Andrew Cohen, Evolutionary Enlightenment and EnlightenNext - is it a cult?

Update 10/21/2013: In Spring of 2013 Andrew Cohen resigned from EnlightenNext as his senior student defected en masse.  All allegations in the article below (and more) have been proven, and therefore the article is no longer relevant.  For latest see Andrew Cohen and the fall of the mythic guru.  In general the site has the latest info.

Note: a more recent — although higher-level — report is in my Review of William Yenner’s “American Guru” book.

This is an interesting question, even from a purely intellectual interest, because both sides present very strong opinions. Andrew Cohen attracts deep loyalty, affection and respect from his students – many of whom are admirable and well-developed people in their own right (see my exchange with Michael Wombacher on this). There are also a large number of people who have left his movement, and some very serious allegations of unethical conduct and abuses of power. The most objective resource, in my view, is the Wikipedia article on Cohen. The EnlightenNixt website delves deeply into all these issues and I especially like A Legacy of Scorched Earth for its objectivity. This should cause any serious student of Cohen to pause.

Although I have not met Cohen, I have read 3 books by or about him (both positive and negative) and I have done extensive online research, with the goal of deciding whether I should get involved with his group. I want to clarify that my opinion here is only mine, and, as you can see from below, it is partly just gut-level / instinctual. I believe that all opinions on this topic are valid for the individual speaking them, and that it is important that all viewpoints be heard. Important both to the Evolutionary Enlightenment movement itself to examine, and to people who are considering engaging the movement and are looking for information. Failure to do this is a failure of the very integrity so prized in EE.

The conclusion of my research is that I can’t say whether EE is a cult or not; however there are so many serious ethical problems that Cohen refuses to deal with credibly, and major personality (ego) issues which preclude my ever taking him as a guru. I still think of Cohen as a spiritual genius and a gifted teacher and I consider myself a student of Evolutionary Enlightenment, which I place inside the overall framework of the Evolutionary Spirituality movement. “Enlightenment” however, it is not – I would say it’s more about building Cohen’s platform – and given the well-documented history I believe that any prospective student of EE should seriously consider this information before engaging.

I am going to summarize below a small part of the large body of evidence concerning Cohen’s reported abuses of power and complete failure to respond credibly to any of the charges. Mixed in with this are my own, gut-level responses to his own writing, followed by my assessment of the value of this inquiry for myself. Writing this article has been an extraordinary month-long research effort for me that has given a return way beyond what I had hoped, in terms of clarifying my own search for an authentic spiritual path. I hope it does the same for you, or at least that it is helpful in some way.

1) One of the more serious issues has to do with his treatment of Jane O’Neil, who donated two million dollars with which Cohen purchased Foxhollow in the early 2000s (I believe). This is told on What Enlightenment blog, of how other students were forbidden to talk to her during the decision process, how she was subjected to relentless pressure while in a rather fragile mental condition, and coached on every aspect of dealing with her uncle, from whom the inheritance was obtained after selling assets at considerable financial loss due to the time pressure of Cohen needing the funds. Cohen has never expressed any remorse or made any public apology for this, or offered to return the funds, that I know of (or apologized for any other action in his career that I am aware of).

2) The first third of Cohen’s “Autobiography of an awakening” I found intensely exciting. The last two thirds absolutely horrified me, as it reads as a long victim story of how how his guru betrayed him and how hard it is to be a teacher, of how his students, who lack his good fortune to have been totally awakened at once like himself, resist his teaching, how nobody understands the majesty and power of his teaching, etc. An interesting parallel is Swami Rudrananda (“Rudi”) in John Mann’s book “14 years with Rudi”, who also talks about the difficulties of being a teacher, but there is not the same feeling of victimization – Rudi is grateful to have the opportunity of being a teacher and expresses it eloquently. Rudi was also betrayed by his own guru (Muktananda) in at least as bad a way as Cohen was, and he took it in and moved on.

