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 Andrew Cohen - fallen guru returns from his sabbatical

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Andrew Cohen - fallen guru returns from his sabbatical   Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:18 pm

I have posted about Andrew Cohen who was one of the abusive guru stars of the eastern religion scenes, friends with Ken Wilber, etc.  He was famous for being rude, mean, grandiose and arrogant.  A few years ago, his scene collapsed. He was asked to step down and stop teaching.  Not clear that it was entirely voluntary. He experienced some self-awareness, realized he was not nearly as enlightened as he thought he was, and stopped teaching.  In May, he returned from his "sabbatical" and posted the letter below.  Some people praised him for the letter, others felt it was still self-aggrandizing and setting himself up for a comeback. I only saw Andrew once probably in the late 90s when he gave a talk in NYC and found him frankly annoying.  I left after 15 minutes.  I have no idea how sincere his self-awareness is, but my take on this letter is that he still reeks of grandiosity, he is still seduced by his guru narrative.  He is still so incredibly special. Actions are everything and self-reflection needs to be a constant everyday process, so once you see how you constructed your pedestal, you need to be on constant alert when you catch yourself building it again. We all have the capacity to get lost in self-delusion and we have an equal capacity to wake up - and we can do it without glorification.  Sometimes when things fall apart it can be a very good thing.  Too bad Kennett had zero self-awareness and when her life did begin to fall apart, she ran from her vulnerability into the land of fabricated lotus blossoms.  

So here is Andrew's letter and some of the critical comments.  


An open letter to all my former students upon return from my sabbatical. | AndrewCohen.org
Posted on May 12, 2015 - http://www.andrewcohen.org/

Dear Ones,

It has been almost 2 years since the structures of our shared Utopian experiment collapsed so violently and so completely. It’s also been almost that long that I have dropped out of sight. As most of you already know, I was asked to step down, which I reluctantly agreed to. Ever since that moment, I have wanted to find out what happened. I have understandably been desperate to find out why this has all occurred. Why did this terrible destruction have to happen?

To be honest, for a long time I have simply not been able to take in the unbearable truth that I somehow actually caused this collapse to occur. How could this be the case? I have dedicated the last 28 years of my life to the Spiritual upliftment of humanity, to the evolution of consciousness and culture. For so many years I thought of little else. So with all of this in place, how could I have caused this collapse to occur? As I have let this in, I have had to embrace both the truth and beauty of where we all went together and my own participation in the downfall that occurred two years ago.

During those years just the notion of higher development, the extraordinary possibility of emergence, would make my heart beat a little faster. It really WAS possible… and I could always feel the immanence of the miraculous always just around the corner. Over the years I took many risks so that great leaps forward could actually happen. I also whole-heartedly encouraged others, my students, to do the same. It was all so amazing because it was so tangible. My gift was my capacity to inspire others to believe that it was possible… and to be willing to take great risks so that miracles could really happen. As the years went by I gradually began to define the meaning of the spiritual life lived in earnest in our post modern era as the willingness to be someone who would care so passionately about what appeared to be humanity’s next step at the leading edge, that they would be willing to make any sacrifice and take any risk, so that that future could emerge here and now in the present between us, as our very own selves. And it actually happened. More than once. These perceived and intuited potentials did reveal themselves again and again and so many of my students saw and felt the power and potential of what we had all given so much for. It was so exciting and such a grand spiritual adventure the likes of which most people never experience or even imagine.

At the same time as all this was happening, slowly but surely cracks appeared in the shared fabric of our new world. Some people left. This had been happening from the very beginning when it all started back in 1986. The existential challenge of what we were trying to do together was simply enormous. In some cases the challenge was just too much and people also suffered, at times unnecessarily.

Over the previous 15 years I had become an evolutionary through and through. I had experienced a profound awakening to a process perspective and to be honest, have now understood that in that light, I had come to see my students as means to an end, hopefully a higher end, but not as ends in themselves. I gradually lost sight of people’s humanity, including my own, and only saw all of us as the living Self Aware consciousness that, in an evolutionary context, was going somewhere. And that was all that I believed was important or really mattered. I even stated this clearly and unequivocally at times when I was teaching. As I was losing touch with my own simple humanity and everyone else’s, I also was simultaneously not paying attention to the gradual growing of my spiritual ambition, of my spiritual ego. I believe that my intense longing for the evolution of consciousness in my students was real, but I have begun to see more and more clearly how over time my pride and my desire for fame and recognition slowly but surely began to blur and corrupt my vision. The worst part of it is that I was oblivious to the many different ways some of my students were being pushed too hard and at times too relentlessly to make breakthroughs and too often breaking down as a result. It’s hard even now for me to grasp how I could not see this happening right in front of my eyes. The very human, frail, fallible and vulnerable dimensions of myself that I was denying, I was simultaneously denying in those who had come to me for liberation. I was blind and ambitious and yet sincere in my spiritual aspirations as a teacher and as a thought leader. The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing much of the time…I became more and more a living paradox.

Most often when I would teach, I would experience the grace of my Guru, the gift of enlightened awareness, which would engulf my being in the most glorious way. The amazing part of it all is that in the midst of the growing problems I have been describing, I was simultaneously continuing to evolve and develop as a teacher and as a thinker. I was moving and was still often creative in finding ever-new ways to express the inexpressible. And I was still curious. Even after 28 years of being a guide and a guru and a public thinker, I was still reaching and stretching to understand more and more about Life, Reality and the meaning/purpose of it all. It was really because of this that I wrongly felt that I was ok and in good shape and on the right track. This fact of my still evolving and developing as a teacher made it that much easier for me to avoid and deny that slowly the world that I had given so much to give rise to over so many years, was beginning to crumble from the inside. My closest and most devoted senior students were beginning to see through my façade, could see that I was out of control, and see that I didn’t even know it. What made matters much worse is that I ignored the evidence; I ignored their respectful pleas for me to slow down and listen to them. For over six months during this period I literally couldn’t sleep, and night after night I convinced myself that I had no idea why this was the case. My self became more and more divided. I was still an inspired teacher and speaker, but I adamantly remained steadfastly and obstinately oblivious to the growing storm I was creating.

It was only a matter of time before the entire edifice came tumbling down and it has taken me the better part of these last 2 years to begin to come to terms with all that has happened and all that I have done. I realize that much harm has occurred, and that I am to blame. I justified my at times ruthless attacks on my students’ egos as being akin to the revered Tibetan Master Marpa’s ruthless treatment of his famous disciple Milarepa. And at times this indeed was the case. There were times when with individuals or groups of individuals my arrow of discriminating wisdom hit the bulls eye and magic happened…dramatic and meaningful Liberating Clarity and Love Beyond Description emerged…and new potentials and miraculous possibilities that had been previously unimaginable and unseen were collectively experienced. In those historic moments it all seemed worth it. But there were and have been too many moments where I simply have been wrong. Not only did my arrow miss the target but it caused unnecessary pain and suffering to too many people. For this I am deeply and terribly sorry. Too much suffering has resulted from my at times misguided efforts to create breakthroughs. I should have known better.

Slowly over time I have come to see the parts of myself that were broken, that I have been in such ferocious denial of. In that denial I became at times untrustworthy. I see that now. So many of you trusted me with your souls and I proved myself at certain pivotal moments unworthy of that trust. Again I am sorry.

What I feel dreadful about is that the very idealism that I inspired and released in so many of you, I have wounded in the worst way possible. It’s difficult to bear that this is the case, but it just is. I would do literally anything to turn back the clock…but I can’t.

I am committed to finding a way to honour all that was real and true that we stood for, for so many years. There is nothing else for me to do. There is nothing else I want to do.

I still believe in the fundamental principles that I taught and stood for all these years. I feel the Teaching is basically sound. Like someone said to me recently, the Teachings of Evolutionary Enlightenment are self-consistent. That is one of the reasons why so many of you stayed for so long. And that is why we spent so many hours learning how to look at reality through the extraordinary multidimensional lens that the Teachings provide. That being said, it has also become obvious that there have been important gaps in the Teachings from the very beginning. Even though I always said the Teachings were a work in progress, I certainly was not aware of the obvious and important holes that I had left in them. The most obvious and the most important has been the absence of Agape or Love as a FUNDAMENTAL principle that stands in contrast to and in support of the emphasis on Eros that I gave so much importance to over the last 10 to 15 years. Eros is the VERTICAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. Agape is the HORIZONTAL manifestation the Absolute principle. To say I neglected Agape is an understatement to be sure. Eros and Agape BOTH are essential ingredients of a truly Evolutionary Dharma. They BALANCE each other. They hold each other in a dynamic embrace of loving, creative and Integral tension. My over-emphasis on Eros with little respect for Agape created the circumstance where a collapse was inevitable. And that’s why it happened so fast…and for this I am to blame.

