Monday, March 05, 2007

Andrew's Ever-Changing FACE*

We received this submission from an anonymous former student of Andrew Cohen, who, having recently left Andrew's tutelage, goes by the name of freeEvolutionary. He seems to have his finger on the pulse of current changes being made in Andrew Cohen's organization and public presentation:

A large part of Andrew's appeal is that he is addressing some of the deepest concerns and yearnings of people today. There's enormous potential here but Andrew has centered it so much on himself and has created an authoritarian organization that directly contradicts his call to autonomy and freedom.

Jeff Carreira (Andrew's assistant and Director of Education) is out there creating new ways to push Evolutionary Enlightenment and get new people involved with EN. He's already trained dozens of people to deliver the EE course and hundreds have taken it around the world. After the retreat Andrew's currently giving they will be training many more people at Foxhollow and by teleconference to deliver a 2 hour intro to Evolutionary Enlightenment.
For the first time Andrew's students are starting to aggressively go out there to push his message and get more people involved. There is a deliberate strategy to downplay Andrew's role as guru and master so as not to scare people until they are really involved. Did somebody say cult?

I would hate to see some of the incredible ideas that have been generated by WIE be destroyed by Andrew's need to control. I'd invite anyone who wants to open the discussion of Evolutionary Enlightenment beyond Andrew to post to my blog.

We thank freeEvolutionary for this recent insider news flash. The point being raised here about the shifting public persona of Andrew Cohen and his sangha is a good one. It seems as if, when the Impersonal Enlightenment Fellowship changed its name to EnlightenNext®, along with its new branding came the attempt to present a new and improved guru -- One without the nasty teeth that Andrew had used to bite so many of his students in his constant efforts to maintain complete sway over every aspect of their lives. (One can read on this blog in detail about the lengths he’s gone to in this regard, such as slapping and other physical abuse, and numerous other psychologically manipulative boot-camp type tactics). Once proud of his so-called “crazy-wisdom” practices, Andrew now avoids any honest and specific accounting of his actions, sticking instead to a spin of generalities and angry attacks on those critical ex-students (“failures,” he calls them) who have committed the apparent sacrilege of leaving him. (See his recent Declaration of Integrity, for example). It seems the former “rude boy” guru is now the “who me?” guru. And his current student-defenders seem to use the same avoidance-by-obfuscation and vicious attacks on critics as their teacher does. This sad trend can clearly be seen on a recent Zaadz Integral pod thread (more on this troubling phenomenon at a later time)

Andrew is now attempting to paint a new picture of his students, too. His more deeply involved devotees are no longer called “formal” or “committed students” -- they are now “Evolutionaries”. These individuals are clearly intelligent, sincere, and dedicated. But the new attempt to create a public impression of them (particularly, his newly-trained "Evolutionary Enlightenment instructors") as autonomous, free thinking, self-directing and in independent control of their lives appears to be more spin than fact. Recent insider reports from Foxhollow confirm that Andrew is still very much in charge of everything, and that longer-time resident “evolutionaries” still require the approval from Andrew for major life decisions. Cohen has partially adopted and adapted the thinking of people like Ken Wilber (AQAL) and Don Beck (SD), but as freeEvolutionary has indicated, behind the face of the forward-looking, collectively-conscious WIE magazine is the antiquated and problem-ridden model of one man at the top. Ask any ex-“committed student” and they will likely tell you that life inside Cohen’s community is more like Jesus Camp than an Integral think-tank.

Despite shifting appearances to the contrary, EnlightenNext seems to still be the authoritarian power-locked regime of an old-style autocratic guru with no external or internal checks on his governance save a growing presence of vocal ex-students. In this light, one can't help but worry about what Cohen’s latest proclaimed interest in providing objectively verifiable criteria for enlightened behavior will mean for those under his thumb.

But there does seem to be one silver lining here. Recent former insiders report that, since the public disclosures of questionable and abusive conduct emerged on this blog and elsewhere, Andrew seems to have moderated his more aggressive behavior toward his students. And this is a testimony to the value and grass-roots power of the internet, when used by people brave enough to speak out, to expose and bring to awareness the actual non-public practices of misguided spiritual leaders like Andrew Cohen.

The WHAT enlightenment??! Editors


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Henry David Thoreau reportedly said,

'Beware of enterprises that require new clothes.'

One can update this advice further:

'Beware of and investigate any enterprise that has been through repeated changes of names, jargon and where key personnel are constantly fired or disappear with no explanation.'

Someone should list how many editors have come and gone over the years at WIE.

It is significant that twenty years ago, Andrew's personal charisma and eloquence were so remarkable that he himself was the best advertisement for his project.

Now he seems to have to keep a lower profile and send out recruiters--as is done for Large Group Awareness Trainings, such as Lifespring, the old Erhard Seminars Training (EST).

Its not unusual either for a controversial guru to change names or keep a lower profile. Rajneesh's organization is still going strong, but they refer to him as Osho.