3) Cohen’s “Declaration of integrity” does not read as a statement from a mature conscious individual, who recognizes he can make mistakes and who suffers occasionally, as we all do, from narcissism, grandiosity and ego-inflation. Instead it is an attempt to explain the behaviour of his detractors by various means, they “failed” as students and needed to make excuses, that gurus like him don’t live by the kind of rules that ordinary people live by (and so we are not qualified to judge him), that his extreme commitment to his mission causes him to be intransigent of mediocrity and that people get offended by that, etc… The document is very transparently narcissistic (as I experience much of Cohen’s more personal writings) – there is zero expressed concern or assumption of responsibility for legitimate ethical concerns around his actions. What is glaringly lacking, in particular, is “sorry, I fucked-up”.

4) Andre Van Der Brack’s book “Enlightenment Blues” talks about Cohen’s temper tantrums, atmosphere of fear around him, and his sometimes brutal techniques to “awaken” his students. Cohen cannot be blamed for all the crazy ideas and feelings aroused in his students (for example the decision by some of his women students to do prostrations / immersions in a frozen lake in winter for 45 minutes). However, Cohen supported this action, which seems quite telling, and there are dozens of incidents of verbally and physically violent and/or shaming behaviour that Cohen initiated in the name of “getting rid of ego”. For example, Cohen’s telling Andre Van Der Brack, before Andre left EE, that he was “evil” (Van Der Brack’s book occurs as sober and sincere, I do not believe that he would lie). Or read the absolutely heart-breaking Story of Caroline Franklyn on EnlightenNixt and also Wendyl’s Story or Simeon Alev’s response to “Declaration of Integrity”.

5) Cohen’s defense of the “guru principle” and his frequent expression of the need for “hierarchy” in spiritual work. I can understand the need for “discipline”; but I have a sneaking suspicion that when Cohen talks about “hierarchy” he is referring to the need for his students to accept as a God (ie infallible) an individual who appears, at least from the outside looking in, to have all the characteristics of a major character disorder.

There is a very interesting thread on Rick Ross’s anti-cult site, relating to Adidam (Da Free John, a highly abusive guru who was also a student of Rudi) that really opened my eyes to this kind of problem. The idea is that an individual can have all kinds of spiritual powers and charisma, but be emotionally and morally undeveloped. In other words, we frequently confuse spiritual powers and charisma for true enlightenment. Another very interesting resource is Alan Kazlev’s article on Integral World “The Wilberian paradigm – a fourfold critique” and also his post on Sri Aurobindo’s “Intermediate zone” of spiritual development.

I have noticed, among members of some personal growth / transformational organizations, a tendancy to resist and deny information on the ethics and personality issues of their leaders. I have seen the same thing in the case of the (now-deceased) Harvey Jackins of Re-evaluation Counseling. Their reasons for doing this should be fairly obvious – that more than anything, people want to belong (to love and be loved) and to feel that their lives have a deeper purpose and meaning. Membership in a world-changing (or culture changing organization) and the powerful and deeply meaningful experiences to be had from that, can be very intoxicating, and so for people to consider issues that would put their membership (belonging) at risk, and/or challenge the legitimacy of the endeavor, can be very painful. For some more profound reflections on this topic, including an interesting analysis of the benefits to be had by studying under a flawed guru, read Simeon Alev’s article. This article also poses the fundamental question as to why Cohen refuses to apologize to anyone, admit wrong-doing, or return money that was taken under ethically dubious circumstances, which would seem to be the rational thing to do and would allow the movement to progress unimpeded by all these allegations, that must be painful for Cohen to deal with and ultimately limiting (and possibly fatal) to EnlightenNext. To me this represents a fundamental lack of courage, self-awareness, or both, on the part of Cohen.

In any case, the way that I have solved this problem for myself (the problem of needing to belong somewhere), is that I have started my own cult :), an intentional community where I now live. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for me, my housemates don’t view me as a God, and if I ever get too arrogant or too full of myself my wife will just tell me to get off it (and if I don’t respond to that, she has other ways of making my life so miserable I will come back begging for mercy soon enough). If I were to take anyone at all as a guru at this point in my life, it would be my wife.

