On Outrageous Teaching and Charges of Enabling Abuse

One of Andrew Cohen’s critics recently attacked me in a blog post. Detailing a few of the most inflammatory stories about Cohen, a group of teachers (including me, Ken Wilber and others) were accused of “enabling abuse” because we have dialoged and cooperated with Andrew, his students and his publications. None of us responded publicly to the attack. I chose not to because in the echo chamber of the blogosphere there is no way to respond thoughtfully and at length to irresponsible negativity without raising it to an implicitly equal status, and thereby validating and empowering it.

But now, in the context of my response to the intelligent and responsible article by the Integrales Forum, I feel I have a legitimate context to address the issues raised there.

Considering Andrew Cohen

Andrew Cohen

Firstly, what do I think of Andrew Cohen and his allegedly abusive treatment of students? I should admit here that, although I’ve investigated it with some seriousness, I don’t know Andrew’s work or history in enough depth and detail to vouch entirely for it or him. For the first fifteen or more years of his teaching career, I responded to him with distaste. I was turned off by what seemed to be arrogance, rudeness, and an unnecessary edge in his personality and teaching style.

But I have read his magazine for years (I think it’s truly excellent, and has made a whole series of increasingly important and crucial contributions to the leading-edge of culture and consciousness), and I have watched him and his approach change and grow over time (in exciting and innovative ways with which I’ve in general resonated.) I have been especially positively impressed by the intelligence, sincerity, seriousness, and depth of many of Andrew’s students and former students.

More recently, I’ve read some hair-raising stories of blaming and shaming and anathematizing the ego that seem like they would only create very deep hypermasculine splits in people’s psyches. The worst stories sound pretty strange. I don’t “condone” humiliating, pressuring, or emotionally traumatizing people.

But many of the folks who lived through it tell me that they all relate to a particular period of extreme transformational intensity that worked to create an intrapsychic crisis in the dualistic polarity between students’ egos and their enlightened intentions, one that ultimately enabled them to break through into a new zone of self-transcending freedom and mutual trust. I’ve read and heard various passionate testimonies that support this interpretation. Many former and current students assure me that the kinds of incidents that are being called “abuse” ceased long ago. Do I know for a fact that this is true? I can’t be certain. But I think so. And I’m 100% satisfied that there’s no simplistic open-and-shut evil here. It’s at the very least a paradoxical dynamic in which nuances count.

Andrew Cohen keeps growing and learning as a teacher. He articulates many of the most important ideas that invigorate integral evolutionary spirituality. He has entered into dialogs with many leading thinkers in the pages of his magazine that have advanced our worldview. His contributions are important and unique. We need more passionate evolutionaries who take the transformation of consciousness and culture as seriously as he does. I want to see many of those ideas extended and deepened, not delegitimized.

Because I cared in all these ways, and because I held some critical perspectives, I raised them with some of his former students, and then some current ones. They were able to discuss these issues in a way that “kool-aid drinkers” could not. They agreed with much of what I had to say, and a couple even suggested that I approach Andrew directly. So last year I did.

Over the last six months, I have confronted Andrew about these issues very directly on a number of occasions, privately and publicly. I was surprised and pleased to find that he has listened to me in a way that seemed authentically curious, open, and self-critical rather than defended. He has listened, debated me, listened again, and ultimately taken some of my comments very much to heart. In the process I told Andrew that the karmas left behind in the process of his past teaching work are his responsibility to clean up, even if (as he insists) he never did anything wrong, and he took that on the chin as entirely valid and very useful, and even thanked me.

I have urged him to say publicly what he has told me — that his work has turned a corner, that through some intense experiments he’s established a core group of committed spiritual evolutionaries and that he’s more interested now in engaging publicly with allies in cooperatively building evolutionary culture. I hope that is altogether true, and from my experience it appears to be. I’ve given all of this a “smell test” and so far, I find it entirely credible.

The outrageous stories pertain to extreme “spiritual theater” that arose in a context that is hard for most people to even conceive — an extraordinary experiment, an attempt to live a radically true and conscious existence, as a trustable member of an intensely-committed close-knit group. Andrew Cohen (like my teacher, Adi Da) warned that he is a fierce, fiery guru, trying to create a red-hot transformational cauldron, a “hard school” for the most committed aspirants, a pressure-cooker that people should not approach unless they were interested in the fiercest kind of self-transcending ordeal. And the ones involved in the outrageous stories about Andrew were, I’m told, only close students who had been involved for years. (There seems, at least, to have been truth in advertising.) I don’t choose that kind of relationship with Andrew, and neither do most of the people reading this. But we can still appreciate the passionate and radical commitment he brings into our cultural world space, and we can benefit from it.

We should note that there is a vast middle ground between, on one hand, supporting everything he has ever done and, on the other, refusing to work with him on behalf of the evolution of a positive future for humanity. It is also unnecessary to condemn a very paradoxical and sophisticated, and apparently sincere experiment, if there are serious reasons for suspending final judgments. I and we have every right to explore that territory. In fact, if we take integral evolutionary spiritual activism seriously, we might have an obligation to.

 

Considering Cohen’s Critics

Speaking of “smell tests,” I have also caught a whiff of some of Cohen’s most vocal critics. Something stinks. Some of the righteous aggrieved accusers seem to think they live in a nice simple world of right and wrong, reminiscent of other kinds of fundamentalism. They advocate indignantly on behalf of his “victims” (even though some of the victims see themselves as beneficiaries.) Their outraged voices are part of a larger chorus of critics of various other spiritual teachers and philosophers, reaching back to the critics of Adi Da (most of whom are longtime old friends of mine.) A related subculture of critics even attack philosopher Ken Wilber (from every direction, almost endlessly.) These folks despise the “bathwater” so intensely they seem heedless of what happens to the “baby.”

In all fairness, the critics of leading-edge teachers and evolutionaries are diverse. They include many sincere people concerned with the well being of aspirants, some quite intelligent, many of them deeply wounded themselves — but their criticisms play upon and are amplified by the virulent anti-cultism of postmodern culture, which deserves criticism itself.

There are some who, in McCarthyesque style, angrily excoriate all spiritual teachers and authorities and anyone who’s been seen associating with them. It is this group I will address here. Some of them have no criteria for honoring a valid teaching or teacher. They live in a world, like that of George W. Bush, in which there is simple line between good and evil and you’re either “with us or against us.” To them, spiritual authority is inherently dangerous; teachers are guilty until proven innocent. I don’t see these folks grasping or engaging sincerely with the complexity and nuance of this total situation.

The motives and assumptions behind the most zealous attacks on Andrew Cohen are a form of “mean green” fundamentalism (often resonating with “mean orange” and “mean blue/amber” fundamentalisms.) My response to the Integrales Forum Position Paper explains why I don’t buy their victim story. Andrew’s most vocal critics are not true victims. (And neither are the much-maligned gurus, even though they must function in a cultural climate of anti-cultism in which they tend to be presumed guilty until proven innocent.) We need to remember that all the critics (and gurus) chose to involve themselves in a hard school as self-responsible adults.

Andrew Cohen has at least been passionately trying to help transform and uplift human culture at a time of evolutionary crisis. Some of his angry and righteous critics seem unable to honor the importance of any such intention. Most of them are predominantly negative and reactive, not creative or proactive — not leaders or even authentic participants in evolving spirituality or culture. All their care is focused on the “victims” of the “abuse” of spiritual power. Would these folks prefer that we all live conventionally, making no passionate attempt to break through to higher consciousness and culture? Are worldly popular culture and the consensus trance just fine with them? What positive offering do they have to a human world that by tendency is sleepwalking, oblivious to the moral, evolutionary urgency of our current crises?

This is unlikely to change minds that are already made up, I realize. As Pete Bampton, one of Cohen’s former students said, acutely, “starting from the assumption of “abuse”, as so many of the ex-student detractors (very conveniently) do, limits the parameters of the inquiry. Everything is viewed through an already skewed lens that rejects any information that does not fit its mould.”

And the converse is equally true, as some critics charge. Assumptions often define inquiry and lead to epistemic closure. So the “noise” of non-intersecting perspectives will continue, as it always has as and always will. But integral evolutionary spiritual cultural dialog is a “signal” that distinguishes itself from this “noise.” That’s a responsibility we cannot turn away from, even when the way forward is unclear and treacherous.

In that context, these attacks serve a vital purpose; they are challenges that can mature all of us who are involved in integrating these apparently contradictory perspectives and forging a more vibrant and adequate emerging spiritual culture, forcing our dialog to deepen and expand. I hope this contributes!

Comments

Dear Terry - thank you so

Dear Terry - thank you so much for this post as it clears up alot for me. The stories of abuse by Andrew Cohen, came to my awareness at least 5 years ago when 'seeking' information on the internet related to the work I am currently doing. I was surprised to come across it at the time, since his name and picture was only familiar to me via a high integrity spiritual book club mailing - perhaps the same one through which I learned of Ken Wilber's work. The negative stories however, went straight to my heart having been taken in myself to a degree by so called spiritual leaders, albeit, without the level of (alledged) abuse written regarding Andrew Cohen. In a way, the stories helped me past the place of putting my full trust into a guru's hands and trusting that my own spiritual position is there to empower me at the level of readiness. While I appreciate the point that harsh experiences can and does do something for the transformation of ego there is something in how the whole thing was manged that did not resonate with me - an objective outsider for the most part.

My concern is how the 'integral industry' handles these kinds of situations where something is not quite right. Surely they can take a page from David Letterman who took his shameful situation to the public within hours of being blackmailed versus Tiger Woods hiding out for days on end allowing the public to fill in the blanks. To be integral on the internet as marketing specialists now teach is to loose control of the information and how and to whom it is being distributed (see author www.DavidMeermanScott for ideas here) . We do however need to get the information out there. All we can do as integral beings is be ourselves, tell the truth, communicate, share, engage and take right action. To take the position of silence, may have come across in the past as a conspiracy of guilt at worst and guru arrogance at best. Today Ken Wilber's quote - "the great cosmic joke is - there are no boundaries..." can serve as an operating principle for life online! We need to be out there in the first place talking with the people not at them or not at all.

For me 5 years ago, it would have been helpful to see something perhaps many things written by Andrew that addressed the complaints AND were as easily found in common searches as the complaints. Having graduates tell their stories in forums that could give credibility and would also have helped Andrew with public support. I don't recall seeing any. If anything, I remember posts related to information being suppressed or removed from the web which of course fuelled my imagination as a innocent web consumer.

I just think that keeping the discussion closed in order to control the information in this technium world is going the way of print newspapers. Given the nature of integral theory, my expectation is that thought leaders like Andrew Cohen would have already known that and would lead the way in being forthright, engaging followers in a transparent discussions online that addressed at least his truth. But that is the past.

Lastly, I do believe that people make mistakes, can learn from them and be transformed. The recent work from Andrew Cohen on evolutionary spirit I think is brilliant and I would not have known about it but for the amazing series by Craig Hamilton last summer where I also learned about your work. The transparency of your post helps me as a by stander to change my mind about anything I have heard about Andrew in the past. It also helps me to know the truth about your association with Andrew. (I actually would have thought there was one. Were you not just a guest speaker on a podcast or something? So was Deepak Chopra!) Hearing it directly from you is far better than from 5 other bloggers and dozens of Tweets. In a digital age, we all need to resonate with a level of present moment awareness and action we are not used to using. Hopefully our integral approach supports our advancing life online.

With appreciation for your candid post and enlightened view.

Carolyn Winter

Thanks for your truly broad view, Terry!

I have to say that this is the most intelligent and all-encompassing overview of Andrew Cohen and his Teaching which has yet appeared on the web--and there has definitely been a lot of stuff written about this hugely provocative Teacher. Terry, I deeply appreciate your fair-minded, genuinely inquisitive, and open approach to this matter which has inspired so much controversy over the years, both among Andrew's former students and those who "know of him". You have done a great service in shedding a lot of light on this whole Big Story. One of the main "tenets" of Andrew's Teaching is "Face Everything and Avoid Nothing", and your post is a wonderful example of exactly this. And I like your "smell test"!

I was a student both of Adi Da (for six years), and Andrew (for twelve years). I was one of those who, like many of us, heard the evolutionary call, entered the cauldron with open eyes, and had read all the ancient texts about how much is required for deep transformation. Even though I knew intellectually what was needed, there were of course many times when I was filled with the thought "Well, I never knew that it would take THIS much!" I am also one of Andrew's students who not only would never think of myself as "wounded", but who finds herself even more impassioned about playing fully whatever part I can as a "co-evolutionary". The training I received as Andrew's student was intense beyond belief, as has been well-documented. But as one who has been living "in the world" for seven years now, I continue to marvel at how in fact profound, superb, strengthening, and grounding this "training" was that I lived through for many years with my friends, and how in fact well-equipped I now find myself to be as a full participant in our ever-growing "evolutionary army". The "seeds" that were planted during that time just continue to sprout and flourish.

As we know, there are an infinite number of different spiritual "schools" for an infinite number of aspirants. My take is that some of us got called into the something like the Marine Corps Boot Camp Spiritual School. When I came to Andrew I was deeply ensconced in spiritual pride, deep narcissism, laziness, and pretty much a complete lack of concern for others. Andrew could see in me a potential that I couldn't see myself, despite the density of my own ego. However intense, wild, and radical Andrew's "methods" may have been, I have never doubted his profound care for my own liberation and the purity of his own intention.

So thank you again, Terry. Reading everything you wrote is such a breath of fresh air in what has often been a pretty smoky and even vitriolic pasture!

Roberta Anderson

Who is the guru accountable to?

Dear Terry,
I would like to submit here that you are most justified and right to involve yourself in this matter, thoroughly and deeply. Here is why.
GROUP-EGO ABOVE INDIVIDUAL-EGO
The methods used by Andew Cohen, as presented quite consistently and coherently by his supporters, his detractors, and by Andrew Cohen himself, seem to be of the type usually associated with “group ego”; i.e., each member of the group must surrender his/her own will/egocentric tendencies so that the group can emerge stronger, more highly performing, and as a new entity greater than the sum of its parts. Part of the way to do that is to give the group-ego its own identity and transcending superior nature, in order to justify all what has to be endured by each individual. In Andrew’s case the goal of the group may be described (in his own words) as fostering the “emergence of a new and glorious future. The creation of that future is what this teaching is dedicated to.”

Saying that is not an indictment, nor a glorification. It’s just a description. Most people who have written as either supporters or detractors of Andew Cohen have described a variation of that. Andrew does as well.

There are many examples where this dynamic works very well and is useful to society as a whole. The best known is enacted by the arm forces, especially in the elite troupes such as Navy Seals, etc. Andrew Cohen makes a reference to the Navy Seals in his Declaration.

There are also many well known cases where gurus have let their followers to mayhem as you noted.

ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE GROUP LEADER

Whether the practice will work for the greater good or the greater bad might boil down to the accountability of the group leader.

The reason most of us are comfortable with the training and ethos of the Navy Seals and others like them, and don’t get up in arms about stopping all these extraordinary methods, is that we feel or we know that their leaders are accountable to someone above them: the military chain of command, the Army Chief of Staff, and eventually the President of the United States. So, we don’t worry about it because we know that things cannot go so drastically wrong that they would not be called out by someone in the chain of command.

Likewise, in a guru-followers situation, it is wise to ask “who is the guru accountable to?” This is simply because, in the absence of any accountability, there is no safeguard on all the ways the all-too-human guru might get caught up in his own projections, unexamined drives, unconscious belief systems, and all the usual suspects that besiege all of us human beings even when we try to act from what we believe to be our purest motivations.

WHO IS ANDREW COHEN ACCOUNTABLE TO?

I imagine that in many cases, a good answer to that question would be “god”; that is, the “2nd person god” - either in an organized structure, tradition, or even as an individual independent guru. I think that’s where you, Terry, would place your own guru-ship.

It seems that Andrew Cohen has not placed himself in this category as he has developed a system of thinking whereby “In the past we had to pray for help and guidance. We had to ask God for help - at this point He is depending on us! When the awakening human recognizes and becomes aware of the context itself, they recognize in a glimpse that it really depends upon them. It really depends upon us to take this next step.” So, god does not seem to be the higher power to whom this guru holds himself accountable.

I have not found in his writing what other power Andrew Cohen might be accountable to. But I, like the blogger who unskillfully offended you, Terry, might be sensing that the answer is HIS PEERS.

