Friday, June 21, 2013

ANDREW COHEN AND THE FALL OF THE MYTHIC GURU IN AN AGE OF PR-SPIN

Controversial spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen will be stepping down from his role as guru and leader of the organization he founded, EnlightenNext. In a startling turn of events, Cohen has also begun apologizing to some former and current students for misdeeds and abuses of the past. Core students in the leadership of EnlightenNext have left the organization and apparently struck out on their own. But a recent “PR and Communications Plan” message, widely circulated to EnlightenNext students, leaves both the scope of future change in the organization and the depth of Andrew Cohen’s remorse over his abuse of students in the past unclear.
We at What Enlightenment??! first got wind that significant changes for Cohen and EnlightenNext were happening several weeks ago. We heard rumors that core members of Andrew Cohen's EnlightenNext organization had been calling Cohen to task for some time, attempting to get him to change an autocratic and authoritarian style of leadership. We also heard that some members of the EnlightenNext leadership—Carter Phipps, Jeff Careirra and others—had recently left the organization. There were rumors that large numbers of students had followed suit. But all of this was difficult to confirm as no one concerned had made any public statement of schism or disaffection.
So, in awe and wonder, we began to investigate. Sources close to EnlightenNext have since told us that criticism of Cohen began in the upper echelons over four years ago. Sometime over a year ago, some of these senior students were ordered by Cohen to meet together in London, apparently to attempt to purge themselves of their rebelliousness. Instead, at their meetings their questioning of Cohen’s authoritarian style of leadership deepened. They eventually stopped sending Cohen notes of their meetings, as expected and required. Soon they were joined in their dissent by other EnlightenNext leadership. A united front formed. As if this were not shocking enough, we heard that things had recently come to a head in a meeting between senior students and Cohen in Europe. A line was drawn in the sand, it was said. Not being satisfied with Cohen's response, a number of leaders left the community. Many other members followed suit.
Yet nothing was publicly disclosed of this rift. We waited to see how things would develop and if any public statement would be forthcoming. Recently, we noticed a public web announcement that the Netherlands EnlightenNext Center would no longer be associated with Cohen’s organization as of this summer. But the bombshell fell when we received from an anonymous source the “PR and Communications Plan” sent out to EnlightenNext members on June 15, 2013. This fascinating yet puzzling document is reproduced here, below.
It remains to be seen what this all means, or how it will play itself out. We have heard from several former close students of Andrew Cohen that he has contacted them personally to apologize for past misdeeds. Yet these students have also reported that Cohen seemed “cut off,” even “robotic” in his communication. Cohen has also personally contacted some current EnlightenNext students, presumably to apologize for past misdeeds to them. The news of apologies was unexpected and somewhat encouraging. Yet the “PR and Communications Plan” reproduced below makes one wonder whether all of this is part of a well-orchestrated public relations campaign, rather than the sign of a genuine turn to humility by enlightenment’s infamous “Rude Boy,” as Cohen’s friend Ken Wilber called him.
EnlightenNext appears to be attempting to explain the changes as part of a natural evolution away from the authoritarian-mythic “blue meme” guru model, using terminology originated by Don Beck and Chris Cowan in their Spiral Dynamics model of human development, a model which has been widely adopted by Integral Theory teachers and thinkers, such as Ken Wilber. The PR Plan also identifies the need to address “Founder’s Syndrome,” a situation where the founder of an organization impedes its development. These theoretical explanations, with no mention of the harm Cohen and his organization have done to students and with no inkling of empathy for the suffering those students endured, make one wonder whether EnlightenNext’s culture of authoritarianism and abuse will really change.
And what to make of the silence of those in the leadership who reportedly parted from Cohen? Although supposedly disaffected with Cohen, Jeff Careirra taught an on-line EnlightenNext program as recently as last weekend. Carter Phipps, who has been living in the Bay Area of California for almost a year, promoting his book “Evolutionaries” and participating in Integral community-related activities, has not publicly disclosed his split from Cohen or his future plans. Other students and EnlightenNext leaders have publicly remained similarly silent.
We wonder whether the senior students who left Cohen will attempt to follow the course of former student, What Is Enlightenment? magazine editor and Integral Enlightenment founder Craig Hamilton. Readers of What Enlightenment??! will remember Hamilton from years past as a vitriolic and insulting defender of Cohen on this blog. Later, Hamilton secretly fled Cohen’s Lenox, Massachusetts Foxhollow compound like so many other abused and damaged students, and was severely disparaged and ridiculed by Cohen, again like so many others who fled Cohen’s abuse. Yet little more than a year later, Hamilton re-created himself as a successful “graduate” of Cohen’s community, and the founder of his own “enlightenment” school, Integral Enlightenment, offering webinars and on-line courses on his philosophy, a close cousin (some might say almost a carbon copy) of the integral-oriented “evolutionary enlightenment” teaching created by Cohen. Hamilton has been financially successful at this enterprise, far more successful than Cohen’s EnlightenNext, which has been plagued by financial difficulties. Indeed, when once asked by a former Cohen student what value he had added to Cohen’s “evolutionary enlightenment” teaching, Hamilton is reported to have answered, “I figured out how to monetize it.” This seems to be the case. We cannot help but wonder if the silence of senior students who have left Cohen indicates their possible plans to re-create themselves and start lucrative “evolutionary” oriented “enlightenment” businesses like Hamilton’s.
Finally, what will become of Andrew Cohen? Can we really believe that his role as the “Mythic Guru” is over, as stated in the “PR & Communications plan for Andrew” reproduced below? Can Cohen’s purported self-examination and newfound remorse for the harm he has caused scores of past and present students be believed? Or is this just all part of a public relations stunt?
Only time will tell. But judging from the June 15 “PR & Communications plan for Andrew” and reports from those close to the organization, big changes for EnlightenNext and Andrew Cohen seem to be afoot. And these changes will almost certainly profoundly affect both current students and the scores of former students who saw through the “Mythic Guru” and left him.
----by Hal Blacker
_______________________________________________________________________
From: Rosalind Bennett <rosb@enlightennext.org>Date: June 15, 2013, 7:09:43 PM EDTTo: Rosalind Bennett <rosb@enlightennext.org>Subject: PR & Communications plan for Andrew
Hello there,
I just sent out the email below to the current Core students (Defining, Resolute and Committed Core) and also wanted you all to hear about our PR communications plan for Andrew. I'm sending this to everyone who I know is involved in the current programs and who I've personally spoken to, please feel free to forward this email on to others involved who would like to hear the messaging going forward.
Thanks so much,
Love,
Ros
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear All,
I wanted to let you know the PR communications plan for Andrew that will roll out in the next few weeks.
As most of you know Joel Pitney and I are responsible for Andrew's PR and media platform and we have been working on a message to the broader public regarding the situation we are in the midst of with Andrew, and all the subsequent changes.
Many of you have contacted us sharing your urgency around making a public statement, and we thank you all for your input! We have taken everything you have said into consideration and come up with a plan that we are very happy with.
Before I go any further I want to point out that while we're working very closely with Mary, Aterah, Morgan and the Education Department in our communications, what Joel and I are specifically responsible for (and what we've outlined in this email) has to do with communications from the Andrew Stream (to the broader public, Andrew's personal relationships, etc), and not the communications for the education programs and long retreats.
GENERAL STRATEGY:
We felt it was imperative to get an "outside perspective" on our PR communications as, being close students of Andrew in this emotionally charged situation, it's very difficult to envision the right message for the public at large. Our primary consultant has been our PR advisor Nate Winstanley. Nate is not only an excellent PR consultant, but he also trained in crisis management. He has been working with us for the last several years, and is fully appraised of Andrew's history, the history of EnlightenNext, and the current situation. Given his experience and his friendship with Andrew, we feel that he is the perfect person to help us with this messaging now, and his input has been invaluable.
Nate has helped us to see that the most important point to consider in relationship to our PR strategy is that there is a tremendous difference between communicating to our "internal" audience of past and present students, and our "external" audience of people who follow Andrew's work, but are not part of any formal structures or communities (see a breakdown/description of our audiences at the end of this email). Nate also stressed how important it is that our public messaging be appropriate to our external audience, and that this should not be expected to address the issues that pertain to our "internal" audience of past and present students.
He made it very clear that from an outside perspective, what is currently happening represents an evolution of both our organization/movement and Andrew's work. The fact that Andrew is acknowledging his mistakes, has stepped down from his role as Guru, and will be stepping down as head of the organization, is a reflection of the fact that our movement is changing and growing, and that Andrew is taking the necessary time off to reflect, respond, and take the next step in his own development.
For the internal group of past and present students, Andrew must find a different and appropriate way to make peace; and, as most of you know, this internal process has already begun. He has already stepped down from his Guru role, which is on hiatus until spring 2014, and he is in the midst of responding appropriately to many past and present students.
STEPPING DOWN FROM LEADERSHIP:
Another very important distinction in our messaging that Nate helped us to understand has to do with how to announce Andrew's "sabbatical." He clarified that to frame the time that Andrew will be taking to reflect and respond as a sabbatical is not accurate. Given that Andrew will be doing a minimum of teaching work during this period, (the retreats and French forum) and that our many programs and content streams will continue in some form, from an outside perspective calling this time period a "sabbatical" would be confusing. Instead he suggested we emphasize in our public messaging that Andrew is stepping down from leadership, both within the organization and the spiritual community, and will be taking time to reflect and respond.
So in our public statements, which will launch on Andrew's blog on June 28th(see Blog Themes below for more detail), we will announce that Andrew is "stepping down from leadership" rather than "taking a sabbatical." We feel that this is also more authentic as to what is actually happening, so please consider this in your own communications.
BLOG THEMES:
Our public messaging will center around a series of blog posts which will be published on all of the sites where Andrew writes (BigThink, HuffPo, etc) in addition to AC.org. They will be on two themes outlined below. The first blog will also be accompanied by an email to our list announcing Andrew's decision to step down from leadership and offer some description of how the EnlightenNext programs will be continuing forward:
Confronting Founder's Syndrome: In this initial post, Andrew lays out what is happening for him right now in the context of "Founder's Syndrome," which is a common phase that organizations go through when due to a lack of willingness to give up control its visionary Founder gets in the way of the further evolution of the organization. He'll announce in this post that to address this situation, he's stepping down from leadership of both the organization and the spiritual community, and will radically reduce his teaching engagements to take time to reflect and respond.
The Death of A Mythic Guru: In this second post (which may end up in multiple parts), Andrew will speak about his own development as a Guru and how he created a "mythic" Guru model within the postmodern world, outlining the negative and positive consequences of that. He'll talk about how difficult it has been for him to recognize the mythic structures within himself, and how he's going to now take the time necessary to develop both himself and the teachings.
COMMUNICATIONS CALENDAR:
Below is a list of the various communications that will go out to our different audiences over the next month:
Today: Overview of communications strategy/plan to the Defining, Resolute, Committed, and Past students (this email!)Next few weeks: Series of calls/emails to various donors.6/28: Blog #1 on Founder's Syndrome will go up on BigThink6/28: Accompanying the blog will be an email to our email list announcing that Andrew is stepping down from leadership and giving a brief overview of what kinds of offerings they will continue to get from both Andrew and EnlightenNext.7/6: Guru & Pandit Virtual Broadcast on the theme of The Death of A Mythic Guru7/12: Blog #2 on The Death of A Mythic Guru goes up on BigThinkThank you all for taking the time to read this. I apologize for the length of this email, but we felt it was important that we keep everyone informed as much as we can during this challenging period of our lives.
Also, when we have an approved plan of how Andrew's business line will be going forward, I'll send out another email.
Best wishes all,
Ros & Joel
 AUDIENCE BREAKDOWN:
Below is a description of the various audiences that we're reaching out to and an overview of the basic messaging strategy for each:
"INTERNAL AUDIENCES":
Past and Present Students:Includes all Defining, Resolute, and Committed Core students and people who have been close students in the past. We are the people who are the most affected by what is happening and have the most investment in the whole situation and subsequent changes. These communications have several dimensions: First and foremost, Andrew is following up personally with people, both current and past students. Second, we as his communications team want to keep everyone abreast of our overall communications, so that everyone knows why we're saying what we're saying.Donors:This audience has a significant overlap with past and present students. Since they have all committed financial support to Andrew and EnlightenNext, it is important for us to communicate how the current situation will affect Andrew's and the organization's short and long-term future, and the financial implications of this. We will be reaching out to communicate directly with our current donors within the next few weeks."EXTERNAL AUDIENCES":
Blog Readers:This is our broadest audience and consists of people who engage with Andrew's content on a wide variety of external platforms (BigThink, Speaking Tree, HuffPost, etc). This audience is least familiar with Andrew and sees him more as a spiritual thought leader and less as a Guru with a community of students. This audience is the least interested in hearing about the details of our current situation, and our plan to communicate with them is through a series of blogs in which Andrew will speak about the current situation in more of a philosophical/cultural context (outlined in the Blog Themes section).Email List:This is a group of about 35K people (~12K of which are very active) who receive consistent communications from us about new content, events, and products. This audience is a mix of people, but generally has more familiarity with Andrew's role as a teacher and also leader of our organization. Our primary communications to them will draw upon themes in Andrew's blog, but speak specifically about how we as an organization plan to respond to this situation and how that will affect the content and programs that they are used to hearing about.Integral/Evolutionary Community: This is the segment of our public audience that is most familiar with the deeper dimensions of Andrew's work as a Guru and spiritual innovator. This audience has been following Andrew's work through the magazine, through the Guru & Pandit dialogues, and through other platforms like Craig Hamilton's, and is more familiar with the spiritual and philosophical stands that Andrew has taken in the post-traditional spiritual world. Our plan for this audience is for Andrew to use some of the remaining Guru & Pandit Virtual dialogues with Ken this year to explore some of the "Mythic-to-Post-Mythic-Guru" themes that are at the heart of the current situation.