In order to open up to the deeply painful truth of my own central role in this great calamity, I have had to open my heart in ways I have denied to myself for most of my life. That’s what has made it possible for me to begin to truly let in the damage I have wrought and the harm I have caused to too many of you. I only wish I had been more awake to and in touch with my own flawed humanity from the very beginning. If I had been, so much of this would have never happened.

Over these 2 years I have struggled to awaken to my Shadow, to those unconscious forces and drives within us that will, as long as they remain hidden, continue to wreak havoc with our lives. This will remain the case even if in many other ways we are unusually conscious and aware, and as hard to believe as it may be, even if we may be lucky enough to have access to Enlightened awareness. I know this is hard to fathom, but it certainly has been true in my case, and has been true in many other cases where powerfully awakened Teachers have acted out in either destructive or self-destructive ways…or both. It’s been a significant part of the rocky legacy of eastern Enlightenment coming to the psychologically informed west. Ironically, I spent much of my early career speaking and writing about this very issue.

I often wonder how much of the outrageous evolutionary Fire could have awakened and been shared between us in the way that it was, without there being some kind of fall out, some measure of pain and suffering. And if that’s possible then how much would have been acceptable, and when would it all have become too much? At this point I really don’t know.

I do know that without the ultimate challenge this enormous calamity has given to me personally on a soul level, my own ego would never have backed down. It’s been extremely challenging on many levels to even begin to let in what has actually happened and why it has happened. And I know there is further to go.

I am beginning to become simply human after so many years of hiding out in transcendence. It’s like coming back to earth after almost a quarter of a century of flying above the clouds. As much as I spoke about the need to “embrace heaven and earth,” I was obviously still rejecting so much of what it means to be a fully human being.

In so many ways I thought I was awake when I was clearly not. In my rejection of Agape, I was also rejecting the feminine principle in myself and in others and most painfully in women as a whole. I am ashamed of how badly I blamed women for their evolutionary challenges. Instead of being truly encouraging, after some time I let my frustration with the enormity of the task at hand get the better of me. I blamed and condemned instead of encouraged and nurtured, which was after all, my job as mentor. Many people accuse me of hating women. This is not and has never been true. But I was in so many ways arrogant and insensitive and even cruel in my impatience at times. Uncovering deep (and outdated) developmental structures in our psyches takes time and long-term commitment. It takes a DEEP vision and LOVE of ourselves. Not blaming and condemning and ridiculing. I apologize to the women who were affected and am so very sorry for being so lacking in the real heart that was desperately needed. I failed many of you in the worst way and for this I really have no excuse. I became a caricature of the very behaviour and attitudes in men that I was so sure I had transcended. And the painful and ironic truth in all of this is that I did have a real passion and commitment for a very radical expression of women’s liberation. I had seen a truly miraculous potential and possibility. But, in the end, I proved to have neither the patience, nor the skill, nor the deep humility and care (agape) to create the conditions that would have made a stable breakthrough actually possible.

In the middle years of my teaching career, at times I came up with and tried many outrageous stunts in order to once again catalyze big breakthroughs. Also to be honest I was many times actually in a state of desperation because I cared so much, and was trying to get my students to care as much as I did about what was possible, the very promise we had all given our lives for.

But as well-meaning as many of these attempts were on my part, some were certainly just too much…too outrageous and simply lacking in compassion and a deep appreciation of what is actually involved in change at the deepest level. More often than not what is needed is simply more love and encouragement, not more shocks, challenges and confrontations with one’s own division. There were times of course where strong challenges are called for and many former students have reminded me of many ways in which I did help them to reach breakthroughs through harsh tactics…but there is no doubt this happened too often, and more often than not it caused more harm than good. I apologize for this. I should have known better…but I was misled by the conviction that without such big pushes, most people would simply compromise their own inherent potential to evolve and grow in the deepest and most profound way. I was a revolutionary, and publicly declared myself as such…and that’s why many of you came to me. But that can no longer be an excuse for my own insensitivity and at times ruthless attempts to force deep changes to occur. Again I deeply apologize to any of you who suffered unnecessarily because of this. Elizabeth Sahtouris’ famous statement that “no evolution occurs without stress” became a justification for those times when I inappropriately pushed people too hard to let go and face themselves.

Over these two years away, I have come to appreciate with growing regret that the hierarchies that I had used as a teaching tool gradually over time become ossified and rigid, becoming for some not too different to being held in a straight jacket or a prison. Originally this was intended to humble my students’ culturally conditioned narcissism and often exaggerated sense of self-importance. And for many years it actually did help a lot of people to learn how to become humble, to learn how to keep their egos in check, to learn how to put Spirit first. In our time this is no small feat. But instead of helping people to grow spiritually, over time the hierarchies ended up putting people in boxes, actually inhibiting the very growth they were intended to nurture. I know some of my students who made very deep commitments to our work together have suffered very much as a result and, for good reason, are angry about this. I am very sorry that this happened and in particular, apologize to those previously known as the Resolute Core Students. With all of my interest in Integral Philosophy, I should have known better and seen the obvious error that I was making.

Finally what has been hardest for me has been facing and coming to terms with the fact that I have let down so deeply and betrayed my former students whom I was closest to, those former senior students who had entrusted me with their lives and souls and who gave so much to make it possible for the promise of Evolutionary Enlightenment to come alive in the world. And largely because of their commitment, it actually DID. So much that is Good, True and Beautiful has come into being as a result of the precious commitment of those who dared to be leaders. I know they also have made mistakes and at times caused much suffering, some of which is yet to be atoned for, but it must be said that most really did give from the deepest parts of themselves and did have the courage to care more than most. I know that when push came to shove when I, their teacher, seemed not to have the resources to live my own teachings, it was experienced as the ultimate betrayal. I who had demanded so much was, when my turn came, seemingly unable or unwilling to do the very thing I had asked from them. I am so ashamed about this and my public apology was really meant for them.

Almost 2 years after my fall from grace and the collapse of EnlightenNext, I still care as much as I ever did about most of what I taught and a lot of what I stood for. I am committed to giving the rest of my life to trying to make good on it all. What that will mean, of course, remains to be seen. Through this process of coming to terms with all that has happened, so many important questions have understandably arisen. As I make progress in my inquiry, I will be writing more about it here.

I still love you all very much and hope from the bottom of my heart that you will find it in yourselves to believe that even Gurus with big egos can find the courage and humility to change. I know in ‘Embracing Heaven and Earth,’ I boldly stated that once Enlightenment has occurred, an individual gets frozen in their development – that from then on their evolution actually comes to a halt forever.

I am committing the rest of my life to proving myself wrong.

With Deep Love,
Andrew

A FEW OF THE POSTED RESPONSES TO THIS LETTER - these are the more critical responses... and more interesting

Brian on June 12, 2015 at 6:51 pm said:

Hi Andrew, I see that you are still a legend in your own mind… emphasis on mind. One does not have to ‘read between the lines’ to see that there is still a gigantic ego at work here. Ad nauseam repetition of all the wonderful things you have accomplished, in spite of the horror you predicated upon your hapless students. I, personally, had a couple of ‘run-ins’ with you over the years. I am just so thankful that I did not get drawn in by your ego-charisma… and that’s exactly what it is: egoic charisma. Other commenters have done an admirable job of pointing out the errors of ego that are so obvious in your open letter, so I won’t bother going there. What I would like to say, however – and I would say this to anyone who is still stuck firmly in egoic consciousness – take another two years (or longer if necessary) to humble yourself and submit yourself to a trusted, senior teacher as a STUDENT. OMG, is that actually possible for you Andrew? That would be the true humility that your former students need to see as a very real contrition. As other commenters have stated, you need to drop everything, Andrew, and especially this guru/world savior identity. Please go humbly to someone like Thich Nhat Hahn, or Adyashanti. Let go of the whole ‘evolutionary enlightenment’ thing, and all your other grandiose ideas of what you ‘think’ enlightenment is. This way you might actually get yourself truly awakened…. hint: it’s not about evolving the world, the world will evolve just fine without your input. It’s about letting go of all identities and roles. And that’s just the beginning. I truly hope you can hear some of the constructive criticism by various commenters here, and not just focus on the inevitable, sycophantic accolades. Your ‘soul’, as you call it, depends on it.