Da Free John, the first guru endorsed by Ken Wilber, is now on an island near Fiji and goes by the name of Adi Da Samiraj and sends out recruiters who take care to emphasize doctrine and conceal Da's early history.

Its possible that many of Andrew's most talented 'evolutionaries' will discover that instead of wasting their adult lives in servitude, they can have independent careers by ditching their master and set themselves as independent bully gurus, with franchises of their own.

They will scatter off just like dandelion seeds (zaadz)and create their own theatres of cruelty and give spiritual development a bad name. And they will have plenty who will jump to defend them, by invoking the crazy wise guru alibi.

Something has to be done in the larger community for us to re-discover what it means to affirm the dignity of ordinary, unevolved humanity, and to use right speech to create a climate in which bullying will be seen and rejected for what it is--bullying.

And to identify all the cryptofascist ideologies hiding out in the human potential scene which make it seem that kindness is only for babies and that only rich and powerful gurus are human and entitled to compassion and that anyone else is just a meat puppet who can be used with impunity and whose suffering is illusion.

When powerful gurus report taking ill, or whine that they are misunderstood, they are offered endless compassion and never accused of wallowing in victim mentality.

When persons these gurus have harmed and plundered try to describe what they've been through, and do so citing facts with dignity and decorum, they are sneered at, told that there are no victims, only volunteers and that their pain is mere illusion.

In this warped world of Integral spirituality, only the powerful are regarded as of interest, and only the powerful are seen as deserving care and compassion and only the powerful and highly evolved are even regarded as human.

All others who have been used and discarded, are not considered human at all.

That's the dirty secret of evolutionary enlightenment. There's no regard for the inherant dignity of the ordinary human person. Its crypto fascism.

Again, just wait. Lets start taking bets to see who is the first to Foxhollow and set up an independent and competing franchise.

Supposedly Thoreau also said this:

"When I see someone approach with the intention of doing me good, I run the other way just as fast as I can.'

Tuesday, 06 March, 2007  
Blogger gniz said...

It seems that Cohen and Wilber are more and more using the model of right-wing fundamentalist organizations.
Is Andrew really any different than a fundamentalist preacher from Alabama, tending his flock, giving speeches and asking for "donations?"
Just replace "Jesus" with "evolutionary enlightenment."
Don't get me wrong, it's a very clever way of digging his own niche in the spiritual marketplace.
But the model is still pretty much the same as it ever was.

Tuesday, 06 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is an eye opener and there are signs everywhere that it is doing its job well - it's helping people see through the veils of the past and helping everyone make an informed choice.

Congratulations and thank you editors!


Tuesday, 06 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Anonymous and his/her cryptofascist nail-on-the-head analysis! I would only add a further characterization of both Adi Da and AC: They heartlessly expoit the human heart while undermining, shaming, dividing and damaging it.

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For an interesting examination of what Umberto Eco has termed Ur-fascism, go here:

This is a mindset that rejects the dignity of the ordinary human person. There are features of it that appear in veiled but influential form, in certain sectors of the seeker's circuit--a kind of serene and smiling cruelty that actually cannot address human misfortune.

The only way one gets satisfaction within this spiritual fascist mindset is to feel superior to the many who are inferior and do not measure up. By its nature it is elitist and exclusionary.

If everyone became enlightened, it actually wouldnt be fun for the leaders, because if everyone became enlightened and evolved, the leaders would no longer be special.

This is the main reason why the smiling celebrities in this crypto fascist mindset are doomed to fail--though they will continue to break hearts along the way, and that's reason enough for us to stay alert and keep speaking up.

They claim they can assist us to become better persons. But if we all became enlightened or turquoise or second tier or whatever the current term is, then the leaders would no longer be on top, for we would become as amazing as they are.

So the spiritual fascist claims to want to benefit us, but his or her real agenda is to remain special and on top. As soon as the rest of us start making progress, the leader will budge the goal posts, introducing new and bewildering upgrades to the system.

This puts the rest of us back to square one, looking up to the leader to explain the new and more complex features of the system.

The leader has no incentive for us to succeed and outgrow him or her.

Meanwhile, its more than just a few authoritarian personalities running loose. We all have to start questioning the cryptofascism that pervades sectors of the new age and human potential scene.

Agehananda Bharati, in his two books, The Ochre Robe and The Light at the Center, notes that there is a fascist strain that pervades certain aspects of Hindu spirituality--the idea that anyone who possesses power is an avatar of sorts, that power itself equals legitimacy, because you'd not have that kind of power unless born to it by good karma.

Bharati survived the Nazi occupation of Vienna and knew fascism from the inside out.

So we have to look out for hidden portions of the human potential scene that actually dehumanize us, by exalting power and reducing us and others to mere things whose hopes and emotions are meaningless in the grand, nondual play of the universe.

To be an ordinary human being is a choice that has to be made every day, sometimes moment by moment, in relation to a world in which it is so easy and tempting to numb out or dissociate with the aid of an Ipod, or through abuse of mental gynmastics that legitimize lack of empathy as superior spiritual attainment.