Rosalind Bennett

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62 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kripalvanand, namesake of Andrew's neighbor ashram, never stopped his over 35 year of 10hrs per day of profound kundalini sadhana, the path is endless and there is no rest for those who fathom these undiluted standards

Friday, 21 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stepping down"?? More accurately BUSTED down, by his own students no less. Finally. Great to know the PR spin beforehand too. thanks..

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Makes sense, given Dear Leader's morbid narcissism and acute pneumapathology. Nevertheless surprising that his cultists are finally rebelling. However, they need to look at their own defects and unconscious impulses, rather than project them into him. They're the problem. He's just an opportunist. It's like blaming the snake for biting you. It's what snakes do.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the person who supposedly was responsible for Andrew deciding to start his blog, I've watched all this with great interest over the years and I am thankful for you're tracking it.

Andrew's Declaration of Integrity starts out with this story:

"About seven years ago, I was giving a talk at a bookstore in Seattle. Afterwards, while signing books, I was taken aback when an unassuming young man came up to me, shook my hand, and said, quite unselfconsciously, with a smile on his face: 'Andrew, it’s really nice to finally have the chance to meet you. I’d always been told that you were the devil.' "

Well, that was me, Krishna Gauci, long time devotee of HWL Poonja.

That was quiet a while back, but to be clear, while I saw that he was not the devil, I also felt that he was incapable of seeing his blind spots and felt sorry for him as much as anything else, as well as his students.

My statement to him was really about how unimpressed I was with him. It was clear to me that while he was somewhat slick and professional he was not some kind of powerhouse that could subvert the true dharma.

At the same time I felt then and still feel, that many of his issues have to do with his idealized notions of who he was and what people owed him, starting with the way he expected to be treated by Poonja himself.

I don't know if Andrew's apologies are sincere, or if giving him the benefit or the doubt is warranted, but I would start with his Master and his fellow brothers and sisters who he refused to see as peers way back then.

