A new thread - Andrew Cohen's disciples
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 31, 2014 08:22AM

[forum.culteducation.com]

Readers, please feel free to add whatever you learn on this topic.

From American Guru - Update 2014
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 24, 2014 05:14AM

[americanguru.net]

People, be vigilent.

The worst legacy of Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber and all who enabled this theatre of cruelty is to have demonstrated how many are out there who rationalize cruelty as desirable while demonizing kindness and compassion.

Sado Fascism exists in the midst of the Konsciousness Klub.

The 'trust your own experience' and 'dont judge' mantras undermine our emotional and intellectual boundaries.

Some cruel and dangerous people are out there, promising evolution while unconsciously looking to turn you into a meat puppet.

What is the appeal of Cohen, Wilber and their ilk?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 24, 2014 05:16AM

"To tell men that they are equal has a certain sentimental appeal.

"But this appeal is small compared with that made by a propaganda that tells them that they are superior and that others are inferior to them."

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies: The Spell of Plato -
Volume 1, page 96 Princeton University Press, 1966

Written by a former member of the Hare Krishnas
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 09, 2014 09:55AM

(The quoted material given below is a small part of what is available on this website)

[surrealist.org]

On the Positive Side

107

I learned what it is like to be a full and enthusiastic participant in the early, charismatic phase of a religious sect. There's nothing quite like it.

The religious literature of the world is filled with compelling accounts by early comers to new religious sects describing the excitement of being in the presence of a holy teacher or saint, the exhilaration of intense spiritual purposefulness, the thrill of being a world-saver, the sense of being privy to lofty, esoteric wisdom, the adventure of rapid inner transformation, the subtle and sublime inner experiences that defy descriptive language.

Whatever the ultimate psychological value, benign or otherwise, of that kind of experience, it has provided me with lasting insights into various aspects of religious charisma, conversion, and mystical experience.
(The author speaks of the 1960s and 1970s. Sadly, this loss continued.

"123
In retrospect, I've come to understand that cultic groups of the 60s and 70s were successful in siphoning off many of the best minds, deepest hearts, and liveliest spirits of my generation.The loss of young people having unique spiritual and intellectual gifts, to groups claiming to be fast-tracks to enlightenment, deprived the wider world of what good might have flowed from such gifts. Though many of us later got back on a personal track, the squandering of youthful energy, intelligence and idealism represents a loss to society the measure of which we will never know. "

121
I learned that a genuine desire for enlightenment, that is, a felt need to understand the mystery of existence and the purpose of life, a quest to relieve suffering, to achieve ultimate awareness and bliss—or however one wishes to characterize the individual spiritual quest—is a rare, exalted, and precious thing. This impulse to seek ultimate meaning is human, but seems to occur primarily during youth, a period before we become psychologically rigid, superficially content, falsely wise, or simply jaded.

Re: International Enlightenment Fellowship/Andrew Cohen
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 09, 2014 09:58AM

Quote

135
I learned that the experiential bond between members often continues post-cult, creating a special connection between ex-members. One cannot help but feel kinship with those who've inhabited the same alternative universe, lived and breathed within the same rarefied environment. The intensity and particularity of the experience forever binds those who were "there."

136
I learned, therefore, that ex-members can make a critical contribution to helping other ex-members (particularly newly liberated ones from the same group) make sense of their group experience and reconstitute their lives on the outside.

137
I learned, post-ISKCON, that better than trying to convince a cult member that he or she has been brainwashed (or otherwise psychologically enslaved), is to present compelling evidence of malfeasance and hypocrisy within his or her group.

Because cult members are essentially idealists, and think of themselves as highly principled (because living by the highest principles), tangible evidence of violation of official cult ethics by leaders or others can fatally undermine a sense of loyalty to the institution. The fact is, most converts do eventually leave their group, and do so voluntarily, very often due to sudden or cumulative disillusionment.

Whether it's finding out that guru X was caught "meditating" naked with a pretty female disciple, or that leaders are misappropriating funds or cheating on spouses or abusing subordinates, an awareness that foundational values are being violated is often sufficient to cause disillusionment and defection. An enriched perspective on one's cult experience and psychological healing (with therapeutic assistance or otherwise) can then follow.