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now he seems to have to keep a lower profile and send out recruiters--as is done for Large Group Awareness Trainings, such as Lifespring, the old Erhard Seminars Training (EST).

My goodness. First, people were critical because they pointed out that Andrew was so authoritarian, such a fascist dictator that no one around him could become a teacher. Now that he has people who he feels are ready to go out into the world, he's still criticized. The thing we seem to forget is that the basic dilemna here is that Andrew is a guru, and that those who are with him accept that - even to the point of accepting his decision that they can go out out into the world as an instructor. Those who edit and contribute to this website think the guru model is flawed. Basic philosophical difference which can never be resolved. So, this site will always be critical of Andrew and those who are with him. And, both sides will think they are right.

The new website that you have cited is interesting. Why can't the editor identify him or herself? At least we know who Andrew is...

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to "the basic dilemna here is that Andrew is a guru, and that those who are with him accept that - even to the point of accepting his decision that they can go out out into the world as an instructor. Those who edit and contribute to this website think the guru model is flawed. Basic philosophical difference which can never be resolved."

I don't buy your premise. The fundamental problem is not that Andrew is a guru. The problem is that he's corrupt, his actions have caused great suffering to others, he refuses to discuss any criticism , and he brands all critics as "failures."

The possibility that worthy gurus may exist has never been dismissed on this blog. Criticism has always been specific, detailed, and directed at Andrew Cohen. Ultimate resolvability is not out of the question either, although it would necessitate the highly unlikely event that Andrew Cohen would enter into dialogue with the honest intention of finding out what is true. Something he used to preach himself, actually . . . . .

Thursday, 08 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is room for disagreement on this blog as to whether the guru model is flawed. Some participants in this discussion think it is. Ken Wilber also, in his latest writings, has suggested that the traditional guru model is flawed, antiquated and inappropriate for current times. Ken has written that it was rooted in an earlier era and the complete surrender to guru as authority in the old fashioned way--as Andrew demands of his students--is unhealthy today. But major contributors to this blog--including myself--don't all reject the possibility of an ethical modern guru who really respects students' autonomy and treats them with compassion and respect. For an example of this view on this blog, you can look at a letter I wrote that was posted here a bit over two years ago:

I agree with the previous comment that guru vs. no guru is not the primary issue here. In a way, it is a diversion from the accurate documentation and discussion of the facts about Andrew Cohen and his community. The facts are really not in reasonable dispute--they have never been refuted by anyone, least of all Andrew in his recent response to this blog.

The well-documented abusiveness and authoritarian nature of Andrew Cohen's relationship with his students would seem to be equally inappropriate and unhealthy whether he were a guru, a teacher or a mentor.

Whatever you think, the facts have been laid out here. If you know you may face the kind of treatment documented over and over again on this blog and, with eyes open, choose to submit yourself to it, then best of luck to you. I think this blog has done its job to inform people about what they might be getting into.

BTW, I have recently taken a "back seat" here, because while I feel that this blog's continuing function as a "watchdog," a source of information and and a place for further discussion is important, I feel the main job has been done. And after over two years of involvement, I am called by other interests at this point. I am still acting as a consultant and giving editorial advice when needed, I continue to follow the postings here, and may occassionally participate or contribute further. But I am no longer a primary administrator. It has been a very fascinating, amazing and fufilling duty to be involved here--something I may write about in the future. I thank everyone who has read and participated, and who continues to read and participate, in this unfolding adventure. May this journey of truth-telling and healing continue as long as there is truth-telling and healing to be done, and may all beings be happy.

Thursday, 08 March, 2007  
Blogger George said...

As Hal says, the point is not really the guru vs no-guru thing. In my understanding the point is the contradiction inherent in Andrew's teaching. Here is the teacher whose entire public teaching is presented as evolution beyond pre-modern and modern concepts of spiritual development, but that is in private based on pre-modern power structures of guru/devotee. His stated aim of producing liberated human beings, is directly contradicted by the power structure he has established with himself unchallenged and unchallegeable at the center.

Last May on retreat Andrew gave a public talk about Ken Wilber's three faces of God, discussed I think in Integral Spirituality. In a private meeting with student members after that session he stated quite bluntly that for our purposes the second face of God - the aspect of God to which the human being submits - is none other than Andrew himself. How can you argue with the second face of God - all you can do is submit.

Friday, 09 March, 2007  
Blogger stuartresnick said...

I'm interested in any specifics that FreeEvolutionary or others could could briefly share to explain the results you've seen in Andrew's group that you find amazing.

My own style is more about attending to whatever appears moment to moment. Of course I try to be helpful and unselfish in whatever situation, but past that, I kind of let the future take care of itself. I do my best in the moment, but how that unfolds to affect the wide world and humanity seems beyond my ability to (or need to) understand. On a very simple level I might say I believe that holding I/my/me leads to suffering, but I don't have or seek or feel I need any more profound realization than that.