Mattias O on June 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm said:
Dear Andrew,

I must question your motives in writing this post. My sense is that you are staging your own comeback, disguised as another apology. You use this post to simultaneously praise your own achievements and justify your actions, which does not have a place in a true apology. You rewrite history by taking credit for the first apology, which in fact you were forced to send out by the people who were still at Foxhollow trying to help you. You are condescending to women by insinuating that they are an evolutionarily especially challenged group who need extra patience (which you did not give them, otherwise your methods would have worked, right?). Speaking on people leaving, you are also insinuating that they did so because they were weak (“in some cases the challenge was just too much”). If I interpret you correctly, you also defer responsibility for the Collapse as something inevitable, which again undermines your attempt at apologizing (“I often wonder how much of the outrageous evolutionary Fire could have awakened…without there being some kind of fall out”).

It will probably not be so difficult for you to “sprinkle some agape” on top of your old teaching and get a new following of people who never got close enough to experience your lack of integrity first hand. To do so without having come to resolution with the hundreds of close students over the years that gave you their hearts, sacrificed their family and professional lives and gave you the benefit of the doubt to extreme proportions, would be a mockery and a proof that this is not really an apology but a public stunt. It would be sending a message that these people (myself included) are drop-outs, when the real reason is that the embodiment of the teaching (the community of students) was corrupt and you caused the collapse yourself. From what I can tell, a majority of your former close students would not vouch for your integrity at this point in time. You have not made enough effort to reach out either, which makes me wonder how much you really care about the relationships that you broke.

You state that you believe that “the teaching is basically sound” and “coherent”. You admit at least intellectually your flaws, which you should have kudos for (even better if your heart had spoken). You admit that you saw people as “a means to an end” and “lost sight of their humanity”. This insight is of such a magnitude that all the five tenets need to be re-examined. It is therefore more than reasonable for you to question the integrity and coherence of your teaching, which you obviously don’t. Here are some hints:

1) The second tenant (“everything is volitional”) has an absolute quality. How is that possible if you admit that people are humans, presumably with human flaws? And is this coherent with an evolutionary worldview? And by the way, you are not proving this tenant yourself either since you seem generally perplexed at how/why the Collapse came about.

2) The fourth tenant (“everything is impersonal/process perspective”) and the fifth tenant (“care for the whole”): what do these mean from your new insight of seeing people as humans rather than evolutionary conduits.

3) The lack of humanity described above was embedded in the structure of the community of students. For example, you gave impunity to some people in the leadership (which I’ve commented about at one of Terry Patten’s dialogue and at the WhatNext Facebook group), and you dumped others, in order to preserve your position of authority. Since the structure was intimately informed by the teaching and vice versa, both need to be examined concurrently.

I would suggest you just drop it all. Drop your defiance and need to prove yourself. Drop your ambition and lust for recognition. Trust that that which is True will not be lost. There are other less glorious ways you could prove that “gurus can change”, than getting back in the old seat on the podium. I can understand that the teaching, your life’s work, is the buoy that you won’t let go of, but right now, you are actually making a mockery of it since you are not living it yourself.

If you can allow your heart to open and allow it to cry, perhaps you would find that you can reach people that you cannot reach now and that you have more true friends than you thought. At this point you should seek out people who express the deepest humanity, not who praise you the most.

Love, Mattias

Kevin on June 16, 2015 at 7:23 pm said:

Give up the idea of being a teacher. Get a job as a waiter or play the drums in a jazz band. The whole spiritual teacher thing is a joke and a scam. Grow a garden, get your hands dirty. And put some energy into healing the mother wound. You might find entheogens useful at this point. http://www.psychedelicpsychotherapy.ca

Alistair Melville on July 1, 2015 at 6:43 am said:
Andrew,

We have all made mistakes, we all have “Ego’s” this is an undeniable part of being human. Krishnamurti made it very clear from the very beginning “there must be no authority”. He also made it very clear that there was “no path” to truth. That puts all guru’s and so called “spiritual teachers” in a very difficult position! We have to stop thinking in terms of “teachings” and “teachers” and just meet if that is possible as 2 friends or as a group of friends. No higher or lower …….just as we are ……..with all our problems. And there we maybe able to begin …….just to share our problems, our humanity without bringing in some authority which will inevitably corrupt everything. For the moment you have the “one” who is the “teacher” you create a fundamental division between one human being and another.

Andrew if you can please let the “teacher” go in you, until you do you will not be able to sit amongst “the rest of us” as a true human being. It may take another 3 years for the full implications of what happened to fully reveal themselves…….it may take a full lifetime…….but as you sit there perhaps in a park in New York or where ever you are …..be alone …….be completely alone…….no books…..no teachings …..no teacher and just observe your own restless mind and how it brought about all these contradictions not only inwardly but outwardly through the vast organization you helped set up. One day you may discover that there is nothing to change, the so called “world” does not need any more teachings or teachers it is perfectly fine as it is. All that it does need is people who live what they say, people who have real love in their hearts. Nobody can make another flower Andrew, please get that thought right out of your head. The flowering of love can only happen when there is no more fear ! Authority breeds FEAR !!

Please SEE this for yourself. There must be no authority of any kind, no serious students, no students at all !!!

Student of what for God’s sake ??? Students of Andrew Cohen ?? Please drop this madness !! We either meet as one humanity or we do not meet at all !! Are you humble enough to just meet people as they are and let them see Andrew as he actually it with all his “fragments” ……..you see everything in the end must “brake down” it is the law…….even the strongest man eventually brakes down…….it cannot be forced in any way ……love does not force anything…….each of us is different in that respect………..you cannot push out “enlightened human beings ” like processed peas !! There is no method, there is no guarantee that if you follow some path it will take you home !

On a final note do not waste your time worrying about your “former students” everyone sets themselves up for their own fall ………how completely ridiculous is it that one human being can set another free !! To even harbor the notion is totally insane! We do not want to face our selves or our dark side as you put it ……….and so we join organizations and follow guru’s and “teachings” and all the rest of it ………..we get on the spiritual bandwagon…….and for 30 or 40 years we tread that path until our energy runs out or for whatever reason and then we are back with “ourselves”.

Nothing has deeply changed ! We are still the same person deep down !! Isn’t it the great cosmic joke !! Can Andrew laugh at himself again !! Not be so “serious” ??? Until you can sit in that park and laugh and cry at all this my friend I would not entertain the thought of “teaching anything” ……….Someone once asked the great Krishnamurti what was the most important thing in his life and he said “being a nobody” ……….. Laughter !!! Andrew let it all go if you can……..because in the bigger scheme of things it does not matter a hoot anyway !! One day we must all face death ……….we must all let go ….this is the law……..so rather waiting until the end when physical death takes us why not let go now ………let it all go ……….be NOTHING ………but you see unfortunately the “ego” hears all this and starts making it into something to DO or even worse …….something TO TEACH ……..BIG MISTAKE !! Laughter !!!

My opinion for what its worth …….find a few close friends, people who do not know you…….and just hang out together sometimes………….in that way Andrew’s heart might just melt back into what is very ordinary instead of pursuing the extraordinary ………….Love is a very simple thing but we human beings make it very complex.
You can email me anytime Andrew my door is always open but I must worn you I have nothing to teach !!!

Margie on July 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm said:

Ah Andrew Cohen. Perhaps you should go work in a hospital or a hospice or a bakery or a record store or learn to juggle or paint a mural or drive a bus, something! anything! to knock you off your pillar, so you land upside down and see stars! and see the light! and learn to smile with a big warm smile of wonder. See, I meet hundreds of amazing human beings every week of my life, they probably don’t even know what the word Enlightenment means, why should they? they’re so in it they don’t have to go about defining their humanity. I met you too, a couple of times, because you and your crowd were wandering around my hometown. You were extremely rude to me. I thought you were having a lot of personal problems, taking out some kind of hurt or anger on your followers, although I’m sure they’d disagree. All the best matey. Strange thing, I actually mean that, I must be becoming human myself, haha, falling off my own pillar. You didn’t teach me that, though, so don’t go getting ideas. My teacher is nothing other than a surrender to being human and getting out there in the mix. I hope you find your way

anonymous on August 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm said:

Andrew, you still don’t have a clue. You landed in the God realms with the teacher/guru gig. There is no evolutionary thing happening on the human level other than the appearance of an evolutionary thing. . The human level doesn’t matter one iota in true understanding. Just abide in a no place place and all will be revealed with no more confusion. You can’t figure it out.
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PostSubject: Re: Andrew Cohen - fallen guru returns from his sabbatical   Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:36 pm

http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2015/05/praise-no-god-andrew-cohen-has-been-revealed-as-a-fraud.html

May 19, 2015

Praise no-God: Andrew Cohen has been revealed as a fraud


It's always a pleasure to see a "guru" revealed as a flawed human being. This has finally happened to Andrew Cohen, who for a long time played pretend-guru along with Ken Wilber. 