In order to continue his teaching and his influence in an era of unending blogs and internet chit-chat, the only power that Andrew Cohen might consciously or unconsciously hold himself accountable to may be the approval/imprimatur of his peers. This is why the blogger is prodding Andrew Cohen’s peers to exercise their duty. Of course, you noted that there is no formal board or entity entrust with this duty. But Andrew Cohen knows his peers when he sees them. He knows who will be invited or not to invited in the magazine or the video/audio interviews. The peers are all on the EnlightenNext website for all of us to see and to know.

So, this is why I think you are doing the right thing in involving yourself in this discourse, publicly or privately as you may chose. You may well be part of the only possible accountability system in this case.

Christiane

Violence and hypocrisy

What sort of person would think of doing the violent things Andrew did?

Why do Andrew and his supporters claim to be so enlightened and evolved, yet demonstrate bitter anger and disgust at the critics?

The supporters said that there was a special intense period, and that this period produced an evolutionary leap in the supporters. Yet there writing at the supporters' website, www.guru-talk.com, is full of vile attacks on "evil" egos. And Andrew criticised the critics - very unenlightened behaviour.

So we have violence and hypocrisy. Why don't his peers call him on it? It's because they are clinging to his "evolutionary vision". The peers need to separate the vision from the behaviour. Similarly, Cohen's supporters need to separate their idealist projections from his actual violence and hypocrisy.

Why is this so hard to understand? I think it's because people are attached to ideals and evolution. But since ideals and evolution are solidly real, they don't need protection. The truth doesn't need protection. Andrew Cohen doesn't need protection. His message doesn't need protection. Everyone should just be straight about all this.

So much fear in supposedly enlightened and evolved people!

Fabulous, fabulous post

Terry,

I am going to agree with Roberta above that "this is the most intelligent and all-encompassing overview of Andrew Cohen and his Teaching which has yet appeared on the web". That assessment includes both the article and the comments. This is extremely rare in this very charged debate and, I feel, an important addition to the dialogue. I am particularly delighted that you have been in direct conversations with Andrew about it. This is the most important thing that could happen, to break the "conspiracy of silence" around public discussions of this issue among integral leadership. I take my hat off to you.

My position on this is, as you know, a bit more on the skeptical side than yours where the so-called "bad boy" spiritual leaders are concerned. Given human beings infinite capacity for self-deception, when you say things like "it takes a nearly superhuman force to break free of the gravity of the ego and common worldly human society and to achieve 'escape velocity' to go into the orbit of sustainable higher spiritual realization of transpersonal states and stages of consciousness" (in your response to the Integrales forum)... well, maybe yes and maybe no. Nobody knows what kind of force, superhuman or not, is going to give the desired results here. Nobody really knows how to consistently create "transpersonal states and stages of consciousness", and what would that look like if we all did achieve these states, and there is so much high-falutin language to justify attitudes and behaviours that defy both common sense and skillful means in the pursuit of these so-called higher states.

But who the heck knows, this is another situation where "everyone is right", everyone has their own experience that is valid. I especially like your appreciation of Adi Da (also in the previous article). He was clearly a challenging person (dare we say "flawed"?) but could his flaws or imperfection be part of the perfection of the whole? The whole point to me is to have the conversation and to let THAT be the transformational agent, what you call "mutuality". I haven't seen much receptivity from Cohen on that score, but I hugely appreciate what you are doing!

Thanks, Marc, for inserting

Thanks, Marc, for inserting your voice and really big view into this fascinating discussion. And I love what you said about letting the conversation ITSELF be the "transformational agent". This is very much what I see happening in this ongoing investigation--I have discovered that in opening up my own inquiry whilst suspending "everything that I thought I knew", so many new understandings and insights have found the space to sprout. Because Andrew's work with his his close students in that famous "evolutionary cauldron" was so radically intense in every way, the "controversy" around all of this has been equally strongly heated as well. I personally find it wonderful that Terry is providing a forum to address the "critics", "victims", and "supporters", and "curious bystanders" in such an open and all-inclusive way, so that the whole story can be fully aired out. To me, this is a beautiful example of "integral philosopy" in action. Thank you all very much for Terry--your intellectual integrity and open and fair-mindedness are a true inspiration to all of us.

Two approaches to enlightenment

Marc Beneteau wrote: "Given human beings infinite capacity for self-deception, when you say things like "it takes a nearly superhuman force to break free of the gravity of the ego and common worldly human society and to achieve 'escape velocity' to go into the orbit of sustainable higher spiritual realization of transpersonal states and stages of consciousness" (in your response to the Integrales forum)... well, maybe yes and maybe no."

I think there are two ways to enlightenment:

1. Gradually let the mind/ego (a natural defense and creativity mechanism) relax by taking the pressure off. Then you slip back to baseline being.

2. Apply pressure (e.g. Andrew Cohen's face slapping and humiliation rituals) to a person and thereby create a crisis that helps them focus on what the mind/ego is doing.

The first approach is obviously ideal. It starts with the premise that mind/ego is good and that baseline being is just another way of existing. The second approach - as used by Andrew Cohen - starts with the premise that the ego is evil and needs to be destroyed. This makes the person feel like they are being crushed to death. Indeed, Andrew Cohen said you need to get your inner child and wring its neck.

The first approach is evolved because it starts with understanding of the facts. The second approach is society's old unevolved black and white, good vs evil ignorance that keeps the whole human situation stuck. While ever we think human beings are fundamentally evil, we will continue to create suffering and divisions and will fear looking honestly at the situation in order to understand what's happening so as to evolve. We should not be afraid of the truth. Ultimately, everybody is perfectly innocent. When they behave badly, they are really just defending themselves and therefore are protecting life, which is good. It's just that the ego's approach is only for emergencies, and shouldn't become our everyday lifestyle.

Note that Andrew Cohen's enlightenment consisted of Papaji saying a few words and being supportive over a few weeks. That's the first approach of understanding that you return to reality. Papaji didn't use the second approach, which maintains the illusion that you rise up to reality.

Anyway, here's a warning to prospective Cohenites: Andrew Cohen gradually makes you believe that he is the embodiment of your highest ideals and that "responding" to him is the most important thing you can do. This works because you are influenced by his charisma and you might be having a spiritual experience that makes you open and defenseless. Then when you leave him, you feel you have given up your highest ideals because, in your mind, he has become the embodiment of your highest ideals. As an example, here's a quote from Debbie at guru-talk.com attacking Andrew's critics:

"I feel a deep sense of outrage that people I not only knew so well, but with whom I shared intimately in some of the most sacred and delicate times of our own lives, have become such distortions of themselves, expressing such a transparently one-dimensional view. To see their descent from a subtlety of understanding and expression of the highest dharma which they have experienced deeply to tabloid press-like smear tactics is painful. However, it’s not too hard to understand, as this is the easy way out. It is a simple, clear example of how gross ego is, and how its function is to destroy anything that reveals a higher standard or view where ego has no place and can no longer exist. It is as if they have forgotten their own intention to reach for something higher, and are denying their own deepest understanding in order to justify their own failure."

See how she condemns them? Leaving Andrew Cohen and criticizing him means becoming a "distortion" of yourself and destroying your higher standards and forgetting your own intention for higher things. And she is supposedly more enlightened than average spiritual seekers who don't meet the "real deal" Andrew Cohen.

There is a tradition...

There is a tradition in Zen of the Master clobbering meditating students with big sticks and such. It has a name and an honoured place in their practice. The belief is that the Master knows (or is at least capable of channeling) what the student actually needs at that moment.
Tradition has it this behavior triggered the moment of Satori for many of those same students. (My belief is different strokes for different folks, ahem.)
Do I know the details and claims and cross-claims of this brouhaha around A. Cohen?
I do not and have in fact avoided the details. I can have no way of knowing the truth of the situation from my seat here on the other side of the Web (of Unknowledge, teehee.)
If I were seated on a zafu in his world, it would be a question I could make use of; here and now it is only a juicy distraction.

Another thing

Since, Terry, you apparently have the ability to communicate with Andrew, I think a very interesting question (or perhaps several questions along the same line) would be to ask him why he seemingly goes out of his way to trash his spiritual teacher Papaji.

I don’t think that a reasonable person who has read Andrew’s books and seen or heard lectures by him can deny that he does the above. I have also occasionally heard him make comments acknowledging his debt to Papaji; however, I have never heard him make such an acknowledgement with any real feeling. He does so, rather, as a sort of pro-forma caveat, before getting down to the meet of the matter -- namely that Papaji was a blah-blah-blah limited being and that he Andrew has attained both a superior moral and spiritual state, with a superior way of teaching etc.

I find this very suspicious. For example, contrast this with Adi Da and his comments about Rudi and Muktananada. He distinguishes his realization and way of teaching from them, but also makes it crystal clear (with real believable feeling) that he considers them extraordinary men to whom he will be forever in their debt.

To me it is almost incomprehensible that if you had a Guru (for whatever period of time) who enlightened you, or brought you significantly closer to enlightenment, that you would not express only undying gratitude to them. Indeed, this was also the way with Papaji, who apparently felt that the only real (and in fact inevitable) response was to literally never take your eyes off of your Guru for the rest of your life. It was only Ramana himself who had the power to get Papaji to leave him to go and rescue his family during Partition, and Papaji’s last gesture was to prostrate himself and touch Ramana’s feet.

Along the same line, it would be interesting to ask Andrew if perhaps he would be willing to reassess some of the “evidence” with which he denounces Papaji. Again, I do not think a reasonable person who examined such evidence in comparison with the “evidence” against Andrew and his behaviour could conclude that anything Papaji supposedly did is just miniature golf compared to what Andrew is accused of having done.

Nuff said for now, and perhaps you could respond.

Peer pressure and accountability for spiritual teachers

Hi Terry,

Thank you very much for this important blog entry. I recall from your talk with Thomas Huebl where Thomas talked about the need for teachers to be open-minded and willing to get together in transparency and frankness in order to hold each other accountable and further each other's growth. This sounds very much necessary for this 21st century where many teachers may not be actively involved with a lineage. Ken Wilber's integral spiritual center teacher meetings a few years ago seemed like a good attempt to start something like this but nobody's continued it. .

I'm impressed and thankful for all the work you've done especially your willingness to not shy away from the difficult questions!

Jurgen

In communication theory, the

In communication theory, the meaning of a communication is said to be the response elicited in the person being communicated with. By this principle, if Mr. Cohen, in his position as absolute guru within his spiritual community, did in fact say order a student to smack another student, and this smacked student felt it was abusive, then the act was abusive---even if a different student was also smacked and interpreted it as "love."

Similar logic applies to criminal cases. If I smack you within the context of a boxing match, it's not abusive because it's part of the agreed upon explicit context. But if I smack you in the context of a marriage and you feel it's abuse, it's very likely to be seen by the courts as abuse too. The evolutionary vision of the individual ordering or doing the smacking is completely irrelevant to the case. Furthermore, it smells of rationalization.

Picasso made great art. He was also (allegedly) an asshole and a womanizer. Perhaps Cohen makes for intense spiritual experiences, but has also (allegedly) abused his students. This is easy to conceive for someone with an integral perspective.

My conclusion--I think your questioning of Cohen is great, very appropriate. But I also think you and Wilber and others continue to enable abuse with your criticism of Cohen's ex-students as simply being "negative" or not appreciating his evolutionary vision which requires breaking a few eggs to make a spiritual omelet. Justice has still not taken place, and restoration for past harms is still incomplete.

One more thought

The missing component here is the lack of any admission of wrongdoing. People do all sorts of hurtful and stupid things in the name of personal or collective transformation--lord knows I have. But the lack of a simple and straightforward admission of such (e.g. "what I did was wrong and I am terribly sorry") is the problem. Unfortunately the notion of guru as absolutely perfect makes such human admissions of imperfection impossible.

keeping some perspective

Perhaps we need to also consider the cultural context of things.

For example, most everyone knows the story of Marpa and Milarepa and the extraordinary trials and tribulations the former put the latter through as a preliminary to the transmission of the teaching. This story is acceptable to a tradional eastern mind steeped in the history of the Guru and the disciple. Though even in that context, apparently it is just barely acceptable, as Marpas wife did not accept it at a certain point and intervened to end the hell Milarepa was going through. Nonetheless, the definitive take on things comes from Marpa himself, who admits that only because of his wife did he stop the trials, BUT, he states, if he had been allowed to continue, then Milarepa would have progressed much faster spiritualy than he did!

Now, if anything like that had been pulled on a Western student by his Guru in a modern context, the shit would almost certainly have hit the fan big time. Such actions are almost completely unacceptable in a modern Western context.

There are a few recorded incidences of modern teachers really leveling their students, and the students realizing (sometimes after the fact and after a lot of soul searching) that they were greatly served by being leveled. Two good examples are in the book AMAZING GRACE by Premananda, which record stories of students of Papaji. There is also the entire book DAUGHTER OF FIRE by Irena Tweedie, which records a lot of the fire she went through with her Sufi Master.

If you read the works of David Godman, the biogrpahies (which comprise at this point about seven volumes), one of the striking things is the quality of those who came to Ramana. They were pretty pure souls, in my opinion. Certainly they were completely uncomplicated by issues of drugs, sex and rock and roll (so to speak). But even with these students, Ramana would occasionally let lose and level one of them if that student was seriously obstructed on some point.

It seems to me that we have to admit that most modern Western students are not very qualified for spiritual life, filled with all sorts of confusions and obsturctions. Thus, it is not unreasonable that the teacher is occasionally going to have to get out the stick and give a hard wack when necessery. There is just no other way.

The question of whether Andrew falls in this category, I dont know, but he could possibly.

What is happening today has been foretold

Hello Terry. I have been listening to the talks with interest. However, it seems that the aspect of there being four yugas (or ages. Namely – Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga) through which our world inexorably passes has not been highlighted in the talks so far. For, the kind of movement towards spirituality that we are witnessing now is already predicted in the Vedas. According to common belief, the Earth is now moving through Kali Yuga (or the machine age). But, according to Swami Yukteshwar, the enlightened Master of Paramhansa Yogananda, there was an error in calculation of the commencement of yugas after the Pandavas departed for the Himalayas and we are in fact nearly 400 years into the ascending Dwapar Yuga, hence, the increasing incidence of spiritual hunger. Hence, to say that what we are witnessing today is unique to our times seems a bit misleading. Your take on this?

The Kali Yuga and the Evolutionary Edge

Hi Pramod,

Ancient Vedic wisdom resonates with incredible profundity, and deserves the greatest respect. But it can't be equated with our latest detailed understandings of cosmic, biological & cultural evolution. Nor with our current crisis of planetary overpopulation, leading to the necessity of a transition to intentional conscious evolution.

In a profound sense all of this has been foretold. In another sense something is revealing itself that has never been seen before and requires new emergent responses. Most of us have predispositions to emphasize one side of this, even to the exclusion of the other, so we end up with partial truths. 

Terry, if you are going to

Terry, if you are going to run this blog, then respond to the efforts that are made by your readers in their comments. In this particular thread I and others have commented and asked questions directly to you. Respond. Otherwise, reframe the whole blog as just you pontificating and refusing to engage in a diologue, or perhaps without the time to engage. Same thing really, and a big drag, in my opinion.

Just tuning in now!

Apologies, folks — lots of thoughtful comments and questions here, some asking for a reply, and I've been, well, elsewhere, busy, and overwhelmed by the many channels of virtual communications (and haven't had automatic email notices of comments.) Most of you are probably aware that I've been busy launching the Beyond Awakening Teleseminar Series and writing my upcoming Telecourse in Integral Spiritual Practice. So please forgive!

First, I appreciate the rich diversity of perspectives people have raised, including those of a couple of folks who I know personally (thanks, Marc & Duff!)

Reading the whole sequence, I notice that this whole discussion, even though very rational and intelligent, has a subtext — judgment and blame. What is ethical and what is not? What is healthy and what is not? From what do we need protection and what is valid experimentation? Essentially, many of the voices in this conversation are defining what to regard as "not okay"?

Andrew points to "ego" as not okay. And some of Poonjaji's contradictions. 

Various critics, including some of you here, point to his unyielding attitude toward the ego or toward others' being wounded by his fierce teaching or their contstrual of their experience with him as abuse, and see that as not okay.