So when you talk about creating the next state in human development, could you just give a little idea of what that means? What exactly do you feel needs to develop, and why, and how?

I myself have never seen the slightest indication that there's anything "post-modern" in Andrew's teaching. As others have recently noted, there's little difference in his style vs say fundamentalist Christianity. Which is to say: he creates a distinction between behaviors and mind-states that he labels more or less evolved (more or less like the Christian saved vs unsaved dicotomy).

What's missing is an honest examination of the distinctions themselves. That is, why should anyone accept Cohen's ideas of what's more or less evolved? Of course buying into Cohen's "map" gives one the hope of approval from an ultra-authority figure, acceptance by a like-minded group, and the chance to feel superior to those labeled less evolved. But is there anything else??


Friday, 09 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many groups have a two-teachings approach, which makes it difficult for the prospective recruit to make a reasonably informed decision. Now, its never possible to make a fully informed decision. can make a reasonably informed decision--but only if you know what you are in for if you join the inner circle.

In two teachings approach seemingly benign teaching is presented to the media and for new students - and prospective rescruits, often with a 'take it slow-just give it a try' that is reassuring and non-authoritarian.
Its all smiles.

We only see the people who look good, whose faces dont break out under stress. The haggard ones doing penance and whose cuticles are gnawed to the quick are kept out of sight.

The actual authoritarian core is segregated and one only gains access to it after jumping through enough hoops--and demonstrating, often without realizing it, that one is ready and willing to collude. In this process ordinary polite behavior, the kind we are all socialized in, is slowly stretched out of alignment--a kind of bad chiropraxis that throws one's center of gravity off kilter but does this slowly.

The transition between outer to inner doctrines perhaps consists making a series of commitments, each seemingly minor at the time, but that in aggregate, cause a person to unconsciously shift their mental furniture and feel more and more committed more committed.

Yet another binder is for the person to be exposed in small but persistent doses to an ideology that re-frames kindness and aversion to cruelty as evidence of weakness. Americans have a horror of being accused of wimpiness. Even if we cringe when someone is sneered at or yelled at by a leader or by favored disciples, we often clam up for fear of seeming to be naive or weak.

If we micro-collude often enough, we get coarsened and become more and more tolerant of abuse and debasement of the human person. Later, if persuaded to do things we are ashamed of, it can be unbearable to question this, because having a fully awakened heart and conscience will be painful--and one will experience this in the very process of losing the social support of the group. Its very hard to be this heroic and may account for why many can stay for years in bad situations. Domestic abuse may be similar.

In a website that examines the legacy of another guru there is a very interesting thread discussion of public face versus a groups private face.

'One Love' posted on march 8th

describing a disclaimer that appears on many of this group's websites:

All who study Adidam (the Way of the Heart) or take up its practice should remember that they are responding to a Call to become responsible for themselves. They should understand that they, not Avatar Adi Da Samraj or others, are responsible for any decision they may make or action they take in the course of their lives of study or practice.

The devotional, Spiritual, functional, practical, relational, cultural, and formal community practices and disciplines referred to on this website (or any of the books referred to herein) are appropriate and natural practices that are voluntarily and progressively adopted by each student-novice and member of Adidam and adapted to his or her personal circumstance."

Very reasonable and reassuring.

A former disciple named 'Friend' commented:

there are so many bait and switch routines in adidam it's easy to forget them, although it's not even quite forget - it's more like normalize.

We normalize that kind of stuff, make it so ordinary that we don't really notice it any more. We just take it for granted as teh way things get done. It's all part of the cultic acculturation process whereby we gradually accept the whole thing bit by bit.

We say, oh they just had to put disclaimer that in there because the stupid non-understanding societal authorities will come after us otherwise, but it doesn't really mean it anything. It's meaningless in the whole process of the cult, except as a kind of protection. It's just a protective legal device as a potential deflective defense in case anyone ever took them to court. They could always say they warn everyone right up front.

Other than that, they completely ignore and forget about it.

It's like the eternal vow. They tell you to just sign it, because you could always break it later if you want to.

Er, doesn't the word 'eternal' mean something? Not in adidam, not at teh bait stage anyway. Later perhaps it will be used as a lever for frank (the leader) to work you over. Otherwise it's just presented as an unimportant technicality. Just a form to fill out....

Who cares what you say, if you get what you want? As long as whatever you say presses people's buttons, creates self-doubt, raises fear a makes people feel incompetent, that they need you, that they OWE you big time for what you have given them, that it triggers desire and submission - who cares what you say as long as it works, meaning as long as it gets what you want!

"...And it starts right there in the beginning of every book. Thanks for that reminder. I'd almost forgotten." (

(this is just a small excerpt. The entire thread is excellent)

Friday, 09 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

It has been an adventure,and its good you're pacing yourself.

I spent some time in the peace movement years back. In relation to long term problems, it is very easy to get worn out. I saw a lot of burn out. Its more sustainable to do it like a chorus, so that the high note is sustained by more than one voice, enabling each person to pause and catch a breath while the rest continue to sing.