David Lane has written an interesting piece about Cohen's much-deserved downfall, "The Liberation of Andrew Cohen: How Devoted Disciples Can Enlighten Their Guru."


(By enlighten, Lane means "bringing to light," as noted in a comment.)


Andrew Cohen didn’t resign on his own terms, nor did he come to the realization that he was a lousy master who created more harm than good. More remarkably, it was Cohen’s devoted inner circle that forced him to quit. Andrew Cohen had caused so much damage in his spiritual community that his own following realized that it was time for him to give up the game.


As Cohen explains, “My closest and most devoted senior students were beginning to see through my façade, could see that I was out of control, and see that I didn’t even know it. What made matters much worse is that I ignored the evidence; I ignored their respectful pleas for me to slow down and listen to them.”
I've written some uncomplimentary posts about Cohen.


Andrew Cohen -- an abusive American guru


Integral egos gone wild: Wilber and Cohen relish worship


Andrew Cohen is a tyrant, not a guru


It seemed obvious to me that this guy was a [banned term]. But gurus often are jerks, and still prosper. Sadly, some people think that being abused can be a means of spiritual progress.


I made an attempt at reading Cohen's May 12, 2015 "An open letter to all my former students upon return from my sabbatical." But the letter is so full of [banned term], I got disgusted just a little way into it and gave up. I then quickly scanned through the B.S

.
That word "sabbatical" is scary. Cohen actually seems to believe that he just took a leave of absence from his gurudom and will be back in business after he does some further soul-searching.


I have to give credit to Cohen for this: he is able to shamelessly brandish New Age spiritual cliches with the best of them. And that isn't a compliment. Here's a few samples from his letter:


Over the previous 15 years I had become an evolutionary through and through. I had experienced a profound awakening to a process perspective and to be honest, have now understood that in that light, I had come to see my students as means to an end, hopefully a higher end, but not as ends in themselves. I gradually lost sight of people’s humanity, including my own, and only saw all of us as the living Self Aware consciousness that, in an evolutionary context, was going somewhere.


...Most often when I would teach, I would experience the grace of my Guru, the gift of enlightened awareness, which would engulf my being in the most glorious way. The amazing part of it all is that in the midst of the growing problems I have been describing, I was simultaneously continuing to evolve and develop as a teacher and as a thinker. I was moving and was still often creative in finding ever-new ways to express the inexpressible.

...I justified my at times ruthless attacks on my students’ egos as being akin to the revered Tibetan Master Marpa’s ruthless treatment of his famous disciple Milarepa. And at times this indeed was the case. There were times when with individuals or groups of individuals my arrow of discriminating wisdom hit the bulls eye and magic happened…dramatic and meaningful Liberating Clarity and Love Beyond Description emerged…and new potentials and miraculous possibilities that had been previously unimaginable and unseen were collectively experienced.


...Slowly over time I have come to see the parts of myself that were broken, that I have been in such ferocious denial of. In that denial I became at times untrustworthy. I see that now. So many of you trusted me with your souls and I proved myself at certain pivotal moments unworthy of that trust. Again I am sorry.


...Eros is the VERTICAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. Agape is the HORIZONTAL manifestation the Absolute principle. To say I neglected Agape is an understatement to be sure. Eros and Agape BOTH are essential ingredients of a truly Evolutionary Dharma. They BALANCE each other. They hold each other in a dynamic embrace of loving, creative and Integral tension. My over-emphasis on Eros with little respect for Agape created the circumstance where a collapse was inevitable. And that’s why it happened so fast…and for this I am to blame.


In my 2010 post about Cohen and Wilber, I ended it this way.

 
In another article in the same EnlightenNext issue, Cohen talks about how important it is for students to submit to the teacher's authority, since hierarchy is the nature of the cosmos according to Integral philosophy.



Quote :
The real question to pose to students is, "Are you capable of humbling yourself enough so that Spirit will be able to move through you as it moves through me?"
...You love them so much that you actually don't care about their ego at all.
...So a truly enlightened teacher sees all individuals who come to them as potential vehicles for Spirit and doesn't really care so much about the personal, psychological, emotional predicaments of the particular individuals and the predicaments of their egos.

That's just what wife-beaters say, along with would-be gurus like Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber: I'm hurting you for your own good; you deserve it.
Well, I say: [banned term] to that. 

Run, don't walk, from Cohen and Wilber, EnlightenNext, and any attempt to entice you into a religious cult masquerading as Integral enlightenment.
What they're pushing is old-fashioned religion in a New Age guise. Cohen and Wilber are the high priests, and they're looking for submissive acolytes who will worship them and submit to their authority.

It's great to see that the submissive acolytes rose up and said, We're not going to take this [banned term] any more. Hopefully there will come a day when gurus run out of people willing to embrace their fake godly status.
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PostSubject: more on Andrew Cohen   Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:35 am

THE LIBERATION OF ANDREW COHEN
How Devoted Disciples Can Enlighten Their Guru
By - DAVID LANE

Imagine the following:

Tibetan monks dedicated to the life and work of His Holiness the Dalai Lama convince him to give up his title and spiritual leadership. He is then encouraged to resign.

Roman Catholics worldwide explain to Pope Francis that the hierarchy of the Church and the Papacy is outdated and should be done away with. They force him to retire, give up the garb, and go back to gardening.

Prem Rawat (“Guru Maharaji”) is hammered by his inner circle to admit that he is not a Perfect Master, and, after confessing to his many transgressions, gives up being a guru and finds a job running an ice cream parlor in Malibu, California.

Andrew Cohen wasn’t the enlightened guru he pretended to be. His students were.

Admittedly, these are all improbable scenarios and unlikely to ever happen in the near future. However, something quite similar happened two years to Andrew Cohen, a relatively well known spiritual guru in New Age circles, who by his own admission “was asked to step down” from his leadership position. As Cohen reluctantly confesses, “Not only did my arrow miss the target but it caused unnecessary pain and suffering to too many people. For this I am deeply and terribly sorry. Too much suffering has resulted from my at times misguided efforts to create breakthroughs. I should have known better.”

Andrew Cohen: “I realize that much harm has occurred, and that I am to blame.”

Andrew Cohen didn’t resign on his own terms, nor did he come to the realization that he was a lousy master who created more harm than good. More remarkably, it was Cohen’s devoted inner circle that forced him to quit. Andrew Cohen had caused so much damage in his spiritual community that his own following realized that it was time for him to give up the game. As Cohen explains, “My closest and most devoted senior students were beginning to see through my façade, could see that I was out of control, and see that I didn’t even know it. What made matters much worse is that I ignored the evidence; I ignored their respectful pleas for me to slow down and listen to them.”

During the past two years Andrew Cohen has taken what he described as a “sabbatical” from his teaching duties. He has now issued two apologies, with the latest (and most detailed) one being posted on May 12, 2015:

It is quite a revealing document[1], which has the Andrew Cohen community divided over whether their former teacher is really sincere or is (to quote one commentator) an “attempt to rebrand” himself for a refashioned Cohen 2.0.

A close reading of Andrew’s apology provides fodder for multiple interpretations, particularly when he repeatedly highlights his own credentials with a series of self-congratulatory statements such as:

“I have dedicated the last 28 years of my life to the Spiritual upliftment of humanity, to the evolution of consciousness and culture. For so many years I thought of little else.”

“During those years just the notion of higher development, the extraordinary possibility of emergence, would make my heart beat a little faster. It really WAS possible… and I could always feel the immanence of the miraculous always just around the corner.”

“Over the years I took many risks so that great leaps forward could actually happen. I also whole-heartedly encouraged others, my students, to do the same. It was all so amazing because it was so tangible. My gift was my capacity to inspire others to believe that it was possible… and to be willing to take great risks so that miracles could really happen.”

“These perceived and intuited potentials did reveal themselves again and again and so many of my students saw and felt the power and potential of what we had all given so much for. It was so exciting and such a grand spiritual adventure the likes of which most people never experience or even imagine.” “Over the previous 15 years I had become an evolutionary through and through. I had experienced a profound awakening to a process perspective….” “Most often when I would teach, I would experience the grace of my Guru, the gift of enlightened awareness, which would engulf my being in the most glorious way. The amazing part of it all is that in the midst of the growing problems I have been describing, I was simultaneously continuing to evolve and develop as a teacher and as a thinker. I was moving and was still often creative in finding ever-new ways to express the inexpressible. And I was still curious. Even after 28 years of being a guide and a guru and a public thinker, I was still reaching and stretching to understand more and more about Life, Reality and the meaning/purpose of it all.”