As chance would have it, I'm writing this reply shortly after learning about Genpo Roshi's affairs and decision to renounce his status as a Zen priest and elder in the White Plum lineage, and about a host of people's reactions to it.

At the moment, I'm feeling the other pole of the enduring polarity that joins judgment and non-judgment. I feel very sad. And soft. 

I feel appreciation for Andrew's white-hot passion. And for the passion of those who want to protect vulnerable aspirants from being treated harshly by him.

I appreciate the distinctions he draws that highlight the noble choice of caring deeply for something bigger than oneself — the evolution of consciousness and culture — and making a self-transcending commitment. And I appreciate the perspectives some of you have pointed out about how Andrew doesn't live and teach in a context of accountabiility to fully independent others, and on the tendency of his students to view him as THE force of enlightened evolution, and thus to disrespect all critical perspectives.

I appreciate Chris' point about the difference between Adi Da's forceful appreciation and very specific dharmic criticisms of Rudi and Muktananda and Andrew's less poetic way of expressing his appreciationa and critique of Poonjaji.

I appreciate the brilliance of the Big Mind process and of Genpo's dharma teaching. And I appreciate the sense of confusion and betrayal that people feel discovering that he was in some ways not "walking his talk."

I appreciate our need for trustable spiritual exemplars and our intense frustration with our teachers' "feet of clay." And I feel a lot of compassion for those who dare to teach (including myself) in a time when working to serve growth and wisdom seems to many as if it is tantamount to claiming to be holier than others, thus inviting resentment and contempt.

I feel everyone's care and passion, straining nobly to transcend our limits, and I feel how we're all nonetheless mortal and dying, whatever else we may also be, however brilliantly we shine during our prime. And I feel our incredible fragility and the vulnerability underneath our protective rage, and they feel right now like inevitable dimensions of our human condition. I wish I could hold all those kinds of tenderness at once, and bring at least a temporary harmony and peace to our big quarrelsome household.

I find myself wondering about whether it is better to be scrupulously respectful of students' boundaries (as I try to do) or to "dare" to force a transformational crisis by intervening in their lives more forcefully (as my teacher and Andrew have done, and as Genpo sometimes also did.)

I feel the developmental challenge we all face in trying to throw away the bathwater while preserving the baby, and how these complex nuances make it hard to distinguish them cleanly, adding to our burden.

But all of these perspectives for me are "true enough to be said" and yet as Ken Wilber would say, "partial." What I don't feel is any movement to harden firm judgments quite yet, and certainly not to blame, or to decide that any of it is "absolutely not okay."

That is to say, I am feeling open today to the teachers and to the critics. Seems like everybody's playing a needed part in a new level of dialog. And there's something deeper than adjudicating the head-butting zero-sum disputes, something that includes and transcends it all, seems to me.

After reading this rich range of comments, all of it feels "okay" to me. It must be okay, or it wouldn't be arising. The whole rich ferment seems necessary. My opinions, like a breaking wave, seem to be ebbing.

Some would say, "how positively pluralistically green!" "What good are these nuanced integral perspectives if you can't apply them to adjudicate real-world conflicts and make effective judgments?" Today, although feeling entirely respectful and friendly toward that sentiment, I'm just falling silent.

I feel moved to sit. To get quiet. To feel. To wait. Something is swirling now, and tender, and pregnant. The dust hasn't settled. I would rather breathe and attend, returning to Beginner's Mind. Maybe to Big Heart.

In another moment, perhaps my jury will come back, ready to render a verdict on some or all of these issues. But right now, the jury seems to be out. And in this "meantime" it feels important to me to hang out in a space that's big enough to accommodate all these voices.

Including all of those of you who've honored me by sharing your comments above. Thank you! And a deep bow,

Terry

A Deep Bow To YOU, Terry!

In reading your beautiful, full, and absolutely open-hearted response, I am reminded of how Andrew used to speak about "finding, and staying in 'that place between all pairs of opposites' ". You are a magnificent example of just this, Terry. It is profoundly challenging to sit in the 'tension' that is always seeking towards polarity in one or another direction--and just to hold the space and allow all of this compost to settle, as we turn it over, examine it, and wait for some new vegetables to sprout. I love what you said about how "the whole rich ferment seems necessary", and the importance of "hanging out in a space that is big enough to accommodate all of these widely divergent views". Amen--and thank you!

Roberta Anderson

Evolutionary?

Terry,

Frankly, your comment looked like excuse-making and obfuscating. Andrew would have slapped you for that. The common pattern among Cohen’s supporters has been to write replies then vanish as soon as their arguments are exposed as weak or false. It takes courage to face facts and admit you were (partially) wrong, especially when you are heavily invested. You are really saying that you’ve been too busy for the last 8 months to respond to comments on an important issue that you wrote about in your blog? Totally busy for 8 straight months? No spare hour here or there for 8 months?

Cohen’s supporters have been trying to say that slapping disciples is traditional and therefore valid, or that it even demonstrates a heroic and passionate commitment to the truth. Well, how does this fit with Andrew’s disdain for pre-evolutionary spiritual enlightenment? It seems the lazy behaviour of previous gurus was bad, but the violence was good. Convenient. How does slapping fit with “evolution”? Is slapping an example of evolutionary superiority? Really? Is that the best he could do? The great evolutionary advance required slapping? What happened to Andrew’s profound ability to awaken people through his awesome spiritual powers? Not enough - bring out the big red hand! The people he slapped were idealistic people working hard for him and his mission, sometimes for over a decade - and he slaps them! And you criticise them!

Don’t forget, Andrew even made his own disciples slap other disciples. What do you think of that? Can you at least state that that was immoral? It’s the old power play of divide and rule - have all the disciples fearing and criticising each other, and fearing him. You wouldn’t believe the manipulative games I saw in that organisation. He admitted that he used guilt. Guilt and fear aren’t the way to evolution, to enlightenment. It’s completely appalling. Extremely unenlightened.

Also, isn’t Cohen’s organisation a cult? Come on, let’s face everything and avoid nothing:

* prostrations to his photo,

* group-think,

* insiders and outsiders,

* brainwashing,

* manipulation,

* members kept too busy to think for themselves,

* complete obedience.

He puts on a good humble show in public when he’s talking to authority figures and people who can help his mission, but all the signs are there if you lift the curtain. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. It’s a cult and cults are corrupt by definition.

But I’m not saying Cohen is wrong on everything or that humankind doesn’t need to evolve. But it’s the old problem of a catalyst type of personality being deeply flawed. They are a catalyst because they are intensely passionate and charismatic. But they are intensely passionate and charismatic because of some neurosis. Yes, it’s all part of the process. Even so, you have to critique accurately, not be blinded by the idealism, the hope, the evolution, and all the other bright lights. Cherish the good, but straightly critique the bad. That’s the only way forward.

Of course, you might not have tools like the enneagram to see clearly. (Andrew is a moralistic type 1 with a seductive and manipulative 2 wing.) But Integral Theory has some good tools. All the talk of Cohenites being like Navy Seals is one of the lower unevolved colours, isn’t it? Red meme or something? (I don’t know about Integral Theory.) Red meme makes it pretty clear. The military is built on unthinking obedience and violence, yet evolution happens through intelligence. What distinguishes human beings is their intelligence, not their authoritarian obedience and violence. If we are to evolve then we have to develop our higher instincts and abilities, not our lower ones. If Cohen and his supporters claim to be super-evolved, then they’ve got demonstrate it.

The 3 obstacles that are stopping us getting to the truth of this matter are:

1. the bright light of Idealism stopping people from seeing what’s in the shadows,

2. people having invested 10 years of their lives in Cohen and so they don’t want to feel any of it was bad,

3. people wanting to promote their careers and cultivate their network of contacts in the spiritual industry.

another argument

Terry, this is a wonderful blog, thank you so much for the investigation. There is one thing that Terry mentioned in his blog but that has not been widely discussed afterwards.
It is that students that are close to Andrew are very impressive people. A few of them could be Teachers of their own, with a beautiful transmission of their own. They are very strong souls which is maybe the most important thing [ as stated in the Integrales answer by Sebastian Gronbach].

So this speak for Andrew a lot. Andrew attracts extremely good people, with lots of human and spiritual qualities. Why is that ?
It is not very serious t believe that he is simply the machiavelic Teacher that people present to us, and that all those good, very bright, intelligent and great souls got caught into the ``devil's'' hands. This doesn't make any sense at all.

The truth is that Andrew attracts all these great people because he deserves it. It is very simple, and it is called the law of attraction. It is simply that Andrew' s realization is extremely powerful, so that is what attracts people around him.

Terry was impressed by the students of Andrew; this is the main point.

Now of course, maybe he has made mistakes in his career, who doesn't make any mistake ? this is possible. But for all of you who are new to this and look at this blog, just know that Andrew simply deserves the quality of the people that he has around him.

The truth will set you free

Catherine wrote: "Now of course, maybe he has made mistakes in his career, who doesn't make any mistake ? this is possible."

But Andrew refuses to admit those mistakes. Furthermore, he attacks those who point to his mistakes as being "losers", etc.

As for the quality of his students, all I can say is that neither Andrew nor his students engage with people who disagree with them. It is easy to look good when you surround yourself with people who agree with you.

The truth the whole story.

Martin, I was not close to

Martin, I was not close to Andrew at the time where you claim those things happened, so with all my good will, I really cannot put any judgement on this. What am sure, is that I have seen the strong souls that Steiner [ through Sebastian Gronbach] is talking about around Andrew and I know that not many teachers attract such beautiful beings. I woudl say more : it is probably the dream of any teacher to attract such people as Andrew has around him.
You are one of them, you were attracted too, and the fact that you went away shall not be considered as a failure.
it's not because you sent 3, 4, 5, 10 years close to Andrew and then leave that it is a failure. It is Okay. Maybe in 100 years people will say that you were the part of the happy few and courageous souls who admitted that they were attracted by a very unorthodox, powerful and beautiful teacher. There is nothing to be ashamed of there, in my view.

OK maybe the closest students of Andrew want to climb Mont everest and you are not fit for this or not interested. What is the problem ? Just take the good this Teacher has to give you and all of us, and then move on with your own creativity.

It is a scientific fact that Andrew is very powerful and as such attracts beautiful, courageous and powerful souls ( including yours, since you were attracted ). It is also a scientific fact that nobody is perfect ( even Socrates was not) and that Andrew as an imperfect human being can make mistakes. But shall we let those mistakes ( if they happened indeed) completely destroy the beauty of the message Andrew has to bring to the world ?

Just look at who Andrew is, deeply. Can we let that waste, for the good of all ?

Last thing, at some point the past is the past and we shall move on. We cannot let the past destroy us on any circumstances. You and I have an obligation to move on. I think it is a very important moment that Terry reported, when Andrew admitted that he has to take the responsibility for the whole of his group even if personally he thinks he did nothing wrong. Something for sure went wrong ( this is also a scientific fact) at the inter-personal level. My belief is that it will not happen again.

So we should all thank Terry for having bravely made his duty here. And let's give to Andrew the credit that belongs to him. There are not many Andrew Cohen alive these days. It is important that we respect this.

Love, Catherine

Truth needs no defense

Catherine, here's my reply to each of the issues you raise.

1. Let's be clear and unambiguous. The accusations against Andrew Cohen are true. Even some of his supporters admit many of these events occurred. For example, Pete Bampton admitted that Andrew Cohen slapped disciples' faces and made disciples slap other disciples' faces.

2. You seem to think that Andrew Cohen's disciples are uniquely "beautiful beings". I think we are all, in essence, "beautiful beings". You seem to be judging people who are not with Andrew Cohen as ugly or at least not beautiful or not as beautiful.

3. I was not particularly attracted to Andrew Cohen. If you are interested, my story is here:

http://worldwidehappiness.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-close-encounter-with-a...

4. The only Mount Everest worth climbing is The Truth. Andrew Cohen and his disciples refuse to climb it. They have avoided it like the plague. Lately, they are trying to pretend Andrew never hated his guru Papaji.

5. I think Andrew Cohen and his followers are being cowards, not "beautiful, courageous and powerful".

6. Yes, nobody is perfect, but we should be honest about our imperfection if we are interested in The Truth.

7. The idea that if he confessed his mistakes and illusions, then it would "completely destroy the beauty of the message Andrew has to bring to the world" implies that his message is dependent on lies and hiding the truth. You, Andrew Cohen, and his disciples think he cannot confess the truth because that would mean the end of his career and the best aspects of his message. If what he says is true, then it will survive his confession. Truth is eternal.

8. You said, "We cannot let the past destroy us on any circumstances." But the past can destroy us if we don't face it.

9. Even if Andrew actually said he has to "take the responsibility for the whole of his group", he didn't actually do it. Actions speak louder than words.

10. Your belief that Andrew's bad behaviour "will not happen again" doesn't fit with my understanding of him and of human nature. His whole career is built on judgement of other people. It is built on the idea that people are evil, cowardly, immoral, weak, etc. It's the whole basis of his philosophy.

Finally, cults are very destructive overall. You, Terry, and Ken Wilber should stop protecting the Andrew Cohen cult.

This Back-and-Forth

Dear Martin,

I appreciate the strength and clarity of your perspective, and I want this to be a space in which you get a chance to express yourself. However, in this back and forth with Catherine, I am left with the distinct impression that you are committed to "having the last word" and that no matter what anyone posts in this stream of comments, you will simply put up another post, condemning anyone who holds any enduring appreciation or valuing of Andrew, his work, or his students. And that makes me sad. Because it makes this comment stream unusable by anyone else. I hope I am wrong. 

This blog post was an honest statement that invited people to take more nuanced and complex perspectives toward Andrew and the subjects he writes about. And there's room for *lots* of complexity and nuance there, including perspectives with which I don't agree at all, including yours.

However, it seems foolish for me to allow you to make my website the home for your harangue. Can you show us any self-awareness, any self-questioning, any humility? However burned you may feel by Andrew, I have certainly not shown you disrespect. Do you have no tolerance for mutually respectful dialog with anyone who won't blacklist your hated ex-teacher?

There must have been something in you that responded pretty strongly to something about Andrew if you got close enough to get as burned as you seem to have been. But it seems you have no capacity to articulate that here, even in a forum that explicitly invites that kind of deeper reflection.

You seem unaware that in behaving this way you are a very poor advertisement for your points of view. You're invited to get down off your angry soapbox and speak your truth from your heart. I'd love that, and welcome it, sincerely.

However, if you just post more diatribe, I'm going to start treating it as spam.  

 

Dear all, dear Martin, I am

Dear all, dear Martin,

I am indeed a strong supporter of Andrew.
I got convinced that his message is extremely important in our times and as such it is also important for me to protect and support it.
I share with Martin his passion for Truth and it is incomprehensible for me that someone who claims to love Truth so much as Martin doesn t appreciate Andrew s message.
For all those who are new to this blog I want to reiterate my humble but I hope strong support to Andrew. He is really absolutely not the devil that is presented by his detractors. He is just a very powerfully enlightened spiritual teacher. A very original one with a strong message.
A few years ago when I got interested in him I have been as well disturbed by the very negative blogs. I read all of them as all the students if Andrew did, I tried my best to get both sides of the story, scientifically. I was indeed not close to Andrew 15 years ago and as such not a direct witness of those controversial events but for sure what I saw in the last three years is just beautiful. So even considering with all good will the viewpoint if the detractors I can only say that none if those problems happens now.
To me what Andrew has to say, his message is too important to get wasted, shall deserve lots of attention. Evolution is everything to us human beings and Andrew Cohen has understood it in a very unique and new way. His evolutionary enlightenment is a bridge between Eastern Enlightenment and Western ideas on evolution of Spirit, a la Teilhard de Chardin. I don t know anyone doing this at the moment, and so I consider him extremely precious to us.
On a more personal level one thing I like about him is precisely that he doesn t compromises with his student s Ego. He didn t compromise with mine for sure. And by doing this he takes risks. I see Andrew the opposite of Martin : I see that he is extremely compassionate to his students. I see him with a huge heart, but a very uncompromising one.