Andrew and his celebrity buddies have entourages. You and the shadow sangha do not. You do your own shopping, take the car in for servicing, tangle with traffic and do your own housework.

It may be good for the senior editors to step back, because that will also give the rest of the shadow sangha incentive to self-activate and write their own material, rather than waiting for someone else to take the lead.

The early years of starting and maintaining the blog must have been amazing and hair raising. Reason enough to step back for a breather.

Many bows. It has been the ordinary people, the non-gurus, unsupported by entourages, but empowered by the democracy of cyberspace, that accomplished this.

Saturday, 10 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I very much appreciate the previous comment. Thanks for the bow. My only reservation is with the use of the word shadow...what has been happening in fact is moving the facts out into the open and out of the shadows. Shadow was a word coined by Cohen to try to limit any discussion and demean the lives of anyone with the audacity to have left him. It seems that the one with a shadow problem is Cohen himself.

Perhaps a better name can be found, like ¨the free now sangha¨ or ...any suggestions...

Sunday, 11 March, 2007  
Blogger stuartresnick said...

Andrew's March 12 blog is a tribute to Jack Bauer. (Go to and click on the "My Latest Hero" link.)

For those who don't keep up with pop culture, Bauer is a very popular character, played by Kiefer Sutherland, on the Fox TV show "24."

Bauer is the ultimate action hero. Every ticking hour finds him battling new enemies at ridiculous odds, always ready to push the envelope to win at all costs.

There's constant explosions, gun fights, and violence. Repeatedly, every season, we see Bauer torturing various villians that stand in his way. It's interesting that the show has gained such popularity, as it not so subtly reflects the stance of Bush & Cheney et al, with the belief that when you're fighting for Good vs Evil, everything including torture is permitted.

In a larger context, Bauer is a metaphor for all political True Believers. On the one hand, the supreme confidence of such Believers gives them the righteous energy to triumph in their battles. But don't most of us feel some ambivilence, some caution when we see people so convinced that God is on their side, that they can resort to violence and torture so frequently, willingly, almost casually?

And who could miss the obvious fact that religious fanatics are the same way? That the belief in one's own superiority and virtue is double-edged, giving us heroic energy, while leaving in the dust compassion for those who obstruct our Divine Cause?

Cohen's blog, though, doesn't touch on this ambivilence, with Andrew simply and unabashedly praising Bauer for his "absolute commitment." Myself, on the other hand, I feel that we need to constantly balance such hero worship with awareness of the violence and cruelty that follow, with mathematical certainty, all such absolute belief and commitment in both the political and spiritual realms.

I said as much in a post to the comments section of Andrew's blog; as of yet, they haven't seen fit to publish it.


Friday, 23 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, the latest (March 12) blog entry of AC was hilarious. I am really surprised that people eat this superficial crap. It looks like Andrew is losing it. He must be very lonely at his hilltop. And this quote from his book; he is only repeating himself in an context that is not very evolutionary. Probably he has reached his limits.
On the other hand, it is known that what one is teaching, is that one really needs to learn him/herself. So maybe, there is hope....

Saturday, 24 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart, good point raised! Something to contemplate on. When it comes to Andrew’s words and actions there is a serious lack of discrimination, both from Andrew and his followers. The memories come flooding in. It was always so, Andrew's heroes (from boxers to pontificating space travellers) become his followers’ heroes. Likewise, Andrew's shadow becomes his disciples’ shadow. The teacher and the followers are inseparable. AC and his students alike seem to be blind to how much he is revealing of himself in his blog. He tries to cloak his narcissistic passion and mirror-obsessions under meditative rituals and spiritual aspirations. It all comes out in the first paragraph of his blog ‘My latest hero’ that Stuart was talking about, AC confesses that he sees himself in this popular action hero. While brushing aside the fact of torture and lack of plausibility in this TV show AC not only endorses it, but hails it! AC’s great need to blow his trumpet, forces him to reconfirm to his apparently inattentive readers those obviously mutual fantastic qualities that he and his hero share, such as unfailing loyalty to friends and uncompromising integrity. But the whole image of himself that he is constantly pumping up keeps exploding back into AC’s face again and again. Why? Because his actions tell a different story altogether.

Monday, 26 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both positions require the formation of a position, a judgment. How is one to determine whose position/judgment is correct? Both Andrew and Stuart (and Bauer, for that matter) are convinced that their positions are the correct ones. Is one more righteous than the other? What to do?

Monday, 26 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(quote)How is one to determine whose position/judgment is correct? Both Andrew and Stuart (and Bauer, for that matter) are convinced that their positions are the correct ones.(unquote)

Personal conviction doesnt prove anything--let alone righteousness. Consider Charles Manson.

Manson believed in himself, believed himself righteous.

But the depth of Manson's conviction was no solace to Sharon Tate and the others who died in terror at Charlie's hands and those of his followers.

Total Commitment feels wonderful and is highly energizing. If shared with a group of people, its delicious.

