. We are all going through the process of evolution and mistakes are inevitable. You were psychologically trapped.

Of course, Andrew would say that you did sign on for that treatment. As he wrote in his article, "This will take all you have and more." So you are supposed to somehow give more than you have. It's always "bigger" and "more" and "ever higher" in his mind.

Ironically, Papaji's mere lying was an "emotionally shattering" experience for Andrew. Such hypocrisy would be obvious to any objective observer.

I think he lets himself off the hook for everything because he thinks he is doing it for God. When he was 16 he got the message from God to give everything to God, and this is probably what he thinks he is doing. He thinks anything is okay for a noble cause.

He's deluded. But he's not the only one.

For anyone wanting profound insight into Andrew Cohen's ego fixation, check out the enneagram. He is the first type. See: www.enneagraminstitute.com/typeone.asp

Once you understand the enneagram, you will never be trapped by a guru's ego fixation again. It is very liberating. You start to see the whole thing objectively.

P.S. Andrew has another post on his blog.

Martin Gifford.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer your questions posed to my post regarding "an actual demonstration of Integrity in action", an example of an actual demonstration of Integrity in this case would be responding directly to the charges of abuse. It would look courageous. Each one would decide for themselves on the grounds of an inner response to the humility of the demonstration. Integrity is easily recognizable and illicits a response of love and forgiveness.
Integrity as defined by Dictionary.com -
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

Wednesday, 08 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Thank you for your stories, Simeon. I really appreciated the light being shed around this. I tried to post a comment to Andrew's blog raising some questions about his "declaration" only to be filtered out. I found at least one other person with a similar experience of being edited out who has written about it at another blog--ebuddha at Integral Practice writes about his experience and how "humorous" he finds Andrew Cohen's "attempt to embrace blogs." Worth checking out his comments. And he links to P2P Foundation's great praise for "the wonderful work" of the What Enlightenment??! blog.

Sunday, 12 November, 2006  
Blogger Stuart said...

I read Andrew's 2nd blog posting and submitted my comment. On the off chance that it gets rejected by Andrew's moderator, I figured I'd post it here too.

**********

Andrew: you write about losing "the ability to make value distinctions." Of course it can sometimes be useful to make distinctions, but we can be aware that we're *making* them. For example, when you wrote in the previous blog entry, "As far as I’m concerned, the spiritual life is just like any other endeavor—you can succeed or fail"... you're making "success" and "failure." When you write in this blog about individuals who are “not completely ‘cooked,’ or ‘finished,’” you’re making ideas of “cooked” and “not completely cooked.”

You write in this blog that "the traditional definition of enlightenment refers to coming to the end of the developmental process, to having 'arrived.'" The "traditional definition" of "enlightenment" depends on which tradition you choose to look at! In the Zen tradition, for example, "enlightenment" is a word that means putting down concepts, perceiving this moment, and responding to it.

You write that you teach that enlightenment "is not about coming to the end of anything, but rather, to the beginning of something else." This is likewise a concept of enlightenment; it's just a different concept (that of "beginning" rather than "end").

You write, "my own understanding of what enlightenment is has evolved so much over the years that these days it really has very little to do with what my teacher was teaching." Is it that your concept of enlightenment was wrong back then, but it’s right now? If your ideas have changed so much over the years, will they continue changing, so that some day you'll consider your current ideas of enlightenment just as wrong?

In other words: as you exchange one idea of enlightenment for another, do you question: “Why make and hold any idea? For what? For who?”

Wednesday, 15 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that the person who shared about being abused by another spiritual teacher with amazing similarities to Andrew was talking about Eli Jaxon-Bear.

As a one-time admirer of Gangaji and Eli -- who, fortunately, never experienced the outrageous abusiveness of Andrew Cohen -- I am horrified to learn about the various abuses that have been perpetrated in the name of "enlightenment." At the same time I am glad and thankful that people are speaking out about their experiences, as I once was in an abusive relationship with a spiritual teacher, and years later I am still grappling with the pain that arose within that relationship.

