Of the Andrew Cohen—James Swartz dynamic, Being “Too Nice,” Cow Pies in Potholes. and more...
One of my dearest friends, someone I’d known for years before I “met” Heather, she is a tall, striking woman. One sees her power in her eyes and hears it in her deep, interesting voice. She called me on Skype from India, and got right to the point. “What is it about Andrew Cohen people that makes them susceptible to someone just as bad or worse, like James Swartz?”
We discussed this for a while. It seems like many Andrew: survivors have gone to Swartz, who they see as a safer, better alternative.
She said, “Going from Andrew Cohen to James Swartz is like going from the frying pan into the fire. You have a chance to jump out of the frying pan, but it might be harder to get out of the fire.”
I told her then what the Hermit had said of Swartz and his followers. He said that following Swartz was like walking down a country road on a nice day and not seeing the pothole because a cow had crapped into it.Then, suddenly, you’re ankle deep in excrement, in pain, and wondering how something that seemed so nice to start with had gone so foul.
She said, “That’s it. He nailed it. But Heather and you and all the forum contributors are trying to warn them. So am I when I meet them. That’s why I’m calling now — frustration. Some get it right away and move on, but a few defend him.”
I replied, “Even the worst have kept some supporters until the end. It seems to be the way of things. We can’t take it personally. Some people are fated, it seems, to do things like go from the abusive Andrew Cohen to the even worse James Swartz. Perhaps things will go better for them in the years to come. We can hope.”
She agreed, and then cleared her throat as shifted the topic. She is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and attuned spiritual persons I know, so her next words meant a lot.
“It is obvious to me that you are doing a heroic job in exposing an evil monster, perhaps the most evil Western teacher of any form of advaita that has ever appeared. Also, it's clear that 'Heather's' contributions are powerful and are an important addition, and those other contributors, their contributions are very valuable, too.”
‘Those folks are great, but without Heather, none of this would’ve happened.“ I said that even as my mind was resounding with this profound and wise person having just called James Swartz “perhaps the most evil western teacher of any form of Advaita that has ever appeared.”
She responded, “Of course. Without Heather’s courage, this slimy pseudo-spiritual rapist and conman would have gotten off easy. Now, his own acts are coming back to him, as they should, and always in some way do.”
Then she surprised me. “With all that being said, you’re letting him off easy.”
“In a recent post you wrote about Swartz and his issues regarding sex, drugs, fame, power, and money. You let him off too easy on drugs. Heather in the book talked of him whining and groaning at night due to having taken too much cocaine, and he is a known heavy drinker. By just mentioning taking acid with some students, he could try to get away with the Carlos Castaneda defense.”
“He is as much the Don Juan of the Castaneda books as he is Jesus or Vishnu, as he claimed in his attempt at defending himself in the ‘special’ ShiningWorld newsletter in early 2017.”
“That was in the Heather
“Yeah. Devon did a great job putting all the articles, deranged messages from Swartz, and everything else together with Heather’s painful story there.”
On Skype I could see her. She looked more thirty than fifty in the sunlight streaming onto her from her lower Himalayan retreat (and I better say that since she will read this).
I said, “Even without Heather’s story, you despise Swartz for his false teachings and his lies. Even before hearing of Heather, the Hermit couldn’t abide him because of his falsifying his spiritual history and knowing distortion of Sanskrit in his attempts to justify his adulterated interpretations. I could have cared less about him until I heard of Heather, and since then ever.ything I’ve learned about him just paints a worse and worse picture.”
She smiled. “It’s too bad back in 2017 your teacher friend talked you out of going to Tiru and confronting the bastard in person.”
I nodded. “I’ve regretted that, too. I was only a day away. But she was right. Swarts would’ve held my questions and accusations against her, and that would’ve been wrong. Really wrong. She hadn’t even heard of Swartz until I brought him up to her.”
“Anybody good, real, and more acclaimed than he is, they have to be attacked, right?”
“ I would’ve hated for her to be attacked because of things I did that she had nothing to do with, but Swarts, at least in public, would never admit it could be an independent person who had simply researched him and found him to be in utter asshole, rather than there being some conspiracy. The only conspiracy is against rapists and fraudulent teachers. If that’s a conspiracy, I am a conspirator.“
“Count me in as a conspirator to, then. Time for Satsang. Gotta go”
“Good luck with the Andrew: Cohen Swartz-ites,”I said.
“That’s mostly on Skype too,” she replied. “Not many of the Cohen or Swartz types around here.” I thought of her at the holy place in the Himalayas in the very warm pre-mojnsoon weather, and of the sincerity and beauty of where she was.
We said our good-byes, disconnected, and I sat there, wondering whether the “evil monster” James Swartz thought that this forum, in looking for and revealing the truth, was being too nice to him