This may make it attractive to those who are threatened by depression or trying to escape feelings of powerlessness or emptiness in life. Young persons craving an outlet for thier talents may also find Total Commitment seductive.

The sober matter is that TC functions as an intoxicant. It may feel spiritual but actually hampers genuine spiritual practice--one reason why Buddhists are warned to beware of darkening mind and body of self and other with intoxicants.

A crusade is the greatest intoxicant there is.

One cannot easily assess one's inner state when swept up in Total Commitment. Those in Total Commitment may "feel" liberated but often become prisoners of their own highly energized state, like speed users who keep taking hits because they want to keep flying and not crash.

People eager to feel powerful, who are trying to flee their own vulnerability often dislike being reminded that power has responsiblities--any reminder of responsibility disrupts the thrill factor.

The minute we are in Total Commmitment, refusing to question our own premises, and are convinced that kindness and empathy are only for unevolved weaklings, we become capable of committing any atrocity, just like Charlie Manson and his family.

During the French Revolution Madame Roland cried, just before she was beheaded, during the Reign of Terror, 'Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name!'

Unless we beware the seduction of total commitment, see it for the intoxicant that it is, and unless we retain the ability at all times to stop and ask, 'Am I mistaken?' 'Or is this wrong?' and unless we cherish empathy and refuse ever to consider cruelty acceptable---

we may find ourselves crying out,

'Oh Evolutionary Consciousness, what outrages have been committed in your name!'

Beware of any revolution that devours its children.

If many must be devoured so that one or just a few may feel empowered...

ask if that is a power worth having.

Whether one feels thrilled or revolted by contemplating this question will reveal where one stands.

Monday, 26 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last poster:
Come on, wake up! Superficially it can look kind of inspiring if you don't listen closely to Andrew, but to most people it is very very obvious that in almost EVERY comment Andrew makes, there is always this terrible sense of: "LOOK AT ME!: I AM THE GREATIST!" and at the SAME time: "DON'T DARE TO SPEAK UP TO ME BECAUSE I AM RIGHT!!" whether it's the denegreting tone to Alka or the complete lack off care and humility he shows in how he treats his students. My impression is that he just likes know better...just like an adolescent does.

Monday, 26 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Stuard and both the last two comments! (quote how is one.... and come on wake up...)

Tuesday, 27 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thumbs up to the TC post. Yes, life in Andrew's community was most definitely imbued with the intoxication you described. That intoxication bestowed the "freedom" upon his students to lack any sense of compassion for anyone that wasn't totally with the program or not cool or hip in other ways.

Tuesday, 27 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word just in:

UG Krishnamurti died, March 22d in Vallacrostia, Italy.

Luna Tarlo and two other Cohen disciples met UG in Mill Valley, California, in 1989. That encounter assisted them to wake up and leave the Cohen organization.

That encounter is described in Luna's book, The Mother of God.

Tuesday, 27 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog for some time now . I met Andrew in 1987 and hung round for a couple of years .Lost touch for several years then I came across one of his mags . When I was there we just did sat sang for a couple of hours 5 days a week and there was some dialogue like questions and answers at the end . At that time he was still in love with Poonja ji
When I read the mag I was quite shocked at how things had changed so much , ie now he had a big House ,website , magazine, books etc .etc.(we used to meditate in someones living
room or a barn )
Anyway when I read the mag I thought it was a load of rubbish to be honest .Still I bought 3 but they didn't get any better .All this spiral integral nonsense and suchlike , sheer blag .
It's all about money , how much does enlightenment cost ? it's not something you can go to any shop and buy .
Well what prompted me to write here is a quote from Ramana (someone AC can't criticise)
''He who instucts an seeker to do this or that is not a true master. The seeker is already afflicted by his activities and wants peace and rest . In other words he wants cessation of his activities. Instead he is told to do something in addition to, or in place of, his other activities. Can that be a help to the seeker ?
Activity is creation; activity is destruction of one's inherent happiness. If activity be advocated the adviser is not the master but the killer. Either the creator or Death may be said to have come in the guise of such a master . He cannot liberate the aspirant but strengthens his fetters .''
So I don't know which catorgary this post should go , but seems relavent to a lot of what I have read here .
Thanks Sky

Wednesday, 28 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a quote from the Roman catholic Pope himself, he and AC should be great pals:

'For the Pope holdeth place on Earth not simply of a man, but of one true god.'

And little something from one of those Papal's bulls:

'I have the authority of the king of kings, I am all in all and above all, so that God and I am one. And I am able to do almost all that God can do. What therefore can you make of me but God!'


Thursday, 29 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


talking about his ever changing face, i was just reading andrew's latest blog about his "guru" Poonjaji....

it makes me wonder about the acrobatics andrew's students must have to go through to justify his sudden change of heart toward his former ends up messing with one's mind...until one realizes as andrew himself said years ago "...dead gurus don't kick ass!!!!"
(...and they seem to conveniently appear and disappear as you like too.)
ah hahah hah hahah!

karen m

Saturday, 31 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree, karen. messing with the mind this rewriting of history is! still hearing him say how he actually never really had needed Poonja, that "this" would have happened anyway...

