Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vimala Thakar’s Concealed Criticism and Andrew Cohen’s Treatment of Women—The Investigation Continues

Recently, a comment to an article posted on What Enlightenment??! revealed some very shocking news that few of us who are or were involved with Andrew Cohen knew—Andrew Cohen’s claims that female Indian sage Vimala Thakar supported his harsh treatment of the women in his community—in the name of breaking through “women’s conditioning”—were false. In fact, Vimala strongly criticized Andrew's treatment of the community women in a letter he kept secret from most community members.

Most readers know of Vimala Thakar , a very inspiring and impressive woman spiritual teacher who became realized after meeting J. Krishnamurti. She and Andrew communicated, she gave an interview to What Is Enlightenment? magazine, and Vimala initially appeared to support Andrew’s exploration of “women’s conditioning.” But her support changed to strong disapproval after she met with Andrew and some of his women students after the 1998 Cohen Rishikesh retreat—the retreat that has been discussed on this blog as a milestone in Cohen’s increasing abuse of female students. Andrew has kept, and continues to keep, Vimala Thakar’s strong criticism of his methods secret from most of the community, misleading the women victims of his abuse into believing that Andrew’s ideas and methods have Vimala’s tacit approval.

The shocking news of Vimala Thakar’s strong criticism of Andrew’s treatment of his women was revealed to us by former close “senior” student Stas, in a comment he made to the article on this blog by Wendyl, A Travesty of “Enlightenment”—Wendyl’s Story. Stas wrote:

Hi Wendyl. I’m happy to hear you’re doing well. Thank you very much for sharing your experience so fully, clearly and heartfully. I remember the meetings in India you mentioned with Vimala Thakar and Andrew’s “formal” women students. She impressed me too as a deeply awakened, wise and humble soul. It also made me recollect that in the months that followed that visit, Andrew corresponded with Vimala to let her know what was happening with the women. I remember he sent her a letter claiming that although it had been tough going, a “breakthrough” had occurred for the first time with his female students – this of course, was all because of his tireless efforts (sound familiar?). However, he received no response from her. So again he wrote her, this time with more vehemence. It seemed important for Andrew to have Vimala's acknowlegement of this achievement. Well, Vimala did finally write back, but it was a letter that in the end Andrew only showed to a few people. In it, Vimala told him in no uncertain terms that she thought he was totally off the mark in how he was dealing with his women students, and that she did not support what he was doing because he was harming, not helping them. Andrew of course was outraged by this criticism, and dismissed her opinion outright.

Another former close student of Andrew has confirmed to me that Andrew once mentioned to her that Vimala Thakar had written him a critical letter about his treatment of the women, although he made it sound as if her criticisms were relatively mild. He did not show her the letter. Andrew blamed the women who met with Vimala for Vimala’s disapproval. My source, one of the women who met with Vimala after the 1998 Rishikesh retreat, described herself and the other women at that meeting as emotionally “crushed” and like “the walking dead.” She painfully blamed herself—at Cohen’s behest—for Vimala’s disapproval of what Cohen was doing.

Since the publication of Mario’s article Not Forgotten—The Story of Caroline Franklyn a new level of discussion about abuse in the Andrew Cohen community has ensued on this blog, with more former students contributing to the investigation of this serious matter. This discussion resulted in Wendyl’s last article, an outpouring of her heart entitled A Travesty of “Enlightenment”—Wendyl’s Story, and continued in full force in its comments. The revelation of Vimala’s criticism of Andrew’s treatment of women and Andrew’s concealment of this fact heightened the intensity of the discussion even more. In the article below, Wendyl responds to some of the strong and incisive comments to her article.

Wendyl Responds To Comments About "Wendyl's Story"

Dear Friends,
I am writing in again to comment on some of the above posts and to add some additional insights I have into the situation with Cohen. Mario, Stas, Karen, Dragan, Heather, Hal those of you who were deeply impacted by the abuse of the women (and men) and commented on it. Let’s keep this issue of women’s conditioning alive here as I think it is essential that we women (and men) share more of our experiences of and insights into this “serial abuse”(right on, Mario).

The post by Stas was a shock and the impact of the secrecy a tragedy. A shock because of Cohen deliberately concealing Vimala’s response, not a shock that Vimala would respond this way, as I felt in my heart all along that she would not condone this monstrous behavior. A tragedy because if women had known about this all along things might have been very different for Cohen and the community (which is why he covered it up, or mentioned it to very few).