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

Thursday, 16 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart, your latest posting is bang-on and exactly the point we need to consider when tempted to allow a supposedly enlightened teacher to define the perameters of spiritual advancement, abandoning our own inner guidance system in the process.
Andrew makes proclamations and in order to follow along, one is constantly accepting his dictates without even being conscious of doing so. You can tell people anything and they will believe you. If you have the audacity to assume a position of authority there will be those who will fall in line, sign up and turn over the keys to their kingdom.
Freedom is found when, finally, we are done with authority figures and are willing to stand alone and take responsibility for our own growth and actions in this life. Once that happens we can never again be captured by a master trickster. We will never again suspend our own common sense and the whole house of cards collapses to reveal the sound of one hand clapping.

Friday, 17 November, 2006  
Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

The moderator to Andrew Cohen's blog refused to post the following comment on Cohen's second blog article, "What is Enlightenment Anyway?" He also advised me not to send any more comments! To me this comment concisely forwards the dialogue and addresses issues raised in the article. What do you think?:


Andrew, you wrote that people who experienced breakthroughs with you in the early days did not demonstrate “profound surrender of the ego.” Neither did you when you had your first breakthrough at 16 years old. I don’t believe the problem was the weakness of those who had breakthroughs; rather it could have been your expectation that “pretty soon the world wouldn’t know what had hit it.” You only had to warn people not to stop short. If you had have continued teaching in the same way as you began, thousands would have had the same experience you had when you were 16. That would have had a big effect. It’s a numbers game, so maybe you should trust life more.

You mention “ego” six times. It could be argued that the difference between you and others is that your definition of ego suits you. Your ego fixation is perfectionism i.e. morality as defined by you, which you interpret as being “soul-level integrity”. Can you see that in each drama of your life, your own morality fixation may have been the hitch? Rather than controlling life, you can use life’s feedback to find better ways. Wholesome understanding and explanation makes the next step in “evolution” obvious and easy.

In this article you write, “even more importantly, these men and women uphold a level of moral integrity that most people find truly impressive,” but in the previous article you wrote, “being a vehicle for the evolution of consciousness itself … is what this teaching is all about.” Which is more important - “moral integrity” or “higher states of consciousness”? Moral integrity is not required for the establishment of a higher state; the only requirement is understanding what works and what doesn’t work.

Why do you call your purpose “the evolution of consciousness” or “the emerging mind of God”? God doesn’t need Andrew Cohen to hold Her up. Rather than God evolving, don’t you think it is merely human potential unfolding? From the way you write, it appears that you (with Ken Wilber) invented evolutionary enlightenment, but Jesus’ statements that the Kingdom of God is at hand shows that the idea is at least 2,000 years old.

Your “concept of verticality” seems to be a manifestation of your hope to leave the lower behind. Instead of verticality, our unfolding potential is more like the sprawling growth of a vine, which needs the lower roots. The initial stage of breaking through the soil is violent (our past), but the flowering and fruiting is gentle.

You wrote that people “crumble before my very eyes.” Anyone will crumble under the right pressure. If you don’t apply pressure, then people won’t crumble. In your previous article, you said you were “emotionally shattered” when Papaji merely lied. Is that not crumbling? Big events are only frightening when thoughts of dying or losing control or losing connection arise, which is natural anyway, so why push it? It seems you push it because you mistake your perfectionism for the “mysterious compulsion to evolve”. That muddies the water. You can clear the water by spreading wholesome understanding.

Martin Gifford.

Wednesday, 22 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Andrew's latest blog entry titled, "Creating the Future, Together", it is obvious that he is trying to respond to challenges regarding the lack of results to his teaching expressed in questions such as “Why haven’t any of your students evolved into an ‘enlightened state’ and been transformed, as were many other students, including yourself, when you were a disciple of Poonja?”
This posting strikes me as a sad self-serving diatribe. Andrew is trying to convince the reader that he is now listening to his students, even being convinced to hold a live webcast at their behest.
Andrew, you have to address the abuses described by former students if you want to appear sincere. Your posturing is embarassing because the truth of what happened at your direction is out here and no one is going to forget about it or overlook it. Many who may be interested in your teaching claims will simply google you and find out about these shameful occurances and until you address them no amount of fireworks and self-proclaimed evolutionary enlightenment will be believeable. Be the example of moral integrity, which you demand from your students. Walk your talk and take responsibility. If the abuse described by former students is not true, clear it up. If these claims are true, then the ego that needs to be exposed is your own.