If he simply lays the blame on the tradition of the Guru itself, rather than his abuse of it, he will once again fail to take responsibility for that abuse. One of the prime issues between Poonja and Andrew was exactly this. Whatever else anyone may say of Poonjaji, he did not create the kind of "do as I say" and "surrender to me" trip that Andrew did, and Andrews grooming people for this is exactly what lead to the schism.

The whole conversation about the usefulness of the Guru relationship or its limits, using integral speak or whatever is fine in itself, but can also be a smokescreen.

I for one am not interested in his or any other evolutionary teachers newest brilliant developmental explanation of why they have been abusive to fellow human beings... a simple apology that leaves Andrew walking on the same earth as the rest of us awakened mortals would be nice for a change.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Blogger Elena Jose said...

As the enlightened guru takes a year off to find himself, I hope that he comes to realize that the entire concept of evolutionary enlightenment is misguided, misinformed and mistaken. Then he might throw the misbegotten concept out of his system once and for all and go back to being an aspiring jazz drummer -- at least it's an honest way to make a living. I don't mean to be mean, but all these wanna be gurus are making me mad.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"the entire concept of evolutionary enlightenment is misguided, misinformed and mistaken"

It's worse than that. If the evolutionary paradigm is correct, it means that people of the past were just the means to arrive at us, and hence less than fully human. This is a monstrous doctrine, for it dehumanizes anyone short of... Andrew Cohen?

Please.

On the positive side, it implies that Andrew Cohen is just a stage on the way to something better, so we can ignore him.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, he is so busted!

Next up, the "pandit" who recommended this "rude boy" as a guru.

Wyatt Earpy,
We're drinkin' your slurpee.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I find that looking at culture, human development, and transpersonal realization through the lens of universal evolutionary unfolding makes tremendous sense and brings about an important paradigm shift for bringing the understanding of spirituality into greater harmony with our current scientific and post modern world views. Mythic/pre-rational perspectives on spirituality and spiritual experience were threatening to keep these deeper dimensions of the human experience esoteric and in the dark at a time when we need to be exploring them more fully while at the same time being willing to slaughter sacred cows.

Regardless of how you feel about Andrew, Ken, Don Beck, or other figures who have helped shed light on these ideas, I feel that this paradigm shift has been an important and necessary one. We shouldn't be so quick to throw babies out with bathwater.

As for the evolutionary paradigm dehumanizing our progenitors, how? We all certainly stand on the shoulders of giants. How does that somehow disrespect those who came before us (especially if we are all part of one unfolding process)? We are ALL (as one) evolving through a continual process of self unfolding. As for things like directionality vs spontaneous undulation, these are all good discussions to be having. I just don't think the 'fall' of one 'guru' warrants the tossing out of something as important as understanding spirituality, consciousness, and the deeper dimensions of human interiority from a post modern point of view. My two cents.

Saturday, 22 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


yeah sooo busted

enlightened heros cant just take...
time out : ))

this is the end of "guru andrew"

and about time too.maybe now he can use his remaining time on earth to mend the damage his arrogance has done in those past years, so he will have less to pay in the bardo , if i´d be him, i´d get very busy indeed.

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"As for the evolutionary paradigm dehumanizing our progenitors, how?"

Well, how do you feel about being a mere stepping stone to future humans who will dismiss your ideas as mythic and irrational postmodernism?

The point is, the human station is a mirror of the absolute, and that any human, at any time, may access it. To suggest that Andrew Cohen, or Ken Wilber, or Deepak Chopra, or Tony Robbins, or Oprah Winfrey are somehow "higher" than Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas, Mesiter Eckhart, or Denys -- and that's just in the West -- is absurd.

You can't tell truth by a calendar.

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look up the meaning of the word "Rudra."

I heard Cohen talk 10 years ago, putting himself on the level of Tulku Urgyen and Trulshik Rinpoches and insisting everyone "surrender to me."

Ego monster, spiritual version, nothing more.

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only thing I feel can be trusted is: The inherant dignity of the ordinary, unenlightened, untransformed, unevolved human person.

Doestn mean we cannot do better or become better.

But to treat the ordinary untransformed human person as a means to an end, as a hunk of S**t, is the road to hell.

Has the Foxhollow property been sold, or is Cohen still living there.

So long as he lives isolated, with an entourage, little chance of change.

And some are out there teaching from Cohen's legacy.

How to avoid repeating history?

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe too, more of Cohen's students have become old enough to feel exhausted by years of work, and so little gratitude from the man they served.

But we dont know yet who will come back and who will have left for good.

Big difference is now, CE 2013, there is a sizable community of former students and those who leave are no longer isolated and alone.

It was those of you who left earlier, who paved the way.

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprised.I wonder if the days of patriarchal or authoritarian gurus arre over. They All have shadow sides as they All are human. They ALL are useful

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article.
I'm glad you are mentioning previous students of Andrew that have said nothing about the situation for years. It is sad and disturbing to see how, by not saying anything, they are trying to figure out how to respond, how to separate themselves from a situation that they have know for years was sick to the core. The fruit, it seems, does not fall to far from the tree. I hope, that they understand that, if they continue to propagate Andrew's message they are themselves responible for carrying on with the same deceit that Andrew has carried for years. The message has been corrupted for a very long time now. To carry it forth would be as messed up as what has happened in the community for years.
Unfortunately, a lot of them have invested a lot of their lives, their time and their money to perpetuate something that needed to end long ago. It would be a real cleanse, and refreshing for all of us if these students had the real courage and integrity to step out and admit, as a lot of us had to do, that there has been so much bs going down with Andrew. then we would be unified, there would be no more us and them, it would be the sangha upholding the dharma. The real thing. Not some concotion made up for the sake of PR and surviaval.
That is why we were in it. The dharma.
Much love to all
Karen M

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. It takes an uncommon reservoir of spiritual courage and intellectual honesty to do a complete 180º. Few will manage it.

Sunday, 23 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isnt just Cohen. He has been supported in his brutal career by a galaxy of enablers.

If this is change and not window dressing, the enablers, starting with Ken Wilber need to stand up and apologize.

Apologies from all the Konsciousness Klub leaders who endorsed Andrew Cohen over the years or lent him derivative legitimacy by associating with him after his cruelty had been well documented.

The names of these other enablers can be found here.
http://americanguru.net/news-and-reviews/integral-abuse-andrew-cohen-and-the-culture-of-integral-enlightenment/

Cohen has been the subject of 3 memoirs, the WE blog, has been discussed for years on the Ross Institute website, and Mr William Yenner, endured a vast amount of hazing when he published the third and most recent Cohen expose and opened his own website, American Guru.

Despite this staggering quantity of information, and its consistency, Wilber and other tastemakers continued to associate with Andrew Cohen.

If this change is genuine, they too will apologize.

Ken Wilber

Other names can be found in this article.

http://americanguru.net/news-and-reviews/integral-abuse-andrew-cohen-and-the-culture-of-integral-enlightenment/

And..let us praise the people, who left, and especially the ones who left in the early days, sometimes having to leave in the middle of the night.

And who did leave when no discussion venues were available.

Time to apologize, Mr Wilber.

And mean it.

Monday, 24 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Time to apologize, Mr Wilber. And mean it."

---

Apparently Mr Wilber lacks an apology bone.

It seems to be a congenital defect among many in the Integral crowd.

Monday, 24 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends, IMO, this is not just just a problem leader--AC

It is also the organization that is sick, and its problems are not only Andrew, but are built right into the structure of the organziation.

"has helped us to see that the most important point to consider in relationship to our PR strategy is that there is a tremendous difference between communicating to our "internal" audience of past and present students, and our "external" audience of people who follow Andrew's work, but are not part of any formal structures or communities (see a breakdown/description of our audiences at the end of this email). Nate also stressed how important it is that our public messaging be appropriate to our external audience, and that this should not be expected to address the issues that pertain to our "internal" audience of past and present students."

This tells us that the EN leaders see the group as two tier -- insiders, for whom one communciation is to be given and those on the periphery, who will be given a different message.

I smell secret keeping.