First of all I have to say that I doubt Cohen’s “spiritual” world view – for both men and women - could ever come to anything except “no good” and I will tell you why. A messianic driven world view creates an enemy and delusions of perfection. We were following a man with a mission. Stas comments aptly in his valuable and revealing article (See Either I’m crazy…or… from Jan 11th) “It is exactly this grandiose position that is Andrew’s madness”. Then we have MeroSathi’s brilliant insights into the machinations of Cohen’s and the community’s behavior. At the same time I think her/his? comments here are revealing: “This was no ordinary environment and its many benefits gave us impetus to step apart from and de-prioritize so many of our other relationships, which we now saw as driven by the “status quo” mentality, one that did not support love, intimacy and bold honesty which we seemed to be sharing. It was Andrew’s revolution……….” And we were different,” cutting edge”, and this difference made us and what we were doing more important than all the other “status quo” folks. Merosathi writes from a perspective that something went wrong at some point. To me, nothing WENT wrong. It could never go right as we were a group with a leader on a mission. And this justifies a lot of appalling behaviors especially when over time it doesn’t appear to be working. We just have to look at the history of the world to look at what kinds of outcomes transpire for groups with missions, especially missions to purify peoples.

Here is a man with a mission who legitimizes himself through the marketing vehicle of the WIE magazine, sponsoring conferences etc. He gets the “Good Housekeeping stamp of approval” from other prominent folks who have never lived under his bizarre reign– Beck, Wilbur and indirectly by association with those who are willing to be interviewed. I ask ALL of us who have been involved with Cohen, when we joined onto this revolution what exactly were we thinking? What were our motives? As I said earlier, I could see for myself that there was something that resonated for me in the “We’re doing it. We are an elite group who will change the world. We are more advanced, more evolutionary, the chosen disciples”. It wasn’t so obvious to me in the beginning as this was all mixed together with expansive “spiritual” experiences. I say this can never go right and I think we were all starving from the inhumanity and isolation of it all. For me, there is no “spiritual” life separate from Life itself. You live what you realize. And you don’t need to search further than what is in front of you face to realize and manifest your humanity.

Mario, you are probably right about Cohen’s relationship with his mother, as his brutal focus on women’s sub humanity seemed to start up when Luna revealed to him she was going to finish writing and publish “Mother of God”. I agree with Hal that Andrew also did not like women’s brand of imperfection. Karen (thank you!)…..You got the man with the mission, turning his “pure” gaze upon the plight of the world’s women, who are subhuman and manipulative etc and what do you get? Walking behind the men, not speaking until spoken to, leaden self-doubt, physical and emotional abuse, and silence. Hey, this is natural for us women. This is in our genetic memory from millennia of brutality, second in line, rape, beatings, ostracism. And there are millions of women on this planet still suffering hugely – physically, emotionally, psychologically – from our treatment at the hands of those fixing their “pure” gaze upon us. I agree with Karen - “all I can see is that what’s happened to us as women in the community is proof that 40 years of women’s lib are not enough to change a psyche that has gotten used to be abused for millennia.” I have to say that I, like Karen, saw the writing on the wall early on in Cohen’s pogroms against women but in the early days our gaze was still on the loving, compassionate insights of Vimala into those aspects of growing up female that made it difficult for women to deeply relax in life. There was still something that did not seem to harshly single out women as the main perpetrators of evil. There seemed to be something still positive in the very beginning. So, I gave Cohen the benefit of the doubt, for awhile, a very short while. Unlike Cohen’s eventual assessment, Vimala never implied that women were innately evil. More about evil, see Stas’s shocking article Either I’m Crazy…or…)

What was painful was that we women were all in cult persona, driven by approval by Cohen. I don’t think we ever really got to be relaxed with one another. You can still see that drive in the sickening, self-preoccupied, bold claims of Women on the Verge (Thanks Karen for the link) - sickening to see that Cohen’s women are still preoccupied with and writing about the same old cult speak, loaded language we were writing about 8 – 10 years ago. “We’re doin’ it. We’re doin’ it. Look Daddy, you were right. Oh, beloved Daddy, thanks for abusing us for so long so we could come to this transcendent collective hallucination!” What Cohen has succeeded in doing is silencing, making still, imprisoning potential for great contribution to life by a group of women who are so preoccupied with their messiah’s concept of “the perfect woman”, and the subsequent drama that continues because of this. Life passes them by. It is a vacuum. The vacuum publishes a slick, topical magazine to draw in more recruits. And the vacuum implodes day by day. I say, Women! Wake Up! leave the monster while you can and find something positive to do that will really help your brothers and sisters. Sisters! Let’s meet up again in a spirit of beautiful positivity.

Thank you, Heather, I am with you! So beautiful: “….real Masters and Spiritual Teachers know better than to take power from another. Their Soul purpose is not to interfere but to be an example of human potentiality. Their example is their compassion.”

With much love,



Blogger Sri Buff Striding said...

Article after article appears to be presenting the same tale. Well-intentioned individuals are at first struck profoundly by Andrew Cohen's viewpoint. Over periods of time they discover that his anti-egoic disciplines and community dynamics are unsuccessful for many people, in fact creating conditions that they can only comprehend as soul-destroying abuse. Somehow they come to separate from Andrew and begin exploring the possibilities of why it went wrong and how Andrew's viewpoint is, in certain senses, exactly the opposite of their own.

I am interested in how these individuals can be correct at the beginning and at the end of this journey. How can we validate Andrew's viewpoint (which these people certainly did) and validate harsh criticism of it (which it also seems to warrant)?