Wednesday, 22 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous post, said so succinctly what is growing so obvious.

It was with sadness for me too, that I read Andrew’s Declaration of Integrity (Declaration of Infallibility really). He has been mostly silent in public about all the allegations of his abuses of students published on WHATenlightenment? and in the books by Andre Van der Braak and by his mother Luna Tarlo.

Breaking such a long tense silence is an opportunity for taking a new direction. Here one hoped for an olive branch or at least a twig. But true to his nature, Andrew charged full bore into the critics. His defense can best be summarized as “they had it coming” referring to those who have complained about being slapped, having paint thrown on them, publicly humiliated, sent unwillingly to see prostitutes, had their autonomy forcefully curtailed by handing over keys and credit cards, or had their life savings taken at a moment t of deep personal confusion. Yes in Andrew’s view all these people had “failed to live up the teachings” and thus being the kind of uncompromising teacher, the Man of Integrity, that he is, he applied his harsh sanctions.

To him, of course, the fact that most who have been on the receiving end of these “teachings” have since left is only proof that they deserved it and proof that he is a teacher of highest integrity. Of course, that is the way all closed, self-validating systems work. They have to for to let in only a crack of light would threaten the entire edifice.

But I also want to acknowledge Andrew’s DOI for accomplishing what two years and so many articles and personal testimonials here on WHATenlightenment? and 2 books could not do with absolute certainty. The DOI has laid to rest any doubt that the practices, the “sanctions” mentioned above and described in painful detail over and over in this blog and the books – actually occur in Andrew’s organization, at EnlightenNext and at Foxhollow, by his own hand. For in his ten pages of Declaring His Integrity, all in response to the allegations mentioned, he devoted NOT ONE SINGLE WORD to denying any allegation, or to saying that there is any inaccuracy at all in what is alleged to have happened.

So what we are left with is a choice. Between on the one hand a world where physical assaults, verbally induced trauma, prostitutes as spiritual teacher, and “you’ll be better off if you hand over your money” are all the impeccable expressions of a healthy spirituality – or on the other hand expressions of a teacher and teaching badly in need of a radical course correction and some very deep soul searching.

For me it took years to finally make the choice. Once a long time student, I left quite as Andrew describes it, as a “miserable failure.” But now over a few more years of reflection I can see the misery was my own sanity telling me there was something terribly wrong, and the failure was that I could no longer, even with the greatest effort, live up to Andrew’s expectations of me.

Friday, 24 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew HAS responded to the allegations. He has, as the previous poster wrote, not denied them, and he has clearly indicated his belief that they have been blown out of proportion. He continually lays out his teaching, his vision and the very nature of that enables justification for what he did. Even a few writers on this blog have expressed that, let alone Andrew in his blog. From that perspective it all does make sense, and it would be utterly ridiculous for him to admit that he had done something 'wrong'. Of course others believe that what he did and his 'failure' to articulate what he did is hypocrisy and shows his own lack of integrity, his unwillingess to live up to his own teachings. If he does admit that he slapped a few students, had some dunk themselves into ice cold water, had someone throw paint over someone, etc. he's damned. If he doesn't say it, he's damned. What is he to do? What would any of us do in his position?

I read something recently along the lines of how those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones....those with logs in their own eyes, shouldn't talk of the splinter in another's eyes (that's from the Bible)...I think it's time to let go of all of this...to stop trying to force Andrew to admit his 'wrongs' (things that now seem to be quite a thing of the past) and to make sure that we...meaning me, myself, and I are walking our walk and talking our talk...I am the only one that I am really responsible for and the only one that I can really change......what I read suggested that whatever anyone else is up to is really none of our business - ultimately it's all in the hands of a greater power, and it's arrogant of us to think other and to try to force someone else to do what we think is right, when there may be more to the picture that we are aware.