And if, in this decision of mine (to be wary of self-proclaimed “gurus”) I have permanently eliminated the possibility of enlightenment in this lifetime – if through this decision I am simply stuck in my lower-level Wilberian “Green” (egalitarian) meme and will never get to Stage II development – so be it. We’ll see who has more fun at the end of the day.

Postscript (Oct 2008)

Although I can joke about these things, underneath it I am heartbroken that one of the most inspiring and charismatic spiritual figures of the 21st centrury is building a movement in which I cannot participate in any meaningful way. Even though EnlightenNext is doing some great work, some powerful and world-changing work, the entire organization is thrown out of integrity by the absurd claim of Cohen’s enlightenment, the shared belief system around that, the conspiracy of silence around Cohen’s personality problems among his students, and some vicious attacks, by both Cohen and his acolytes, on any person who challenges it – see for example Craig Hamilton’s response to Susan Bridle, which response I will [saracastically] summarize as “how dare you small-minded and pitiful individual challenge our Great Teacher who gave you so much and is building this great movement” – a point of view that reveals the same level of narcissim and ego-inflation as in Cohen, no surprise.

So I am left with trying to find an authentic spiritual path on my own, or with the help of more traditional spiritual movements (for example the Goenka Vipassana movement which is still amazing but doesn’t have the global vision that EE does).

There is a bitter-sweet feeling around all this. I just feel grateful that I am able to make these observations from a distance and that I am not one of Cohen’s victims myself (and no-one can accuse me of attacking Cohen in order to justify my own failures :-). And yet there is no question that Cohen has helped a great number of people, quite aside form the extraordinary power of his ideas. There is a kind of paradox in this that is going to require much more work and introspection for any of us to fully understand, I think.

A final Postscript (Jan.2009)

As I continue to reflect on these ideas I uncover more subtle distinctions. The sheer divisiveness created by these issues makes for very interesting conversations.

Every historical world-changing movement – be it the American Revolution, the French Revolution, late 19th century anarchism, Marxism and communism, the 60′s counter-culture, etc – created, among its adherents, a tremendous excitement and intoxication, a feeling of being on the “leading edge of culture”, a feeling of the “historical certainty” or the inevitable nature of the shift, a kind of dogma about it etc.  The danger, of course, is that when an  idealistic movement becomes a religion (based on faith rather than reason), all kinds of destruction and  hypocrisy can result – the supreme example of which, of course, is communism (Lenin was by all accounts, an extremely idealistic and well-intentioned person, but he created a system that resulted in the murder of 18 million people in the name of freedom).  I see similar patterns in EnlightenNext. Any time one’s belief (dogma) overrides responsible and “common sense” dealings with other people, this will happen.

Does this mean that these movements did not contribute something to the culture, or that they were not personally transformational for the people involved? Obviously not. There is definitely something wonderful about being identified with a cause that one feels to be just, that one’s whole community is also identified with and gives one validation for, and where one feels that one is a leader in a world-changing movement. Hey, I have had these same thoughts myself at times :-).

The problem with Cohen, and where the issue becomes less ambiguous, is that Cohen’s claim to complete enlightenment, his demand for submission to himself as a pre-condition for enlightenment, and other elements of his belief system, are absurd.  I believe that Cohen’s manifest (although unconscious) goal is to build his platform, not to inject more love in the world, and that authentic spirituality does not jive with treating people like shit the minute they oppose you. I also don’t believe that the pursuit of love is compatible with the pursuit of power. Love happens through simple acts of kindness and compassion, not in the infatuation with large ideas or the obsession to build a world-changing organization. The entire Evolutionary Enlightenment movement, therefore, is based on a fantasy, a delusion.

But even if all this were so, does it negate the value of Cohen’s teachings? I think not. There is a lot to be said for living in a happy delusion – many great works were accomplished while in that state. I for one, will not say that living an exciting fantasy is worse than living an empty and meaningless existence. There is no question that Cohen generates a tremendous excitement in his entourage, that many people around him are transformed, that many go out into the world and do wonderful things with his teachings. Who am I to judge another person’s spiritual path or to say what is right for their development in the moment? And I am certainly in no position to stand in judgment of other’s delusions (pathologies).