The key thing may be keeping the word "just" out of our thinking. As in "we were just dupes" or "he is just deluded" or "he is just another abusive realizer" or "this is just an example of how spiritual community is subject to the same brutal, inane pitfalls as all human groups" etc.

Ending and transforming relationships is always a complex, painful business. We seldom have the heart to agree with the reasons we were profoundly absorbed in the connection, and the reasons we absolutely had to leave.


Wednesday, 15 February, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The true Guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself. He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within. He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you. But the self-appointed Guru is more concerned with himself than with his disciples."
---Nisargadatta Maharaj

Saturday, 18 February, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about your own empowerment? if you give all your power to a teacher, you can easily be manipulated. if you find a teacher, who truly walks the talk, then a commitment to the master is the same as a commitment to one's self. the teacher can show you the way and part of the way is becoming more of your self (becoming empowered).
abuse and control are signs of manipulation. ego-bashing only works occasionally, and only for select people. yes, people need to let go of the past, let go of beliefs and how they currently perceive the world, but how they do this is unique to every individual. manipulation and control are no signs of empowering the students to be who they truly are. where these things exist, there is no willingness from the master to bring the students to enlightenment and to a place beyond where the master is. it is also a sign that the master has stopped or paused his or her own enlightenment. once an awareness has been achieved, it is only the beginning. life is becoming, life is evolution. if you pause your own awareness, your enlightened experience will also become paused and stale. it is a trap many fall into. when a master realizes the pit he or she is now in, it may be an enlightened pit, but it is still a pit, the master will then re-present the same information over and over in different ways. eventually, the master gets lost himself or herself in the befuddled confusion that once was a profound awareness. at this point, the master clings to the original awareness, that may be years old by now. control and manipulation are signs of the master's unknowing that there is more, that there is another profound awareness waiting just around the corner for him or her to experience and it is much more powerful than the first experience. this lack of evolution creates an emptiness inside, as the master grasps at air, expecting it to be enlightenment, from within a system that has formed around him or her, all the while belittling the students, keeping them less than his or her own awareness. yes this is very dogmatic and there is no more awareness here than in a religion. the scenery is different, but the awareness of enlightenment has become the same.

Tuesday, 21 February, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clinging can come in the form of the physical or mental. Cling or grasp ideas or concepts like enlightenment, ego, self, good and evil is similiar to expecting enlightenment or salvation from making millions of dollars in business.

Andrew is empty and his ideas are empty they are merely conjuring though the grasping of concepts. Andrew is a sociopath with a good grasp on the concepts of spirituality, he conjures these ideas to manifest illusions to which we all grasp........ but these concepts are empty as are all things in the realm of thought. Andrew is a fraud with a liklihood of signifcant personality or mental disorder. A fraud to his followers, a fraud to all that he encounters and a fraud to himself.

Expose him and this emptiness eventually become apparent and his power will disolve.

craig T

He offers nothing to humanity he seeks only to feed his meglomaniac fantasies, there have been many before like him and there will be many in the future.

Saturday, 25 February, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Angle

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Lovers and Friends, Serious Dharma Investigators!

Having pursued this shared investigation to the end, and with much gratitude to the many willing and open-hearted contributors to this forum, I’d like to share my current understanding.

I was recently blessed to find myself in a confluence of circumstances in which all the conditions were right for a full and profound release which included a great deal of old resentment I didn’t even realized I had been holding. When this release occurred I could see clearly how all of this old grief, pain, and resentment had simply been blocking the light. Now that the bottom has fallen out and there is always only love, I can see that my agile and well-honed discriminating mind which has served me well for so long, was actually in the end a hindrance obscuring the Truth. And like all of our favorite attachments which include even those to the great and gifted teachers and glorious Masters we have been privileged to know, they must all be ultimately shed and allowed to drop away like a snake’s molting skin.

And from this vantage point everything looks very different. The evil aggressors and the oppressed and long-suffering (and quite often virulently vitriolic!) victims are seen clearly as what they are—masks covering the endlessly intertwining dance of Shiva and Shakti in and as the play of life itself.

And I have no doubt that massive and deep purification, affrontive, painful, and deeply insulting to everything we have ever loved and cherished (such as ourselves!) is ultimately vital and essential for true awakening. I arrived at this conclusion over the last several weeks during which I have been “deep in” with many long time practitioners of a wide variety of spiritual backgrounds, sharing and fine-tuning each others’ understanding in a long and rich fiesta of love and letting go. I could see that many of my fellow travelers were still stuck (despite long practice) in unseen and assiduously avoided “samskaras”. Many were lost in the dream of “romantic fulfillment” (especially the men, surprisingly!).Quite a few of the women were lost in all of the manipulative sexual power games we have learned so well to “survive”. I found myself speaking simply about this dreaded “women’s conditioning” with surprising clarity and honesty from my own experience of it in myself. I found immense relief in my friends in hearing about all of these unpleasant aspects of us women, which we have needed for “protection” for a very long time. The men seemed to know and immediately recognize what I was speaking about, although many of them had never heard such audacious and provocative talk verbalized, especially by a woman. . To lay all this stuff out and look at it clearly and objectively as simply more conditioning to be inspected and seen through was in itself liberating for all of us. It was clear to us all that there can never be clear seeing without the willingness to look!

