Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From Rude Boy to Nice Guy?

Dear Readers,

There appears to be a curious online trend occurring with Andrew Cohen and his cohorts at EnlightenNext. Here at WhatEnlightenment??! we have observed with interest the following events:

First, Andrew’s infamous "Declaration of Integrity" (reposted here), his bombastic and scathing blog rant from 2006 against his critical ex-students has quietly disappeared from his own blog. Simultaneously, the gushing student-run Cohen-apologists’ blog, Guru-Talk.com has likewise been taken down in its entirety without so much as a peep*. (See a reposted entry here) And even more, around the same time, someone going by the user name “Kosmocentric” attempted to remove the entire “Criticisms” section from Andrew Cohen’s Wikipedia page. (It has since been restored by someone else).

So what is going on here, folks? Dare we infer that there is a slippery and concerted effort on the part of Cohen and his students to remake the "rude boy" guru’s online image?

Stas Mavrides’ recent article, I Love Him, I Hate Him, I Love Him Again suggested that Andrew did a pubic about-face on his critical, angry stance toward his former teacher, in part per his PR consultant’s advice that he needed to make some specific image changes in order to help his fundraising efforts. (There are indications that Cohen’s group is in difficult financial straits – In 2011 it officially ended publication of its magazine “EnlightenNext”, and listed its Foxhollow property for sale, selling off a portion of the estate to a development company.) We believe that Andrew’s disingenuous re-creation of himself as a "kinder, gentler" guru described in that article is continuing with the above-mentioned "disappearing" of his angry and arrogant "Declaration", the silent takedown of his students’ apologetics website "Guru Talk", as well as the attempted removal of the "Criticism" section of his Wikipedia bio.

We also believe these numerous actions have a common theme, which is to defang his “rude boy” guru image, as well as to hide cultic public displays of student adoration in an attempt to appear more compassionate, less pompous and even humble to potential new students and donors. These days Andrew speaks to large Integral audiences like the “Integral Spiritual Experience” convocation held in California earlier in January. His “abusive-guru” baggage, if discovered, would most likely be a liability in trying to reach these new, discriminating Integral students.

There are many in the Integral world who are disturbed by the endorsements given to Cohen by various Integral teachers, especially Ken Wilber. Given that, it would seem by removing earlier internet testaments from himself and fawning students it might help him forge his new image as a likable ‘Integral-friendly’ leader; an image that belies the character of an abrasive, even abusively autocratic guru, a man to whom his inner circle of students have surrendered control of their lives, yet secretly fear displeasing.

And so we say, “Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing!”

The WhatEnlightenment??! Editors


*Editor’s Update: Will wonders never cease?

Well, imagine our surprise when after our post noting the recent removal of Andrew Cohen’s “Declaration of Integrity” from his blog, the attempted takedown of the “Criticsms” section on his Wikipedia page, and the concurrent disappearance of the Cohen apologetics blog, “Guru-Talk.com”, we got an email from “Guru-Talk” founder, Pete Bampton, claiming that his site was not intentionally taken down, but had according to him been “hacked into”. So what’s next? Will Cohen’s “Declaration” make a sudden reappearance? Who knows? Nevertheless, we welcome back online our WhatEnlightenment??! ‘counterpart’, “Guru-Talk”, or as we affectionately call it, “Kool-Aid Talk”.

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