Last thing, and this is a point I would like to share with everybody on this blog. I am a scientist actually, a main stream professional quantum physicist. I know by heart the way main stream science community functions What I can tell you is that, with all our flaws and defects we seem to honor greateness when we meet it , in a much stronger and powerful way than spiritual circles do. It shocks me as a scientist to see the way someone the caliber of Andrew is treated. Couldn t we all recognize that the guy is just great and important
first, before discussing ?
Deep down we know when a teacher is powerful.
To me it is an evidence that Andrew is. He is very deep, he is able to take risks to induce his students to progress, he is very powerfully enlightened. Ok he can make mistakes as we all do, but hey, it is important to honor the greatness of his.
As a professional scientist I can tell you that the scientific community is better than the spiritual one to honor and worship greatness.

All in all, after three years and after having examined the situation in the most possibly honest way available to me, I can tell Andrew convinced me : I consider myself the humble student of his.

This is my honest support to him. Everyone shall be free to check out by themselves !

Love, Catherine

Balance

Dear Terry,

I'm committed to the truth, not to "having the last word".

Can you show me where I have "condemn[ed] anyone who holds any enduring appreciation or valuing of Andrew, his work, or his students"? I have written in multiple forums that Andrew has good aspects and that his disciples have good aspects. I'm just highlighting issues that are being swept under the carpet.

You are asking for "nuanced and complex perspectives toward Andrew and the subjects he writes about." That's a fair request, so long as it's applied to everyone. But there's more urgent issue: balance. Andrew is surrounded by disciples who work tirelessly to present him in a positive light. He is surrounded by many "luminaries" who fail to call him out on his bad behaviour. He has a glamorous website that suggests that he is leading the world into a great revolution that is supposedly in harmony with God and the whole universe. Where is the balance in that avalanche of PR?

Until balance is returned, people will naturally emphasise the other side in order to return balance to the situation. It's a law of nature. The power is enormously in Andrew's favour. You seem to see it in reverse as if Andrew, the "luminaries", and his supporters are in the weak position. Indeed, you wrote:

"I chose not to [reply to allegations] because in the echo chamber of the blogosphere there is no way to respond thoughtfully and at length to irresponsible negativity without raising it to an implicitly equal status…"

It's as if you want to maintain an unequal situation - a situation where Andrew, you, and his supporters have the power. Andrew has freedom, power, support, and protection, but critics must abide by your rules of nuance.

It seems that people on Andrew's side are afraid that frank criticisms of Andrew's behaviour will somehow delete the Truth, even though every spiritual person believes Truth is eternal. Do you see how Andrew somehow makes Truth identical with his own person so that criticism of Andrew is automatically criticism of the Truth, by definition somehow? Furthermore, I don't understand why people are so frightened to be straightforward. Reality isn't fragile at all. It is only illusion that needs protection and summersaults of "nuance".

It seems you think that Andrew's bad behaviour might be somehow understandable. But, Terry, can you imagine yourself labelling yourself a "guru", calling seekers your "disciples", slapping your disciples faces, ordering some disciples to slap other disciples faces, pouring buckets of paint on female disciples, and having your disciples doing 500 prostrations per day to your photo? If you are a normal guy, I doubt that you would. So what are we to conclude about a guy who did those things? If you wouldn't do it, then why do you think it should be treated with "nuance". Don't be blinded by Andrew's idealism. Look at the facts on the ground. Those facts point to an obvious problem, namely Andrew's unexamined shadow. I think that would be obvious to any objective outsider who isn't dazzled by idealism or charmed when he switches on humility for public consumption.

You ask, "Can you show us any self-awareness, any self-questioning, any humility?" What's your criteria? I'm never going to think it's okay for Andrew to slap disciples, if that's your criteria. Are you asking me to be more self-questioning than everybody else? Andrew loves to say that issues are black and white, that the ego is evil, that disciples who have left him are losers, that harsh judgement is appropriate, etc. - where's the nuance there? Wilber praised Andrew's "rudeness" and said his purpose was to blow you into a thousand pieces. Is that nuance?

If someone says nice things about Andrew or defends him, no one asks them to question their words or themselves. Yet if someone points out the corrupt things about Andrew, then that is nuanced away into triviality, and those who don't buy it should expect to be blown into a thousand pieces and are asked to question themselves and squeeze every word they write through The Great Nuance Filter. That way the power imbalance and Andrew's shadow continue on. So if Andrew succeeds in creating a revolution, then it will be poisoned by his unexamined shadow. It will become compulsory for everyone to believe that the ego is evil and that people should sacrifice themselves for the cause. Everyone will have to adopt Andrew's beliefs, and it will be explained as "God's will". That global revolution is his ambition. Look at this quote from his website:

"My vision is nothing less than a total revolution in human consciousness—a revolution that has to happen for all our sake." And: "Evolutionary Enlightenment is a moral, philosophical, and spiritual framework that makes it possible to live for the highest purpose: the evolution of consciousness itself." (How can something called "evolutionary enlightenment" become such a an all-encompassing "framework" used for "a total revolution in human consciousness? Don't you see the danger if his shadow isn't addressed?)

Here's another quote from his website:

"Why I'm Controversial: "I'm trying to create something new—something that has never happened before. Those who step out ahead in pursuit of a vision of that which has not yet emerged often meet the most resistance." (Notice the self-serving way he rationalises away the criticisms? Terry, do you think this is evidence that he is living up to his promise to you that he would change his ways?)

You ask, "Do you have no tolerance for mutually respectful dialog with anyone who won't blacklist your hated ex-teacher?" Where have I been disrespectful? Where have I said I hate Andrew Cohen? Fighting frankly for the truth is respectful and loving. I'm not asking for blacklisting - that's a strawman. I'm asking for balance. At least I'm not trying to blow anyone into a thousand pieces.

Dear Catherine,

I appreciate parts of Andrew's message. But that doesn't mean I should sweep his behaviour and the parts of his message that I disagree with under the carpet. If Andrew and his supporters aren't addressing them, then someone else has to.

You say Andrew is an original spiritual teacher. That is only partly true. Attacking egoism and pushing idealism is very traditional, very societal. Suggesting that we balance unearthly spirituality with earthly spirituality is a common idea. I endorse balancing heaven on earth, but I'm not going to make Andrew out to be a VIP just because of that.

You say we should "worship greatness". I think if we worship anything, it should be the truth, not persons. Don't get the two mixed up.

Martin Gifford.

Dear Martin, I would like

Dear Martin,

I would like to address a few of the issues you raise. I feel that your understanding and appraisal of Andrew's teaching doesn't give true credit to it.To tell the truth, it looks completely distorted, even to me who is rather new in the teaching. What is New in Andrew 's teachings is not at all that he is attacking egoism and pushing idealism. He does this indeed, and I agree with you this is traditional. What is to me [ to my understanding of the moment, after studying it for three years] very new and amazing is the absolute and radical way he has understood the Evolutionary Process. This is unique. I feel even Steiner, whom I really completely love, has not gone that far, in the pristine simplicity Andrew puts it. Evolutionary Enlightenment is really a vision of Enlightenment for the future, which is as radical, and as Ego transcending, as the traditional Enlightenment, and which is embedded in a dynamic worldview, not a static one. It is based on the traditional Enlightenment, on the deep silence and free space that can come to us through meditative techniques for example, but then it is as if it takes all this peace, space and silence, all this freedom and takes it out in the world with us to catalyze our evolution. As I understand it at the moment [ again I am not the best expert or the more advanced student, so if a more advance student wants to correct this, this would be good] the theoretical model is really the one of the evolution of the exterior and interior of the Cosmos. Andrew has created a very powerful teaching which directly addresses the issue of the evolution of our Interiors, which he calls Evolution of Consciousness and how it affects the evolution of the Exterior.
It is a really awesome idea when you think of it, a really beautiful one, to look at the interplay between he evolution of the interior and the exterior.
Andrew's teaching is subtle, and its takes a few years to grasp them, even only an intellectual level. On the way, you evolve and get many wonderful insights, you change deeply in your vision for the world and your interaction with people.
It is what happened to me. To tell the truth at the beginning I never thought that I would stay that long. I was not really looking for a Spiritual Teacher, and frankly I had enough excitement with my scientific research. But I got hooked because I started to change deeply, because frankly Andrew was so good at provoke a liberation from my tyrannic mind. When I say Andrew is powerful, I just mean it form personal empirical experience. Now I just start to get the scope of the teachings and life looks really wonderful.
So if you have stayed only one year with him a long time ago, and only remember some kind of slapping in the face, I really doubt that you can really understand much of what is going on now.

When Andrew says he wants to create a shift in consciousness and culture, in a sense he has already created it with his understanding of the absolute character of the Evolutionary impulse. To equate Enlightenment with the Evolutionary Impulse is to me very radical and will provoke shift in the consciousness of anyone who understands it. So maybe he indeed claims very loudly that he wants to crete a revolution in consciousness, but his teaching is at the level of that claim.

I would like to address the question of the slapping the face and the shadow of the teacher. Frankly for the ``slapping of the face'' I have no clue what went on, and what happened. As I said I was not there, I was not part of the happy few very close students who went through this crazy wisdom experiment, so what can I say ? I can say that I am confident in Andrew's big heart since I have an experience of this, and I trust my judgment on people. Andrew is a good guy and has a big heart.
I can also tell you that for sure in the last three years I saw nothing of the kind, nothing at all, not a single bit of anything resembling this. So I can testify that, if what you say is true, then it is also true that Andrew has changed, and that his way of teaching has evolved.

As for the shadow of the teacher, well, here if you allow me, I will put my scientific hat and say that I believe that everyone has a shadow, every single teacher in the world. If it is a teacher which fits well with you then you will be OK with the shadow, if not then you will not be OK with the shadow. I personally am very happy with Andrew's shadow as it is. It is just fine with me and doesn't disturb a single bit my evolution through my interaction with him.
I feel it is unreasonable and very infantile to expect that a teacher will not have a shadow and will be perfect. One just has to figure out what the teacher is as a human being and see whether it is OK with us.

Lastly , I want to address the issue of the Truth being eternal and very robust, that is recurrent in all your posts. Although I agree that Truth is eternal, I believe that the transmission and sharing of any truth, even a simple scientific truth, between two human beings, is not a simple affair. This transmission is fragile and needs to be nurtured and protect [ my Agape side]. If a new teachings brings to us a new truth, it is very likely that it will mechanically provoke some resistance and some reactions. This happened to Steiner in the past, he was physically molested and his first Gotheanum was burned. Believe me this happens in scientific circles as well. Any single new idea is immediately rejected first, and then one needs to work hard to get it examined and accepted [ if true] by the scientific community. So this is not at all as simple as you say.
Andrew's teachings are new, important, and they are growing and developing over time. That's why they need sympathetic attention to develop, rather than a systematic destruction based on facts that now date form very long time ago.

here it is to you Martin. Please don't say anymore that no student of Andrew never answered to you in details, because I just did ! I wish you the best, and would be very happy if this exchange of ours has shown some light on the Truth, which we both are devoted to.

Experience, Interpretation, and Shadow

Dear Catherine,

There are all kinds of "spiritual" experiences, states, and processes. They are true as themselves as they are happening. But, as Ken Wilber points out, a moment after their onset, or a moment after they pass, we mistakenly interpret them. The interpretations are untrue. They come from the personality and the limited mind. Andrew - right from his first experience when he was 16 - believed his interpretations of his experiences unquestioningly. This is a fundamental problem with our human predicament. Our minds are limited so our interpretations are going to be wrong. We must stay with naked reality as best we can.

Importantly, if the interpreter has an unexamined shadow, and if that shadow is perfectionistic and punitive, and if the person is less than optimally intelligent, then they quite easily slip into talk of total revolution. They easily think God is on their side. They become supremely confident that they are right. So they easily become a guru or politician.

Since such a person hasn't examined themselves, the revolution becomes imbued with the personality and mere opinions of the teacher. Both the goals and methods will be contaminated. This isn't much of a problem if the guru is small-time. But in Andrew's case, he wants to take over the whole scene and he wants to create a revolution in the whole world and is even saying he is helping God evolve (as if God needs Andrew Cohen's help with anything). He labels one particular experience or state as "the authentic self", so if you aren't doing what he approves of, then you are not being your authentic self!

Thus, his revolution is built on "a moral, philosophical, and spiritual framework that makes it possible to live for the highest purpose…" Whose framework is that? It's Andrew Cohen's framework. The morality part of his framework comes from is his ego attachment (enneagram type 1), and the philosophy part of the framework is based on that and his interpretations of his spiritual experiences. Yet he presents it as the pure leading edge of God's evolution. How can people not see that God is way beyond one person's interpretations of experiences? You can only worship Andrew if you agree with his interpretations and opinions. But then it's idolatry - you aren't worshipping God or Reality, you are worshipping your own beliefs as projected onto your guru, or you are worshipping a mere person.

You repeatedly try to dismiss Andrew's bad behaviour by suggesting it was 15 years ago and part of a "crazy wisdom period". It was much more recent than that and it only stopped because of the criticism. Think about it - if his behaviour worked, as he and his disciples claim, then why would he stop? You and his supporters say he was heroic for doing those things. But it is just as easy to say it is heroism to avoid giving into such temptations and to face your shadow instead. The perfectionist's mindset is: "Anything can be done for the sake of The Cause and people are less important than The Cause." The Cause is to spread their worldview and ideals, not to respect the unknowability of God. Hence, slapping is acceptable to such a person.

Andrew seems to have a talent for facilitating unusual experiences, states, and processes. That's great. I wholeheartedly endorse that. I just wish that he would have the humility to not take credit for it ("I am a powerful teacher") and to start investigating his shadow so that he stops contaminating everything with his shadow's faults. But he won't change while his idealism is activated and people keep responding to that idealism, to the point of worshipping him. He is getting too many emotional payoffs to stop, so people have to keep criticising him and his supporters in an effort to provide balance and to stop the contamination - if it isn't too late.

The big problem for a perfectionist ego is that it's hard to separate its morality and idealism out from God. It is too easy to get it all mixed up. Can you imagine how intoxicating it would be to have your egoic values of morality and idealism worshipped as divine! Ego can appear nasty or divine, but it's still ego.

If you are interested in Reality, then you have to sacrifice everything - even morality and and idealism. If they are true, then they will be rediscovered on the other side, and in a new light.

Martin is clearly right

I am completely in support of Martin's view, and in my opinion he is no way trolling, spamming (which refers specifically to unsolicited sales pitches), or even being irrational. His arguments are highly rational and clear, whereas Terry--your arguments strike me as the muddled, confused, flowery language of a cult apologist.

In particular your arguments in response to Martin's fall along the lines of
a) "you're being too angry" thus shaming, marginalizing, and ignoring the facts,
b) "you're being judgmental" thus shaming and ignoring the facts,
c) "I'm feeling OK about it" thus equating your personal state as spiritually more evolved and therefore all others should also feel OK about it and once again dodging the facts.

Why can't you simply state, "slapping your students is wrong and Andrew Cohen should not have done so"? Seems obvious to me.

Slapping your students

///////
Why can't you simply state, "slapping your students is wrong and Andrew Cohen should not have done so"? Seems obvious to me.
///////

Maybe because there is a long-standing acceptance of such tactics in some spiritual traditions?

Are we confusing our current American ethical standards with the standards of a specific truth-seeking teacher and methodology?

I have no interest in participating in such spiritual traditions, but they have a history of being effective for some people.

If you have not researched your teacher and his methodology (in these days of easy research), then why give yourself over to him? If you have, then why complain?

Martin,Duff, please

Martin,Duff,

please re-read my blog : I have never said that Andrew is a hero for slapping students in the face. On this issue so far I have reserved judgement for the reason I will explain below. I want also to be clear that I disagree with you on the issue of the interpretation of spiritual experiences. To me, interpretation of spiritual experiences is very important, it is crucial if we want to effectively change out of them. I feel you probably wrongly quite Ken Wilber here since it doesn't seem like him to say that interpretation is useless.
I agree with you that Andrew is indeed very powerful at inducing spiritual experiences, but his teachings are much more than this. His teachings are about evolving, changing. He is also very powerful about catalyzing changes, and his vision is very powerful as well.

To address the question raised by Duff on
``Why can't you simply state, "slapping your students is wrong and Andrew Cohen should not have done so"? Seems obvious to me.''

It is were nuance is important, as Terry pointed out. You seem to present the facts like ``slapping your student into the face'' as an horrible and absolute wrong ding valid always, under any circumstances. You seem to present this as an absolute truth. I disagree with this. Whether it is wrong or not depends on the person who is doing it, and on the receiver, on what is going on between the two.