During this fruitful time of stirring and fermenting I found myself often quoting things Andrew had told me many times, but with new understanding. With the veil now lifting I can see this great Master as he is –someone who cares in a way few do or can. Someone who is totally willing to accept and endure ongoing bilious brickbats and suffer enormous “unpopularity”. And who steps on and forward always with great grace and a very brave heart, all for the sake of Truth itself.

So is Andrew “way too intense”, a megalomaniacal monstor, an unspeakable demon craving ultimate power over his poor abused students, a man with an unhealed neurosis about his mother that he is projecting on to all women which allows him the justification to torture and humiliate them? From the viewpoint up on the mountain, frankly speaking (“callous” and uncaring as it sounds!), Who cares? Who really cares? What did we all ever only want in our deepest heart of hearts, and why did we eventually come to sit and practice with a Master? (hint: liberation!) Everything we once staked our “life” on slides away into the sea. And our most deeply cherished views—the ones we are definitely convinced are “right”—are then all of the same value, which is no value. Because there is only one thing here and that is love.

As Andrew always said, it is wise to always keep all hypotheses open and in full view of our “tentative hypothesis”. This is how the Truth ultimately reveals itself.

If the Mayans are right about us having only six more years before a major “shift” of cataclysmic proportions occurs, it is imperative that many, many of us wake up and step forward into the light and be willing to accept an enormous amount of responsibility. So, my dear brothers and sisters, addicted as were are to analyzing, comparing, complaining, airing our many grievances and licking our numerous wounds (and I freely admit to having been as big an addict to all of this as the best of us!), the time has come to lay down our arms, drop even our most brilliant ideas and insights, allow the past to fall away forever, look into the Great Unknown, and sniff the Cool Breeze. We are all badly needed.

With very much love and gratitude to all of you and to all our Grand Helpers,

Roberta (Anderson)

Thursday, 09 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Roberta for sharing your revelations.

I have some reservations though, the least of all about the Mayan prophecies.

In the spirit of open enquiry, my impression is, and I might be wrong, that this note was really written to Andrew.

First of all Roberta establishes her authority as one freed from "the veil". Then at one and the same breath Roberta says that she sees Andrew as he “really is”, a great man who really cares like only a few can (Andrew’s point exactly!). But then when it comes to Andrew’s abuses of so many people, Roberta shouts from some mountain top, “Frankly speaking, who cares!” (Andrew's point exactly!)

Hmm, but as you read on, the message slowly becomes clearer for the masses, its double-edged meaning sparkling. Translated, it goes something like this: Hey listen everyone, let this be the last word on the subject! Now that the Great Master has been reinstated to his rightful pedestal, and we might all die soon anyway in some cataclysm or another, let’s forget it all, and, for the sake of the World, hurl ourselves into the Great Unknown! The End.

In the end I wonder why is Roberta almost mothering Andrew, while all those who were abused by him get their heads chopped off in a very high handed fashion? I can understand that there is love and appreciation for the courage and the spirit and for the things taught and learned. Who among us does not feel this! I love Andrew for this! But to patronise her "brothers and sisters" with denial of their insights about Andrew's dark sides, and to belittle their efforts to expose those, is a little double faced and a kind of mystifying.

In short, it all sounds to me like a guilt driven mixture of an apology to Andrew and a rebuke to his critics.

Be what it may, I have a feeling that the already famous Andrew’s dog will take a pen into his paw once again and write from the bottom of his big heart begging the repentant souls to come back home again. Or it might at least write a brief note to Roberta, "Wow, wow, you showed them!"

Only the Truth will set us free!

Dragan Matijevic


Friday, 10 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Roberta,
I was wondering from the mountain-top where you are how do you see the whole story with Caroline?
You are lucky you came across whoever you did that helped you out so much. But what about those of us that do not have that luck? It's easy to claim the 'play of Illusion' when one is full of love and sees everything in that light, but still it seems to me that there are some relevant issues that need to be discussed here.
One is: what about Andrew hiding the criticism received by Vimala Thakar? Is there such a thing as 'selective Truth’?
Why would not Andrew let the women know that Vimala Thakar did not seem to agree with him? Could it be that, maybe, this would create some doubt in their minds about the treatment they have been receiving over the years? Maybe something in his understanding is not ‘quite’ right?
How could it be that such a wise woman would not agree with Andrew? That is a very relevant question to me and a question that goes beyond the personal need to forgive and heal our own wounds and feel again unconditional love for all.
The second issue is the one of Caroline herself.
It seems to me that just basic humanness was completely forgotten in her regard. I'm not talking about lofty 'love', just a humane behavior.
What to think of a teacher that can so easily dismiss humanness for a higher notion of 'Evolution'...isn't that implicitly absurd?
But again, maybe with your new acquired love, you can share the wisdom and clarify this to us all...

