Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Lively Debate

One place to look for very interesting discussion on the Guru Cohen issue is in the reader reviews for the book Enlightenment Blues posted on and

Below is one particularly lively exchange posted a while ago. Interestingly, these 2 reviews were subsequently deleted while dozens of other reviews weren't. Could it be that these two comments are too close to the bone? Don’t know. But savor what you are about to read.

2 Reviews of Enlightenment Blues:

A two dimensional fabrication of an extraordinary life
Posted on January 17, 2004

Reviewer: Caragh from USA

This book is a complete falsification of people and events that occurred during the eleven years that Andre was a student of Andrew Cohen and a member of his community.

It is a two-dimensional fabrication of what was a full and fascinating life in an evolving spiritual community, that formed to understand and live the teachings of Andrew Cohen, a very radical and rare teacher who insists on humanity, integrity, and truth being lived for real by his students. Reading about the people and events during these years through Andre's eyes is a serious warped deviation from the truth of what really occurred. It seems obvious to me that he has such a twisted view of what happened because he is, at this point in time, looking through glasses which are heavily colored by his extreme resentment, anger, and desire for personal power and affirmation. There is absolutely no context to what he is writing about, which is that we were living together in an extraordinary experiment in the collective pursuit of freedom, authenticity, and the evolution of consciousness.

I know a lot about what happened during most of the time this book covers as I am Caragh, alias Gina, the infamous love of his life! It is a very strange experience to read the chapter about our relationship and not recognize myself or Andre, from his superficial, demeaning and very personally focused descriptions. It's horrible to read the way Andre reduces everything that happened between us to a painfully flat mischaracterization of the truth. It appears that all that matters to Andre is how he looks, what he felt, and how he can justify the choices that he made.

What he writes is not true, and seriously misrepresents our relationship. We met in a mutual recognition of spiritual freedom and talked a lot about our love and recognition of our new-found spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen, and his teachings, which were giving us an entirely new perspective on life. There was a trust and intimacy developing that was very unusual because it was based on the thrill of enlightened understanding, together with a heart opening where there is a lot of vulnerability and love. The intimacy came out of this context and in that there was tremendous depth and interest in something transcendent and very powerful. Andre understood this and we got
closer personally because of sharing this. This meeting in a mutual interest and profound experience in something beyond ourselves was the basis of our relationship.

The book begs the question: Why would Andre have remained a student of
Andrew's for 11 years? Nothing that you read in the book helps you to make sense of this. I know why: it is because the experience and accompanying realizations that he and we had with Andrew opened our mind and consciousness so far that a new relationship to thought and feeling became possible. Andre discovered something that he had always wanted- freedom from the conditioned mind and an understanding of a mystery that reveals the truth of our oneness and non difference. Yet, that initial realization was just the beginning as this experience demands everything from us in order to really be worth anything. It demands that we evolve beyond ego, that we consciously take on our deep and conditioned responses to life that are selfish and narcissistic. This very personal change is essential in order to be available for a larger collective shift in consciousness. And I can tell you from my own experience, it is not easy. But something extraordinary becomes possible between human beings when a group of people come together
beyond ego-something happens that is way beyond the individual-a miraculous collective consciousness and understanding is discovered that has the power to change humanity's future. This was there in embryonic form when we met Andrew, when we discovered a deeply enlightened state, free from the mind/ego. He has omitted this from the book as he is choosing personal ambition and power versus giving himself over to what he knows to be true. And in this, he is denying and distorting what he found in meeting Andrew Cohen.

Try this little experiment:
posted on May 28, 2004 by a reader from lafnowl

Try this little experiment. Read the previous review, posted by Caragh/aka "Gina". As she says, she's "Enlightenment Blues'" author Van der Braak's former girlfriend, the self-described "love of his life" and a firm believer in Cohen and his community. Note the angry, extreme and disrespectful language used regarding the opinions and perspective expressed in the book (e.g. "seriously warped"; a "twisted view;" "complete falsification").

Note the scathing and personally vindictive attacks on the author's (her ex-lover's) character (e.g. "his extreme resentment, anger, and desire for personal power and affirmation.") Observe the complete lack of factual detail to support the previous charges and smears, coupled with an overreaching sense of total certainty regarding them. Notice the vague and idealistic averments regarding the community, again completely unsupported by any factual detail. Now multiply that angry, unbalanced and disturbing voice by about 100 for the approximate number of community members.

Play that tape at yourself ceaselessly 24/7 for a few weeks, months or years. See if you don't feel like hell while being told you're in heaven.

This may begin to give you a sense of the experience of the dark underbelly of such a community. Or better yet, read "Enlightenment Blues." At least that way you'll have the insight and inspiration of learning, in the end, that extricating oneself from such a group forever, and living a life of freedom and happiness, is indeed possible, even after such an ordeal. Discovering that, alone, is worth far more than the price of the book.

(Without explanation, both of these reviews disappeared from the site a few days after they were posted.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: the text of both interviews are currently available on, if you go to the reviews for 'enlightenment blues.'

The comments posted on the UK site are especially articulate, well worth reading.

Friday, 19 November, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this response to "gina's" writing funny. The book was scathing and unbalanced in my opinion, and am not at all appalled by her desire to make a statement.

I was close to the community before for a short while, but am not a student of Andrews. Still, Andre's book does leave out any and all spiritual context and rather focuses entirely on his "hard" time. Guess what, the process of ego death aint easy! And if it's real, then the ego will fight tooth and nail based solely on a survival, fight or flight (or both) impulse to exist.

I only wonder if my comment will remain here, seeing as this is supposedly a place where open, honestt debate and discussion is welcomed!

I hope so. I'd like to believe this isn't all a simpleton reaction to an extreme and unusual process.

Monday, 14 February, 2005  

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