Andrew interweaves his egocentric, congratulatory back patting with some brutal admissions of his own imbalances and lack of maturity that caused tremendous pain and unnecessary suffering on the part of his naive disciples.

“I realize that much harm has occurred, and that I am to blame.”

“Slowly over time I have come to see the parts of myself that were broken, that I have been in such ferocious denial of. In that denial I became at times untrustworthy. I see that now. So many of you trusted me with your souls and I proved myself at certain pivotal moments unworthy of that trust. Again I am sorry.”

“What I feel dreadful about is that the very idealism that I inspired and released in so many of you, I have wounded in the worst way possible. It’s difficult to bear that this is the case, but it just is. I would do literally anything to turn back the clock…but I can’t.”

Yet even as Andrew Cohen is frankly opening up about his many flaws, he still cannot resist promoting himself throughout his apology. This is, of course, quite revealing in itself.

As one commentator pointed out to Andrew Cohen,

“It’s riddled with basic assumptions about your own goodness and motives. There is no willingness being shown to genuinely question everything—the perfection of your teachings, your ‘enlightenment, your ‘achievements’, your ‘love’ for us even. The whole tone of your message exudes the paradigm that you created and lived. Nothing fundamentally good could ever result from the use of force in the absence of love. You are clinging to the idea that somehow it did—the old ’end justifies the means’ line beloved of too many ‘leaders’.”

It appears that Andrew Cohen wants to have his cake and eat it too. Or, in this case, he still wants to believe he is an enlightened teacher who can be redeemed in the process, since near the end of his missive he writes, “I still love you all very much and hope from the bottom of my heart that you will find it in yourselves to believe that even Gurus with big egos can find the courage and humility to change.”

Ironically, what Andrew apparently doesn’t realize is that it was his students who were liberating him by defrocking him from his self-appointed guru role. In other words, by seeing through their teacher’s enormous ego and his sophomoric tirades, Andrew Cohen’s students were achieving part of the very enlightenment they desired.

Sadly, Cohen seems oblivious to the real lesson that he was being taught by his students which is that he (despite all his protestations to the contrary) isn’t enlightened nor should he ever have been a guru of his own making.

His students have released him and all he can think about is how he could have done things differently, not understanding that it was claiming to be a realized Master in the first place that was the real problem all along.

Andrew Cohen’s students gave him the boot and called him out of his silly charade and in so doing provided him with a most wonderful gift: his freedom. Andrew Cohen wasn’t the enlightened guru he pretended to be. His students were. Like the dog Toto in that most metaphorical of movies, the Wizard of Oz, Andrew Cohen’s students pulled the curtain on their guru and gave him the unique opportunity of going back to his real home, where he could work on himself and his adolescent narcissism.

Andrew Cohen’s inner circle has achieved something almost unique in the guru world. While liberating themselves from their teacher, they in return “enlightened” their guru Andrew Cohen by releasing him from his delusions.

The key now for Andrew is to fully appreciate this most wonderful gift and not return to the guru world. Andrew’s own students have been the real masters in this process and he needs to fully realize this and not repackage himself as some sort of Integrally reformed guru.

Andrew Cohen needs to stay retired and work on himself, not indulge in his delusional fantasy that he can awaken the world.

I want to commend Andrew Cohen’s disciples for showing the courage to show their guru the exit door. It is a genuinely enlightening lesson that they have given us.

NOTES

[1] Andrew Cohen, "AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL MY FORMER STUDENTS UPON RETURN FROM MY SABBATICAL", May 12, 2015, www.andrewcohen.org 
 
COMMENTS
 
(June 14, 2015) Mattias O said:

David, thanks for an interesting article. I was a student of Andrew's for about 19 years (but never one of the very closest). I feel strongly that it would be offensive if Andrew started teaching again at this point, given that he is so unaware of the consequences of his own actions. I tried to publish this comment on Andrew's blog, but it seems that it is not open for comments anymore so I post it here. 

Dear Andrew, 

I must question your motives in writing this post. My sense is that you are staging your own comeback, disguised as another apology. You use this post to simultaneously praise your own achievements and justify your actions, which does not have a place in a true apology. You rewrite history by taking credit for the first apology, which in fact you were forced to send out by the people who were still at Foxhollow trying to help you. You are condescending to women by insinuating that they are an evolutionary especially challenged group who need extra patience (which you did not give them, otherwise your methods would have worked, right?). Speaking on people leaving, you are also insinuating that they did so because they were weak ("in some cases the challenge was just too much"). If I interpret you correctly, you also defer responsibility for the Collapse as something inevitable, which again undermines your attempt at apologizing ("I often wonder how much of the outrageous evolutionary Fire could have awakened...without there being some kind of fall out"). 

It will probably not be so difficult for you to "sprinkle some agape" on top of your old teaching and get a new following of people who never got close enough to experience your lack of integrity first hand. To do so without having come to resolution with the hundreds of close students over the years that gave you their hearts, sacrificed their family and professional lives and gave you the benefit of the doubt to extreme proportions, would be a mockery and a proof that this is not really an apology but a public stunt. It would be sending a message that these people (myself included) are drop-outs, when the real reason is that the embodiment of the teaching (the community of students) was corrupt and you caused the collapse yourself. From what I can tell, a majority of your former close students would not vouch for your integrity at this point in time. You have not made enough effort to reach out either, which makes me wonder how much you really care about the relationships that you broke. 

You state that you believe that "the teaching is basically sound" and "coherent". You admit at least intellectually your flaws, which you should have kudos for (even better if your heart had spoken). You admit that you saw people as "a means to an end" and "lost sight of their humanity". This insight is of such a magnitude that all the five tenets need to be re-examined. It is therefore more than reasonable for you to question the integrity and coherence of your teaching, which you obviously don't. Here are some hints:
 
1) The second tenant ("everything is volitional") has an absolute quality. How is that possible if you admit that people are humans, presumably with human flaws? And is this coherent with an evolutionary worldview? And by the way, you are not proving this tenant yourself either since you seem generally perplexed at how/why the Collapse came about.
 
2) The fourth tenant ("everything is impersonal/process perspective") and the fifth tenant ("care for the whole"): what do these mean from your new insight of seeing people as humans rather than evolutionary conduits. 

3) The lack of humanity described above was embedded in the structure of the community of students. For example, you gave impunity to some people in the leadership (which I've commented about at one of Terry Patten's dialogue and at the WhatNext Facebook group), and you dumped others, in order to preserve your position of authority. Since the structure was intimately informed by the teaching and vice versa, both need to be examined concurrently. 

I would suggest you just drop it all. Drop your defiance and need to prove yourself. Drop your ambition and lust for recognition. Trust that that which is True will not be lost. There are other less glorious ways you could prove that "gurus can change", than getting back in the old seat on the podium. I can understand that the teaching, your life's work, is the buoy that you won't let go of, but right now, you are actually making a mockery of it since you are not living it yourself. 

If you can allow your heart to open and allow it to cry, perhaps you would find that you can reach people that you cannot reach now and that you have more true friends than you thought. At this point you should seek out people who express the deepest humanity, not people who praise you the most.
  
(May 19, 2015) DAVID CHRISTOPHER LANE said:

Dear Linda C and Marc Lucas, 

Thank you for your comments and for elaborating on the financial situation that underpinned Andrew Cohen's group and exit. This is important information that provides more insight into the organization's downfall. Yes, I am using the word "enlightenment" more in the sense of "bringing to light" and "liberating" those who were more or less stuck within Andrew Cohen's cultic circle. In this sense, the pioneers (for whatever underlying reasons or motivations) in awakening us to Andrew Cohen's nefarious activities were his mother Luna Tarlo in her disturbing book, THE MOTHER OF GOD, William Yenner in his insightful text, AMERICAN GURU, and Andre van der Braak's ENLIGHTENMENT BLUES. I deeply appreciate the clarification and insight that both of you have added to this ongoing discussion. I have learned much in the process and I look forward to learning more about what happened with Andrew and his group over the years. It is a very helpful lesson for those engaged in spiritual practices of any sort. Thanks again.
  