Arghhh. As former long term student... Is hard to swallow. What's going to come next?

By the way, there was a response posted on Andrew's blog by a long time devotee of Poonja's, which was very candid about what had happened from Poonja's point of view... very interesting reading material. Only thing is.... a few hours later, this post has been removed from the comments....

go figure!!

Saturday, 31 March, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Deception!

Thank you for this wonderful blog. It’s given me much insight on my guru experiences - both as pupil and teacher.

Probably Andrew Cohen will enter history as one of the teachers who was successful through the positive side-effects he produced with his tyranny.

In the blog discussion the fight against ego has such a prominent place that it makes me think of Buckminster Fuller’s theory of “precession”. Bucky often pointed to the fact, that in nature many (sometimes negative) actions have positive side effects. That is called "precession" in physics. One example of precession is the bee going for the honey. This can be equaled as the egotistic drive. Through or despite this egotistic drive the bee pollinates the flowers, and therefore creates new life. This can be seen as a selfless action. We wouldn't eat an apple or any other fruit from plants depending on pollination if it weren’t for these egotistic beasts looking for honey!

The effect of the Andrew Cohen teaching system appears to have some similarities. There is this egotistic drive to seek and find truth or enlightenment. What you really find in the relation to the master is ironically - the father. The father is by definition the guy you have either to kill or to stay with for a while and then go away if you want to become a master on your own; even if it's a good father. Within the tyrannical spiritual father's deception (the belief that you haven't found enlightenment), you finally do find enlightenment -- by leaving. As crushed and smashed followers you leave and need to put yourself together. That is awakening! Now you can slowly detach yourself from your craving for a father or leader.

Maybe this growing crowd of disillusioned disciples will slowly build a consistent base for a kind of culture without a leadership cult, which also currently still prevails in politics and economy, increasingly poisoning our world.

What about the positive side-effect for the tyrant? That is an open question to me. The guru who was in my life remains in the black. He seems to have a strange contract. He is condemned to promise wonderland and then to torture all who love him – even those who simply love him for what he is. This all seems to be just for the sake of people finally learning through big pain that the father/leader thing is not the right answer for this world. He becomes something of a scapegoat. It's sad, but maybe nevertheless necessary that he gives his life for that strange endeavor.

Remember Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”? "We are all individuals! We are all individuals! We are all individuals!"

With best regards


Saturday, 31 March, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello: I was very interested in what free-evolutionary had to i am committed to seeing if something like an enlightened communication process could be successfully transmitted outside of Andrew's group. This may simply not be possible, as at least one friend has suggested, but on the other hand, if we are talking about a genuine emergent perhaps it can be accessed elsewhere. My problem is I am not able to access free evolutionary blog since i lack an invitation. how does this work?

Sunday, 01 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, I have the same question, FreeEvolutionary. What happened to your blog?

and how does one get "invited" to join in?

thank you.

Sunday, 01 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ateo wrote:

“This all seems to be just for the sake of people finally learning through big pain that the father/leader thing is not the right answer for this world. He becomes something of a scapegoat. It's sad, but maybe nevertheless necessary that he gives his life for that strange endeavor.”

It’s the familiar line of argument in which only the powerholder is considered a scapegoat, while his use of actual power and its impact on subordinates, goes unexamined.

The ‘learning through big pain’ scenario sounds thrilling and even plausible except for some minor points:

There are reports given earlier on this blog that students who wanted to leave were hindered from doing so.

"One Dutch student, who was close to Andrew and who had been a leader in his communities in Europe, fell into disfavor. He was put in a community home in London, where Steve Brett was told to keep an eye on him and prevent him from leaving. Steve slept just outside the Dutch student's room, so that he could not leave in the night without being noticed. But one night Steve failed to do this. The Dutch student packed a bag and threw it out his bedroom window to the ground below. Then he sneaked silently out of the house. He retrieved his bag, and found a pay telephone a block or two away, from which he called a cab. A couple of weeks before this, Rob, a close community member and an old friend of the Dutch student, had warned him against leaving. Rob was highly trained in martial arts, having been a member of a special division of the Dutch military, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy Seals or Special Forces. Rob had told his friend that if he ever left, he would find him and break every bone in his body. "

This is not a normal 'big pain' learning situation. The ‘scapegoat’ alluded to by Ateo was, in biblical times, sent into the wilderness by a community seeking through magic, to be purged of its sins. Those like the Dutch student, who departed by night, have been the ones who functioned as scapegoats in relation to a leader who has never questioned his own use of power and as scapegoats in relation to an entire spiritual community that glamorizes authoritarian powerholder gurus, thrilling to elitist power and refusing to face that that power can only be exercised in relation to a new and constant stream of fresh recruits.