More love to you.

Friday, 10 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

First of all, Dragan, my apologies for obviously upsetting you, I can only explain what seems like quite a distortion of my intent in your letter by hypothesizing that the intensity of anger and betrayal you feel may be obscuring the clarity that I have seen you demonstrate quite a lot in the past. Just to try to set the record a bit straighter (at least from my viewpoint) on a few matters—

• what occurred in the last few weeks with me had everything to do both with fully and deeply acknowledging all of the great teachers and Masters who have helped me so much journey, which progressed very naturally to ultimately being cut free from all of them. So my letter was not written to Andrew out of some vain hope to finally be “reinstated back with daddy”! (ugh!), not was there any intent to “reinstate the Great Master to his rightful pedestal”. I am simply calling the shots as I see them.

• and as for “mothering Andrew”, “patronizing” my friends by denying their insights about Andrew’s dark side” and “belittling their efforts to expose them”—Wow! I am really sorry that you see it this way. Don’t know if you read any of my earlier letters about my attempts to come to terms and make sense with “the Andrew debacle”. But as numerous close friends will testify who left around the time I did and with whom I’ve been down in the trenches wrangling with all of this for several years ad infinitum, virtually every day this whole subject has been constantly on my mind and I have struggled long and hard with it. So I would truly never want to belittle any of the many serious investigators on this blog.

• The only thing I know for sure at this writing is that I REALLY DON’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT’S GOING ON. I have seen very clearly over the past few weeks that there is just an enormous amount happening in the big wide world of human evolution that I don’t understand and will never understand. I am willing at this point (and I know deeply that it is the ONLY option) to stay put in the fact that I DON’T KNOW. It is way too easy to string together a bunch of ideas, back them up with a lot of anger and emotional betrayal in the name of “exposing the truth”, and think that this is a really useful behavior and/or that something truly meaningful will come out of it. As a matter of fact I have spent a great deal of time myself engaging in all of this kind of thing. Those of you who were with me most recently in the “revolution” know that I “endured” as much “abuse” as anyone. I probably got the record for the most “dips” in the lake!

• Frankly I don’t understand the Caroline thing—or the Vimala thing for that matter, although I do hope to speak more with her about it in the coming year. On face value it all looks pretty gruesome. But consider, just consider, that maybe we are only seeing maybe 5% of the grand picture? And maybe basing our firm and outraged conclusions that our infinitely clever minds have conjured up on that 5%.? There is something so grand and glorious that reveals itself when we are willing to just drop all of our incessant speculating briefly and look up and out (and through). But we can’t be holding on to ANYTHING AT ALL anymore—even our most cherished beliefs and views which we feel we’ve so needed to protect and defend (and define) ourselves. When you start to see this it’s just that everything that happened before is just not very important, no matter what it was. I remember Irina Tweedie saying something about this in “Daughter of Fire” –that the unbelievable ordeal her sufi master put her through (and it was FIERCE!) actually seemed like nothing afterwards. I thought at the time “how could that possibly be? That poor lady suffered beyond belief? How could she just forget it?” Now I am seeing that that poor suffering entity that was whining about nearly everything (again, speaking from my own direct personal experience), is actually nowhere to be found no matter where you look. So when you say “who cares”? this is not really some kind of nasty and superior and/or belittling and condescending statement, but an actual question to which there is fundamentally no answer.

• I took the trouble to write again to this blog because I felt deeply that keeping our attention bound up so deeply and firmly in fury, hurt, outrage, and revenge, is ultimately not the way to move forward. Tempting and highly seductive as it is! I am absolutely not saying in anyway that those who felt deeply wounded, scarred, hurt, betrayed, etc. by Andrew should just shut up or ignore or suppress all of this and just “get over it”. Our entire story—our parents, our ancestors, our lovers and husbands, teachers and Masters--- needs to be faced and fully accepted and absorbed into our very cells, every speck of it. And as Sharla said (in her beautiful and sincere letter), simply “let it be” in order for a much larger and all-encompassing vision called love to reveal itself. The Beatles said this, we’ve heard it a million times, but this is what works—ultimately giving up the whole damned war.. It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking we are using the “discriminating mind” when we are just continuing to fuel anger and hatred which keeps us stuck in the muck. The real “discrimination” is ultimately in learning to know the Real from the Unreal, and then to understand that both are identical.

• And re whether the way of intimidation and abuse is really way off the track; Personally I was mostly terrified out of my wits much of the time I was with Andrew. I’ve always been a bhakta and I think maybe this is ultimately the thing that takes us all home. But can the ripeness where you are ready to be carried by love occur without deep purification? I think not. Was Andrew way too intense? It sure felt like it at the time. But would the needed purification that occurred in my (and many of our) cases through having my fact shoved smack into my conditioning and held there unrelentingly for so many years have actually happened some other (gentler?) way. Again, I DON’T KNOW!