It is a bit like love making, if I may use the analogy. It might be violent and rough sometimes, but if the two parts are consenting, then it is perfectly fine. I think someone in this blog made this point which is very crucial.

In my interaction with Andrew, I had a few rough times, one in particular was considered ``tough'' by some external observers. What I can tell you is that on me, it worked perfectly well; at this moment where I was faced with my Ego, in a humiliating situation, I changed considerably and it basically liberated me from my tyrannic mind. Still today I consider Andrew's intervention at that moment as almost miraculous; this is confirmed my people close to me emotionally, it is a bit as if Andrew had been able to see through me and deliver the remedy very quickly. I am not the only one for whom it worked; many students will give you the same testimony. Andrew has a genius to see through you and push at the right moment ( for me) so that a progress which was unimaginable before can occur. Now on some other people it seems to have failed, even badly. Some people seem to be very bitter and disappointed with their interaction with Andrew.
Why does it work for me, with this particular teacher and not for others ? I don't know. This is a mystery. This is the mystery of the teacher-student relationship, which you can find a very beautiful Steinerian description in the blog by Sebastian Gronbach.

It is a real and beautiful mystery and indeed, as MD said, to accept it as it is, as a mystery, is not in our cultural consensus anymore. We are materialistic and want to explain everything , want ot have reassurance for all our interactions.

Now there is still the question of all those fro whom it didn't wrk, and who feel frustrated , betrayed by their interaction with Andrew. is Andrew responsible that it didn't work ? shall he have chosen the students better ? shall he have known better before administrating a treatment that the student rejected and felt was not respectful ?

Let be reasonable and see how other teachers did in the past with this. I made a search in Steiner because I love this teacher a lot so he is a bit of a reference for me. I saw that indeed many students complained as well, said he was abusive. External people accused his followers to be fanatics. There was the whole question of devotion to the teacher, which for Steiner was a crucial ingredient in spiritual development, and which he required before taking anyone on the trip. Now Steiner is one of the most powerful and original teachers of the last century, with a huge legacy in al post modern areas, and he gets precisely the same type of comments from his contemporaries as Andrew gets. It's just an example, and it is not to say that maybe Andrew will be more careful in the future before choosing students.

Martin, what I feel is that it is really not your job to take care of Andrew's shadow. I will agree with you that the shadow of a powerful teacher can be dangerous and that no one wants to be sitting in it. Much better make sure that
you are in his light... But ultimately, as Terry pointed out, it is Andrew's responsibility to take care of all this.

My belief is that Andrew is doing it at the moment, since those tough practices have ceased in the form of slapping to the face etc... He is evolving and his teachings as well, and that's great.

To me, I will be grateful to him all my life for having been tough with me on those few occasions. By taking the risk of offending my Ego, he has opened doors and possibilities that were not imaginable before. As a result my life and vision of the world has completely changed. I am all, completely grateful that he was himself and delivered at that moment, that he was bold enough to just act like this.

Evolutonary Enlightenment and Shadow

Terry,

I wanted to thank you for publishing my comments in spite of your doubts. Very cool.

Duff,

Thanks for the support. Reality isn't popular. Latching on to reference points after a big experience is too tempting when everyone else is doing it, and I'm often the only one spoiling that party in such a radical way, so my work is often unrewarding. But your support gave me hope.

MG,

There are many long-standing tactics in spiritual traditions. Why did Andrew Cohen choose slapping from that menu? Furthermore, Andrew did something worse than slapping students himself - he got some students to do the slapping on his behalf, thus making them violators too. He even got his wife to slap and harangue some hapless ashamed guy. That is ugly. And Andrew claims to be more evolved than others, so why didn't he find better ways by using his higher wisdom? How evolved is he really? Actions speak louder than words.

Catherine,

I agree that you didn't use the word "hero", but you wrote, "one thing I like about him is precisely that he doesn t compromises with his student s Ego. He didn t compromise with mine for sure. And by doing this he takes risks." To me, this implies that you think he is heroic. Is he heroic in your eyes? Certainly, you have not "reserved judgement" because you judge that he took risks and avoided compromise - those are positive judgements of his actions.

You say, "interpretation of spiritual experiences is very important, it is crucial if we want to effectively change out of them." The point is not what you want. The point is what reality is and what reality "wants". If you want anything, experiences will be distorted to fit your desire. It often only happens within a second of the experience - so you never really sit with the experience in it's nakedness. Note that often prior to spiritual experiences, people get the thought "want nothing". That's the prerequisite for perceiving reality.

I agree that Andrew is "very powerful about catalyzing changes," but we have to be careful about what that change actually is. To outsiders, I think it is obvious that the change is about making everyone more like Andrew Cohen, rather than about engaging with naked reality. Hence his grand moral, spiritual, and philosophical "framework", and agenda of revolution.

You say Andrew's slapping of disciples and getting other disciples to do the slapping on his behalf might be "a bit like love making". Then why did Andrew call those who criticsed the slapping, etc., "losers". Where is the "love making" in that? You said, "we want reassurance for all our interactions." That's what Andrew consistently wanted from Papaji and he freaked out when he didn't get it - don't you think it looks suspiciously like Andrew can give it but can't take it? Do you see how you are defending Andrew's shadow even to the point of interpreting it as "love making"? The spotlight is never on him. He is always defended by himself or others. He never puts the spotlight on himself like he does with others. On the contrary, he surrounds himself with people who agree with him, so he's totally sheltered. Everyone around him wants the idealism and the embodiment of their idealism protected. So Andrew's shadow never really gets seen. Or gets instantly interpreted as love making and risktaking and avoiding compromise.

Andrew calls his activity "Evolutionary Enlightenment". Do you think slapping is the most evolved thing he could do? If he is so evolved, then why can't he deploy whatever wisdom or power he gained from his superior enlightenment to enlighten others? Doesn't superior enlightenment provide superior resources? Furthermore, whatever tough times you had with Andrew, he didn't slap you across the face or get his disciples to slap you or get his wife to slap you. He didn't violate you, did he? How can you defend his violence towards others when he didn't do it to you?

You say, "it is really not your job to take care of Andrew's shadow." I agree. It is his job, but he steadfastly refuses to do it and he surrounds himself with people who think like him. If Andrew is pushing his worldview of morality and the evil of ego, then I'm going to counter it and point out that it comes from his unexamined shadow. I don't care about his shadow except when it starts affecting others.

You say he is improving, but then why does he lash out at critics by calling them "losers"? Why does his website have the self-serving lie that people criticise him because he's a trailblazer rather than admitting that it is because he was violent?

You say you are grateful that he was bold enough to risk offending your ego and for opening doors and possibilities such that your "vision of the world has completely changed." Don't you think it is strange that your new vision includes the fact that you now worship the greatness of the person Andrew Cohen?

Martin.

/// There are many

///
There are many long-standing tactics in spiritual traditions. Why did Andrew Cohen choose slapping from that menu?
///

The theory is that the guru knows what will work to bring enlightenment and will do whatever it takes to do so. And he will do so regardless of how it looks to the unenlightened around him. He is not the one who chooses the method, he is just capable of seeing the need and delivering it. Or having others do so. So goes the theory.

Listen, I have no dog in this hunt, I am just reporting. And, as I said before:

///
If you have not researched your teacher and his methodology (in these days of easy research), then why give yourself over to him? If you have, then why complain?
///

Dear Martin, there are so

Dear Martin,

there are so many questions you asked, and I feel that by reading us now, most of the people will get a good idea of what our respective positions are, which is to me the goal of this exchange.

There are a few very personal questions. I'll take a few of them. You asked me how would have had reacted if I had got slapped in the face. Then answer is that I have no clue. If it induced a huge change like the few times Andrew was tough with me, then there would be no problem. If I felt that there was disrespect, I would have left.
Apparently you yourself were not in anyway ``hurt'' by Andrew [ I read your story], so in this discussion there is you, who didn't come close enough to receive Andrew's fire and me, who came close enough to him to receive the fire, but who is most grateful for it.

Don 't I find it strange that my new vision for the world now includes gratitude and worshiping of the greatness of Andrew. Well, what would you do if someone had freed you from the grip of your crazy mind ? doesn't it deserve a bit of, I don't know... love, gratitude, admiration ? it is to put to Andrew 's credit that he has never profited of the situation. He has been absolutely impeccable with me, very respectful. I don't think I am blind towards him, I don't consider him as perfect, and I know he has a shadow like everybody. He is work in progress like you and me. Actually from time to time I am writing to him what I think. So there is room for positive criticism, and the stronger and more enlightened the group becomes, the more room there will be.

I agree with you that people who left are not losers and shall not be considered that way. I feel they were already bold enough to go for an adventure with this teacher and I find it beautiful. Most of them are prosperous and very grateful for the time they spent with Andrew. I don't think Andrew considers them as losers actually. The people he called ``losers'' are the ones who constantly attack him and consider themselves as his victims. Now to me those too shall not be considered as losers, but please if they could also consider that the constant victimization is very detrimental to all of us. It's too negative, really, it doesn't move us forward. I feel that if maybe at some point it was important to say those things, the fight is over now. Andrew has made the changes needed and it is time for all of us to move on with what interests us.

The worshipping of greatness is an issue which is very dear to me, as a scientist.
I do worship Greatness for Greatness for a very long time. I just didn't know I was doing it. When I meet a great scientist it always generate some kind of very strong heart felt admiration in me. I fall in love intellectually. This is the second face of God, which is very strong still for us scientists. Maybe it is because we are still not at the green level, but it is a quality that I would really like to be rescued in the higher stages of evolution. You have no clue what is the joy and empowerment
when one is really admiring someone... It is within this energy that discoveries are made, and that miracles can occur in life.
I worship Greatness and the New wherever I find it, and the world is thus enchanted out of this, and believe me the ride is incredibly good.
You have no clue what you miss in life, if you have never felt this surge of love for someone that impressed you as great.

I have no problem if you don't see the greatness of Andrew. Some people will see it, others not, and it is how life is made. But I shall stand for what I saw, and what I believe.

Reality and Responsibility

MG,

Yes, that's the theory. But the theory is a fantasy. The idea that the guru is omniscient, knows best, sees into you, etc., is nonsense. The results prove it. There have been so many gurus, yet so few results. What normally happens is that the disciples become dependent on the guru and vice versa. The guru/disciple relationship is a co-dependent relationship.

You say, "If you have not researched your teacher and his methodology (in these days of easy research), then why give yourself over to him? If you have, then why complain?"

Here I think we need a balanced response. If you walk down a dark laneway and get mugged, then you certainly must take responsibility for the bad choice. But you have also a right to criticise the mugger. So long as you are doing both, then it's valid. Furthermore, you have seen in Catherine's responses that Andrew Cohen has power over people. They become infatuated and awed. He has charisma (simplistic thinking makes you confident and confidence makes you attractive) and he taps into people's idealism. So he must take even more responsibility than the mugger.

And he is a great salesman. I remember at a retreat in India when people were reporting to him their spiritual experiences. The first thing out of his mouth was, "That's great." The second thing out of his mouth was, "Now are you prepared to live up to it?" Sneaky, huh? Praise first, then demands. He's like a coiled snake suddenly striking you out of the blue. Before you even had a chance to integrate the experience - contemplate it, sit with it, be in it - he sneaks in with his idealism agenda and makes people feel guilty for not "living up to it", which means not living up to his or your wrong interpretations of the experience. In Freudian terms, he taps instantly into the superego's agenda of morality, perfectionism, and idealism, rather than giving space for naked reality to unfold.

What he should do is figure out why people fall back out of their heightened state. It's because society doesn't support it and so it is unsafe to remain in those states. Also, we are lured out of those states by society's din of materialism. Andrew says we fall out of such states because of evil ego, which is sheer nonsense - ego is good and needed for self-defence (it protects life). And he complains that even if he provides safety, people still fail. But what kind of safety is it when he is waiting to criticise and slap you? All along his impatient idealistic shadow is waiting to strike - to criticise and slap. If the criticising and slapping "work" it's only to make you fit into his agenda.

Believe me, once you are involved in that superego / Andrew Cohen / community / spiritual vortex, it takes a lot of hard work to even think straight afterwards. In a way, it is worse than mugging. When you are physically assaulted, your mind is still free. But when you are psychologically trapped by someone like Andrew Cohen, your very mind is hooked and you have to sort of separate yourself from it and try to fix it - a very difficult process.

While there is research available on the internet, it is often a friend who takes you along to his meetings, so you are hooked before you get a chance to investigate.

Catherine,

I understand you feeling gratitude for being freed from the mind, but I think you were only partially freed. The idealistic and romantic parts of the mind are still pushing the agenda, rather than letting naked reality unfold.

I don't think you are fairly addressing the fact that Andrew calls his critics "losers". You say:

"they could also consider that the constant victimization is very detrimental to all of us. It's too negative, really, it doesn't move us forward. I feel that if maybe at some point it was important to say those things, the fight is over now. Andrew has made the changes needed and it is time for all of us to move on with what interests us."

This is really sweeping it under the carpet. Firstly, I am sure critics would stop if Andrew faced the criticism honestly. Instead he gets defensive, lies, and attacks. Secondly, the thing that is detrimental is Andrew avoiding the issue and hiding his shadow. It is like an untreated wound that festers forever in the background. Of course, it is likely that he will never face it because his grandiose self-image of being The 21st Century Guru would be threatened, and he is supported and protected in so many ways. He has created a whole army of people who believe everything he believes. They continually reflect back his beliefs and tell him he is wonderful and they even worship him. It's pretty hard for anyone to give all that up. Yet, he demands that others give up everything.

You say, "when one is really admiring someone... It is within this energy that discoveries are made, and that miracles can occur in life."

I would say that it gives you particular kinds of new experience, but it also distorts perception so that you cannot experience naked reality, or at least cannot stay with naked reality.

Martin.

Co-dependent indeed

"The guru/disciple relationship is a co-dependent relationship."

Martin, you nailed it right there. Some Al-anon meetings would be helpful for former students of abusive gurus IMHO.

``Furthermore, you have seen

``Furthermore, you have seen in Catherine's responses that Andrew Cohen has power over people. They become infatuated and awed. ''

Martin , this is a terribly nasty sentence, really. You accuse Andrew to aggress people but look at the way you talk about me. I cannot believe it ! I thought we were spending some time discussing in a spirt of mutual understanding about some issues. As adults, as rational human beings. Then you resort to really nasty attacks like this one and you patronize me on what I shall do or believe, as if you know better than anyone what it means to be free, how free I am, and what kind of belief system I shall have.

You take this kind of stupid father like macho attitude with me and believe that I will not dare to say anything, that I am a poor little girl on which Andrew has take power on...
if only you knew...

I am a scientists, remember, as such I am a free thinker. It is the opposite of what you say : I am the nightmare of any cult, believe me. I also know when people try to take power on me, like you just did now. And I know how to defend myself.
My philosophy of life is completely different from yours. I am not ashamed to love and have admiration for a spiritual Teacher who has indeed taught me something. I feel it is only when our soul is really weak that on is afraid to love and admire.
When our soul is strong , one can love and admire and be free.
I indeed believe in imagination, in ideals and I am a romantic. I am not ashamed of it. I am a romantic scientist, how about this... I am a good scientist, as well.

It is my last participation. You can continue to judge me and say nasty things about me I will not answer anymore.

ask him some tough questions

Dear Terry,

Why don’t you shift the conversation with Andrew a bit and move to another subject (though one related to the main subject of this blog)?

I mean, I have already asked you to ask him a few questions about the way he trashes his Guru/teacher Papaji. I do not know why you do not ask him those questions. They are good “hard” questions and he ought to be put to task with them. Andrew has a long history of going after the “dirt” about other teachers. I used to joke with my friends that he should call himself Andrew Landers instead of Andrew Cohen because of his keen interest in the faults of other teachers. So why do you not pin him down – that if he himself is guilty of even half the stuff alleged about him then where does he get off going after others, especially his own teacher?

The subject I propose in this email is to check him on his enlightenment. I remember that he once approached some Tibetans (I think) about his state, to check if he was realized. It seems from what I remember that they did not answer affirmatively that he was realized. But why don’t you pose some questions to him to shed light on his state? The following are the questions:

1) The Self is not a subjective position only, correct? For example, when Ramana Maharshi was once asked what he was always gazing at, he replied "What do you think I am gazing at -- I am gazing at myself." That is, the objective world is also the Self. Or as the Mahavakya says: "All this is That." Or: "The world is an illusion; only Brahman is real; the world is Brahman."