I just hope that they go into it with eyes open. That is the only purpose of this article. Because there has been a great deal of actual harm done by Cohen.

This inquiry continues to fascinate me. These are very complex questions that I do not feel equipped to answer. I will close with this thought, however: who among us is actually injecting love into the world – and who among us is just talking about it?

Because to my mind that is the test of an authentic spirituality.

“The true test of your spiritual success is the happiness of the people around you.”


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6 comments to Andrew Cohen, Evolutionary Enlightenment and EnlightenNext – is it a cult?

  • marc

    [As I had migrated the post from another blog, I am copying the previous comments here. Note very insightful comments from Hal Blacker, previous editor of WIE]

    7 Responses to “Andrew Cohen, Evolutionary Enlightenment and EnlightenNext – is it a cult?”

    October 5th, 2008 at 11:12 pm edit

    Hal Blacker, ex-editor of WIE magazine and one of the founders of “What Enlightenment” and “EnlightenNixt” blogs, wrote me the following very thoughtful mail (excerpted with his permission) commenting on this article and on my question to him which was about finding an authentic spiritual path when there is no much nonsence and misinformation out there. Thank you Hal.
    Dear Marc,

    I am very happy to hear that you found the blogs What Enlightenment??! and EnlightenNixt helpful and informative in your search. My personal motivation in working on those sites was precisely to warn sincere seekers like you about the pitfalls of involvement with Andrew Cohen, in addition to fostering the healing of ex-students of Cohen.

    I think your insights about Cohen on your website are completely right on. In fact, given that you have had no personal involvement with Cohen or his organization (or maybe because of that?), your objectivity and clarity about them is very striking. I think that must be a testament to your own maturity, intelligence, and ethicality. And, btw, a number of other ex-Cohen students who have seen your analysis have told me they were also very struck by its accuracy and insight.

    This paragraph you wrote really goes to the heart, I think, of involvement with questionable groups and movements, and the compromises people often make to maintain their involvement:

    “I have noticed, among members of some personal growth / transformational organizations, a tendency to resist and deny information on the ethics and personality issues of their leaders. I have seen the same thing in the case of the (now-deceased) Harvey Jackins of Re-evaluation Counseling. Their reasons for doing this should be fairly obvious – that more than anything, people want to belong (to love and be loved) and to feel that their lives have a deeper purpose and meaning. Membership in a world-changing (or culture changing organization) and the powerful and deeply meaningful experiences to be had from that, can be very intoxicating, and so for people to consider issues that would put their membership (belonging) at risk, and/or challenge the legitimacy of the endeavor, can be very painful. For some more profound reflections on this topic read Simeon Alev’s article.”

    A really good and well-balanced resource on this issue, in general and in great psychological detail, and on the characteristics of narcissistic group leaders (like Cohen, Adi Da and others), is the book Prophetic Charisma, by Len Oakes.

    Another perspective on this: When I told my former friend, the late UG Krishnamurti, that I was working on a blog about Cohen, he said with his characteristic directness, “People won’t believe you because if they did, they would have to admit they made a mistake.”

    Another important point of general application in your post is the following:
    “The idea is that an individual can have all kinds of spiritual powers and charisma, but be emotionally and morally undeveloped. In other words, we frequently confuse spiritual powers and charisma for true enlightenment.”

    The teachings of traditional spiritual paths are replete with warnings about going “part way”, developing powers or siddhis, and then stopping, thinking you have achieved the goal; and warnings to students about “false prophets”, egoic yogi’s and such. In some traditions, it is put another way. One might become profoundly “enlightened,” in that one has an abiding understanding and consciousness of the absolute, yet still not be mature or integrated in one’s psyche. That maturing and integration of one’s enlightenment may take many years and require real “tapas,” or spiritual discipline. One tradition I have studied (Vedanta) teaches that after self-knowledge it usually takes most people about a dozen years to integrate and mature. Even the great Ramana Maharshi may be an example of this. He spent about 12 years in silence and meditation on Arunachala mountain after his ego death experience before he began to speak and teach. In contrast, Cohen had a big experience and began to teach and gather disciples within weeks.