Unless Houston/--excuse me, Foxhollow abandon ths insider outsider perspective and tell the same truth to everyone, the structural problems -- and elitist secrecy will remain, wehtehr Andrew COntinues in charge or not

Tuesday, 25 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, it is telling that different audiences (internal and external) are identificed and that the "Andrew Stream" media office think it necessary that different strategies be sued for these different audiences.

That to this reader, signals that teh problem is structural/organizational, and unless questioned, will remain in place and support further abuse, even if Andrew walks away forever.

The insider/outsider arrangments breed elitism and secrecy.

It is to be piously hoped that none of the former Andrew Students who go inndependant will recreate this same insider/outsider Inner circle/outer circle arrangment, or they will repeat a sad history.

ANother suggestion to demonstrate a new beginning.

All letters (love letters, apology letters, self abasement letters) are to be returned to those who wrote them w a guarantee that no copies have been kept.

All photos and films of students under duress are to be returned to those students.

Finally Andrew should give a clear statement that these letters photos and films were read or viewed only by him and never shown to anyone else.

If he did violate confidentiailty and show these sensitive documents to anyone else he should say so and apologize.

Tuesday, 25 June, 2013  
Blogger Rev. Samuel Alexander said...

I again find it disturbing to watch people rejoice in the struggles of another. True, not true, whatever, we're talking about human beings. Any commitment to love one another requires us to seek their redemption, not their destruction.

Tuesday, 25 June, 2013  
Blogger Jason said...

@ Rev. Alexander.

I again find it disturbing to watch people rejoice in the struggles of another

How entirely misjudged.

For over a decade this site has campaigned tirelessly against extremely unpleasant practices, upstream against hypocritical accusations of being traitors to the glorious future.

Suddenly now, we see justice hovering. If people really were "rejoicing in the struggles of another" on this thread, I would not reprove them. But they aren't. I see satisfaction that some of Cohen's lies are starting to be exposed, an appropriate contempt for PR spin, and a negative evaluation of Cohen's own spiritual level. I see a worry that exploitation of those who were formely exploited will continue, and above all a desire that the wrongdoers apologise directly for the harm they caused.

None of that is blameworthy -- your misplaced homiletic fingerwagging, whatever imagined moral authority you think it carries, notwithstanding. Other people's "commitments", to love or to anything else, are not yours to interpret.

I'd say something else at this point though: let's not be complacent. A common way to start a religion (and make no mistake, both Cohen and Wilber are trying to start religions) is to predict something like a great evolutionary advance, a great disaster, a great evolutionary advance that will prevent a great disaster, etc. etc., and then gather people on that basis.

The fact that these predictions don't ever pan out leaves a lot of people sitting around wondering what to do with their former fervours. So they then continue in some form and try to forget the original remit.

It's a successful strategy. Christianity began like that to a large extent (as I think even the Rev would admit), but there's also a large and still-extant Taoist sect that did. The most ancient example is probably Zarathustra, the most modern may be some of the mini/pop versions surrounding 2012. I'm sure you can spot others.

Once people have supported someone like Cohen this long, the mere fact that what he was saying was egotistically deluded narcissism in large part might not serve to puncture the whole project.

This site will therefore continue to play an important role.

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Rev Alexander: Any commitment to love one another requires us to seek their redemption, not their destruction.

---

Let's not be confused here - morally, spiritually, or in any other way.

#1 - No one is trying to "destroy" Andrew Cohen. People are simply trying to bring the truth to life about his evil deeds as an errant spiritual teacher.

#2 - When someone has done wrong as a bad teacher in the "beloved community" of spiritual seekers, seeking their "redemption" requires their "repentance". In other words, until they have fully owned their wrong thoughts, deeds and actions, apologized thoroughly, and made amends to those they had harmed (which would involve returning a LOT of money, as well documented on this site), their "redemption" is hardly complete.

The best thing AC could do would be to spend the rest of his life making this kind of moral restitution, and go get a regular job to pay his way in society like everyone else.

That wouldn't be his "destruction". It would actually be his "redemption".

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


absolute agreement :

"The best thing AC could do would be to spend the rest of his life making this kind of moral restitution, and go get a regular job to pay his way in society like everyone else.

That wouldn't be his "destruction". It would actually be his "redemption"."

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to the eloquent responses to Rev. Alexander. Any "rejoicing" going on is not at AC's struggles per se, but rather that after so many years of suffering, there's finally hope that truth, justice, and integrity will have more weight in this situation than the power abuses of a delusional sociopath.

I wonder if Sam Alexander's concerns emerge from his friendship with another abusive spiritual teacher (and buddy of AC's), Marc Gafni, whom the good reverend spent years supporting and defending. People like Cohen and Gafni are not easily "redeemed"-- they rarely if ever change their ways -- but they are good at manipulating people into feeling sorry for them. One can have compassion for the pain of a perpetrator, but any "redemption" will only come when their corrupt ways have been fully exposed, and they are never again allowed in a position where they can exploit others.

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still can't find any public comment by AC or any of his acolytes about this blog or its contents.

But I have no doubt that they are reading it, and (most importantly) the comments that are being written, in order to get a handle on their incipient PR strategy and its likely reception.

There is much more at stake here than the fate of AC and those who still are his supporters - however few and however disillusioned they might be.

There are powerful lessons to be learned (perhaps re-learned) about the potential power of delusion and projection in the lives of those who consciously take up the call to a spiritual journey towards enlightenment.

There are powerful lessons to be learned (perhaps re-learned) about what is appropriate vs inappropriate in any spiritual teacher-student relationship.

There are powerful lessons to be learned (perhaps re-learned) about the ever present potential for spiritually based exploitation - about the potential for financial abuse, and emotional abuse - as well as the lessons we have been learning about sexual abuse.

There are powerful lessons to be learned about how very smart, and very educated people (teachers and students both) can do very foolish things, because of the power of transference and counter-transference.

So this discussion, while it should certainly be about Andrew Cohen and his disciples, should also be about MORE than just that.

It should be about maturation - both of teachers and of students.

It should be about discernment.

And it should be about the rightness and the appropriateness of whistle-blowing, in order to nip spiritual exploitation problems in the bud, before people get REALLY hurt, for no good reason at all.

And finally, it should be about the fact that everybody, at best, is only part way up the mountain.

No one - at least no one I know of - has truly "gone beyond", and put the egocentricity that marks us all permanently behind him or her.

Whether it's Andrew Cohen, or Michael Roach, or Eckhert Tolle, or Byron Katie, or (insert Zen master here)...everyone has the very same feet of clay.

CAVEAT EMPTOR must ever and always be the byword for anyone entering the path.

When we, as the "beloved community" REALLY get that, it will be a REAL step forward in the "evolutionary enlightenment" of us all.

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over on the Rick Ross website, one person suggested that selection of abusive, scandal prone gurus may serve an unconscious need.

Devotional Enabling/Aka codependance.

An honest and kind teacher generates no scandals, no anxiety about possible future scandals.

No drama. Boorrring!!!

http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,2579,106192#msg-106192

Common denominator for Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni:(to quote from that old Life cereal commerical)

Kenny likes them! Hey, Kenny!

Ken Wilber. And prior to those two, KW endorsed the egregious Adi Da.

Attempts have been made for over twenty *years* to persuade, coax, redeem Andrew Cohen.

Ample excuses made for Cohen, pleas for compassion, for understanding, pleas for 'healing' and patience.

Meanwhile, lets look at what the dissidents endured.

Andrew's mother felt unsafe in Marin, moved back to New York.

When Hal Blacker set up this blog, 'Bin Man' and some other Cohen supporters created a 'mirror blog' to try to mislead readers.

When William Yenner ended his 5 year silence and wrote his memoir and ID'd not only Andrew but Andrew's network of high profile enablers, an attempt was made to create a look alike site.

Be Scofield noted that a similar trick was used to draw/mislead readers away from william Yenners American guru site.

http://www.integralworld.net/scofield2.html

"Also, I find the tactics employed by Bampton and others at Guru-Talk to be quite creepy. The site Reblogging Brad Warner points out how Guru-Talk uses deceptive tags and headers to mislead google search engines away from William Yenner's book and website. If you click on Guru-Talk.com you will see how every post is tagged with "American Guru," multiple times in various forms. And the header of the guru-talk page at the very top reads "American Guru William Yenner, American Guru Andrew Cohen." The Brad Warner site describes how this has effected the search results and also questions the supposed impartiality of Guru-Talk.

