Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Andrew Cohen's Fall From Grace

To Everyone Who Reads This Blog:

It is sad to hear Craig Hamilton—a strong practitioner, fine writer and reporter—sounding like nothing more than a childish mouthpiece for Andrew Cohen. I find Susan Bridle and Hal’s letters to be simple, straightforward and heartfelt. My instincts tell me that they speak the truth in the service of greater clarity, while there is a noticeable insincerity and a cloud of confusion that hovers over the convoluted denials of Craig’s letters to this blog.

I was glad to see that someone else also noticed the glaring fact that Lee Lozowick’s endorsement of Andrew Cohen was written almost ten years ago. Craig, why are you using ancient history to defend Andrew? Do you notice the disparity between your statement that Susan Bridle is “living in the past” because she cites abusive events that occurred in her relationship with Andrew Cohen and his students and your use of an endorsement written by Lee Lozowick almost ten years ago to justify your position regarding Mr. Cohen’s innocence with regard to these accusations? When we don’t see ourselves clearly, we are blind to the deeper motivations that permeate our actions and speech, and while others can see our hypocrisy, we go about blithely justifying and rationalizing our position.

However, the most important point is that, in the most practical sense, people change over time, and not necessarily for the better. The shadow has a way of making its presence known—revealing itself—especially to those on the spiritual path. There is much that can be said about how the shadow gets activated and brought to the surface on any genuine path, and undoubtedly Mr. Cohen originally had “the goods”—that is, the potency and authenticity of realization—to create a genuine transformational vehicle for his students. However, in such a process the teacher is also transformed, further clarified into deeper dimensions of realization. Not only is this process of transformation on the genuine path reciprocal between student and teacher, but between the teacher and the raw forces of the Divine which are called into play. It is an undeniable shake down in which everything is stirred up, brought to the blinding arc lamp of truth, scrutinized and subjected to processes of dissolution and purification through fire.

Again, the teacher himself or herself is not immune to this process because they have “gone beyond” in some way but goes through it with the students, disciples, devotees. In describing the psychological development through the three yanas or vehicles, hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana, we find this comment in Mudra, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: “It should be clear to all who read [the description] that a competent guide is needed since the tendency towards self-deception becomes increasingly dangerous as one progresses on the path.” (page 67.)

This wisdom should be taken to heart as it applies to everyone, for the path is never-ending, and it is said by some that “enlightenment,” that indefinable mystery, is only the beginning of it. It is spiritual pride and spiritual immaturity that says, “I am the teacher; I am infallible, complete, done, finished … enlightened like no one before me,” or, “I have been practicing for thirty years, therefore I don’t need to meditate anymore, and because of my attainment, vision and seniority, I can cut corners on integrity here, here and here…”

When the teacher or student succumbs to spiritual pride and the pull of personal megalomania, it is usually because they do not have the help of a “competent guide,” a true spiritual authority who is has gone farther on the path than him or herself. Andrew Cohen rejected his own master, Poonjaji, the source of transmission in his own case, because of “spiritual crimes” far, far less damning than those currently being levied against Mr. Cohen.

Every authentic tradition world-wide states clearly—and this is especially true once one enters the domain of tantra, or the vajrayana path, where the dangers that are inherent in such accelerated transformation are very great—that one must have a guide. An essential flaw in Mr. Cohen’s work at this point in time lies in the fact that he has the hubris to believe that he can go it alone, without surrender, gratitude and obeisance to his master, Poonjaji. He is flaunting his personal sense of power in the face of the cosmic law that governs us all.

The processes of spiritual purification and dissolution always yield up the truth of the matter: the darkness or knot of illusion or deeply buried psychosis that too often lurks beneath the veneer of intellectual brilliance and a charismatic, overweening character formation. The tendency toward fascism and paranoia in such a strong, super-sized personality is a fearsome thing to witness. Andrew Cohen’s fall from grace as an individual of great insight and possibility—whose personal ambitions have blinded him to the autonomous workings of his own shadow—is a powerful teaching to everyone on the path. He has become the very thing that he has lashed out against for so many years: teachers who lack integrity.

But again, there is a tremendous value in seeing ourselves in the mirror as well. Andrew Cohen strikes me as someone who started out as a teacher with something very real to offer, but whose delusions have grown greater than his realizations. Does he really think he is beyond being taught a hard lesson by the Universe? Does he think he is beyond the fundamental nondual truth that one’s environment—people, events, circumstances—is one’s very self, and what it reflects to us should be used as a message from a universal Source? No teacher, guru, avatar or saint is greater than God, that is, the inexorable universal processes, laws and Intelligence that governs us all. It is said that there is a great deal of negative karma accrued by teachers who lose their way in leading others; it is also true that it is never too late to change our ways.

--Anonymous (Received by e-mail)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. Well said. Enlightenment is the BMW you lease, not one that you buy to keep forever. It needs humility and constant practice, otherwise your limited ego will ensnare you again.

The myths perpetuated by Cohen, Poonja, Ganga(ji) and hundreds of postmodern gurus are dangerous, and this site is a welcome sanctuary of reason.

Best wishes

Sunday, 24 December, 2006  

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