So, you could ask something along the line of: "Do you agree that the Self is not simply a subjective condition, but that in fact everything is the Self including the so-called objective world. Then ask: "So, when you look at me is it perfectly obvious that I am you?" or: "So, when you perceive the objective world, say a tree or a mountain, is it perfectly obvious that it is you?"

If he answers affirmatively, you could follow up and ask how exactly this recognition of the world as the Self comes about? Does it involve some special shift in perception, is it intuitive, can anything even be said about it with language?

Another interesting follow-up is to ask if Realization comes in stages: that is “Does the Self-Awakening first occur subjectively, and then as a second step is the world also recognized as the Self, or does it happen simultaneously? I mean, how did it take place in your case?”

2) You could ask about the common states of dreaming and sleeping. These states are also the Self, correct? So, ask Andrew if he dreams. If he answers affirmatively, ask if it is obvious in the dream state that the dream too is just the Self? Here, what I am pointing it is that when I dream, my position is basically like a version of my waking state – whether the dream is mediocre or wildly exaggerated (blissfully or terrifyingly), I am in the same dualistic state I am in when I am awake. But clearly such cannot be so for a realized being.

What about sleeping? We know that normally deep sleep has a sort of unconscious aspect to it. Normally we would not be able to say that there is any self-awareness in deep sleep. The actual process of falling asleep is sort of delicious, and good sleep is much appreciated; nevertheless, one would not be able to truthfully say that there is any self awareness in deep sleep. But clearly, if someone is Realized, one would expect that the deep sleep state would not occlude that Realization. So, ask if deep sleep is somehow different, if somehow the Self position shines through.

3) Andrew has always claimed a great admiration of Ramana Maharshi, basically putting him forth as the most pristine example of a realized being. A very interesting part of Ramana’s teaching is the Yogic aspect. Ramana preferred to talk in terms of the Self, the Heart, consciousness etc.; however, in the Ramana Gita, when posed a couple of very tough questions about realization, he shifted to talking in a more Yogic way. These answers are contained in the chapters The Science of the Heart and Breaking the Granthi Knot (the knot of ignorance). In these chapters he goes into his descriptions of the sahasara and the amrita nadi and the right side of the heart. He describes that the knot of ignorance is broken because, as the Self position is realized in consciousness, simultaneously the spiritual energy of the body becomes concentrated in a nadi running out of the right side of the heart to the sahasara. The sahasara becomes filled with a brilliant light that is so powerful no objects or mind forms can penetrate it and cause identification with phenomenal existence.

This aspect of Ramana’s teaching is quite rare. He himself said that he had found it mentioned in only one text, a volume in Malayalam on Ayurveda. From what he said, one gets the strong impression that even that text did not go into it in any detail like Ramana did. In fact, as far as I know, the only other place that it has been explored is in the life and teachings of Adi Da. Adi Da often talked about it in great detail. There are examples of both Ramana and Adi Da (and one example I know of with Papaji) where they gave direct transmission of the right side of the heart and the amrita nadi. It was not just talk with these teachers. They could put their money where their mouths were, so to speak.

So, ask Andrew if these things are true in his case. Simple question, in my opinion, and he ought to be able to answer yes or no. In fact, Nisargadatta Maharaj was once asked about Ramana Maharshi and his teaching. He responded that he agreed with everything he said except for the part about the right side of the heart and the amrita nadi. He said these things were simply not part of his experience and thus he could not say anything about them one way or another.

One thing: the way I pose this email has sort of a muckraking attitude to it. It would be good that you ask the questions because you seem a more tolerant guy. You obviously have a human relation with Andrew. If you ask the questions (or some version of them – they are not fixed in stone, and can be modified to your taste), a real discussion might ensue.

Now, how do these questions relate to the subject of this blog?

My background is in science and also American criminal law (at the appellate level). Both disciplines are very left brain and always refer back to concrete examples and tests to establish baseline principles. They are very no-bullshit disciplines. For example, the entire premise of the law is that it is to be interpreted by a reasonable person. You can neither get too sophomoric nor too complicated and intellectual. A reviewing judge will not tolerate either approach. (As an aside, the best lawyer in the last decade arguing at the Supreme Court level is an ex Harvard mathematician.)

So, it seems to me that as a preliminary to a consideration of this blog we must acknowledge that there is a long and valid tradition of Gurus bringing out the stick and levelling their students on occasion. I recently listened to an interview with David Godman where he comments that all of the kitchen workers at Ramanashram during the time Ramana was alive were really only engaged in one thing: the lesson that obedience to the Guru was the law. Though Ramana was remarkably tolerant of differing views from those who came to him on a casual basis, for those who lived and worked in the ashram his word was the law and he was not shy about enforcing it.

In Godman’s book about Annamalai Swami there is mention of an incident where Ramana beat his brother with stick so badly that he broke it on him. This was apparently one of the reasons that his brother usually avoided him and was generally seen to shirk his presence with an attitude approaching fear. (This was one of the reasons, though there were others – mostly relating to the fact that his brother often disobeyed Ramana on matters relating to money and didn’t want to be called out about it.)

Now, given that there is this tradition, I think that it is valid when the Guru is enlightened. When the Guru is not enlightened, I think it is more problematic - not necessarily always so, but it gives me pause. I would say that in the Zen tradition, where it is accepted that the teacher can get out the stick (literally), then it is not problematic even if the teacher is not fully realized. But in the context of Western teachers employing these methods outside of a tradition, or within some tradition that is not really rigorous or which they have sort of invented, then it definitely gives me pause. The teacher better be enlightened if he is going to use these methods, or be a teacher of considerable realization and spiritual truck, and not some featherweight.

Ramana was once asked if a jnani can help anyone on any spiritual path. He answered yes, definitely. He said that the jnani is like a man on the top of the mountain who can clearly see how the different paths reach the summit and thus he can help a person when he is lost get back on the path. Like that, I would say there is no problem with a jnani giving a whack or a shout or whatever is necessary to get the person back on the path but the teacher better be a jnani.

See what Andrew has to say about the relation between realization and a teacher’s use of “strong” methods with his students.

Nuff said for now.

to Martin G: get real with the way you write

To Martin Gifford,

There is a serious problem I think in the way you write on this blog. I think you need to examine carefully your propensity to make big categorical statements. A lot of them are simply not correct. I will give you some examples:

YOU SAY: Papaji didn't use the second approach, which maintains the illusion that you rise up to reality.

Papaji had in fact a considerable history of using exactly such an approach when necessary. If you read the book AMAZING GRACE and the chapters SATHYA and YOGI. Or if you read David Goodman’s biography of Papaji, you will find examples of Papaji bringing out the stick big time if he felt that it was needed.

A more accurate statement is that busting the ego was not Papaji’s PREFERRED method. But he did use it when necessary.

YOU SAY: There are all kinds of "spiritual" experiences, states, and processes. They are true as themselves as they are happening. But, as Ken Wilber points out, a moment after their onset, or a moment after they pass, we mistakenly interpret them. The interpretations are untrue. They come from the personality and the limited mind. Andrew - right from his first experience when he was 16 - believed his interpretations of his experiences unquestioningly. This is a fundamental problem with our human predicament. Our minds are limited so our interpretations are going to be wrong. We must stay with naked reality as best we can.

How can you make such a conclusion on such a vast and difficult subject as the interpretation of spiritual experience? Also, how can you in one sentence throw in Ken Wilbur as if his consideration of the subject is the definitive take on it? Have you yourself enough fluency with the panorama of spiritual experiences and the resulting changes from them, to make such a conclusion? It has become clear to me from my spiritual life, that some spiritual experiences are transformative. They produce a new state in the person, SUCH THAT THE MIND ITSELF is brought to a new level of discrimination. There are insights that begin to arise in consciousness that give a much needed UNDERSTANDING of the fruit of such experiences.

A much more in depth consideration of the subject than the one-liner from Ken Wilbur (who by the way, though he is a great scholar and a serious spiritual practitioner, I do not consider any sort of an authority on any spiritual matter compared to the likes of great Realizers like Ramana Maharshi, Papaji, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Adi Da etc) is in THE KNEE OF LISTENING by Adi Da. He underwent a series of spiritual experiences at key times in his life, that were the catalysts for key transformations of his point of view about the fundamental nature of Reality and the spiritual process. They led to a critical evolution in his UNDERSTANDING, without which he would not have been able to proceed on his journey to realization.

YOU SAY: Yes, that's the theory. But the theory is a fantasy. The idea that the guru is omniscient, knows best, sees into you, etc., is nonsense. The results prove it. There have been so many gurus, yet so few results. What normally happens is that the disciples become dependent on the guru and vice versa. The guru/disciple relationship is a co-dependent relationship.

This is just a fantastic statement (and you are intelligent enough to know it). NO REASONABLE PERSON WHO HAS SERIOSULY STUDIED THE GREAT WISDOM TEAHCINGS OF MANKIND can come to any other conclusion that a Guru is almost always necessary for spiritual realization. Every one of the Masters I mention above was very firm on this matter. There have been a few rare exceptions to this rule (Ramana himself, Byron Katie and perhaps a few others), but the facts are the facts and they are that the vast majority of Realizers came out of a tradition and had a Guru. Ramana Maharshi said it so simply: Realization is a tough row to hoe; it takes tremendous determination and effort, and the only thing that significantly aids the process is to come into the company of a jnani and his Grace. That is the way.

All of the Masters I mention would also take you seriously to task about your claim of so many Gurus and so few results. First the proper allegation would be: so many SADGURUS and so few results. But is this true in any way? First, there are probably only a handful of SadGurus alive on the earth at any one time. Second – how do you know? How do you know how many of Ramana’s devotees became realized? Is there some list published on Wikipedia? Of course not. AT LEAST SOME DID!!!! That is a tremendous achievement. Ramana (and Nisargadatta especially) said that you have it basically backwards. The problem is not with the SadGuru, the problem is with the devotee (not in any absolute sense as if a devotee is inherently less than or deficient or unworthy); the devotee represents real practical obstacles as the ego and the conditional mind etc. And these obstacles take time to be removed or undone. There is simply no other way.

To say that the guru/disciple relationship is a co-dependent relationship is just such junk. Read David Goodman’s series THE POWER OF THE PRESENSE, just read it please, and then tell me if you still have the nerve to make such a statement. The relation between the SadGuru and his devotee is the heart of the greatest and most precious transformative power available in all the universe. The physics of it are deep and probably endless throughout time unto infinity.

YOU SAY: What he should do is figure out why people fall back out of their heightened state. It's because society doesn't support it and so it is unsafe to remain in those states. Also, we are lured out of those states by society's din of materialism.

Oh really?? You make this statement as if it is the definitive take on the subject. I find it illuminating that Ramana never made any such statement at all. He apparently assigned ZERO weight to the propaganda of society as the reason for the lack of self realization. He did assign a lot of weight to the recalcitrance of the ego and the strong vasanas associated with it. I strongly suggest that you watch the video THE SAGE OF ARUNACHALA and the short section in it where Kunju Swami describes the night Ramana’s mother died and the process that was happening as Ramana had is hand over her heart. Ramana said that his mother was going through many potential worlds and lives of experience based on her tendencies, and that he was facilitating these being undone and thus no longer necessary, so that eventually she resided free in her true nature at the heart.

Nisargadatta and Papaji likewise assigned no weight (that I know of) to the propaganda of society, but a lot of weight to the ego and its tendencies. Adi Da did discuss and critique fiercely the tendency of society to delude people with scientific materialism and religious provincialism, but he never said these are the FUNDAMENTAL obstruction to realization. On the contrary, he strongly affirmed that the fundamental obstacle is always immediate and native to the practitioner, that it is an action the practitioner is engaged in the moment, an act of separateness that is the ego itself.

Look, Martin, I have encountered you and your writings on other forums. Your writing reflected on those forums the same faults it does on this blog. You need to look at with real honesty and straighten it out. I am a professional writer and I think I can say these things with some authority and that they are basically indisputable. Get real with your writing and you will be much better able to get to the truth of things, and that is what you are after, right?

An invitation to curiosity

I'm amazed by the intensity in this discussion thread. feeling reminded of when Ken Wilber opened a forum on his Shambhala site in the 90s, it somehow became a magnet for an enormous debate about Adi Da. Ken had praised Adi Da highly, and then expressed some critiques, and there was a huge pent-up appetite for heated debate about Adi Da. The forum archives quickly became enormous and unwieldy. Ken and Shambhala separated the forum into Adi Da discussions and some other discussions. And then the whole Adi Da discussion found a moderator and migrated elsewhere. Ken never participated in it at all.

I'm honored that you smart people are making my blog a home for your contributions. Sincerely. And yet I don't resonate with much of what's resounding here; like MG, I feel like I don't have a dog in this fight.

I am trying to stay more engaged here than Ken was in his forum. But I cannot comment on all the perspectives that have been voiced. So much can be said! A few brief comments: 

Martin and Duff — I can appreciate the evidence that draws you toward your scornful dismissals of the Guru role (and I think it is important to take into account, by the way)  but I agree with Chris on this. You haven't "performed the injunction" and therefore aren't members of "the community of the adequate" who are able to engage aspects of the discussion going on here. In other words, there's significant evidence for the value of the Guru function than you know about or seem willing to countenance. All lineages are based on it, and therefore most of the spiritual wisdom of humanity, even what's now finding its way into a more general "democratic" expression. I don't ask for you to accept its value blindly, but please address those of us with experience you don't have with appropriate openness and respect. Notice please how much your rhetoric sounds like Modernist positivists (like Hitchens or Dawkins or Shermer) and consider what new perspectives and insights that might suggest. 

Wilber points out the progression from preconventional to conventional to postconventional morality proceeds paradoxically. At a pre-conventional moral level stealing is okay, because if I want it enough I'll take it. At a conventional moral level, stealing is always wrong no matter what. And at a post-conventional level, stealing is usually wrong, but under certain circumstances they'll give a pass to the guy who steals the life-saving medicine for his dying wife. Slapping students seems to me to really suck almost all the time, Duff. I agree. But not absolutely always. And I've heard & read stories about people feeling served by such tactics in and out of Andrew's community. So I squint at these stories, notice the smell, and I don't give Andrew an endorsement of his past (un?)skillful means, but I suspend final judgment. And that discernment deserves your respect, not your scorn.

Catherine — I empathize with your words of appreciation for Andrew, mainly because, in addition to being *very* impressed by the quality of his students, again and again, all over the world, in multiple situations, encountering them in seminars and talks and conferences, *and* (after a couple of decades of holding my nose and just feeling like he was arrogant) I myself have felt catalyzed by Andrew's very kinetic transmission. So we're resonating on many levels. Even so, it seems that the dynamics of the evolution of culture and consciousness are asking Andrew to transform the pattern of his communication so that he can evolve it to a new level of efficacy. I don't presume to tell him exactly what he should do, but the whole enterprise is disserved if he lets his voice become marginalized, which is tending to happen in some quarters (witness this discussion.) So I am encouraging him to tackle that head-on.

Where I challenge him most is in terms of finding right-hand quadrant expressions. Integral evolutionary spirituality needs to find ways to do some serious Good Works, and until we do, we're just calling people to passionately devote themselves to serving the evolution of consciousness and culture. In some quarters, the kind of debate that's unfolding on his blog will tend to be seen to characterize what we're all up to, to the discredit of us all. Instead of being people with strong opinions, I'd like us all to show up as people with strong passions to make a real difference. To do so we need to find ways to act that "unlock the game" and uplift everyone concerned, and escape the usual political and spiritual and economic and communicative categories.

Meanwhile, though, Chris — I hear your implicit critiques of Andrew, particularly the juxtaposition of his brash and iconoclastic youthful persona with his current struggles with determined critics, so I get why you and many others feel inclined to give him a taste of his own medicine (high inflexible standards.) Having drunk deeply of Adi Da's unparalleled technical description of enlightenment, I understand the technical questions you're encouraging me to put to him about his realization and understanding and yoga, etc. Honestly, though, that's probably above my pay grade. What I'm interested in is catalyzing an uplift of the level of public dialog, and relating higher consciousness to the larger worldwide crises of our time. And in that enterprise, the Daists are spectators, whereas Andrew's students are like Navy Seals. That's powerful contravening evidence worth contemplating, don't you think?