    I have been thinking for several days about how to answer your question about finding an authentic spiritual path and teacher. This is a difficult question to answer because, I think, while there are guidelines, there really aren’t any sure-fire rules.

    I think that what you did with your investigation about Cohen is a good start. If you find someone you are drawn to, first check them out as much as possible. Even if you meet a teacher and feel something profound, it is still a good idea to go slow, check him or her out, see if the teachings work and make sense, look at the people around him or her, observe the organization (if any). Don’t be paranoid, but use your discrimination. And if you sense something is wrong, take that sense seriously, investigate it and see if there is a basis for it or if it is just fear and resistance of ego. The Dalai Lama says this process should or could take several years. From my perspective, since the true guru is within, there is no need to rush.

    But I know from my own experience that it does not always work out that way. First, to meet a true spiritual teacher is very rare. I think that involves sincere seeking, and a certain amount of serendipity or just plain luck. Some would call it karma. It isn’t really completely in our control. In my own life, the best teachers I met, I met unexpectedly. They were not in traditions I had picked out as my own most likely candidates for a chosen path. I was seeking, and I was curious, but I would never have chosen them based on my own rational judgment. Maybe a friend thought highly of the person, and I checked him out, out of curiosity or just out of respect for my friend. Or it was even more unpredictable and out of the blue than that.

    Then, having met the teacher, making a connection and being drawn into the path seemed to happen as if it had a life of its own. When it was time to move on, that also happened in ways not entirely within my own control. With my main teachers, it was due to the guru’s death. And then something else emerged after some years. With Andrew, it was a gradual sense something was wrong, and a loss of inspiration.

    What I am trying to say is, it is good to be prudent and use your discrimination in choosing a teacher and path. I think you have shown yourself well able and inclined to do this. Beyond that, there is something mysterious about the process, that resembles something like grace. I actually have found the old adage, “When the disciple is ready, the guru appears,” to be true.

    As to finding a specific path or teacher–I don’t know if I can say anything very helpful. One reason for this is that in my experience, the best teachers are usually among the least well-known. Although that isn’t always the case. –my first teacher was fairly unknown when I met him but became very famous very quickly. I have also recently met another great teacher of a very traditional path who is famous and has a large organization. My own preference, though, is not to get involved with big organizations. I value the kind of personal contact with a teacher that is rare when they become too popular. And I just don’t think the very best teachers are going to appeal to the masses. This isn’t elitism. It’s just that the genuine search for self-knowledge is very rare.

    Traditionally, it is said that to find a teacher you should be sincere, and worship and pray. The teacher will come. There is no doubt that if you are sincere, you will be supported and helped.

    Best of luck.

    October 7th, 2008 at 7:31 pm edit

    Dear Marc -

    I love the passion and intellectual precision you’ve brought to your inquiry into Andrew Cohen. I subscribe to his magazine and I have downloaded many insightful interviews from the WIE website. I have wondered, too, about Cohen, as I have many self-professed gurus.

    Jack Kornfield has been helpful to me in explaining why some teachers just go crackers even while their teachings can just be incredibly profound. Consider every person a mandala, each segment representing one aspect of their life: the spiritual, the sexual, money, relationship, love, money, health, insight/clear seeing, siddhis (powers), the physical, etc., etc. Enlightenment may or may not necessarily permeate all of these areas. Or more simply, they are not fully developed in all of the areas. That’s how you can have a teacher who’s very wise and insightful but bonks every woman in sight. Or gurus who are wonderful teachers but their greed is enormous.

    Another thing that occurs to me is that in the West we have a certain amount of magical thinking about what is enlightenment. A useful and helpful definition I read recently is someone who has an incredibly big capacity to be non-reactive. Imagine keeping your heart open 24-7 by not being reactive? Perhaps this is a Western definition but it’s working for me.