This is indeed an attempt to manipulate PageRank and screw up people's searches. It's partially worked, too; depending of the search terms you enter, the guru-talk site sometimes appears above Yenner's site in search results, but fortunately not above all Yenner search results. A quick whois.com search shows that Elytra Design, whose administrative contact is Andrea Hurley, owns the guru-talk site. According to Ms. Hurley's biography on Gaia: "Hello! My name is Andrea Hurley, and I have been a student of Spiritual Teacher, Andrew Cohen since 1988, and currently help to manage the EnlightenNext Center in Cambridge." "

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://andrewcohen.org/blog/apology

Wednesday, 26 June, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

Genpo Roshi just did. He took all the money with him, also.

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

It would be both. His soul would be redeemed and his inflated narcissistic ego, in such sweet irony, destroyed...

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Blogger Jason said...

CAVEAT EMPTOR must ever and always be the byword for anyone entering the path.

Hearty agreement here. I will add: My own first teacher actually told me that. He warned me about people like Cohen which is one reason I would never have become involved (another was that he was teaching nothing interesting anyway from my angle, but that's another story.)

The list of warning signs I got was:

– Has a superior attitude.
– Excludes members of any race or cultural group.
– Expresses an us-vs.-them point of view: “They’re out to get us” or “We’re better”.
– Is bigoted.
– Is shortsighted.
– Is attacking or violent.
– Is insensitive.
– Is overly serious.
– Has a “Do what I say, not what I do” point of view.
– Drinks heavily or consumes lots of drugs.
– Is ingratiating.
– Is controlling.
– Makes you wrong or an outcast for questioning.
– Teaches by belittling or making you an example in front of everyone.
– Wants lots of money up front.
– Has assistants or senior students who act inappropriately in your view and whom you are expected to obey.
– Believes the form of ritual is more important than the results.
– Pretends to be perfect.
– Is overly idealistic, not practical.

Any of these, on a regular basis -- avoid. Most ex-Cohenites seems to think he ticks quite a few boxes. If you think about it, plenty of ordinary, non-"spiritual" folks would mostly avoid these anyhow.

As well as coming to a community view that is right for moving forward, I hope Integralists will take a few freely-offered tips from interested and respectful parties on other paths like me, on how to keep safe. Maybe work them into the mix of solutions you come up with and pass them around a little. There's quite a lot of good work on the nature of bad gurus.

I have a whole blog post about this here with more info and a little further reading. For some time it has been popular with visitors from this blog. It's partly couched in terms of spotting a cult, which I have to say is pretty much how I see a great deal of Cohen's activity.

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yuck. Does 'being a better teacher' mean learning to cover up the cracks better? Andrew, the truth you have missed is this. You are the ego. To transcend the ego is not to destroy it. To attempt to destroy the ego is to suppress it. Suppressed egos behave abusively. It is hard to describe so ever-graceless a man as having 'fallen from grace', but there you have it...

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in fact total agreement:

the only thing cohen ever achieved

was/is

MAHA EGOHOOD

and thats why he always was/is trying to get rid of it . in other people mainly of course ,since one of the achievement s of maha egohood is the belief that oneself has no ego anymore : )))
but since he smelled the ego still as in "oh there is a gigantic ego somewhere around here i can smell it ", hm, so it must be you over there , you failed backsliding sob........come here so i can kill you....

what a silly arrogant poor sod.

finally he fell out of his cloud , great , lets hope that his humpty dumpty cannot be put together anymore

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anonymous:

Common denominator for Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni:(to quote from that old Life cereal commerical)

Kenny likes them! Hey, Kenny!

Ken Wilber. And prior to those two, KW endorsed the egregious Adi Da.

---

Let's not forget his thrilled endorsement of deposed "Zen Master" Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi.

http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/224

"Now look at me, my friend, and listen, please, I’m truly serious: isn’t it time for you to wake up? How long have you been lost in this dream? Can’t you feel the wisdom holders shaking you, saying, “Wake up, please, this is just a dream!” You know this, don’t you? You know that in the deepest part of your being, you can wake up, don’t you? You have been searching for how long now? Well, it is time for the Great Search to end. As long as you are searching, you are looking for a future moment that will be better than this moment, but it is this moment that holds the entire key: why are you running away from your own awakening?"

So what does all this mean?

Well, one thing it clearly means is that Ken's "picker" is broken. It's kind of a George Costanza thing, where he is (apparently) attracted to and even enamored of that which is the OPPOSITE of a good teacher, in so many ways.

And of course, it's not just Ken. We can, and should, say the same thing about anybody who spends years of his life devoted to some teacher whose behavior ranges from the narcissistic to the sociopathic, in exactly the way Ken's favorite teachers/gurus have.

So there's a very human problem at work here, for so many whose deepest desire is to transcend mere ego and find transcendence through enlightenment - really the same sort of human problem for so many who want to transcend mere ego and find transcendence through romantic love.

A "broken picker" is the clear symptom of the fact that "blind passions" are powerfully at work, and that the person is unconscious, or barely conscious, of them.

George Costanza's solution to this problem was hilarious, but also useful: He decided on an "opposite" strategy. Whatever his gut told him to do, he did the opposite, and went from failure to success.

It works in romance, too. People who've made a series of disastrous choices because of deep, primal attraction to "bad boys" or "bad girls" can break the cycle by deliberating choosing to reject those types in favor of less flashy, more "boring", partners - partners who aren't prone to abuse, drama, and other forms of relationship insanity.

I'd say there's a lesson here for Ken (if he's willing to be a learner rather than a pandit) - and the rest of us "enlightenment seekers" as well.

If you're looking for a teacher, stay far, far away from the charismatic crazies. Instead, look for a mensch - someone solid, decent, and reasonably well behaved - who isn't just looking at you like you're his next piece of chicken.





Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to the above post re: discernment. From the past several decades I think it's fair to say that it's been clearly demonstrated that enlightenment does not render the personality a completely transformed 'clear channel' for communication from the absolute. Rather its more akin to a carrier wave that influences that communication in subtle and gross ways, and is clearly capable of bending and distorting it quite radically. The work is truly never done, and it would seem there's also something of an "Arriver's Syndrome" at play here as well.

As per the previous comments about evolutionary spirituality being faulty - I don't personally believe that the point of evolutionary spirituality is newer = better by any stretch. Evolution in the simplest terms means change over time. Things in the universe change over time to respond and adapt to changing conditions. What has been posited in some of these evolutionary teachings is that enlightenment is the realization and grounding in that which is timeless, that which is never born, that which does NOT change over time because it does not exist within the stream of time. However that realization is expressed and manifested in time, and that expression and manifestation will change over time (or evolve) to meet and adapt to current circumstances and understandings. It doesn't mean that a teacher today is great than the buddha, or that a philosopher today is inherently greater than socrates, it simply means that socrates was responding to conditions as they existed in his time, and a philosopher today will respond accordingly. Many enlightenment teachings have been couched in esoteric notions and concepts that are now thousands of years old, and I view the current batch of evolutionary teachings as a necessary updating and recontextualization of our understanding of enlightenment, spirituality, and realization in a manner appropriate for them to continue to be useful and accessible to modern people.

I'm not at all saying that many aspects of 'the teaching' in this particular case weren't distorted, manipulated, driven vastly out of proportion, etc in order to serve as means toward the various social ends of downward flowing hierarchical control, suppression, manipulation, distortion, denial, us vs. them thinking etc. I'm just personally willing to use discernment to tease apart what I find valuable in the field of evolutionary spirituality and not just toss the entire package out the window because a couple of it's vocal proponents have issues.

Thursday, 27 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This could be a good moment for everyone to just sit, take a deep breath or three, relax, and pay attention. The moment is ripe for clarity, discernment, and compassion. Let's not waste it.

Friday, 28 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The moment is ripe for clarity, discernment, and compassion. Let's not waste it."