That's what I was intending to serve by posting my original blog post. I would *like* for all of us to notice the "partial truths" that tend to lie outside our own experience, and become authentically curious about them, rather than repetitively advocate for what we already know.

This will probably strike some of you as superior and condescending. Perhaps I too can stand to see what my perspective tends to exclude. Point taken. But my points remain. eh? 

Byron Katie always asks "who would you be without your story?" And Andrew Cohen sometimes asks his own students to be "more interested in what you don't yet know than you are in what you already know." That would uplift this dialog mightily if we all actually honored that invitation. That's why I'm ambivalent. The tone of our exchange could deepen a lot in its humility and openness and softness. So, sounding like a broken record, I'd again like to invite us all to be less certain, more self-skeptical, and authentically curious. 

Dear Terry, this is a

Dear Terry,

this is a wonderful comment, I am really impressed by the way you masterize the various answers to people.
For the part which concerns me, I couldn't be more in agreement with you, in every point. First you got perfectly well, that Andrew's greatness resides in the ``kinetic'' transmission of his teachings. It is where his teachings are unique, really. It is a bit like this : before everything was static [ with a few exception s like Steiner] and now, Andrew is putting Enlightenment into motion. The scientific analogy is that he has understood what is Spiritual Acceleration. He understood it very precisely and with great depth, and that's why , as a physicist I am completely hooked. To me he is the Newton of Spirituality, the one who has written the law of the dynamics, not for material bodies, but for Spirit itself. So I completely resonate with your kinetic intuition on him. That's where Andrew is a genius and that the very reason that we cannot let his message being wasted.

Now I happen to agree as well with the second part of your comment. When you write `` the dynamics of the evolution of culture and consciousness are asking Andrew to transform the pattern of his communication so that he can evolve it to a new level of efficacy. I don't presume to tell him exactly what he should do, but the whole enterprise is disserved if he lets his voice become marginalized, which is tending to happen in some quarters (witness this discussion.) So I am encouraging him to tackle that head-on.''
I couldn't agree more. I noticed to my dismay how my message of support of him was getting marginalized immediately, by assumptions that he is ``a bad guy''. So I felt I had to defend him *first* before being able to tackle philosophical issues and scopes, which are really what interest me.
Now, in my heart, I know that Andrew's Teaching don' t have at the moment the impact it should have. Far from it. He got some recognition, with people like you or Ken Wilber, but beyond recognition, a teaching like his shall be able to directly affect consciousness and culture by its own power and not through the credence and support of some external person [however great those persons might be].

When Newton wrote the law of the dynamics, he got quick recognition in scientific circles, and basically it was an earthquake, a ``big bang'' if one can use this term. Now it was modern times, and Newton had many peers around him on the same track, so that when the law was found, it got accepted quite easily.

Here with Andrew the situation is more complex, and I agree that if he doesn't change drastically his way of communicating, I don't see how the spiritual blast that his teachings are will get the impact the world needs. It is as if the main idea of the absolute value of the desire ( intention) to evolve for the purpose of evolution itself was getting scattered through the Green meme, and damped so much that it is not recognizable anymore.

It is maybe easier to get it for scientists like me, who function with a community at the Red level of evolution. When something terribly new emerges, we don't spend years pondering on it, we explain it for a while,discuss it [ sometimes fiercely between ourselves] until leaders and others have got it, and at some point the whole community shifts and accepts it, if it is new and valid. It is this kind of acceptance, this movement of absolute submission to what is really New that I find a bit missing in spiritual circles at the Green meme.

So, like you I have no clue how Andrew should do it to update his way of communicating, but I am convinced that he shall do it as soon as possible. I just hope he reads us and gets convinced that there is urgency here. The world is waiting for Andrew's ``momentum and kinetic transmission'' and so far it doesn't get it.

Thanks so much Terry for the way you managed your blog.
I am really impressed.

Let's hear it for openness and curiosity!

I had decided not to read any more posts on this blog, because it was looking like it was turning into yet another harangue dominated by Martin's anger, and I was starting to feel like taking a shower might be a good idea. But I am so glad I opened this email today! Thanks so much, Terry and Catherine, for your willingness to hang in there, restore some sanity, and open the window to let some fresh air into this discussion. I have to say that I am sitting here this morning in awe of your spaciousness, non-defensiveness, openness, curiosity, grounded knowledge, inclusiveness, and genuine expression of an integralist view. I have noticed that when even one person steps into a dialogue with highly polarized views, intent only upon being "right" and making everyone else "wrong" with their pile of "evidence", that it's very easy to start feeling that you are speaking to a brick wall with not even a pinhole of light or space for receptivity to the views of others, while simultaneously trying to fight off an "attack dog"(!) But challenging and frustrating as these types of discussions can be, (where the "wounded party or parties" are driven only by "exposing the 'evil one' so that they can be declared victorious and enjoy the sweetness of revenge")--this kind of dialogue is of great importance at this time in our history. Anyone who looks around the landscape will notice the futility of polarization, and the potent force of the ego to dominate and be "right", at the expense of continued fragmentation, destruction, and confusion. We have only to look around the landscape to see how much devastation this way of being has created in our larger universe. So something of enormous significance is being revealed here.

So even though Martin has placed himself in the "teacher role" here, I am seeing that this discussion is in fact a profound Teaching for him. If there was even a snowball's chance in hell that he would be open to receiving this brilliant Teaching, all of this "sturm und drang" would be deeply satisfying indeed. And Martin, this "Teaching" is available to you only if you can listen deeply to the place that both Catherine and Terry are speaking from. To find this place, it is essential for one to temporarily suspend all of one's "prior knowledge". This is scary for those of us (all of us!) who have believed ourselves to be nothing but our brilliant minds. But f you can do this, you will notice that instead of being aligned with their "opinions", both Terry and Catherine are aligned with Truth, which "includes all pairs of opposites". They are genuinely open and inquisitive, and really want to refine and deepen their own understanding. They are willing to include and examine all "views" in their quest to know more. They care deeply about uplifting and expanding our whole situation, and treat others with profound respect and consideration, even the most aggressive and rude types. They are not in any way attached to their views, and they don't give a damn about being "right", because they know that Truth includes and transcends all viewpoints. If you look at this dialogue from this vantage point, you can't help but notice that this is a very DIFFERENT way of being for us humans. And it is as well a HIGHER Way and a BETTER Way, because there is so much breathing space, genuine care for each other, and enjoyment up here. Humanity is being called at this point to rise up, release the dualistic mind with it's insistence on polarizing everything into a paradigm of "right/wrong", "good/bad", and discover a way to meet on some "higher ground" together---there is nothing more urgent or critical for all of us at this time. "Alignment with Truth" doesn't have to mean that you agree with what another is saying, as we are all unique individuals with varying viewpoints. And all "viewpoints" are allowed to contribute to the richness and variety of the terrain. And we are no longer at all interested in attempting to bulldoze anyone out of our way with our new artillery.

And what I am speaking about is in fact is important, because it the real point of all this "spiritual work" many of us have been up to for a very long time now. A large number of have stayed in the fire long enough to allow the slow refinement and maturation of our own understanding and care. And we have learned that it's not and never was about US, or "us against the world" or "us showing those assholes what assholes they are", etc. It's about "us AS the world", whole human beings who are consistently willing to give every drop of love in our hearts for the sake of all of us rising up to express a new and much more sane and harmonious way of being together. But for this understanding to mature in us, it seems that one has to do quite a lot more than stick one's toe in the fire, start screaming and run away, and then devote most of one's waking thoughts to how one can demonstrate to everone how terrible and destructive that fire is!

And I agree with you, Terry, that although I have the deepest love and respect for Adi Da Samraj, who was my own Teacher for six years, I don't see any of my old friends who were his close students taking the leap to really give back the profundity of the training which they have all received, and infuse it all into the world. Most of them (also really wonderful people) seem to be settled into life in Lake County carrying on nicely "as usual". I liked whatever Catherine said about Andrew's "kinetic blast of transmission". I have to say that this powerful blast (which I received for twelve years of living in Andrew's community) was most definitely exactly what was required to transform a complacent and self-centered person like myself into.......ta da....a 68 yr old NAVY SEAL! I got a kick out of hearing you say this, Terry, but I also really appreciate the fact that you can see what amazing, gifted, independent, creative, and open-hearted people Andrew's long time students are. I fully agree. It makes me so happy to think about all of my old friends who have been willing to do this deep work of self-purification for many years, and to now witness what a dynamic forces for upwards evolution and positivity we are all now manifesting out here in the world. Thank you, dear Andrew, for your profound love and care for waking us all up.
And thanks to everyone as well who is contributing to this forum. I enjoyed being in your "Good Company" (to quote Adi Da) this morning. I even enjoyed being in your company, Martin, although I do wish you would work a bit on your manners. (Hint: humility means "we don't know, can't know, and will never know WITH OUR MINDS). And I REALLY enjoyed opening up to this blog and reading everything that Martin and Catherine had contributed recently. It was like stepping out of the bog into some clear mountain air, and reveling in the beauty of SPACE which is revealed when one is able to step out of the claustrophobia and suffocation of dualistic/egological thinking into a space where the air is so much fresher and easier to breathe. Merci beaucoup for this!

Wow, that was amazing:) Thank

Wow, that was amazing:)

Thank you, Roberta, for THAT breath of fresh air! I was pointed to this blog and the proceeding comment thread and started sifting my way through and when I got to what you wrote I breathed a large sigh of relief.

Thanks again,

Matt

getting curious and also a proposal to terry

Dear Terry,

You asked me to get curious. I was struck by that and decided to get a little more curious about you. I confess first that I doubt very much I could ever spend the time to read and understand the Integral spirituality you talk about. I am 61 years old and have been involved in spirituality for a good 43 years. I am a bit set in my ways about formal spiritual teachings. Probably from my few entries on this blog you can see I am basically devoted to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. I also have a very strong appreciation of Adi Da. He has had a huge effect on my life and understanding. To a lesser extent I appreciate the lives and teachings of Papaji and Nisargadatta Maharaj.

I live in Tiruvannamalai and I occasionally check some of the Western teachers who come through here during the season: Mooji, Karl Renz, Premananda, Madhukar etc. None of them make a very good impression on me, to be honest. I guess I was spoiled by seeing videos and reading the teachings of Adi Da. All of these guys seem mediocre and inept in comparison. But I try and stay cool about it all. I yams what I yam as Popeye says.

Anyway, I decided that I could watch videos of you (and also Andrew), so I went on Youtube last night and watched the video of you with the Beezone guy. Man, that was terrific. I loved it. The feeling had a lot of love and Guru bhakti in it and I am a sucker for that stuff.

Something kept coming up for me after watching the video. It was the feeling that you personally are a very tolerant and loving guy. You seem to have little edge and combativeness to you. That struck me as so good. I am different by tendency. Thus, perhaps you see my entreaties to you to confront Andrew as very combative. However, please understand that you yourself introduced to the subject of this blog, and by its very nature it is a pretty hot topic, correct? I am sure you must have realized that you would get some less than lovey-dovey entries in response. But I really don’t think my entries have been that divisive. I see them more as sharpening the level of discussion involved here, trying to make it more like a classical dharma consideration. There is a history of such considerations in spirituality and they often had the form of a sort of consideration duel. A lot of tough shots were landed to get to the truth of things.

Catherine says she is a scientist; I also have a degree in physics. A real scientist tries to find experiments that can get to the bottom of things. I see my questions to Andrew as perhaps important ways to tease out the truth in this discussion, to throw better light on Andrew. For example, I was so struck by your reverence for Adi Da and your memories of him when you were with him. This was real stuff to me, it had a strong validity. I had the very strong feeling that Andrew would not be able to make such confessions about Papaji. I want to know if he can. My desire seems important.

You say my entreaties to you are beyond your pay grade. I think you are selling yourself short. I propose the following (and I am serious):

Why not invite Andrew to have a conversation about Papaji and also about the questions I ask, and both you will drink some good whiskey during the discussion? See if both of you can engage in the discussion without any lack of love and yet still keep the viveka part of it a reasonably high level. It would be a conversation in intimacy and love about some things that are bothering your readers. I think that as a preparation for this conversation you should take some time to formulate some of the questions in a way that you can pursue them deeply. Do not go into something like this without preparation, real preparation.

You see, I get the impression that you are a bit too lovey-dovey on this blog. I see myself as giving you some of the tools that you normally would not have, but also to allow you to use them because of your general intelligence and good nature and your innate humility. The resultant mix could be very good indeed.

Nuff said for now.

PS: Take it easy on the Adi Da community. I was recently in Ganeshpuri. I went to the Gav Devi temple that they restored. It is one of the most poignant and beautiful places I have ever been. If they can do something like that, then they definitely are playing their part in the cosmic scheme.

Pointing out what's being hidden is not an attack - it's helping

Duff,

Are you interested in the enneagram? It's a personality theory that describes 9 types of ego. Many gurus are type 2 or have a type 2 "wing" - and 2 is the co-dependent type. Andrew Cohen is a 1 with a 2 wing, so co-dependence is in the mix. He even said there is no reason for his disciples to ever leave him because, he implied, he was as great as Buddha!

Catherine,

I am just paraphrasing things that you wrote, such as:

"But I got hooked because I started to change deeply, because frankly Andrew was so good at provoke a liberation from my tyrannic mind." And "It is simply that Andrew's realization is extremely powerful, so that is what attracts people around him." And "I worship Greatness and the New wherever I find it, and the world is thus enchanted out of this..."

I was responding to what MG wrote about people needing to research before getting involved with Andrew. What often happens is that a friend takes you along to an Andrew Cohen meeting, and then Andrew uses his spiritual skills and sales skills to zap you into "attraction" and "enchantment", and then it's too late to do the research that MG warns people to do. People start "worshipping" Andrew, as you admit. You admitted his power attracted you and others and that the world became enchanted by worshipping his greatness.

So he has the power to produce spiritual experiences, and he has the power to attract you into his organisation and he has the power to change you. Now, did I mean that he has control over what you do? Well, if he is your guru, then he probably does because gurus usually demand obedience. But was I saying that your responses here demonstrated the way he has power over your mind and actions? To some extent, yes. I don't think you entered this conversation with an open mind. You said at one point that we are here to share our viewpoints, but the problem is that Cohen's followers believe what Cohen says. That's the definition of a disciple. When does a disciple start creatively and critically thinking for themselves? For example, do you disagree with any of the fundamentals of Cohenism? Andrew's followers think his ideas are basically the final truth, right? They are willing to consider minor adjustments, but it's within the parameters of Cohen's "framework". If disciples think outside Cohen's "moral and philosophical framework" for an extended period, then they are no longer his disciples, by definition.

I don't believe Andrew's disciples arrive at their viewpoint through a balanced enquiry. Andrew had a magazine called, "What is Enlightenment?" but that magazine wasn't an unbiased review of the pros and cons of different views of enlightenment in order to find the true one. It was about Andrew seeking out people who essentially thought like him. Furthermore, when you went to see Andrew Cohen, he did not give you a list of pros on cons about his view of enlightenment and other views of enlightenment. Instead, he pushed his view as strongly as possible. Isn't it true that he sold his view using all kinds of dramatic and romantic rhetoric, and you bought it?

Anyway, do you see how this plays out? Andrew can slap people and pour buckets of paint over people and get people to slap other people, and that's okay or understandable or risktaking or just a human mistake, and can be nuanced away. Ken Wilber can praise Andrew's rudeness. And you can suggest that I am too weak or not interested in the highest goal ("maybe the closest students of Andrew want to climb Mont everest and you are not fit for this or not interested"). But when I merely paraphrase what you have explicitly written, you run and claim that I was being nasty. It seems that slapping and pouring buckets of paint over people isn't nasty, but paraphrasing you and implying that you weren't thinking freely is nasty. Andrew has almost total leeway to do what he likes, but critics have to tiptoe through a minefield of disciple sensitivities. Yet everything Andrew does gets interpreted positively. The message seems to be: if you maintain illusion, then you will do fine; if you challenge illusion, then you'll struggle every step of the way. Everyone in the world is clinging to illusion - that's the shocking truth.