    Thanks for your insightful comments about Cohen. I look forward to reading more of your adventures in evolutionary spirituality.

    all the best,
    October 7th, 2008 at 8:16 pm edit

    Hal and Pat –
    thank you both for your very insightful posts.
    What I have realized in this investigation – which started out as a somewhat obsessive need to “know the truth”, even to the extent that I questioned my own motivation – is some very profound truths about myself – which is perhaps the reason (in response to Hal’s comment) why I have so much insight here. The truth is that I have more than slight narcissistic tendancies myself, that manifest in a kind of love of power and an intoxication with the sound of my own words – not to mention a tendancy to indulge in “righteous anger”. It’s very comforting to know, given this, that in a dozen years or so I might achieve true spiritual maturity – although in my case I suspect it will take considerably longer than that :-). Given my age, I am not sure that Enlightenment is destined to be mine in this lifetime; but I still much prefer a life dedicated to love and laughter than one in which I am pretending to be someone other than who I really am (or else unaware of it).
    John S.:
    January 14th, 2009 at 5:52 pm edit

    Marc, I don;’t know if you’ve seen this rather insightful review of Wombacher’s book by Joe Szimhart?

    Thanks for your article.

    January 14th, 2009 at 7:34 pm edit

    actually I hadn’t. Joe is a good friend of mine.
    the review is good but I think it fails to explain Cohen’s compelling appeal to some people. I find Cohen’s ideas extraordinarily compelling, but in my world, a sociopath cannot originate an authentic spirituality. End of conversation. But then it’s apparent that Cohen is not about authentic spirituality but about building his platform. That should be the first clue.
    Nancy Froio:
    March 9th, 2009 at 11:36 am edit


    Thank you for being self expressed and having the courage to say what shows up as true for you. You do not seem concerned about your own popularity. Our culture needs more writers like you. I get a sense of your authentic passion around the spiritual ontologies arising within our culture.

    I also honor Andrew in being fully self expressed and having the ambition to build his platform, as you say.

    I have met Andrew in person in San Francisco. He certainly has charisma and a platform.

    What is your opinion on beings who submit fully to a teacher?
    March 9th, 2009 at 1:50 pm edit

    I love your ability to simultaneously hold and make-right both aspects of a question.
    And it is true that I really much prefer Andrew’s platform to, say, Gerry Falwell’s. He could be honored for that. His languaging in particular is brilliant. I so totally fall into it. It has affected me and much inspired my current world view.
    What I need to do is let go of judgments of people who fall into a spiritual path that is so obviously lacking in integrity (and who, ironically, makes a claim to total integrity). I have seen much growth in some friends who have done this work (which includes myself, albeit from afar – this article IS my work with Andrew Cohen :-).
    Thank Andrew.

  • [...] behavior generally not suitable to a “totally enlightened being” (which is I summarized in my own research article, based on original sources that include Cohen’s writing, EnlightenNixt website, Luna Tarlo’s [...]

  • Hello Marc,

    I appreciate your inquiry here and the endeveour to be open to as full a picture as possible given what you are reading. However, the conclusion that Andrew is “lacking in integrity” is based on some very questionable assumptions. I was a close student for 13 years and I know his former student “critics” very well, while I dont regard Andrew as flawless and think he has made some errors along the way, I have no doubt whatsoever about his integrity as a human being and Guru. But to appreciate what that means one has to appreciate just how embedded and dense most of our post-modern green meme egos are, and how hard a job it is for a true Teacher to catalyze genuine and enduring evolutionary transformation in real time. Without this context then so much of what Andrews detractors now call “abuse” cannot be understood. Evolution is a messy business, that is just the way it is. I do not believe it was Andrews intention ever to harm anybody, but it was his intention to help them break their egos (which they said they wanted), which can be excruciatingly painful and challenging.