---

I agree completely.

One of the areas in which clarity is most needed is this: What constitutes real and proper amends in a case such as this?

This isn't just a philoaophical question to be asked in a vacuum. We have many real stories of how, why, where and when people were exploited and abused - emotionally, physically and financially.

Certainly a general letter of apology on AC's blog is a good start. But is it enough?

A simple, universal model of restorative karmic work - aka "making amends" can be found in the 12 Steps.

Those who want to get right - first with themselves, and then with everybody else - are advised to make a full and detailed list of all those they have harmed - and then make direct amends to each and every one as long as they're doing so does not inflict yet more harm.

So...what would that mean here?

It would mean that AC would do his very best to contact every member (past and present) of his community, and PERSONALLY apologize. When he apologizes, he should ASK what hurt and what harm, if any, he caused the person.

Clearly, from the books and blogs that have been written, as well as the personal feedback AC has recently been given, he has caused real hurt and real harm. Those on the receiving end of this need to be able to share their experience with him, as part of their own healing. And he needs to hear it directly from each one - as part of his own healing, too.

There is also the very serious question of financial restitution.

Again, reading the blogs and the books, it is more than clear that AC didn't just solicit donations. He bullied, cajoled and manipulated more than one person into giving him very large amounts of money. One woman who has blogged here claims that she gave him her entire inheritance of several million dollars.

If AC is truly SERIOUS about making amends, and cleaning up his karma, he has to offer such financially exploited people financial restitution, as well as personal apologies.

That is really the singular action that will most directly validate whatever apology discussions he has, either publicly or privately.

Yes, it might cost him his real estate, his cars, his retirement accounts. Yes, he might end up just as broke as those who made him rich at their expense.

But I have no doubt that if he was able to ask the advice of someone who was TRULY enlightened, this is what he would be advised to do.

Friday, 28 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


poonja used to say

IF WHEN AND BUT

and i repeat that in regards

to AC´s new found humility

IF he does such amends i will accept that his conversion is real

BUT till t(w)hen i assume it is just another clever PR attempt to suck people into his orbit or into his now teaching students orbit since ee if he steps down the org he founded continues and so do the revenues

basically unless he does all those real sincere 12 steps outlined i do not belief a single word of that snake oil peddler

sorry do i sound a little jaded ?
well 27 years of arrogant enlightenment posturing can have that effect on any bystander
yeah lets see some deeds rather then just a bunch of cheap words and crocodile tears

Saturday, 29 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met A.C. in Kathmandu in 1990. Then in London in 1990. It was clear to me then that he had an ego the size of Everest and arrogance to match. He wanted me to join but I refused as I saw just how un-empowered his then followers were, and I didn't want to be part of it. I smelled no freedom, no bliss, no love, wisdom or compassion.
Evolutionary enlightenment made no sense to me.

I am happy that he has stood down and I hope he is able to make good a lot of the suffering and confusion he has caused.

I don't think he should carry out any prior teaching obligations.

If he is truly set on addressing his narcissism, rather than a reinvention then this should already be apparent in his comportment.

I wish him luck, if he finds his heart and true remorse then it would be very healing for many.

Let's hope he isn't just bowing to pressure and reemerges with Evolutionary Enlightenment V2.0

Saturday, 29 June, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as an experiment, I tried posting a comment to AC's apology, talking about financial restitution as part of his repentance.

Not surprisingly, the moderator of the comments would not publish them there.

So, if anyone wants to say anything that is non-puerile on the subject, that's not the place to do it.

More to the point, it's clear that AC and his remaining acolytes are in full damage control mode now.

Tuesday, 02 July, 2013  
Blogger Martin Gifford said...

Dramatic events! It will be interesting to see how things develop. Cohen's post appears to be genuine. It must certainly be humbling for him.

I too submitted a comment on his blog. Previously he deleted my comments, but maybe he will be braver now. I'm not sure of his legal situation but he might be concerned about incriminating himself. So I can understand him not publishing some risky comments. This is what I posted on his apology blog post:

"Dude, that was beautiful. I think you might be surprised how well things can progress from here. My tip - for what it's worth - is to check out the enneagram. I suspect your ego is type 1 with a 2 wing. If you can separate that contamination from pure simple heartfelt reality, your work will improve enormously. Also, perhaps you could consider the possibility that while the ego can look ugly, it actually has a purpose - to defend life. And the solution might not be for each of us to struggle with ourselves. Instead, we could work together to create an environment (culture) that supports our positives rather than triggering our negatives. I wish you well in your new exploration."

That's tame enough, so it should be accepted.

I also posted an article here: http://worldwidehappiness.blogspot.com.au/

BTW I liked the comment about Ken Wilber being the George Costanza of guru endorsers. Hilarious and true. He recently backed Marc Gafni after another embarrassing sexual crisis. Hopeless. I also have a post on Gafni and Wilber in my blog above.

Tuesday, 02 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, none of Andrew's blog posts have accepted comments. That's not uncommon for a public figure trying to control their message and avoid conflict and debate on their homepage. Often comments and discussions take place in the locations where blog posts are syndicated. I'd be surprised if the idea that critics may use the blog comments section to continuously speak out against Andrew wasn't involved in the thought process to disable comments, but again, it's not an entirely unusual strategy for a public figure trying to control their messaging.

Wednesday, 03 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Martin Gifford:

Dramatic events! It will be interesting to see how things develop. Cohen's post appears to be genuine. It must certainly be humbling for him.

---

@Andrew Cohen (last paragraph of the apology):

One of the most beautiful fruits of my work over the years has been the international network of people who have studied, collaborated, and trained with me for so long. They are all examples of Evolutionary Enlightenment in their own right, and I couldn’t imagine a greater community of people to carry forward this movement. I’m looking forward to working with them in a very different way in the future.

---

That's not humbling, so much as it it is humble-bragging.

Thursday, 04 July, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

PR is about power and lies. I am no communications 'professional' but is it not obvious that the best message for all concerned is a big honest 'Fuck you, Andrew', from his students. Spirituality is about authenticity after all. PR is about bullshit. It speaks volumes that the message has to be controlled in this way.

Friday, 05 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just amazed that it took this long.

Friday, 05 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



yeah i agree this "fuck you andrew " was a long time overdue or a long time in the coming.about time too that it finally happened !

and next needs to come "and put your EE up yours too"

Saturday, 06 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm just amazed that it took this long."

Yes, it took a very long time. Two books were published about Andrew, but the big breakthrough was creation of the WE? blog (this one) and the second great breakthourgh was Bill Yenner's book, which not only examined Andrew but Andrew's enablers and the entire abusiveness of the Integral scene.

Its a measure of how shame tripped people were. And..yet again, we hacve to demand that letters, documents pictures and film footage taken of Andrews students under duress be returned to them.

Andrew exacted love letters and apology letters, reportedly filmed one disciple trying to document the facial expression of rampant egotism.

THis is emotional blackmail. It may be many people felt unable to speak because Andrew still owned parts of them--in the form of their letters, and even film footage taken of them under duress.

As part of his apology Andrew must return all this to its owners and promise that no such material remains in his files.

Saturday, 06 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anonymous:

and next needs to come "and put your EE up yours too"

---

That's certainly a justified response, emotionally - but (like with so many emotional responses) it may produce more heat than light.

Speaking as someone who never got caught in a guru trap, I think the more powerful, more constructive, and more DE-constructive response would be to simply assert the plain and unvarnished truth: the entire evolutionary enlightenment environment was just a massive delusion - a mass trance - a classic, and ultimately quite mundane, religious cult situation.

There's really nothing to salvage here other than the human beings who were inevitably wounded by participating.

There's really no point in going all Mussolini and saying, "Well, at least he made the trains run on time".

Of course, as is so often the case, there will be those who simply cannot afford to make that judgement. Their ego defense mechanisms will require that they hold on to the fiction that there was (and remains) something good and true at the heart of the EE enterprise and environment. They will do everything they can to maintain that fiction in the face of what is now overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

So the "deconstructive word" is, I believe, a critical component of the evaluation here - because it will serve as a catalyst for many who are wavering to simply let go of AC and EE once and for all.