Sure, there's no reason to be ashamed of love, romanticism, idealism, and imagination. In fact, I think they are great and even the whole point of living in this world. It's just that you first have to set them aside in pursuit of naked reality; afterwards you can return to them and use them for enjoying life. If you don't set them aside for a while in the quest for reality, many Andrew Cohens are waiting. They'll say, "Do you want to be the next messiah? Do you want to be a rock star of the spiritual scene? Are you willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of The Whole? Do you want to be The One? Do you want to help God evolve?" Etc. It's all very alluring to the idealistic romantic part of the ego. Idealism is the last temptation on the road to reality - it's very hard to sacrifice "enchantment"! But how obvious is it that Andrew lures people through the idealistic romantic part of their ego, then punishes other parts of the ego that threaten his illusion?

I have said many worthwhile things in this thread. Now you seem to be taking the moral high ground, rather than really addressing the substance of what I have written. Why are you so sensitive? Look at how sharply Terry addressed me, but I didn't back down. It's healthy to be frank if we are serious about Reality.

chris boys,

Andrew seems a little sketchy on his enlightenment event and current state. His enlightenment began in a sudden flash when Papaji said "You don't have to make an effort to be free." Then Andrew's state solidified in the following few weeks. He started teaching immediately afterwards. He used to gush over Papaji and smothered him with letters saying something like, "My beloved father, you are great, and I, your son, have surpassed you, and you knew I would." Then when Papaji insulted him behind his back, Andrew freaked out and redefined enlightenment according to his own egoic ideals. That's how I see it.

I actually think there are different kinds of enlightenment or at least different preludes to enlightenment, so I think Andrew's initial state was like the Zen and Advaita state. I think Ramana's state was much deeper and more thorough; hence, he had to be dragged into teaching others. Andrew's ego was based on idealism and ambition, so it contaminated his enlightenment, whereas Ramana let go of everything, which you have to do if reality is your priority.

Andrew claims that there are two states or stages of enlightenment:

1. Traditional enlightenment is enlightenment for the individual and is a state of passive oneness.
2. Evolutionary enlightenment (his new definition) is enlightenment for the group and is an active and evolving state of oneness.

I think traditional enlightenment actually includes "evolutionary enlightenment". The problem was that some of the neoadvaita people in the last few decades were excessively passive. They sat on their guru chairs and said we should accept the status quo and they used their "enlightenment" as an excuse for slackness - "If all is one, then I can do nothing wrong." Andrew called that way of talking "The advaita shuffle". And I reckon Andrew was spot-on for blowing the whistle on it.

Furthermore, in Andrew's group events, the participants have group spiritual experiences. Of course, Andrew's baggage of morality, idealism, and philosophy is attached, and Andrew seems to want to take great credit for it. Nevertheless, it sounds like a worthwhile experience, and personally, I have no objection to it as an experience. In fact, I think it's good and should be spread, but without the baggage.

As far as I can tell, Andrew doesn't think the details of enlightenment such as sleep states and dream states and amrita nadi are important. I asked him such questions and he just got angry. He is married to idealism more than to enlightenment. He actually said morality is more important than enlightenment. "It only matters what you do," is one quote I remember.

I had an amrita nadi experience too, and I told you elsewhere that in addition to Ramana and Adi Da, there is also a woman in the USA who has such experiences (see: www.biologyofkundalini.com). I am surprised that there is so little information available about it. It is implied in other texts: Jesus' said "I am in the Father and the Father is in me," and the old testament has a statement about wisdom being in the heart, maybe even in the right side.

Advaita people say that we are pure consciousness, and that pure consciousness is the primary state. Thus any experience such as amrita nadi is considered secondary and superfluous. Even Ramana says something like that. To me, however, I think the amrita nadi's constant activation is indicative of final liberation although it isn't the definition of final liberation, if you know what I mean.

But regarding guru violence, I think it is totally wrong. No excuses. The only time I read Ramana talking about it was once he spanked a kid and felt so bad afterwards that he promised himself never to do it again. So I wonder if the other stories are true. I don't know. If they are true, then I think less of Ramana as a result. If Papaji used violence, then I think less of him also. I accept using violence in self-defence, but that's all. Also, gurus should be working at the same time to create a world in which self-defence is no longer necessary. But can you answer me this: if you believe all is The One Self, then why do anyone want to violate The One Self?

I didn't say Ken's was the "definitive take on it". Just doing the academic thing of referencing. Also, I know Terry is into Ken and Cohen and his disciples are too.

No, I am not an expert in all the different types of spiritual experiences and changes that happen as a result. But I can still analyse them. You say new understanding and discrimination results. I am not particularly impressed with these new understandings. Adi Da was obviously a very corrupt cult leader, for example. Furthermore, he was quite explicit that his understanding was actually prior to his spiritual experiences.

Regarding gurus: I agree that a wise informant is necessary for spiritual growth or for the realisation of truth or naked reality. However, the "guru-disciple relationship" is an unnecessary cultural construct and so it is an obstacle to reality. Unless the disciple leaves the guru and starts thinking and exploring for himself or herself, then they will be locked into the guru's worldview and concepts, which is the opposite of liberation.

You seem to be in awe of these gurus. I don't see anything special in them, even though I know you can have extraordinary experiences in their company. They are only good for a very narrow area of human endeavour, but they aren't perfect or anything. Ramana's disciples claimed that he was omniscient, but he didn't even know how to deal with constipation when he was living alone in the caves. And this statement of yours seems a little over the top:

"The relation between the SadGuru and his devotee is the heart of the greatest and most precious transformative power available in all the universe. The physics of it are deep and probably endless throughout time unto infinity."

Moving on, you deny that society is the cause of us falling out of enlightened states. Well, can you imagine how easy it would be to stay in those states if everyone else was in those states? You claim the seeker or the seeker's ego is the problem. But the ego is needed for self-defence, right? If there's no need for self-defence then the ego can relax. Besides, show me someone without ego! I reckon gurus blamed disciples because then the guru looks like a hero taking on impossible odds, etc. The real reason that the gurus failed was because they weren't very insightful and the context doesn't support reality. Also, the guru-disciple relation is based on illusion to begin with.

You seem to want me to change my writing style or content. That's not going to happen unless people argue something different to the usual line about how perfect gurus are, etc. I've looked very deeply into these issues. I noticed that the claims made by disciples do not match the reality of the guru or the disciple. Probably 95% of what I have said in this thread is correct. It's simple logic. But it's clearly a thread for people who are interested in gurus, exalted states of consciousness, romance, enchantment, and idealism; so it might be the wrong audience for my writing.

But I want to second this suggestion for Terry:

"Why not invite Andrew to have a conversation about Papaji and also about the questions I ask, and both you will drink some good whiskey during the discussion? See if both of you can engage in the discussion without any lack of love and yet still keep the viveka part of it a reasonably high level. It would be a conversation in intimacy and love about some things that are bothering your readers. I think that as a preparation for this conversation you should take some time to formulate some of the questions in a way that you can pursue them deeply. Do not go into something like this without preparation, real preparation. You see, I get the impression that you are a bit too lovey-dovey on this blog. I see myself as giving you some of the tools that you normally would not have, but also to allow you to use them because of your general intelligence and good nature and your innate humility. The resultant mix could be very good indeed."

This is pure GOLD! A brilliant idea.

Terry,

You definitely do have a dog in this fight. You want to massage everything back onto your interests and to support Andrew's basic evolutionary thrust. That's understandable. However, you say Duff and I should consider your perspectives, but have you considered ours? You haven't replied to anything I have written and you have threatened to delete my posts. And you dismiss our whole discussion as "discrediting the movement".

Regardless, you said you want Andrew's work to improve, so I have 11 very obvious suggestions that Andrew should try out:

1. Plainly state the physical facts, "I slapped people, got others to slap people, and got my wife to slap a guy." Then offer no excuse or context or anything. This establishes a fact that people like to fudge around.

2. Cancel the "moral and philosophical framework". If he wants the world to fall into line, then he's going to have a fight on his hands if he wants to impose his wrongheaded framework on the world in addition to the spiritual states that he prefers. He should just stick to the spiritual states, and let others decide how to interpret them. Don't load them up with his agenda and stories.

3. Cut out the Navy Seal nonsense. Create a safe environment where egos can relax, not a conflicted and contradictory environment of evil ego (everything that is different to Andrew Cohen) vs good ego (thinking like Andrew Cohen, being Navy Seals etc.).

4. Cut the urgency. He had an accident with a taxi a few years ago and he said the only lesson he could figure out was to slow down. But he didn't do it. Instead, it was two cups of coffee per day and full steam ahead!

5. Cancel the talk about good vs evil and the railing against egos (everyone has an ego and ego is good because it protects life).

6. Cancel the romantic, elitist, idealistic, deluded talk about heroism, sacrificing yourself for the sake of the whole, etc.

7. Cut the grandiosity of claiming that he is helping God evolve.

8. Engage with people who disagree with him, if only to balance the enquiry.

9. Swap his fundamentally negative attitude towards people for a fundamentally positive attitude. Try imagining that everyone is doing their best rather than being weak, immoral, etc. The problem is the ignorant culture we are all innocently born into, not people.

10. Reduce the importance of Andrew Cohen, i.e. de-cultify his organisation.

11. Be more generous and less controlling. Create as many contexts as possible for as many people as possible to participate. In other words, switch from a control game to a numbers game. Loosen the standards and aim to reach as many people as possible with his group spiritual experience program, and trust that it will spread without him controlling the direction.

It is really bizarre to me that people are unaware of the danger of Cohenism: Navy Seals pushing his "moral and philosophical framework" onto the whole world because God wants it for His/Her/Its evolution! Who in their right mind is going to swallow that? It's megalomaniacal. And his "moral and philosophical framework" is flat-out wrong on numerous points, e.g. the ego is evil, his preferred spiritual state is the ultimate state, he knows what God wants/needs.

You wrote: "Byron Katie always asks "who would you be without your story?"" Exactly! That's been my argument all along. Without the spiritual story, there is only naked reality. The story is the only problem. The spiritual people on this thread are just weaving spiritual stories, which is just the mere opposite of the equally deluded materialistic story. Reality is naked and prior to these stories.

You suggest: "The tone of our exchange could deepen a lot in its humility and openness and softness. So, sounding like a broken record, I'd again like to invite us all to be less certain, more self-skeptical, and authentically curious."

You see the problem here is that there are some basics of reality or truth that need to be established. Any pre-emptory niceness will stop us from really progressing. We need to build on the solid foundation of reality or truth to get anywhere. All the talk of God's evolution and the guru-disciple relationship and the naughtiness of ego, etc. is all grandiose or idealistic interpretations. I'm not saying that Reality/God/Cosmos or whatever is not profound. In fact, it's more profound than those spiritual stories that people keep pushing. Actually, those stories are the opposite of "humility and openness and softness". What you are really asking is for us to accept your assumptions, then enquire, but dropping those assumptions are the first step.

But it seems you want others to be curious about your ideas, while you ignore my ideas. That's why Catherine, and now Roberta Anderson, likes the way you run this blog. But it's your blog, so you're the boss.

Roberta Anderson,

I'll just give you one paragraph, and hopefully it will get past your " brick wall with not even a pinhole of light or space for receptivity to the views of others". Here goes:

I am not attacking Andrew's whole project. I am just pointing out the things that are being ignored and swept under the carpet. You are interpreting the critics wrongly. Can you hear that? Can you let that possibility in? You react to me negatively because you want to ignore those things and sweep those things under the carpet. Since I'm blocking your attempts, you interpret my actions as attacking the whole of Andrew's project. That's what illusion is like - any real questioning makes you feel vulnerable because subconsciously you know that one pinprick will make the whole bubble collapse. But after that bubble collapses, the good aspects of Andrew's project will remain. He definitely has a lot to offer, but the prerequisite for that is that he must face his shadow. Saying that does not constitute an attack.

Martin Gifford.

Chris, I think I met you in

Chris, I think I met you in Tiruvannamalai a few years ago. I had a chat with someone talking precisely like you, in front of the Ramana Maharshi
cave, after a very strong spiritual experience in the cave.
This chat left an unforgettable impression on me, because at the time I couldn't get why an occidental person would decide to *live* in Tiruvannamalai, and also because the person I talked to [ I feel it is you] had a very enlightened light in the eyes.

Chris, for me it is clear

Chris, for me it is clear that Andrew has a deep devotion towards Papaji.
There is this video [liked below] that you can view where he talks about him. I don't know whether this will convince you, but it gives some material support to your question.
There are as well the pictures of the two of them just after Andrew's awakening, that you can find on books of time. The eyes of Andrew speak by themselves. It was clearly a love affair.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy9v30Zj8V4&feature=BFa&list=PLCEFC4EA17E...

[ there are 6 video to follow, here is the first one]

to catherine

Nope, that wasnt me you met.

I am watching the vidoes you linked me to.

Oh God, this is like pulling teeth.

Catherine, I watched the first four videos and I do not know if I can make it through the rest. He just seems so totally deluded. I can see so many signs of it.

First, he is without a doubt an absolutely terrible speaker (and I was long time Toastmaster speaker and won several contests). He seems like he is on methamphetmine, he speaks so fast. When he starts talking about what he is teaching, this jumps up a quantum notch. His eyes are all over the place, too. They are constantly looking up into his head or to the side. I am almost sure he is just making this shit up!

The first video or two when he was talking about his life, he was basically present and I could watch it. His eyes were straght ahead and making contact. Because he was not making the shit up. He was talking about his history.

His whole shpeel about his teaching comes so fast and furious with so many assumptions and so much time and space and gobbledygook. Oh God, Catherine, you are a scientist, cant you see the huge problems in his arguments? God, it is screaming in your face.

This guy is a nut.

Oh yeah, he did say some nice things about Papaji. But I would encourage you, if you want an example of the real thing, to compare it with how Papaji spoke about his Guru. Andrews words have about as much real bhakti and gratitutde as a wet mop.

Chris, honestly , and a a

Chris,

honestly , and a a scientist, I got convinced by Andrew. I got convinced that he discovered something really important which has to do with movement, with kinetics, with the acceleration of Spirit. It is very New.
You shall also feel his presence, in person. I know that I myself was not very impressed until I saw him in person.
Now, what I see from your reaction, as well as the one of others, is a huge problem of communication.
It is what Terry pointed out as well and I agree with him.

Look believe us, Terry, Ken Wilber all of the great students he has are vouching for him. There is a clear scientific way to see that we are not deluded : we are evolving under Andrew's guidance. In my case it is striking. Even my Dad who is a very materialistic (but very honest) scientist went to see Andrew because I had changed very deeply. For my Dad to move it means that *empirically* the changes are perceptible.

Andrew is not an intellectual and he attracts many people but among them many intellectuals. His way of talking is extremely logical, at a very high degree. It is precise and scientific.

I have nothing against all other masters, like Ponja, I find they are great, but to me what Andrew has which is unique, is this ``kinetics''. It is so new that one doesn't expect it to be formulated perfectly immediately.

Last Chris, I don't understand how you can say for sure that ``the guy is a nut''. This seems to me very very un-scientific, and not very enlightened. It is like the fashion to rank the Masters according to their ``objective'' realization. I don't see at all how this could be useful.
On this issue, to me Gurgjieff has the right view. He says that anyone who is above you can teach you something, and it doesn't matter at all whether he is super high or not, the question is whether what he teaches you makes you progress or not. [Actually Gurdjieff says more, he says that if someone is above you, then you cannot have any clue of how high he is. The only thing you can really know is that he is higher. All the other knowledge of how high he is, will be based on ``what you heard form other people'' and as such cannot be considered as true, first hand, Knowledge] This is a very empirical again and a very matter of fact approach by one of the greatest Masters of the last century. The real question is not ``which Master is higher'' but `` does he makes you move, progress''.

So all this idea of classifying Masters seems very dubious to me. My feeling is that behind it there is a desire of protecting oneself, of ``being sure that one is with a great Master''.

But isn't our internal GPS enough to tell us what is good for us ?

and at the end of the day, what is scientific is to look at the *results*. Did the Master teach you something or not. If there are no observable results, to me we are in delusion. It is my scientific take on all this.

So in all truth it is not because you don't resonate with Andrew that you can say ``he is a nut''. You just can say, in all objectivity, and more humbly ``I don't resonate with him''.

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