    See my article for an in-depth investigation into this:

    As to your open question about how is injecting real Love into the world. In my experience (and I have done years of prectice and met many teachers) Andrew Cohen is the most courageous and passionate vehicle for Love & Evolution I have ever met. And like all the great Revolutionary Masters (not Saints!) throughout history, there are those who want to betray and tear him down.

    If you think the “evolutionary enlightenment” movement is based on delusion then I challenge anyone to go on a retreat with Andrew or visit an EnlightenNext center (and yes there are many many former students around the whole also lit up by that realization and perspective) and find out for yourself. Dont rely on hearsay and the “complaints” of some. There issues are not only questionable and lacking context, they are regarding events that occurred years ago before Evolutionary Enlightenment was a stable, living reality. Hence there is one heck of alot that they have no idea about, or ,if they do, they choose to deny it.

  • Carin

    Hi all,
    What I find interesting after spending many hours today following the various threads of blog-posts and link after link, is that everybody suddenly is an expert on a matter that was a mystery when they joined Andrew Cohen’s community. Chapeaux! I’m at a loss for words at this transformation …
    The next thing that is amazingly obvious is that I have yet to find a blog-post of someone accusing Andrew of abuse of power who was NOT in a position of high esteem in the community until they “fell from grace”. So the question arises why didn’t these people speak out, act on their conscience and express the humanity they are claiming today while they held power themselves or at least had a good reputation? Honestly: You have got to think about this one more time.
    And lastly, it is painfully apparent that the very attitude of slandering and shaming in concert with a “group-opinion” which is said to be at the root of Andrew’s satanic power game is being expressed on so many sites and in most blog-posts that it staggers the mind how such blindness is even possible. I don’t argue that incredibly bizarre things happened and that many of us suffered a lot … from the hands and minds of our fellow students. I do argue, however, that Andrew planned this all just to get his kicks. So I guess the task is not to run with the sheep all the time and be courageous.
    I have not been a student of Andrew’s for 8 years now and I was one for 10 years before leaving. I have never suffered abuse from him and I never observed him abusing others. Andrew’s sense of humor also was no problem for me since I had the privilege of getting accustomed to NY humor a long time before meeting Andrew. And I actually like it despite the fact that it can hit you right “between the eyes”.
    Reading Jane’s story is bewildering and I have no answers. I only have my own memory of what happened because I was there. And what I observed is different from what is being told now.

    Alright, these were my 5 cents worth of wisdom on this topic.

    2 more cents on Integral Enlightenment: Amazing how so many experts can create so much fog and confusion AND make a living at the same time. I’m envious. I wish I had the guts to do that. If I had, I might be just as good at it …


  • Thanks for your post Carin and injecting some sanity into the “debate”. Would be nice to be in touch, send me an email: pete.bampton

  • Chuck R

    To All:

    When one is uncertain, perhaps stressed by unsolved or insoluble issues, anyone who appears to be certain, to have positively true answers to difficult problems, is highly attractive. Uncertainty can be painful. Gurus who claim to “know” the (capital T) “Truth” can look like ports in a terrible storm.

    Unfortunately, uncertainty is our lot in life. Certainty is often a delusion, a con, or a self-delusion. The human neurological system evolved to produce certainty, whether or not the certainty is warranted. Such certainty is of great use in fight-or-flight situations where speed is essential and extended cogitation can be lethal. But in more intellectual pursuits – philosophy, theology, human relationships, “evolutionary enlightenment”, etc. – it can be a unexpected hazard. Certainty arrived at through intuitive experiences such as the AHA! experience should always be treated skeptically. If you can find additional evidence to support such certainty, fine. If you can’t, you’d better set aside such certainty.

    Certainty is a *feeling* or a *sensation*, not an idea or intellectual conclusion. As such, it is no more reliable than any other feeling such as fear, love, disgust, hatred, etc.

    Doubt and uncertainty can be painful, but they are better than the soporifics of false “truth” and phony “knowledge”.

    Check out the book “On Being Certain” by Robert Burton, MD. (2008) You’ll find yourself less addicted to seeking certainty and “knowledge” of “deep truths” than you may now be. (I have no connection to this book other than admiring it.)

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