• And to add another dimension of confusion to the mix, here’s what Sri Ramakrishna has to say about all of this:

“There are three classes of physicians. The physicians of one class feel the patient’s pulse and go away, merely prescribing medicine. As they leave the room they simply ask the patient to take the medicine. They are the poorest class of physicians. Likewise, there are teachers who only give instruction, but do not stop to see whether their teachings have produced a good or bad effect. They do not think at all about the disciple.

“There are physicians of another class, who prescribe medicine and ask the patient to take it. If the patient is unwilling to follow their directions they reason with him. They are the mediocre physicians. Likewise there are mediocre teachers. They give instruction to the student, and further, try to persuade him in various ways to follow the instruction.

“Lastly, there are the physicians of the highest class. If the patient does not respond to their gentle persuasion, they even exert force upon him. If necessary, they press their knees on the patient’s chest and force the medicine down his throat. Likewise, there are teachers of the highest class, who even exert force to direct the mind of the pupil toward God.”

All of this is to say again, I DON’T KNOW!

• And most of all I wrote because I have been together with many of you intimately for a very long time. I know that for most of you this was never just a “game”. We all deeply in our hearts wanted radical and earth-shattering change, and we were willing to give a hell of a lot for it. And we must never lose touch with our original intent. There is just way too much at stake. And again, Dragan, I actually don’t think that whatever the “Mayan prophesy” might be pointing to that it’s anything like “the end of the world is coming soon so oh, fuck it!” and “let’s just hurl ourselves off a cliff”. But there are a lot of indications from many corners that a major rumble of an unknown sort is afoot, and that those of us who have been “prepared” (and this includes virtually everyone on this blog”) needs to take responsibility, let go of the past (no matter how “painful” or whatever) and come to the end of our search. And for me, this “letting go” has had a lot to do with understanding very deeply that EVERYTHING that’s happened to me EVER (the good, bad, the horrid, the extremely unbearable, the excruciating humiliation, and the ugly!) has all worked together in some kind of strange, utterly incomprehensible, and marvelous symphony for the highest good.

Very sorry to be writing so much and really hope no one feels “belittled” or “condescended to” or whatever! Sending very much love to all of you, and again, want to deeply thank Hal for everything he’s done to create this incredible forum of deep investigation for all of us.


Saturday, 11 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks Roberta for writing further and continuing the investigation. I am much clearer now what you tried to say and I love the spirit and openess behind it. Also opening the new vistas of discussion is brilliant!

For me, as for most of us here, it was of great importance to understand and to clarify my relationship with Andrew and this forum has been great for it. After all that has happened, and with somewhat heavy heart, I don't want to have anything to do with the man or the community.

I agree with you however that anger or revenge are not the way forward and am with peace with that.

Regarding the Mayans etc, I am interested, what are your other sources and indications of causes/results? I agree and I am fully with you on this, there is an urgency in the air and that things, mainly man-made, could blow in our faces any moment really.

With you in spirit, Dragan


Sunday, 12 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Dragan!

My heart just melted when I read your last beautiful letter. Thank you so much for your great open-heartedness and gracious spirit.

For me,recently getting back into the "blog" has actually sparked off a lot of e-mailing investigation with old friends. Am seeing that this kind of "true investigation" with no fear and with nothing to prove or defend--just really and truly wanting to know what in the heck is going on! is actually proving to be the real "Discussion Group" that what we engaged in a lot of the time with Andrew was a somewhat crude version of. Here there is no worry about one's "performance" or fear of "getting a bad grade!" afterwards. Which is not at all to knock these earlier experiences--I think that at the time having an "edge" was needed to push us further, and also am constantly seeing how much I actually did learn (although I was often one of the ones who got a "bad grade"!)in these groups, especially about always trying to be aware of the "whole group" and actually giving someone your complete attention instead of always just focusing on your own "great point" and trying to figure out when to squeeze it in!

At any rate, sending you much love, Dragan. You always did have such a beautiful heart!


Sunday, 12 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Roberta,
You mentioned a couple of comments ago that you plan to speak with Vimala Thakar in the coming year.What a great opportunity! Could you please get from her a copy of the letter she wrote telling Andrew his treatment of women was wrong and post it on the blog so everyone could read it? That would be great and would really help everyone!

Monday, 13 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Roberta.

This may be interesting to you. My impression from reading your article was the same as Dragan’s. What I read was: "From my newly enlightened perspective I see Andrew finally as the Great Master that he is. From a point of highest enlightened abstraction I see that all is equal. I am convinced that we have to suffer to become 'pure.' Who cares about the means used to become 'pure.' All your articles and comments on this blog are ultimately of no value. So shut up, stop complaining, analyzing, licking your wound s. I used to be just like you – licking my wounds – but now from on high I see only love. So get off of it and be like me."

Roberta, I want to ask you a few questions in the spirit of true inquiry. I had considered emailing you but I think it is valuable for our discussion to be on the blog.

Are not Truth and Love the same thing? Is it possible to tell the Truth yet not be bound up living in the past licking our wounds? Is it possible to tell the Truth and still be living like you say you are – in Love and not in anger and bitterness?