As a former student, who spent some time close to Andrew I can say that the webcast idea is not the first time that Andrew has 'listened to his students'. I remember others and I discussing things with him, voicing our opinions, and influencing his decisions. I thought he was quite remarkable and humble in that regard.

Peace and joy to all.

Saturday, 25 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you say the same thing to Andrew when he holds his students accountable for their actions?
"those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones....those with logs in their own eyes, shouldn't talk of the splinter in another's eyes"
"I am the only one that I am really responsible for and the only one that I can really change"
"whatever anyone else is up to is really none of our business - ultimately it's all in the hands of a greater power, and it's arrogant of us to think other and to try to force someone else to do what we think is right, when there may be more to the picture that we are aware."
Clearly you are not holding Andrew to the standard you describe here.
You are lashing out against the victims and wanting them to shut up and forget anything improper was ever done to them.
It is uncomfortable to have to really come to terms with all this isn't it? It would be so much easier to just ignore the truth of what happened, but then we are choosing ignorance...the opposite of enlightenment.
The fact is immoral actions occurred, people were hurt, had large sums of money taken under duress and all the rest of it. Andrew actually had a reputation for holding other teachers up to public scrutiny and calling them to task for improper conduct. Did you feel the same disgust for his doing so at the time?
Lots of interesting aspects to examine in our reactions to all this!

Sunday, 26 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you offer the same councel to Andrew?
"those with logs in their own eyes, shouldn't talk of the splinter in another's eyes (that's from the Bible"
"to make sure that we...meaning me, myself, and I are walking our walk and talking our talk...I am the only one that I am really responsible for and the only one that I can really change"
"whatever anyone else is up to is really none of our business - ultimately it's all in the hands of a greater power, and it's arrogant of us to think other and to try to force someone else to do what we think is right, when there may be more to the picture that we are aware."
Or does Andrew receive a pass. How did you feel when Andrew outed other spiritual teachers, calling them to account for abuse? Did you think Andrew should just be quiet and move on? I doubt it.
This whole issue is very very uncomfortable and you are lashing out against the victims. You want them to be quiet about the abuse they suffered, the slapping, extortion of large sums of money etc. etc. You are advocating ignorance.

Sunday, 26 November, 2006  
Anonymous Gimme Some Truth said...

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky Dick
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky Dick
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
Money for dope
Money for rope

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mama's little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky Dick
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
It's money for dope
Money for rope

Ah, I'm sick to death of hearing things
from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

I've had enough of reading things
by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now

All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

(Just Give Me Some Truth by John Lennon)

Andrew, get the message???

Monday, 27 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Andrew treated dogs the way he reportedly treats disciples, this would have been stopped long ago.

An intelligent visitor from outer space would be astounded, mystified and perhaps bemused that we can more readily agree on what constitutes cruel, damaging, unacceptable treatment of dogs than what constitutes cruel, damaging, and unacceptable treatment of human beings seeking to develop their full potential.

Brutalizing dogs will not bring out what is best in them. It just makes the poor animal anxious, hyper aroused, and more likely to cringe or lash out.

We are no different.

The other difference is that dogs do not celebrate cruelty as necessary for their higher development, and they dont go around rationalizing sadism as skilful means.

Unless always linked to kindness, human intellect can be tricked into rationalizing cruelty as something marvellous. Any ideology, religious or political, that reframes kindess as evidence of weakness and inferiority is itself a red flag warning of danger ahead.

Monday, 27 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew's forced alienation of his ex-students will be the single cause for his downfall in the not-too-distant future. Mark my words.

Tuesday, 28 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several of you missed my point. In my mind, it's no longer about Andrew. In this Andrew and everyone else disappears. It's only and completely about me. End of story. C'est tout, finis.

Wednesday, 29 November, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last poster, who are you adderssing if "In this, Andrew and everyone else has dissappeared."?
If this is only about "me" then what's the point? You have successfully closed yourself off and retreated into isolation, thus relieving yourself of the need to deal with the painful issues at hand. Only trouble is, its all still here, nothing has changed and denial never serves truth. How does this "only and completely about me" stance allow for any movement, evolution, integrity or serve the greater good?

