Wednesday, October 20, 2004

So Just What IS a Real Sage?

Welcome to the second edition of what enlightenment?!!…After Hours, the e-bulletin dedicated to looking just that extra bit deeper into the big spiritual issues of the day.

In this edition we explore the issue of authenticity of the guru, and let’s use guru Andrew Cohen as the example:

Is Mr Cohen a true guru, or not? Is there a difference between Cohen’s teaching and that of a real sage?

A real sage always wants his disciple to be self-reliant, to realize himself/herself, and then go his own way in freedom, and with the sage’s blessing. While there would naturally be love and gratitude, both should be free of attachment, and the guru would never try to bind the student to him personally. As stated in some of the last verses of Shankara’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination, at the conclusion of the teachings:

“On hearing these words of his guru the disciple prostrated himself before him and with his permission went away free from bondage.
The guru too with his mind immersed in the ocean of Truth and Bliss, and with his mind free of discriminations went on his way purifying the whole world.”

If a guru were not a real sage, how might one describe such a guru?

Perhaps as a cult leader. With a whole lot of baggage. And maybe some psychopathology to boot. Here is one description:

“From a psychoanalytic perspective, the cult leader unconsciously experiences his dependency needs as so deeply shameful that a delusion of omnipotence is developed to ward off the toxic shame.

It is urgent to the pathological narcissist, who knows unconsciously that he is susceptible to extreme mortification (the sense of “death” by shame), that this delusion of omnipotence be sustained. Manic defenses help sustain the delusion, but in addition, followers must be seduced and controlled so that the loathsome dependence can be externalized, located in others and thereby made controllable.

The leader can then express his unconscious self-loathing through his “compassion” (often thinly disguised contempt) for his followers’ weakness. Manically proclaiming his own perfection, the leader creates a program of “purification” for the follower. By enlisting the follower to hold the shame that he projects and evacuates from his own psyche, the cult leader rids himself of all shame, becoming, in effect, “shameless.” He defines his shamelessness as enlightenment, liberation, or self-actualization.

It becomes important to the cult leader, for the maintenance of his state of shamelessness on which his psychic equilibrium depends, that there be no competition, that he alone, and no one else in the group, feels shameless. So while apparently inviting others to attain his state of perfection (shamelessness) by following him, the cult leader is actually constantly involved in inducing shame in his followers, thereby maintaining his dominance and control.”

quoted from: Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective by Daniel Shaw, C.S.W.,

Wow! That’s pretty heavy. Do you agree/disagree?

There’s lots written on this: for example an excellent book by an ex-student of Cohen’s – Enlightenment Blues by Andre Van der Braak.

Stay tuned to this blog - there's lots of news and perspective soon to follow – from an After Hours point of view!

Here are some readers’ comments following our previous issue:

  • Sounds good. Keep up the good work.
  • (Your bulletin is) if your reporter fell dead over his or her keyboard, or simply dematerialized
  • Nice new initiative. On the move again! Did you send it to many people?
  • Take me off your list!
  • Great intro issue....
  • I enjoyed the humor in your first post, but what about something delving deeper into the serious issues at hand?

So you can see we have attracted a lot of attention, and have our work cut out for us!
Stay in touch! Yes, Please write! Your contributions are most welcome - use the comments buttom below to write. (Please also send addresses to either add or delete from our mailing list.)

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of what enlightenment?!!…After Hours

The editors


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Monday, 18 October, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. There is no doubt in my mind, after 12 years of close contact with Andrew, that he is at the very least a bad teacher, one who uses his final goal as as justification for severe abuse of his students. I think some justification could be made that he is a sadistic bully who takes pleasure in any pain experienced by anyone not on his current list of most loyal subjects. This of course includes any ex-students, but also any current students exhibiting a desire to truly question their experience. An experience that may include severe doubts about the running of the "revolution" they find themselves in.......

Saturday, 23 October, 2004  

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