What specifically are you responding to in writing comments like the following? Can you be more specific?
“it is way too easy to string together a bunch of ideas, back them up with a lot of anger and emotional betrayal in the name of “exposing the truth” and think that this is really useful behavior and/or that something meaningful will come out of it” or “firm and outraged conclusions that our infinitely clever minds have conjured up” or “keeping our attention bound up so deeply and firmly in fury, hurt, outrage and revenge is ultimately not the way to move forward”. Or “it’s easy to get caught up in thinking we are using the “discriminating mind” when we are continuing to fuel anger and hatred which keeps us stuck in the muck” and “addicted as we are to analyzing, comparing, complaining, airing our many grievances and licking our numerous wounds”.

In the spirit of inquiry, do you know of anyone who has been enlightened by techniques such as Cohen uses?

Is it possible also that many of us now do see the bigger picture and not just 5% of it? And perhaps the relating of the many experiences behind the scenes of the Cohen community has been a painful effort for the Truth to reveal itself? Maybe they are not “firm and outraged conclusions that our clever minds have conjured up” but REAL events as testified by people close to Cohen. As with everything, we only know in retrospect, right? In your spirit of “not knowing” we still have to chop wood, carry water and make decisions because we don’t live on the mountain top. In the spirit of what we have experienced on that mountain, we live also in the world of form. We interact with other humans and animals. From facts we are forced to draw conclusions. And if we have a conscience are we not bound to tell our sisters and brothers of our experience to help them make decisions? It would have been valuable to me to know the Truth of what went on behind the scenes in the Cohen community early on. I can say I FELT it from the very first day I came to the community – behind the shining veneer everyone felt so FEAR driven.

In the spirit of not knowing are we willing to have open hearts and minds, to act, make decisions etc and be proven wrong later? I think so. Yes, ultimately the enormous “who cares” evolutionary force of Mother Nature chews us up and spit us out in the spirit of great equanimity. But we have to act. And we are human, we feel. By feeling I mean intuition, not emotion.

My voice only came back to me when I stopped censoring myself with some idea that it is my EGO speaking. My intuition that had long been in a self imposed vice grip started to sing. Only then could I begin to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the truth from delusion. I have had enormous help from friends who have shared on this blog. I have received quite a few emails from “ex-formal” women since I wrote my initial article. They all thanked me for allowing my voice to speak what was for them their true experience in the community. And by the way, they all sound so sane, healthy, beautiful and alive.

Roberta, I thank you.


Monday, 13 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Wendyl and Heather,

I actually feel that I have quite a full picture of everything that's happened with Andrew and his students, both through my own direct experience over a period of twelve years, and also through everything that's come out on this blog, much of which I didn't know anything about, and which surprised and shocked me a good deal. So I don't really feel that I an in denial, to try to respond directly especially to you, Heather.

Instead, what seems more like my actual experience is one of finally finding the willingness to let in "The Full Catastrophe" of everything that happened not only with Andrew that was painful and/or confusing, but also a good deal with earlier teachers that didn't often make much sense to me, all my old resentments with this or that friend and/or lover/and or husband, all of my confusion and lingering upsets with my parents' often misguided child-rearing efforts, my numerous failures and disappointments, as well as my regret over the people I've hurt in my life. Actually allowing all of this to be fully and deeply absorbed into my being with no resistance then revealed something I would never have expected. This was a spontaneous desire to see as well The Whole Rest of the Story--how much incredible love and good fortune I've been showered with in this life, how many high and beautiful teachers I've had the enormous privilege of spending time with, how much genuine help I received from all of them along with confusion and anger about some of their "methods", how much my parents actually sacrificed for me because they loved me so much, and in fact how much gratitude there is in me which I'd never really expressed. This led to a deep desire to acknowledge and honor the whole damned thing and every one of the participants, whoever they were, and whatever they did. Out of this has come something which is new for me. And it was this whatever-it-is that inspired me to write again on the blog in hopes that some would be interested in what I have been discovering in my own ongoing attempts to understand this whole confusing and extremely challenging situation!

With much love and continuing appreciation for everyone who's also struggling to understand!


Thursday, 16 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some Common Misunderstandings of 'Two Truths Doctrine' in Nondual Philosophies that May Impede Recognition and Discussion of Painful Situations

1) From a lettery by Tim Conway


“…the greatest sages of India have long cautioned that enlightened spiritual vision must function on two levels:

the absolute level of (paramarthika satyam)
the conventional, "relatively real" level of truth (vyavaharika satyam).

(Note: In Buddhadharma this is known as 'Two Truths Doctrine' and an interested reader can find an article about it on Wikipedia)

Conway writes: 'Thus, the sages, when speaking from the absolute level of parlance, say that, indeed, everything is Divine, all is Brahman, nothing is wrong (in fact, no-thing is really happening!), it's all the perfect leela of the One.

‘But, on the relative or conventional level, the level of earthly conduct, these sages strongly uphold the Dharma of righteous action, ahimsa, purity, and so forth.