(May 19, 2015) Marc Lucas said:

There is a lot of valuable insight in this article by David Lane it seems. Especially when he gives his impressions on the need to permanently question the mythic guru notion he makes in my view strong points. Regarding the students he seems to not be able to refrain from mythical thinking though, when he speaks of them as "enlightened". To me they aren't. Let's not forget how they collided in building the myth of a guru and often participated in what happened in the community for years. The breakdown of this community didn't happen suddenly after realization of the students but only reluctantly with several students still following Andrew Cohen and only after the community ran out of money and books and articles were published about what happened there. I would personally like to thank Frank Visser and several authors at Integral World much more for not giving up on telling about this regardless of years of personal attack and exclusion from Integralist circles. This to me is not enlightened as noone is but shows high moral standards. 
  
(May 18, 2015) Frank Youakim said:

Thanks for this great perspective that I never noticed, but once I read it, its truth was clearly revealed. Just like the most simple and powerful inventions, it made me feel: "Why didn't I see that?". Thank you. 

Now, as a former student of Andrew, for over a decade, who was never abused or disrespected, but nevertheless, left him years before his apology because I was confused by his behavior and the taking up of these bad behaviours by many of his students, I decided, more as an intuitive gut feel that I trusted, than a clear experiential conclusion that: "The Truth is not respected fully here, this is not for me, I am out". However I was so deeply divided and distressed that I was still doubting my own conclusion because of the nature of ego. As a matter of fact, I am still not certain up till now, six years after I left, what damage is still stuck with me. So if Andrew is capable of helping his ex students, a big IF, and if his students are really enlightened, then it would be great if they can help enlighten us who ate still struggling with our own mind, thoughts, feelings, pain and suffering of the division. There is enough money, millions of dollars as a matter of fact, that can be used to set up a structure that may be able to help heal the many students who need and deserve it. And the best people to setup and manage this drive would be experienced, loving, caring, enlightened outsiders, possibly from the INTEGRAL movement. Who else is qualified enough, why else do they call themselves "integral" if they are not capable of "integrating" the spiritual with the psychological, the Absolute with the Personal, The God motive within us with the confused spiritual ego as is required in this case. This would be an incredible opportunity for Ken Wilber & Co to prove themselves. After all, they are also in a position of respect by both sides, the perpetrators and the perpetrated.
  
(May 18, 2015) Linda C said:

Thank you for this article. I would like to point out however that it did not seem to be because of the years of abuse of his students that led his inner circle to call for him to step,down, but rather that he was destroying the financial stability of the organization and would not take advice about that. I gave twelve years of my life to AC, was horribly abused as many of us were. Those abuses were often delivered by us students to other students and the closer one was to Andrew the more responsibility one had for the perpetuation of abuse. Please forgive me for not considering the inner circle who ousted him to have been particularly enlightened. To be fair some have reached out to us 'lower' students, but by no means all of them.
  

(May 18, 2015) Ali Mac said:
I believe this is a balanced and objective article. I hope Andrew reads it and lets it in. Thank you.
  

(May 18, 2015) Rick Taylor said:
This is a perceptive article. Just to add, even as Andrew has made a public post declaring his regret and his determination to evolve from it as a teacher, he has not reached out personally to the majority of those he abused over so many years. Bear in mind, this is a fellow who had his female students do an hour of prostrations in an icey lake, until they literally turned blue and many of them were insensible from hypothermia; he has much to apologize for. As a former student of his who dedicated over a decade of my life to his mission, he does not even reply to my e-mails, even when I politely ask him to please at least respond. While he does talk with some former students, there appears to be a pattern where he elects to talk with those he knows won't challenge him too hard. Given this, it's difficult to see his big public show of contrition as anything more than an attempt at public rebranding, and to shore up his self image as a well-intentioned enlightened mensch who cared too much and made some honest mistakes.
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PostSubject: Re: Andrew Cohen - fallen guru returns from his sabbatical   Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:11 pm

ANDREW COHEN'S APOLOGY

Ex-student/Author Marlowe Sand Responds


ELLIOT BENJAMIN



I had not intended to write any more essays about Andrew Cohen, as I thought I had put closure on my thoughts about whether Cohen's May, 2015 apology was “truly sincere, manipulative, or other” [1]. However, about a month ago I received a request from William Yenner [2] that one of Cohen's ex-students, who recently wrote a book about her experiences with Cohen, would like to get into correspondence with me, as she appreciated my Integral World essays about Andrew Cohen. I didn't think too much about this, but soon after I agreed to the request, I became acquainted with Marlowe Sand (a pseudonym), who sent me her book: Paradise and Promises: Chronicles of My Life with a Self-Declared, Modern-day Buddha [3] in the hopes that I would write a review of her book. To be candid, writing reviews of books is not something I generally do per se, unless it is part of an essay that I have other reasons to be writing. But mostly out of respect for William Yenner, I replied that I would be willing to read her book and was open to writing something, but that it would probably take me a long time to do so. About 2 weeks ago I started reading Marlowe's book, just for the hell of it. And to my surprise, the Prologue captivated me right away, as I learned that Marlowe was one of those survivors of the “freezing lake” incident (cf. [2], [3]), and her portrayal was poignant and moving to me:
Quote :
We are committed to prostrating ourselves in the water for an hour without stopping….Two weeks previously, in a group of 25 women, we had been the ones who staggered out of the water before the hour was up….We stand four feet apart, waist deep in the water. At first, each plunge shocks my whole body, and I dread going under the second, third, and fourth time. After ten minutes, I am so desperate that it is inconceivable that I could still be here in 50 minutes. My whole body is shaking convulsively, teeth rattling uncontrollably—banging, not chattering. “Face everything and avoid nothing!” After 30 minutes, my face shrinks tight against my skull. My brain feels as if it has shriveled inside my head. I can't feel any part of my body. I am afraid. (cf. [3], p. 5)

Andrew Cohen
I knew right away that I would be reading Marlowe's book much sooner than I had anticipated, and I conveyed this to Marlowe and asked her again to convey to me her response to Cohen's 2015 apology letter. Marlowe was now much more responsive to my request than she had previously been, and quickly sent me her insightful detailed responses to much of what Cohen wrote, with permission for me to use them in an Integral World essay. Given the intense and disturbing life-changing experiences that Marlowe had as a student of Cohen for 15 years, I think her informative responses to Cohen's apology deserve to be publicly known. However, before conveying her responses to Cohen's apology, I believe it would be relevant and informative to describe Marlowe's thoughts and assimilation of her experiences, 5 years after leaving the movement, during a reunion with ex-community members in Costa Rica:
Quote :
He would laugh raucously during stories of his students' shock and pain. His cruelty, even sadism, had been relentless for most of his years of teaching….I renewed connection with a woman I had not seen in 25 years. She told me that while her daughter was dying she was systematically intimidated and attacked for not being sufficiently committed to the teachings...The friend of a woman who died slowly with her heart broken, after Andrew rejected her as a student, described how, 11 days before her death, a senior student berated her for 45 minutes for her selfishness, telling her that she would “die a miserable old woman.”….Women who wanted children sometimes had to choose between motherhood and being his student. The result was that some women felt pressured into having tubal ligations and one woman had an abortion….I had always imagined that Andrew was unaware of some of the cruelty meted out by his students. Now I learned from those in his inner circle that he had not only ordered it, but received detailed reports about it. I realized then that his condition was not just a mixed bag of benevolent and cruel; his was, or had become, a pathological condition. Nothing stood in the way of Andrew's demands for control and adoration. There was no check on his abuse of power. (cf. [3], pp. 232-234)

However, Marlowe demonstrates the grace and open-mindedness of one who is able to ponder the complexity of human frailty mixed with the possibility of human spiritual attainment:

Quote :
For most of 15 years, I was treated as one of the underclass. I was told on a daily basis that I didn't have much potential. I bought into Andrew's opinion that I was not up to much. Hell! I believed it for 15 years….We struggled to understand the nature of Andrew's gifts and his terrible flaws. How can one separate his genuine spirituality from the base human motives which he so often indulged? He had claimed to teach love but was a bully. He taught surrender in an atmosphere of fear; vulnerability in the context of intense competition. He claimed to teach impersonally, yet cultivated favorites in an atmosphere of suspicion. Worst of all were his responses to budding spirituality among his students. In the name of rooting out ego, he crushed the spiritual impulse just as we began to trust our deepest selves. Was there something in him, we wondered, which made him incapable of empathy?….How do we understand that some of our experiences brought about greater awareness, and some nearly shattered some of us? Could it be that some remarkable things happened in spite of, or sometimes because of, a dangerous and destructive context? (pp. 237-239)

The alarming accounts of Andrew Cohen's many years of being a destructive and sadistic guru to thousands of his followers, in the guise of nurturing their “spiritual development,” is well-documented in a number of books and articles by his ex-students and others, including articles on Integral World [4]. However, it is difficult and puzzling to know what to think about his 2015 second apology, which is much more comprehensive and detailed than his 2013 original apology, which could be dismissed much more easily as lacking depth and sincerity [5]. Let's now see some of the informative and detailed responses to Andrew Cohen's 2015 apology by Marlowe Sand. What follows (Marlowe Sand, 1/9/16, personal communication) are most of the statements given by Cohen in his apology, followed by excerpts from what Marlowe has sent me in response to these statements—see especially Marlowe Sand's illuminating final summary comment.