When people are exposed to the kinds of unbalanced power described on this blog, and not allowed to have a conscious awareness of being exposed to imbalanced power, what they reportedly experience is not instruction or education, but trauma. A few report experiences of bliss, but many more have reported pain, degradation and worse.

There is a difference between being challenged vs being traumatized.

Being challenged is like a good weight training program. You feel sore the next day, but long term, you get stronger and you can chart this. You dont have to take it on faith.

But trauma is when you tear muscles or damage a joint, or when you develop over training because you're not getting sufficient nutrition and sleep to off set the challenge of your training load. Long term, trauma depletes you.

By its nature, trauma interferes with learning, for it delivers stress beyond the recipient’s coping capacity and triggers a body mind state that cannot be suppressed by an effort of will. This results in mental emotional constriction (psychic numbing), physiological hyper-arousal (excess cortisol, which in turn produces changes in the brain), hypervigilant scanning of environment, and regression to states of mind characteristic of childhood, in which emotions become drastic, black and white, and where access to adult insight is lost.

Disciples who learned to be hypervigilant during painful childhood may be quickly and easily triggered to re-enact this state when living with a crabby guru.

These persons may gravitate or be selected to function as members of an inner circle—precisely because soothing and parenting an unpredictable adult leader feels like a normal and familiar way to live for those who as children soothed and appeased unpredictable parents—and blotted out memories of having done so.

Sunday, 01 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘FreeEvolutionary’’s 'ever changing' blog has had a strange and brief history. The former Cohen student's online forum lasted one month and then in a single day went “member's only” and then off-the-air altogether -- all of which happened on April First.

'Freeevolutionary' has offered some interesting news--that Andrew has created a cadre of “enlightened” apprentice teachers. If true, this new rank would mark an important change in the structure of his organization. Until now Andrew monpolized the teaching role, and insisted that only he had become enlightened and was therefore qualified to teach. If it exists, this new rank will give ambitious students a powerful incentive to stay in line--they can hope to achieve the same state and rank as Andrew himself. As 'Free' pointed out, this will also extend Andrew's missionary efforts.

But it may also expose Andrew to the possiblity of 'schism'. Prior to this time, the only challenge to Andrew came from those who defected and became apostates.

'Schism' is a far greater challenge than 'apostacy'. Apostates choose to reject the prophet and leave. Andrew and his group can and do dismiss them as failures, and their departure can actually serve to enhance group solidarity. Apostates do not pose a fundamental challenge to the prophet and usually do not take many
people with them.

If one studies the history of other religious movements based on a prophet who claims authority based on owning a revealed truth one learns that organizations centered on a prophet eventually face the risk of schism--formation of splinter groups. One could suggest that Cohen became schismatic in relation to Poonja. Cohen would not be where he is today, were it not for Poonja having 'discovered' him.
For other precedents, the Theosophy movement generated many off shoots--(eg Rudolph Steiner, J Krishnamurti). Madame Blavatsky did not like this at all. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky soon came to a parting of the ways and set up separate establishments.

Schismatics challenge the authority of the prophet and of the group in a way that apostates do not. Schismatics have voices--and speak top volume. This alone distinguishes the schismatic from most apostates/defectors. People in the latter group may be so broken and depleted that they may need years before they can find their voices.

Like the prophet, schismatics have a sense of mission. Schismatics introduce personal interpretations into the doctrine. Most importantly, schismatics take power into their own hands and set up independent franchises. If they leave, they often take sizable numbers of other adherants with them. Unlike apostacy, schismatics raise questions about who actually owns the intellectual history and spiritual charisma of the group.

If the reports are correct, and Cohen has started to train apprentice
teachers. it may be a matter of time before one or more become
schismatic--for it is talented, articulate, energetc persons who are likely to be choosen as apprentice teachers. Some may decide to become schismatic once they see that they are capable of working a room and can generate desirable mood states. Or perhaps some (like 'FreeEvo') feel that the narcissism and abusiveness of Cohen is hampering the spreading of the evolutionary enlightenment teachings themselves.

Why did 'FreeEvolutionary' shut down his newly created blog? Was it pressure from Cohen or his former sangha mates to put a stop to a very public budding schismatic group? Only 'FreeEvolutionary' really knows.

Thursday, 05 April, 2007  
Blogger George said...

I have started up again. There's an explanation of what happened there.

No conspiracies.
No pressure.
No drama.

Hope you get a chance to visit.

Friday, 06 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is a little note that I left on Andrew's blog as a response to his latest posting. I'm posting my comment here regardless whether it be posted by him or censored. Here it goes:

"I write this in the same spirit of reconciliation that I am getting
from this blog. My impression is that the students who have left you Andrew and who voice their various disapprovals are the voice worth hearing and responding to with love too. Perhaps the great master Poonja speaks through them the loudest.

In peace, Dragan"

Friday, 13 April, 2007  
Blogger themeanderingmushroomman said...

can you spot andrew cohen in this video ~ clue: he is not wearing sox

Friday, 27 January, 2012  

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