Friday, 01 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the last person was talking about it's only "me". I feel that he was saying that everything that has been spoken on this blog, about Andrew; was, just maybe, that one should take a closer look at themselves and see where they are abusive, hateful, controling, what ever it may be. Abuse is out there in all forms. It can show up in a teacher or wife beater. It will always be out there; why do I say that, because "Andrew's" can't appear without us giving it power. We all need to take responsibilty for what we bring forth and stop trying to act so innocent; claiming we had nothing to do with this drama. I see a lot of blame put out there, when just maybe they could take a good look and see why they have brought this into their lives; and better yet why they are keeping it alive...
You were the one that fed this teacher the power in the, "name of love" So, now maybe you can feed yourself the same love and stop thinking that anything out "there" is going to do it for you....

Sunday, 03 December, 2006  
Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

To Anonymous (3 Dec),

Yes. But at the same time, this blog is helpful to people who are trapped in Cohenism. When a person comes to this blog after many years of hearing only that Andrew Cohen is Great, it helps them to gain objectivity. It's part of the process of learning... as is your post.

Monday, 04 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not blame being attributed to Andrew regarding abusive bahvior on this blog that is the issue. Rather it is the accounts of what people actually witnessed or experienced, that call into question the validity of Andrew's Declaration of Integrity.
Why the aggression towards those who are relating actual abuse perpetrated at Andrew's direction? Since when is a statement of fact blaming?
Why is it acceptable to attack the victims, demanding they shut up and take the blame? You complain that contributors are blaming Andrew, and then go on to blame the victims, insinuating that they are not innocent...in other words declaring them guilty of soliciting abuse.
Perhaps rather than attacking the victims one should reclaim one's own innocence to experience empathy, compassion and freedom.
Surely we can extend compassion and empathy to Andrew as well as to those who were hurt by his actions. Clearly, methods Andrew felt would relieve his students of ego which seemed acceptable in private, cannot stand up under scrutiny and in the light of day show errors in judgement. There are lessons to be learned here about absolute power over others, lessons for those who submit as well as those who assume infallibility. It is not about blame, guilt or innocence. It is about waking up and facing into the truth so that ego is exposed and diminished on all sides.
Ignoring facts has no place here.

Monday, 04 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this was a forum for ex-students of Andrew to sift through their experiences, try to come to some form of healing and move on. It has always seemed to me that those who are not ex-Cohen students have been sharing their impressions and at times even trying to help give other perspectives that might help the ex-Cohenites come to that healing. This last blog makes me think my sense was wrong, and that this is simply a place for them to 'vent' without any interest in really coming to completion in ways other than hoping for Cohen to 'admit his wrong-doings'. That's why I, as a contributor, have sometimes tried to share other ways of looking at the situations. I have now decided to stop and let you all be. I, for one, have never intended to insult anyone, or to attack, blame, or be aggressive towards the 'victims'. I'm sad that what I and others have brought to the forum have been taken that way.

Well-wishes to all!

Tuesday, 05 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To previous poster: You feel sad that you have been misunderstood, or misinterpreted. Your instinct is to leave this forum because your attempts to offer other ways of looking at situations have been taken the wrong way. You did not have any intention to attack, blame or be aggressive because you never meant to insult anyone. I would like to invite you to remain active in this forum. There is so much to discover and reveal. For instance you can empathize with how much courage it takes for those who were physically, mentally, emotionally and financially abused on a very large scale to face into and contribute to this forum. Just the slights you feel from anonymous posters are enough to cause you to want to turn away. The opportunity to open up and deal with these issues is a great gift and this forum is where it is happening. If you read Jane’s contribution given yesterday, you can’t help but be moved by her courage and love. Stay and accept the gifts that these courageous ones are sharing here. And continue to post your gifts as well. You are appreciated, you are heard and your caring is apparent.

Thursday, 07 December, 2006  

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