It is a necessary act of creative destruction - indeed, the very sort of act that Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber were so in favor of when it applied to the egoic self-defense constructs of his followers.

Saturday, 06 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went looking for AC's "Declaration of Integrity" on his blog, but apparently it's not there anymore, even though the link is.

http://andrewcohen.org/blog/index.php?/blog/post/declaration-of-integrity/

Then I found an archived copy here:

http://www.monkfishpublishing.com/pages/Andrew%20Cohen%20declaration-of-integrity.pdf

It's well worth reading, if for no other reason than it provides a powerful insight into how deep the problem of egoic delusion really is.

Sunday, 07 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Kings are killed, Mr. Garrison, politics is power, nothing more! Oh, don't take my word for it, don't believe me. Do your own work, your own thinking."

I am not sure I buy this obsessing with NPD. Clearly it's true that Cohen is a narcissist from a pysch perspective, but their are narcissists everywhere, and most of us learn at an early age where to hold our boundaries with people safely. Diagnosing Cohen with the DSM is lazy and obvious. Understanding what is going on here is going to take a lot more work.

Here are a few perspectives we should consider:

1. Bion in 'Experiences with Groups' said that any group, left to its own devices, will choose the individual who is most disturbed to lead it. He also pointed out how close such a group will always be to another key dynamic of scapegoating and the key target will be that leader, although usually this can be deflected onto some other member of the group. We overcome this pattern by using 'work groups' with formal structures. I guess my point is that what has happened here is a very human kind of social process and shouldn't be 'blamed' so easily on one man, not that he is not culpable. The whole group has to raise it's game to avoid this kind of thing.

2. I know from being on the fringe of another group that has exploded recently once the guru was exposed that before this happens the experiences, relationships and growth available in such a group are real, awesome, healing and transformative. They are also utterly unstable and empty. We are all pretending that we can have the benefits of the monastic life available to us while we live as lay folk and this is not true. This is the real instability that lies at the root of what has happened here. To pursue these paths as well as regular daily lives is to create a split and the only place that leads is towards getting burned. Some crash out early and learn this. Some wait for the group to crash, but the message is always the same. Real spirituality for householders is the agape of loving one's children while you clean up their shit, embracing our elderly as they become senile and aggressive. Where is it written that spiritual fireworks are a birthright? You folk have eaten your meal. Now wash your bowl. Stop worrying about what Andrew must do to apologise to you. That is his problem. Work out who you must apologise to in your own lives for the energy you robbed from them to follow him.

Sunday, 14 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You folk have eaten your meal. Now wash your bowl. Stop worrying about what Andrew must do to apologise to you. That is his problem. Work out who you must apologise to in your own lives for the energy you robbed from them to follow him"

This is an elaborate and clever attempt at shame tripping.

No need to bring up Bion. The group theorist whose work is most pertinent is Philip Zimbardo, whose Stanford Prison Experiment is the most accurate model for what ensued after Cohen, with the help of the #2 million dollars he and his minions screwed from Jane O'Neill purchased Foxhollow, and moved his abusive commune there.

Social isolation. Zimbardo randomly selected Stanford University students to two groups --prison guards or prisoners--in the prison simulation exercise.

**And informedd them they were all free to leave at any time. No promise was hinted that participation was part of a vangard movement in human spiritual history.

As the days passed, the subjects FORGOT they were free to leave. Those assigned guards become more brutal, those randomly assigned prisoners became more submissive.

It took a visit from Zimbardo's graduate student, who told him things were out of control that led Zimbardo to end this exmperiment early.

Unlike Cohen, Zimbardo did not have a gang of celebrity enablers, such as Ken Wilber.

And..let us not forget that people who did try to leave Andrew Cohens set up often had to leave at night, sometimes even having other students posted outside their doors to keep them from leaving.

One woman took a rental car and was traced to another state and persuaded to return--an incident m entioned on this blog.

Go and give the apology lecture to Andrew Cohen, Wilber and the others who endorsed him.

And Kenny Wilber invited Philip Zimbardo to participate in his Spiritual Choices seminar, published in a book of that same name, edited by Wilber, Anthony and Eckler.

Yet despite Zimbardo being listed in a footnote as one of the participants in this seminar, no mention is made in the book of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

That experiment demonstrates how human behavior deteriorates in social isolation and that no one is immune, no matter how high his or her alleged spiritual attainment--not even an Andrew Cohen.

Yet these gurus always have their apologists, and their victims are constantly being scolded for lacking autonomy, while these same gurus nag their student for having too much ego.

Monday, 15 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an elaborate and clever attempt at shame tripping...Yet these gurus always have their apologists, and their victims are constantly being scolded for lacking autonomy, while these same gurus nag their student for having too much ego.

---

That's a righteous post.

The bedazzled and ultimately bedeviled students of AC don't owe anyone an apology.

AC owes everyone an apology - a real apology, a personal apology, an apology made real by returning funds he had no right to take from others, but did anyway, by power-tripping, spiritual manipulation, and good old fashioned bullying.

Monday, 15 July, 2013  
Anonymous Vernita said...

This is cool!

Tuesday, 30 July, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When light reveals the deeply spiritualized egos on planet Earth, it is a good time for all of us. When seen for what it really is, it looses its power.
The whole idea that ego can be beaten down and overcome, excluded and even killed, is the BIG mistake, made by spiritual teachers throughout the times of humanity. You cannot even know your name without ego!
How long it will take AC to come into right relationship with ego, nobody knows. When having been fed by the enerrgy and praise of so many others for such a long time, when beeing so unconsciously identified with this denied spiritualized ego, with its apparent arrogance and mercylessness, it seems like a long time task.
Mercy on his soul!

Tuesday, 13 August, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nice line from the classic Alice Miller book 'the truth will set you free'
About denial of ones childhood and the severe pain we felt then repressed...
Cohen as I've already said owes many many people an apology...however,it CAN'T happen as he's not faced through proper therapy that which he has denied and act of transference has played out now in the last 25 years.
Oh,he actually needs a therapist who will take the side of his 'inner child'. And, then feel the rage and anger properly and constructivly toward his parents
But,that's too babyish and green level ,and a tad anacronistic for an evolutionary!!!
Hence,many of the parents who smacked their children under his insistence will have adults with back pain..repressed anger,possible drug issues etc etc..unless those parents also apologise for such crimes(and,as parents themselves initially drawn to Cohen they'll display strong traits of denial of their own childhood...which makes the cultish aspect so Stockholm syndrome)
Anyway,that quite from her book titles 'THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE)

' in a bid to blot out the fear and pain of our abused younger self,we erase what we know can help us,fall prey to the seductiveness of sects and cults,fail to see through all kinds of lies,and assert that children need physical correction '

Friday, 16 August, 2013  
Blogger Fluid said...

It is the height of irony that Andrew positioned himself as a spiritual authority and expert on the ego (ex; "Me All the Time: The Epidemic of Narcissism" on YouTube)
Like the priest who assigns himself to a children's bible study class, only to be discovered as a child abuser. From the moment he snubbed his Guru, Papaji, and his mother, and many of those around him, and set off on a mission to preach for and represent the next step in spiritual evolution (does it need one :) he set himself on a crash course with Reality. But it's all good in the final tally - because we all can learn from his epic crash and burn (which I fear may not be over for him) I knew there was something wrong with him - this fiery obsession with evolution, the future landscape, ethical/moral/behavioral maps and analysis...
Same thing with Ken Wilber, and that whole crew integral evolution crew imo. I have nothing against thinking on these subjects. But when one is firmly established in Presence, you don't find this kind of super frenetic energy swirling about. Sure passion, excitement, eureka insights. But this whole bag just feels like something different. Basically, like ego managed yet again to dress up as authentic, deep, grounded, selfless, spiritual expression.
Sit back and enjoy the ride. All of this is part of the unfolding.
But still, lessons can be learned along the way.

