A fourth memoir by an ex disciple of Andrew Cohen who was part of Cohen's group for 15 years:Paradise and Promises: Chronicles of My Life With a Modern, Self-Declared Buddha
by Marlowe Sand
By Marlowe's description, she began writing in order to preserve and better understand positive experiences she'd had when in Andrew Cohen's community.
As she continued to write, intent on recording what was beneficial, she found herself with another perspective.
I started writing stories shortly after I left Andrew Cohen’s spiritual community in 2001.
At first those stories were an attempt to preserve the most profound and transformative experiences that I had as a student of this charismatic guru.
Over time, writing became a way for me to also remember experiences that were so traumatic that I had blocked them out. After I had regained some of my confidence, I saw many of these stories from a new perspective – what had once seemed wonderful now looked terrifying.
This memoir represents the evolution of my understanding about why I joined the community, why I stayed, what I got out of it and the last straw that caused me to leave. This is a story about idealism abused and power used to control and manipulate. My story is not unique – most of us from this or other cults have similar stories, some with profoundly tragic results....
For more, read here: [lifeasahuman.com
““Paradise and Promises” is the compelling account of Marlow Sand’s time in EnlightenNext, Andrew Cohen’s spiritual community.
Even though three former students previously published memoirs, including myself, the subtlety and descriptiveness of Sand’s account surpasses the other contributions.”
William Yenner, lead author of American Guru ~ William Yenner, lead author of American Guru
"The reader witnesses Marlowe being pulled into this community, living in it, and ultimately leaving it after 15 years. During the subsequent decade she slowly recovers."
Paradise and Promises: Chronicles of My Life with a Self-Declared, Modern-Day Buddha -- Marlowe Sand
Some reviews on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 starsIt was wonderful to read how poetically one could describe the saddest
ByRuthdon January 12, 2016
As one of Andrew Cohen's students for almost as many years as Marlowe, I was so curious to read her book. My assumption that I was free of the whole experience was knocked for a loop by the very first chapters, the first chapter on House meetings sent me running for the bathroom to throw up.
Many years of ignoring the emotional impact of dread and glory rolled into paradoxical experience reared up once again.
Afterwards I read Marlowe's book from beginning to end in one sitting. So much of it was recognizable, different details and words but the same song in the end. It was wonderful to read how poetically one could describe the saddest, most driven experience. Thank you Marlowe for this book which not only helped me but has the potential to explain the almost unexplainable to anyone entering into a similar cult syndrome.
Beware the individual who introduces you to the experience of oneness on a very human level and then proceeds to use you rather than himself or herself as a repository for self hatred.
edit review on July 3, 2016r wrote:
This is an important book. It's well-written and clearly shows how someone can get sucked up into an aberrant group. Using her own life story as an example, Ms .Sand explains the incremental stages of cultic recruitment and the techniques of undue influence used by the leader of her cultic community to keep his followers loyal, obedient and unquestioning.
For those who wonder why a member of a cult "just doesn't leave," the author shows how remarkably difficult it can be to just walk away from community that was one's whole life for years.
I highly recommend Paradise and Promise.
Byjodyron June 9, 2016
You can add "Paradise and Promises" to the list of excellent my-life-with-a-cult-guru memoirs which includes "Holy Hell" (Ammachi), "Cartwheels in a Sari" (Sri Chinmoy), and "The Guru Looked Good" (Gurumayi). ....
Sand's prose illuminates the inner workings of a cult that used the fear of losing status as a kind of emotional terrorism to keep people in line, illustrating how when one is fully immersed in the cult ideology, even the worst treatment gets twisted into being received as a blessing.
"Paradise and Promises" succeeds as both a memoir of an individual's growth as well as a cautionary tale for anybody who is thinking of following a guru who is considered to be perfect and beyond reproach. Hint: there has never been any such thing.
I recommend Maslow’s book as a timely and well-written story that ...
ByR.S.on February 4, 2016
Marlow Sand’s illustration of her life and struggle within one of our most recent and influential, spiritual groups, is an undramatised and revealing account of a former student of Andrew Cohen and his once internationally established spiritual community that collapsed in 2013 under its last name EnlightenNext.
I recommend Maslow’s book as a timely and well-written story that brings to light the breakdown of a spiritual community that enjoyed support by large parts of today’s spiritual world. This support was given in the face of longstanding warnings of cultish behaviours by former members. Despite this, the community was hailed, until its very end: a modern day spiritual flagship.
Marlow draws a detailed picture of the powerful, spiritual promises, culture and realities of EnlightenNext life and its leadership, using her own life’s journey to document and authenticate many aspects of the unseen culture of a failed, modern-day community.
For everyone interested in the spiritual journey, I want to high-light Marlow’s rare courage to recall the impact, quality and specifics of the spiritual experiences that were part of her individual and collective life and specifically the spiritual experiences the spiritual leader and the group environment evoked.
If anyone wants to truly understand why one can be powerfully drawn to a spiritual guide and his or her community, why one could spend precious years in its orbit, and why one would fight to stay despite the most trying and unrealistic demands and even cultish realities, then we need to see and understand the power of the spiritual experience and its interpretation, which can create an unparalleled sense of meaning and solution.
Marlow’s book illustrates how spiritual experiences can be both, empowering and supportive on our journey, but also equally intoxicating, deceptive and misleading in what they mean and don't mean. This holds true for the individual and the collective spiritual experience.
Voices like Marlow’s provide us with important feedback within our modern spiritual world and its often hidden realities. Her information, too, allows critical insights into and warnings of existing and emerging traps in present-day spirituality.
Thank you Marlow
rful, raw, and honest Story of Marlowe’s In/Out of a Cult
ByS. DarginVINE VOICEon November 16, 2015
This is a cautionary true story of one woman who is smart, strong, and as her dad said, could not be swayed by anyone. She starts out as your average wife and mother from an English farm and ends up part of a dangerous and destructive cult. The reader witnesses Marlowe being pulled into this community, living in it, and ultimately leaving it after 15 years. During the subsequent decade she slowly recovers.
Marlowe started her journey because it felt simple and right to seek spiritual enlightenment. Before she joined the cult she notes that many of the things she used to share revolved around finding out what was wrong with other people or how to do better herself in relationship to others. Once she met her guru she was unafraid for the first time in her life; it was that simple. Her single minded focus on her guru’s teachings causes her to pack up her two young daughters, divorce her husband, leave England, and move to her guru’s new spiritual community in California.
As the years progress, the reader feels Marlowe’s slow spiral into the almost childlike need to please the guru and his senior students. Two of the stories sent chills up my spine: her search for the perfect flowers to honor her guru and her amazing job building the meditation center only to be reprimanded instead of acknowledged. I wanted to simultaneously yell at her to leave and comfort her pain. I found it hard to read her justifications for why it was acceptable behavior, but understood her logic.
She stayed for so long because of the five tenets of her guru, which describe how to perfectly cage the ego, and achieve the natural state of the inherently free, authentic self. Despite repeated rejection and red flags, it always came back to these tenets. The focus of spiritual enlightenment held her until it became too much.
What starts out as a bold and fearless journey to spiritual enlightenment, ends up as absolute anger with her guru for nearly destroying her. It’s well written with deep insights into her inner world. It is an important story with lessons for everyone.
As a disclaimer, I met Marlowe after she left the community while she was in her dating years and knew pieces of her past. I asked to review her book. She is intelligent, insightful, spiritual, and funny. We have shared many walks and talks, and I am grateful to call her a friend.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2017 11:51PM by corboy.