MARLOWE SAND'S RESPONSES TO ANDREW COHEN'S 2015 APOLOGY


“I want to acknowledge that for someone who thought he was perfect it is an extraordinary shift for Andrew to have questioned his motivation at all.”

(Cohen): During those years just the notion of higher development, the extraordinary possibility of emergence, would make my heart beat a little faster. It really WAS possible...and I could always feel the immanence of the miraculous always just around the corner. Over the years I took many risks so that great leaps forward could actually happen. I also whole-heartedly encouraged others, my students, to do the same….and so many of my students saw and felt the power and potential of what we had all given so much for. It was so exciting and such a grand spiritual adventure the likes of which most people never experience or even imagine.
(Sand): Tell that to some of the people whose loved ones were dying while he was humiliating them and downgrading them for their lack of commitment! For some it was a grand spiritual adventure, for some it was utterly degrading and destructive, for others (myself included) it was some kind of nightmarish mixture of the two. Any real reckoning with the past has to include an understanding of all of these things.
(Cohen): I gradually lost sight of people's humanity, including my own, and only saw all of us as the living Self Aware consciousness that, in an evolutionary context, was going somewhere. And that was all that I believed was important or really mattered. I even stated this clearly and unequivocally at times when I was teaching.
(Sand): Yes he did.
(Cohen): And I was losing touch with my own simple humanity and everyone else's. I also was simultaneously not paying attention to the gradual growing of my spiritual ambition, of my spiritual ego. I believe that my intense longing for the evolution of consciousness in my students was real, but I have begun to see more and more clearly how over time my pride and my desire for fame and recognition slowly but surely began to blur and corrupt my vision.
(Sand): Yes, here is getting to something real that he needs to look into.
(Cohen): The worst part of it is that I was oblivious to the many different ways some of my students were being pushed too hard and at times too relentlessly to make breakthroughs and too often breaking down as a result.
(Sand): There is something important missing here. His assumption is that he was consistently pushing his students towards truth but just pushed too hard. This is in need of serious reconsideration. In my opinion he was sometimes doing that but over the years more and more often he was just acting out his own frustration and unfettered aggression in increasingly random and extreme ways.
(Cohen): The very human, frail, fallible and vulnerable dimensions of myself that I was denying, I was simultaneously denying in those who had come to me for liberation. I was blind and ambitious and yet sincere in my spiritual aspirations as a teacher and as a thought leader.
(Sand): He later in the letter dismisses the possibility that he might also have been acting out of spite, sadism or cruelty. In retrospect, his raucous laughter when humiliating others looked more like spite than anything else. What does he mean when he insists that he was sincere? Whatever he means, he probably needs to get around to questioning whether he was!
(Cohen): In that movement from glorious experience to action one can make terrible mistakes. And as a thinker, I was moving and was still often creative in finding ever-new ways to express the inexpressible. And I was still curious.
(Sand): Curious about what? Not it would appear, about the inner experience of his students, nor about their individual development. He may have had a rigid idea about aiming for a specific style of collective expression and everything else including extreme suffering was subordinated to that idea. In fact even though he was very perceptive, and intuitive about people and their motivation, he may have been limited in really being able to relate to, or imagine or anticipate the consequences that his actions wrought. Certainly, there was something missing in his ability to empathize with others.
(Cohen): Even after 28 years of being a guide and a guru and a public thinker, I was still reaching and stretching to understand more and more about Life, Reality and the meaning/purpose of it all.
(Sand): Not stretching to understand how his behavior actually impacted people in the real world. I do believe that his excitement level may have continued but more and more in an ivory tower at one step removed form real people, with less and less reality checking from those around him (until those bold senior students in the last couple of years).
(Cohen): This fact of my still evolving and developing as a teacher made it that much easier for me to avoid and deny that slowly the world that I had given so much to give rise to over so many years, was beginning to crumble from the inside. My closest and most devoted senior students were beginning to see through my facade, could see that I was out of control, and see that I didn't even know it. What made matters much worse is that I ignored the evidence; I ignored their respectful pleas for me to slow down and listen to them. For over six months during this period I literally couldn't sleep, and night after night I convinced myself that I had no idea why this was the case. My self became more and more divided. I was still an inspired teacher and speaker, but I adamantly remained steadfastly and obstinately oblivious to the growing storm I was creating.
(Sand): Here we see Andrew Cohen beginning to feel what he did to a few of his close senior students at the end. I do not yet feel his sorrow for the other several thousand of us!
(Cohen): In those historic moments it all seemed worth it. But there were and have been too many moments where I simply have been wrong. Not only did my arrow miss the target but it caused unnecessary pain and suffering to too many people. For this I am deeply and terribly sorry. Too much suffering has resulted from my at times misguided efforts to create breakthroughs. I should have known better.
(Sand): He says the words, and this is good. But there is not any detail that shows us that he really has an example of having hurt someone in his mind and that he cares ABOUT THEM.
(Cohen): So many of you trusted me with your souls and I proved myself at certain pivotal moments unworthy of that trust. Again I am sorry. What I feel dreadful about is that the very idealism that I inspired and released in so many of you, I have wounded in the worst way possible. It's difficult to bear that this is the case, but it just is.
(Sand): This paragraph strikes me as the real thing. I am glad he gets this. I hope at a deep enough level. His destruction of the spiritual impulse in some of his students is indeed a terrible thing.
(Cohen): I am committed to finding a way to honor all that was real and true that we stood for, for so many years. There is nothing else for me to do. There is nothing else I want to do.
(Sand): That is not enough. That would be a recipe for another, quite likely similar, chapter with a more benign face.
(Cohen): Eros is the VERTICAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. Agape is the HORIZONTAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. To say I neglected Agape is an understatement to be sure. Eros and Agape BOTH are essential ingredients of a truly Evolutionary Dharma. They BALANCE each other. They hold each other in a dynamic embrace of loving, creative and Integral tension. My over-emphasis on Eros with little respect for Agape created the circumstance where a collapse was inevitable. And that's why it happened to fast...and for this I am to blame.
(Sand): Please Andrew Cohen! Drop the jargon and talk about some of the terrible things you actually did to people. If you want to generalize then use normal vocabulary in the English language—it is rich enough.
(Cohen): The deep pain. That's what has made it possible for me to begin to truly let in the damage I have wrought and the harm I have caused to too many of you. I only wish I had been more awake to and in touch with my own flawed humanity form the very beginning.
(Sand): Again, the gap we feel is his being intimately in touch with another human. Was this hard for him before he was enlightened? Was this difficulty compounded by his guru role? This then was a terrible tragedy for Andrew Cohen. What did we do to him?
(Cohen): I often wonder how much of the outrageous evolutionary Fire could have awakened and been shared between us in the way that it was, without there being some kind of fallout, some measure of pain and suffering. And if that's possible then how much would have been acceptable, and when would it all have become too much? At this point I really don't know.
(Sand): So here he is bargaining. He asks, maybe to have the good stuff we had to have some of the bad stuff too? This is hair's breadth away from saying, maybe it was worth it. Ask some of those on the A list if they thought it was worth it.
(Cohen): I do know that without the ultimate challenge this enormous calamity has given to me personally on a soul level, my own ego would never have backed down. It's been extremely challenging on many levels to even begin to let in what has actually happened and why it has happened. And I know there is further to go.
(Sand): Good, I am glad he said that.
(Cohen): I am beginning to become simply human after so many years of hiding out in transcendence.
(Sand): Good. That is true.
(Cohen): It's like coming back to earth after almost a quarter of a century of flying above the clouds. As much as I spoke about the need to “embrace heaven and earth,” I was obviously still rejecting so much of what it means to be a fully human being.
(Sand): Good. So Andrew might question many of his above assumptions in the light of this paragraph.
(Cohen): In so many ways I thought I was awake when I was clearly not.
(Sand): Good.
(Cohen): In my rejection of Agape, I was also rejecting the feminine principle in myself and in others and most painfully in women as a whole.
(Sand): Good. And much more for him to see here.
(Cohen): I am ashamed of how badly I blamed women for their evolutionary challenges.
(Sand): Here he appears to be holding on to his view that women are indeed particularly handicapped when it comes to enlightenment.
(Cohen): Many people accuse me of hating women. This is not and has never been true. But I was in so many ways arrogant and insensitive and even cruel in my impatience at times.
(Sand): Is he claiming that his insensitivity and cruelty were really just impatience and therefore not so bad?
(Cohen): I apologize to the women who were affected and am so very sorry for being so lacking in the real heart that was desperately needed.
(Sand): Good. This feels real.
(Cohen): I failed many of you in the worst way and for this I really have no excuse. I became a caricature of the very behavior and attitudes in men that I was so sure that I had transcended.
(Sand): Good.
(Cohen): And the painful and ironic truth in all of this is that I did have a real passion and commitment for a very radical expression of women's liberation. I had seen a truly miraculous potential and possibility. But, in the end, I proved to have neither the patience, nor the skill, nor the deep humility and care (agape) to create the conditions that would have made a stable breakthrough actually possible.
(Sand): Good. Well said. But he still assumes that he SAW things clearly. Given that he now admits that the shadow was there yet unacknowledged, then all of his perceptions may have been less clear.
(Cohen): In the middle years of my teaching career, at times I came up with and tried many outrageous stunts in order to once again catalyze big breakthroughs. Also to be honest I was many times actually in a state of desperation because I cared so much, and was trying to get my students to care as much as I did about what was possible, the very promise we had all given our lives for.
(Sand): It is a big assumption that he did what he did because he cared to much. There is no sign that he really has questioned this.
(Cohen): But as well-meaning as many of these attempts were on my part, some were certainly just too much...too outrageous and simply lacking in compassion and a deep appreciation of what is actually involved in change at the deepest level.
(Sand): Good, but I wonder if someone told him to say that.
(Cohen): More often than not what is needed is simply more love and encouragement, not more shocks, challenges and confrontations with one's own division. There were times of course where strong challenges are called for and many former students have reminded me of many ways in which I did help them to reach breakthroughs through harsh tactics...but there is no doubt this happened too often, and more often than not it caused more harm than good.
(Sand): Good, I believe this.
(Cohen): I was a revolutionary, and publicly declared myself as such...ant that's why many of you came to me. But that can no longer be an excuse for my own insensitivity and at time ruthless attempts to force deep changes to occur. Again I deeply apologize to any of you who suffered unnecessarily because of this.
(Sand): Good.
(Cohen): Over these two years away, I have come to appreciate with growing regret that the hierarchies that I had used as a teaching tool gradually over time became ossified and rigid, becoming for some not too different to being held in a straightjacket or a prison….Finally what has been hardest for me has been facing and coming to terms with the fact that I have let down so deeply and betrayed my former students whom I was closest to, those former senior students who had trusted me with their lives and souls and who gave so much to make it possible for the promise of Evolutionary Enlightenment to come alive in the world….I who had demanded so much was, when my turn came, seemingly unable or unwilling to do the very thing I had asked from them. I am so ashamed about this and my public apology was really meant for them.
(Sand): From this paragraph I am shocked to learn that he really does care about his most senior students and feels ashamed and sorry for his behavior which hurt THEM. But what about the hundreds and probably a couple of thousand other students who were never senior students. Some were peripherally involved and yet terribly traumatized. Some still are. The outcome of the children who were reared in the community is another story—not a pretty one.
(Cohen): Almost 2 years after my fall from grace and the collapse of EnlightenNext, I still care as much as I ever did about most of what I taught and a lot of what I stood for. I am committed to giving the rest of my life to trying to make good on it all.
(Sand): I hope that does not mean having another go at being a teacher.
(Cohen): What that will mean, of course, remains to be seen. Through this process of coming to terms with all that has happened, so many important questions have understandably arisen. As I make progress in my inquiry, I will be writing more about it here. I still love you very much and hope from the bottom of my heart that you will find it in yourselves to believe that even Gurus with big egos can find the courage and humility to change. I know in “Embracing Heaven and Earth,” I boldly stated that once Enlightenment has occurred, an individual gets frozen in their development—that from then on their evolution actually comes to a halt forever. I am committing the rest of my life to proving myself wrong.
(Sand): So did he miss the whole point which is for him to question whether he did in fact love us, or whether we were characters in the working out of his unconscious mind. There is no question that Andrew could now again engender love, trust and adoration from followers. My question is whether he actually could sit down with another person he had hurt and imagine their experience at times when he had hurt them. Whether his ability to intuit, includes the ability to attune to another's mind and feel with them, in a way which has nothing to do with him. 

