(Clarification--when I speak above of 'dungeons' it is metaphorically. However, it is worth noting that there was reportedly a room at Cohens Foxhollow compound where disciples were sent as punisment.)
Why would Ken Wilbur in any way disassociate himself with Andrew when he fundamentally agrees with him? Do those of you who remember the men’s sauna with all the posted letters and humiliating caricature s of us forget about the enlarged (almost Floor to ceiling) Ken Wilbur letter where Ken himself called us (Andrew’s Formal Men) “whiney Babies”. I believe this letter was in response to a missive Andrew sent to Ken complaining about how hard his life was trying to get us to move in the right direction.
I remember thinking, how the hell does Ken Wilbur know anything about any of this, the sauna, the humiliating “spiritual practices”, how I was asked to make a “man” out of someone by taking them to the large meditation room and “rough them up” & the rest of it. I remember asking myself who is he to call me a “whiney baby”?
It must be nice to have your ivory tower conversations published but I wonder what Ken would think with his head coming out of Laurel Lake for the 999th time chanting “I only got one side of the story”.
Wednesday, 03 June, 2009
Joel in Atlanta said...
I just want to thank you for making this stuff known. I'm grateful for having received this clear-eyed view of the situation BEFORE possibly getting too into Cohen and his teachings. I am still pretty into Integral and Ken Wilber. At least in the case of KW the integrity of the ideas is the most important thing, whether Wilber has such a raging shadow and why he associates with Cohen and whether he knows about this stuff that's been going on in Cohen's community is beside the point, I suppose.
Anyway, it's probaby scary and risky, doing what you're doing, but it is a real service to people, and it is much appreciated. Ah, human beings.
Friday, 05 June, 2009
I remember, following the first Montserrat retreat the Student members met with
Andrew (after waiting around for a couple of hours outside the
building – he was ‘busy’ with the Formal men – the Formal men left
looking decidedly browbeaten). It was my first exposure to private
Andrew – not contained or edited for public consumption. We crouched
or sat on the floor while he sat above us on the sofa. Someone asked
him what the difference between a student member and formal student
was. He said that we (the students) had made a commitment, but we
still had our lives, whereas the formal students had given him their
lives – they belonged to him. I remember being quite shocked at his
bluntness, but thinking “wow, how amazing to make such a commitment to
Andrew – to give him your life!”
A couple of years later Andrew (again in private) talked about being
the second face of God before whom we had to submit if we were ever to
overcome our egos. The ego will only submit to God and for our purposes
he was God. (He’s never been known for his modesty).
From Amy’s response:
“Q: Did Andrew ever emphasize the need to absolutely surrender to him?
If Amy is willing to lie about something that is so absolutely central
to Andrew’s relationship with his students – can we believe anything
else she says? And of course, nothing in Andrew’s world happens
without Andrew’s say-so, we know he approved Amy’s message before it
was sent. Integrity?
I've felt ambivalent much of the time about some of Andrew's "techniques". Sometimes you gotta be tough. Within the community people are occasionally honest about what happened in the past. I remember a conversation with a couple of people who had been in California with Andrew. They were quite clear that there were abuses, but of course Andrew wasn't to blame - if his students hadn't been so immature and difficult... Andrew's silence down through the years was one thing, but now blatant lies. Integrity?
Friday, 05 June, 2009
Rose Shapiro said...
I too am horrified by what I have read here and can't understand why Ken continues to associate with Andrew.
However to me, anyone who doesn't have the courage to sign his name to a post deserves to be called a "whiney baby." Rose
Saturday, 06 June, 2009
Given the reports of cruelty and how one departing disciple was tracked via rental car records to her out of state location by Andrews lackeys and persuaded to return, and how Stas reported getting creepy e-mails from Andrew after Stas departure and how Andrew had tried to upset Stas own adolescent daughter, many persons deserve to PROTECT themselves from further abuse by utilizing anonymity.
Using anonymity in relation to Andrew and his vicious crowd of enablers is wisdom, not weakness.
If anyone wants to see a whiney baby in action, read Ken Wilber's verbal spew--the infamous Wyatt Earpy tirade of 2006
And...one wonders if Kenny knows a copy of his letter adorned the wall of the Foxhollow Gitmo sauna and...whether Ken LIKES IT that he is part of this fiesta of BDSM.
At least Michel Foucault, unlike Ken, went himself to the public baths and put his own body on the line. Ken, unlike Andrews much abused students, keeps a safe distance.