Sunday, 10 November, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously? A sabbatical? Dude, still trying to be legit, give it up, you are a phony monster. If your students were as sadistic as you they would have the right to put you in a circle and beat the crap out of you. They will forgive you when you show a modicum of genuine humility, until then, go to your room. Monster. Spiritual ego is about a million times trickier than just plain regular ego, you wish you had some regular ego, your spiritual ego is the size of a brontosaurus, it knows no bounds, you, my friend, have a rude awakening, and you will need more than a phony apology to make amends. You need to go to the red room for a very, very, very long time and contemplate the odor of your poop. You just don't get it.

Tuesday, 12 November, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Andrew one time, he was doing some talks in my hometown, way back when, and I went along with a friend who was interested, even though it wasn't my kind of thing. There was quite a crowd there.

The incident has haunted me for years.

I was shocked at what I witnessed. I thought he was maybe ill, psychotic perhaps, someone who needed some urgent help, taking out a lot of hurt and aggression on vulnerable and trusting people. I found it very scary.

I managed to endure the talk, daydreamed about other things. When he left to leave he looked over at me, across the crowd, pointed accusingly, and said something like You! Don't come back! Everyone turned round to stare at me.

What is he, some kind of dark psychic? Anyway, I'm not a woman to be talked down to, or humiliated, not then, not now. heheh.

OK, I was young and wild, but I followed him out of the room and started screaming and yelling at him. Glad I did now, although I wasn't too popular with the followers for a while. He looked like a hurt child, and told me I was acting like one also. Good bit of playground dynamics I'd say, take his mind off being the Enlightened One.

Hey Andrew, perhaps you should learn to fly a kite, or juggle or something, lighten up a bit. I'm glad I yelled at you, mate, I prefer to feel equal, you're a fellow human after all. And I'd say the wonder of simple, joyous enlightenment is inherent in every human heart and soul. See you on the road.

Sunday, 26 January, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hullo! I'm the lady who wrote the last post, not sure if I'm allowed another, but I've been thinking about all this.

I am feeling for all the folks who have been hurt and even traumatised by all this. Yikes, been reading some of these postings on this blog. I got off lightly with my brat-spat.

Forgive me, I'm not really an expert on gurus and teachers and things, I'm the eccentric artistic type, but I do have a wellspring of inspiration within me, and a very feeling heart, even though I might not make much sense right at this particular moment. haha.

Who is Andrew Cohen? Was he hurt in childhood? I really want to talk to him face to face. Has he been traumatised in his life? Seems like it, otherwise he couldn't do all those weird things to people, he'd be joyful and want others to be joyful also.

Surely we only do to others what we're doing to ourselves? You think so?

What I don't get is why the word Ego is seen as a bad word, like it's a sin or something? It only means I am! I exist! What's wrong with existing? It's amazing to exist, right here in this moment, all of us, and all of creation, all spinning in space, together on this planet.

It hurts, of course, every day facing all the injustice and torture and pain of the world, that really does hurt, I'm not separate from that, I don't want to be.

Surely the Ego is the channel for an essence that unites all of us?

OK, so we're all individuals, that's what's good about Ego, the I Am! we're all different, but we're all transient, and therefore all the same also.

One light, light that is one, though the lamps be many, sort of thing, yikes I just quoted from an Incredible String Band song. I love them, haha.

Why does it all have to be so brutal and shameful? I wouldn't go up to a child and humiliate him or her, make them feel ashamed just because they exist!

Jesus or Buddha wouldn't humiliate people, they'd more like say 'The Kingdom of Heaven is within!' or 'Love your neighbour as yourself!' or .. I don't know what Buddha said, but he seems pretty cool.

Maybe the wounded Ego is the danger. I don't know. Maybe the wounded Ego is when the essence is obscured by all the junk. ??

OK I think I'll shut up now. Nice talking to you! I keep my name anon because I live in a small town and I'm still a bit scared of the Andrew followers, fallout and things.

Wednesday, 29 January, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Andrew once at a climactic point of my ego death. I tried to describe what was happening within me and he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. It was clear to me then that his spiritual process was incomplete. He had nothing to offer. Andrew didn't have a guru himself, as such, and this was his first mistake. It was beneath him. Instead he liked to 'visit' other gurus, pretending to be their friend, only to later try and steal their students. His teaching has always been very intellectual, that's why he gets along so well with Ken Wilber who is the ultimate intellectual. Truth begins where the mind ends however, and this is where so few really want to venture. It requires more love than the mind can imagine.

Saturday, 01 February, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hullo again, its Mrs Anon here. haha. I'm really learning a lot from this blog. It's a really good debate.That's why I keep coming back. Thanks. Feel free to edit me out, I can live with that. heheh.

Oh, I seeee, just reading the previous posting here. That's interesting. Andrew didn't have a teacher himself? He had an awakening but didn't run it by someone else, someone he trusted? Damn, that's a shame.

What if he'd run it by a true friend, or a trusted teacher? Perhaps they could have held him back by the tail, said something like 'whoah little fella, I'm happy to talk about it, I understand!, but our brains are really good at creating powerful and alluring awakenings and experiences, it happens to all of us from time to time! In fact our brains are master illusionists!, and we have to understand more about these matters, it's a tricky road, and you and others could get hurt'.

So, leading on from this, here's what I worry about, perhaps someone here could enlighten me .. hah!...that word again, OK, I should say shed light on a situation for me, offer me knowledge.

There are so many books out there on the Mind Body Spirit shelves of a bookshop, thousands of books! All sorts of paths and awakenings and experiences, all sorts of wisdoms and ideas, presented for all to choose from.

And some of these authors set themselves up as teachers in the field they have written about.

It has come a long way from The Holy Bible of my youth. Although I strayed a bit, so I came of age with Carlos Casteneda and Aldous Huxley. heheh. I debunked Carlos, but I stuck by Huxley. There wasn't quite so much choice around, but it was still pretty confusing.

I worry about the kids, the young seekers. There is so much choice out there.

My 20 yr old nephew is asking me questions, he's a seeker, he wants to know about spirituality. I'm not a teacher, so I think I might have to consult some people I respect, I'd better sort out my answers.

My point is, can anyone who has had an experience, an awakening, just write a book about it, and set themselves up as a qualified author on these matters, and perhaps also a spiritual teacher?

How does it work? Is there a governing authority? Does the publisher decide? Who decides if the work is inspirational or dangerous?? Surely it should be like qualifying as a pilot or a doctor or in fact any profession. Who checks out their credentials?

How do people qualify as a spiritual author and guru in the East? Do they have to have come from a trusted tradition, a lineage?

So what if my nephew wanders into a bookshop, picks up an Andrew Cohen book, thinks it looks pretty cool, then finds out that the author might (or might not) have gone a bit astray and started acting like he's a deranged cult leader?

Get a grip, Andrew, what about the kids?

Hmm. Is Andrew reading this blog? Hey Andrew, do you fancy coming in here and saying hullo? I'd like to talk about things. I'd like to clear the past and start over.

Sunday, 02 February, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been checking Amazon UK reviews for Andrew's books, thought it would be a good place to start my (very amateur) market research.

So there's a range of voices represented in these reviews, the ratings swing dramatically from five stars to one star, from describing the books as a life changing teaching, to vacuuous and predatory, from inspirational to fake and deceit.

Andrew and his co-authors created a real buzz, I had no idea!

Of course, these reviews date from a time when the books first came out, or at least from a few years ago, so I'm not holding anyone to anything, things change.

I'm just interested in the voice of the reader, and how books get out there, who reads them, how they affect lives.

To add persective, I also checked out a Castaneda book, the spiritual buzz book of my youth, to see how I could have been let astray if I hadn't been sceptical. I love these books, still do, especially the artwork on the covers.

Same deal, from five star to one star, from gateway to a new world view, to an exposure of the scam.

One reviewer says it all, really. Great book but don't live by it.

Great book, but don't live by it. If I was a professional writer, I'd write a cautionary book, or magazine article, based on this phrase. Then people could read my writing, and give me a one star review on Amazon. haha. hmm.

However my research is fuelled by a serious interest and concern.

Friday, 07 February, 2014  

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