I am thinking about my past experiences with Andrew. There were many times when meeting with Andrew, particularly in private, left me overwhelmed with feeling his love. There is nothing new in this. And I remember too that these experiences alternated with severe rejection. An ex-senior student once described to me a pattern of behavior in Andrew. One minute he might be meeting with apparent deep compassion with a student and then the next moment he would turn around even mid-sentence and attack them viciously. I have tried to understand this pattern. I long ago rejected the interpretation that this pattern represented his deep acceptance of my connection with God and rejection of my turning towards ego. Now I believe this patterns of behavior fits with a picture of narcissism. 

The question I ask myself now is this. If he was/is narcissistic then what is going on when he appears to meet us in deep compassion and we feel accepted at the depths of our being like a true friend? One hypothesis is that when he is at his very sweetest he is not really there as a real partner with intact theory of mind, who really empathizes with us as another person on the other end. He is instead interacting with a source of possible fodder for his own affirmation. My hands are shaking when I write this because at an emotional level this goes against what I felt so deeply. But logic tells me that this hypothesis is worth pursuing. 

The intimacy and connection are something we felt/feel because we have opened our hearts to him. He on the other hand is only able to turn around and attack us because he did not in fact feel that connection and heart opening with us in the first place. WE might perceive it as a switch in his affections, but for him there was not real affection involved in the first place. I am suggesting that on the occasions when he failed to get what he wanted out of a meeting with us then there would for him be no logical or emotional inconsistency with his attacking us shortly thereafter. 

I am concerned for the large numbers of ex-students of Andrew, who still look toward him with devotion and may well ask him to return as their teacher. I leave room for the possibility for every person to grow and develop. I wish for Andrew to see himself more clearly and to become more connected to the people in his life. I want to acknowledge that for someone who thought he was perfect it is an extraordinary shift for Andrew to have questioned his motivation at all. I welcome this. Yet is is not clear whether this apology is the beginning of a deep-seated change within or whether it is an unconscious movement to repeat the pattern of seeking influence and control over others. Time will tell. The jury is still out.

CONCLUSION


As I assimilate what I have learned from reading Marlowe Sand's book and digesting her responses to Andrew Cohen's apology, I have gained more understanding about my initial determination that Cohen's apology was neither truly sincere or manipulative. When I wrote my essay about this in May, 2015, I chose to classify his apology in the category “other” (cf. [1]) for lack of any better way to conceptualize where it belonged.
However, upon further reflection in consideration of all that Marlowe has conveyed, I must say that I agree with Frank Visser in his comparison of Cohen with Mark Gafni, as Frank has this to say about Cohen's apology:
Quote :
He showed some self-insight in that he had been “hiding in transcendence,” neglecting the dimension of “vulnerable humanity” both in himself and others. Though I have never been a fan of Cohen's philosophy, I think this was a great gesture and a step in the right direction. [6].

Although I also think that Cohen had devastating negative effects on far more people than Gafni did, I am willing to give Cohen the benefit of the doubt for at least making what I now construe as a reasonably authentic apology.
Yes there could have been more substance to his apology, as Marlowe Sand describes, in particular having more insight and awareness about his condescension towards women, feeling and conveying sincere remorse for the multitude of people he had devastating effects upon—aside from his focus on his senior students, and conveying real life examples of his mis-deeds. However, Marlowe affirms a number of Cohen's statements as being “real,” and she conveys to us in no uncertain terms that she appreciates the crux of his apology. If Marlowe Sand, after all she has suffered for 15 years being under the control of Andrew Cohen in practically every aspect of her life, can rise to the level of being able to appreciate at least “some” of Cohen's apology, then certainly I can do the same.
I don't think it is insignificant that Cohen has stayed out of the limelight for the past 2 years, and I would like to think that he is truly taking stock and doing his personal retreat work. Of course I could be wrong, and I think Marlowe's concerns are legitimate that a large number of Cohen's ex-students still look toward him with devotion and may ask him to return as their teacher. But all things considered I must agree with Marlowe Sand that “for someone who thought he was perfect it is an extraordinary shift for Andrew to have questioned his motivation at all.”
As Marlowe says, “Time will tell. The jury is still out.”
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