(quote) Do those of you who remember the men’s sauna with all the posted letters and humiliating caricature s of us forget about the enlarged (almost Floor to ceiling) Ken Wilbur letter where Ken himself called us (Andrew’s Formal Men) “whiney Babies”.(unquote)
If Ken had intregity hed go get himself whipped bloody by the gurus whose cruelty he celebrates. Then Ken would speak from embodied experience for a change.
Monday, 08 June, 2009
Carlos B said...
Well, it's a problem with anyone who thinks they have the truth. The guru lead community, be it political or supposedly spiritual, will always be abusive, particularly when the community is the source of the guru's income. We need to become our own students, learn how to learn from life.
I'm distressed by how many former followers of Cohen still talk about the spiritual benefits of their time with him. Of course it was a learning experience but how enlightened could you have been if you didn't recognise and react to basic abuse? I don't want to attack those people - the pressures of a cult are indeed very great - but continuing to give Cohen credit isn't helping them to break free.
There's a video on Youtube I'm sure most people know where Cohen interviews three gurus and they all whine about the pressures their devotees put on them. The comments are uniformly self-pitying and derogatory about their followers. It's absolutely pathetic and more confirmation that there's nobody out there that can do it for you.
Cohen talks about 'exceptional individuals' emerging from various traditions to lead the 'evolutionary process.' Well, who are they? Ken Wilbur? Continue your own spiritual practise with those who support and love you. I think that's all any of us can do.
Tuesday, 09 June, 2009
“Whiney Baby” anonymous poster. said...
Dearest Rose Shapiro (If that’s your real name),
What I appreciate most about this blog is that it is attempting to force due diligence on an immeasurably delicate and volatile circumstance. Namely, what does it mean to be a close student of Andrew Cohen one of the most extraordinary men you will ever encounter. The same holds true for Ken Wilbur – an extraordinary man and strong proponent of Andrew’s teaching.
I am willing to concede that not all the described methods used by Andrew were entirely unwarranted. We are talking about emancipation from the karmic wheel of suffering which remains one of the most daunting challenges any human being can undertake. The ego/my ego is one tough, nasty, deeply entrenched, dark son of a bitch potentially requiring shocking means to be brought to into the light of day necessary for its demise.
However, in my opinion a great deal of what is described in this blog, what I participated in, and what I witnessed should of never have happened.
If I had access to this information prior to joining the community I would have made a very different decision than the one I made. I entered the situation with Andrew because when I met him my heart was blown wide open and I tasted the extraordinary grace of liberation.
The party line in the community, fueled by the teacher, is that that overwhelming experience of emancipation, and in fact emancipation itself, is the result of meeting Andrew. You are encouraged to believe that this is the debt that can never be repaid and your bottomless outstanding balance is owed to Andrew. If you do not completely commit your life to this ideal liberation will never be yours.
At the base level what I/we are saying in this blog is that these things happened and this is how the situation was, and potentially still is. - Buyers beware.
I don’t know why there is such a delta between the answers provided by Amy Edelstein and the actuality of my experience and by all accounts those of others and not just a few trying to “bring Andrew down” (whatever that means). Even though I have my strong, and what I consider to be well informed opinions ultimately in such matters I have to ask: Who I am I? I am no great Spiritual Teacher. I don’t have the first idea how to liberate another human being. However, I do believe it’s most important that people know what they are getting themselves into in such a significant matter.
I realize that my first missive was a bit terse and confrontational. But I was genuinely, and I believe justifiably angry when I read Amy Edelstein’s responses to those questions. I am a human being like any other trying to make sense of my life and the decisions I made. Amy Edelstein’s answers were quite disrespectful to me in that regard.
As to my decision to remain “Anonymous”:
I realize that an anonymous posting on a blog is intrinsically suspect and devoid of accountability. I am relying on its content to validate its authenticity. Anyone that was in Andrew’s community can corroborate what is written here. As it has been a fair few years since I have endeavored to participate in such matters I don’t wish to become embroiled in the finger pointing, name calling or “boxing in” of all involved. I especially remain somewhat weary of being accused of things, accused of being a “whiney baby“inclusive. Thus I wish to remain anonymous.
Rose, you could have simply asked why I chose to remain anonymous but you chose to label me with no consideration or interest in why I made my choice. The very reason I choose to remain anonymous in the first place. It looks like you and Andrew have some things in common.
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009
Sol Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org) said...