'Such sages thus say that, in the absolute view, everything is okay, but on the relative level they are quite adamant that certain behaviors are wrong, sinful, or just inappropriate and should be stopped.

‘For devotees of the Lord to sit back and just say that "everything is divine," which is certainly true on the absolute level, but then do nothing about evils and injustices that occur within the dream of earthly life because "it is all divine" --is a terrible avoidance of basic duty on behalf of Dharma. With this apathy and flawed attitude, none of the great evils of history would have ever been resisted and overcome.

"…one can in fact see everything as Divine leela, but still be quite active in an engaged spirituality on behalf of socio-economic justice issues. (unquote)

(from the article by Renard entitled ‘A Hot Potato’) http://www.advaya.nl/

2) “I still like the expression ‘Advaita Shuffle’ for what I mean here. It points to secretly (or unconsciously) removing a subject that is experienced as threatening or uneasy to a level where that uneasy matter has ‘dissolved’; in other words dissolved into the very substance it consists of indeed: Consciousness itself, pure Knowing.

‘A smuggletrick is used in order not to be accountable as an individual (because ‘the individual’ is seen as unreal). And that accountability is precisely what this is all about.

“What actually is accountability?

”It means being open to the reality of all levels, no matter how temporal and relative, and being ready to resonate with those levels. It also means a readiness to listen to comments or observations that may refer to a specific attitude which could be a blind spot for us.

“Even though one has seen and ‘experienced’ deeply that one is nothing else but undifferentiated, homogeneous Consciousness, one still is, when relating to people, a visual and behaving figure who could be mistaken sometimes. And nothing or no one is getting any benefit from hiding behind ‘Consciousness’ when one is mistaken. (Unquote)

3) Over forty years ago, Sanskrit scholar Aghendanda Bharati, an Austrian born Sanyassi monk in India, tartly described a abuse of two truths doctrine-- used by some Indian scripture scholars or religious professionals when they wanted to avoid admitting that they had lost an argument because their logic was flawed or their understanding or use of textual material had been faulty.

Bharati reported, ”I learned the stereotypical method of rebuttal common to all traditions of religious doctrine in India: The moment discursive thought (that is, thought that is based on reaching a conclusion through use of reason and verifiable /falsifiable evidence) would jeopardize the axiomatic perfection of the text, the critic is given a simple line:

‘Your argument may be intellectually valid but what of it? Only those who have seen the light can see the consistency of the text. Only those who have experienced the truth from within can see that intellectual argument is of no avail in the end.’

"This would hardly be objectionable were the atmosphere among Indian scholastics purely non-discursive.

‘But’ wrote Bharati ‘this is not true: the theologians avail themselves of refined scholastic argument all the time, but they jettison all of it the moment their axioms are impugned.’

(Bharati, from his memoir The Ochre Robe pages 132 to 133)
The confusion of different levels of reality listed by Tim Conway can be the product of an innocent misunderstanding — a misunderstanding that seems common on the spiritual path and that frequently goes uncorrected.

The distortions of two truths doctrine described by Renard as a ‘smuggletrick’ and a 'steoreotypical method of rebuttal' by Bharati are harder to identify and correct.

Confrontation is often frowned on in spiritual communities, with the result that problems go undiscussed and uncorrected.

It is also quite difficult to identify and rebut this kind of argumentation when one is under severe stress--- often the case when one is undergoing the ordeal of discovering that a beloved spiritual community or teacher has become hurtful.

Saturday, 18 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nobody knows the exact figure because records were not kept, but it seems certain that during a three-hundred-year period between three and five million women were tortured and killed by the “Holy Inquisition”,"

Only problem with these figures are that they are absolute nonsense.

"What is documented is that 3000 to 5000 people died during the Inquisition's 350 year history. Also documented are the “Acts of Faith,” public sentencings of heretics in town squares. But the grand myth of thought control by sinister fiends has been debunked by the archival evidence. The inquisitors enjoyed a powerful position in the towns, but it was one constantly jostled by other power brokers. In the outlying areas, they were understaffed in those days it was nearly impossible for 1 or 2 inquisitors to cover the thousand-mile territory allotted to each team. In the outlying areas no one cared and no one spoke to them. As the program documents, the 3,000 to 5,000 documented executions of the Inquisition pale in comparison to the 150,000 documented witch burnings elsewhere in Europe over the same centuries."

And the vast majority of the "witches" were kiled under Protestant jurisdiction.


Saturday, 17 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know much about Cohen prior to stumbling on this site, vaguely knew was some sort of motivational or spiritual teacher. I've looked over this site with a deepening sense of morbid curiosity, piecing together the general outline of what apparently has gone on around this man. As an outside observer I can say there something really nightmarish about it all. I guess we all have our own nightmares though. So when I got to this page I was struck by Tolle's words, they have a very different energy about them... simple, clear. Like the sense of relief when you see plain, ordinary, out-of-doors sort of light after the disoriented stumbling through a dark funhouse. (It appears his history's a bit off however... :)

Best to all.

Wednesday, 05 July, 2006  

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