Previous comment says "Then Ken would speak from embodied experience for a change." Right on! Ken Wilber does not strike me as an 'experiencer', he seems more of an 'understanding orientated man'. He and AC seem to be two sides of a same coin though, complementing each other nicely, back to back, never having to really face each other. However, anyone, especially any so-called spiritual authoritiy, who knows about AC's psychotic cruel megalomania and still supports him is not worth a dime! Dragan
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009
Carlos B said...
I'm interested to know what the anonymous poster who describes Cohen as an 'one of the most extraordinary men you will encounter' means. Is Cohen a good man? He's accused of extorting money, mysogyny and committing gross emotional and physical abuse.
I have never met Cohen but from watching his videos he strikes me as being clever and manipulative but hardly extraordinary.
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009
> Why would Ken Wilbur in any way
> disassociate himself with Andrew
> when he fundamentally agrees
> with him?
Here's my understanding of Wilber's teachings, as they relate to Cohen. I'm happy to hear from anyone who disagrees with my assessment.
Many traditions say that we're all metaphorically like a box of animal crackers. We each have different forms (elephant, tiger, etc), but our substance (the dough) is the same. From this viewpoint, we can recognize that individuals may differ in many respects (strength, attractiveness, intelligence, etc)... yet there's always a fundamental perspective of equality.
Wilber's teaching, on the other hand, always holds the concept of "altitude." That means that on a basic, fundamental level, some of us are more "developed" (or "evolved") than others. In the most important sense, this teaching does not see equality.
Wilber's teaching thus has appeal to anyone who sees himself as superior to the masses. Or similarly, to anyone who desires to eventually gain the "altitude" to be superior to others. If this belief in (or hope for) superiority is to be maintained, it's vital to cultivate ideas of higher/lower development, and equally vital to avoid the perspective of equality.
From this understanding, it becomes clear why Wilber has always sought support from authoritarian types like Adi Da and Cohen. Wilber and Cohen can reinforce in each other this vital belief in their superiority.
Remember when Cohen, in his blog, claimed that there were successes and failures in "spirituality," and that he and his believers were the most successful... like "the navy seals" of the realm? Isn't it easy to see that if one desperately wants to believe in such one-upmanship, the rest of the belief-system must be upheld, no matter how much it contradicts logic and experience?
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009
People keep asking why do people stay with Andrew? There’s the cultic aspect – the pressure of the guru, of the community, of the need to justify to yourself that the depth of your commitment isn’t just because you’re a fool.
But there is the undeniable fact that most people who become Andrew’s students do so because around him they have overwhelmingly powerful experiences that they interpret: 1. as spiritual experiences that might lead to enlightenment; and 2. most importantly, as being catalyzed by Andrew. No matter how much lip service everyone gives to being committed to the “teaching”, to the cause of Evolutionary Enlightenment, the truth is they’ve had powerful experiences and always want more. Whether or not Andrew is the catalyst and whether those experiences are genuinely spiritual in nature, I’m not going to touch on here. But the fact is just about everyone around him has those experiences.
One of the curious things about Andrew is that he simultaneously exerts constant pressure on those around him, pressure that seems to precipitate those experiences, and then constantly imposes discipline and control to prevent those experiences (individual and collective) from empowering his students and overpowering him.
In the year or so leading up to “Declaration Day” (Nov 20, 2005) – the student body around the world had a series of powerful collective experiences (again, I’m not going to speculate about the true nature of those experiences) that seemed to those involved (including me) to be overwhelming, ecstatic, truly collective and transformative. They seemed to be precipitated – not by Andrew – but by the collective intention and practice of the student body, particularly through the practice of Enlightened Communication (developed not by Andrew but by Chris Parrish). People craved more and more. Andrew stopped the practice of public enlightened communication and initiated a period of organizational change that kept people so busy and off-balance that the power of the collective experience could be controlled by Andrew and his senior students. Andrew’s drive to “stabilize” those experiences seems more to be a drive to retain control.
The experiences of the student body simultaneously fulfilled Andrew’s stated goals and threatened to undermine his control. If his teaching actually did produce enlightened autonomous human beings, the guru’s days were numbered, he’d be just one enlightened dude amongst many (and a not very pleasant one at that). It’s one of the curiosities that as the possibility of actual enlightenment seemed to open up to his students Andrew shifted the emphasis decisively away from an enlightenment teaching to saving the world through evolutionary enlightenment. His students are ALWAYS busy, what they’re busy with is ALWAYS changing. They’re ALWAYS undermined, ALWAYS off-balance, ALWAYS susceptible to control. But periodically you have these awesome, profound, ecstatic experiences - and they just keep you coming back for more