Re: International Enlightenment Fellowship/Andrew Cohen
Posted by: Martin Gifford ()
Date: April 10, 2014 05:21AM

The loftiness of the the romantic spiritual quest can be countered by understanding advaita philosophy: You are already a spiritual being, so you cannot transpform yourself into specialness. They effort to transform yourself is exactly like pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. The point is to drop false beliefs about yourself and the world, not adopt a false belief and then try to live according to it.

Those who claim, or allow themeselves to be seen as, special are deluded or deluders.

Re: International Enlightenment Fellowship/Andrew Cohen
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 28, 2014 04:22AM

Elephant Journal - citations for Andrew Cohen

[www.elephantjournal.com]

A question for researchers and journalists to pursue
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 28, 2014 10:39PM

A question for journalists and researchers who may someday do dissertations or write a biography of Andrew Cohen.

Where and when did Andrew Cohen learn his way with words?

Did Andrew Cohen master some methods of verbal persuasion and aggression before his time in India, prior to the fateful encounter with HWL Poonja?

There is little excitement in saying one has studied many hours before mastering a skill.

It is much more exciting to make it seem one acquired that same skill seeminly out nowhere after an encounter with a guru. One doenst even have to say, "I aquired eloquence along with enlightenment, thanks to Guru X"

Instead, one can convey one's life story, making it seem all one's skills blossomed only after the encounter with Guru X. Tales of magic and gurus are rife in India and on the seekers circuit; one's listeners will tend to forget that skills must be learned and practiced--they cannot be downloaded into one's mind by 'transmission'.

If one reads The Mother of God, the description written by Luna Tarlo, Cohen's mother, she describes her shock upon seeing her son after his encounter with Poonja. She tells how shocked she was to see how Andrew had seeminly, suddenly become endowed with eloquence 'with a silver tongue' as she termed it, and how rapidly he had acquired a following.

Yet at that very same time, she described how Andrew was demonstrating not only eloquence, but a quite savage ability to put people down with sharp words and glances.

Tarlo's account makes it seem that Andrew acquired eloquence and social confidence after the two weeks Andrew spent with HWL Poonja, making it seem this acquisition of social and verbal skill had happened through some sort of mysterious transmission process between Poonja and Andrew.

(Post hoc ergo propter hoc - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaPost hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: "after this, therefore because of this") is a logical
fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states "Since event Y followed X, Y must have been caused by event X.)

[webcache.googleusercontent.com]

Journalists, students, here is Corboy's question: Could Andrew Cohen have studied methods of people management and verbal persuasion before he went to India? Or during his time in India?

How did he learn to set up retreats and workshops? We are not born knowing how to do that; we have to learn it.

And -- are Andrew's methods unique or does his method of discussion, questioning and challenge resemble methods used by other well known human potential leaders who were active in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s?

The period when Andrew was doing his spiritual searching?

One good step for anyone who wishes to investigate this strange career is to get and read psychologist Len Oakes book Prophetic Charisma. He interviewed 20 charismatic leaders and found that every single one of them had been avid students of social and persuasive methods.

One has to abandon the assumption that a guru can transmit talent along with nondual awareness.

Debate, persuasion, shattering verbal attack, cutting shame inducing gestures and glances, voice modulation, arrangement of a retreat -- all of these are skills and must be learned and practiced.

One does not learn judo by having an instructor gaze into your eyes or magically transmit the skills with a touch of a finger -- one must spend many hours learning the forms and practicing.

It should not be any different when learning and mastering the verbal equivalent of martial arts.

Now, to the reviews on Amazon.com

One reviewer of American Guru by Bill Yenner wrote

"if you are interested in learning how otherwise highly intelligent and idealistic individuals can be drawn into cults of any kind, and come out the other side in one piece, this book is invaluable. "

Another reviewer made an observation that demonstrates, yet again, that transcendant experiences do not prove that the person orchestrating such experiences is wise or or kind.

"The point? Whatever stupendous and transcendent experiences I had (and we all had them), the corruption was there from the start. Cohen's own demons were not vanquished upon meeting Poonja-ji. To the lasting sorrow of all who have thrown away their autonomy for him, those demons were given free rein and given the name "Master". "


Reviews of American Guru from Amazon.com

[www.amazon.ca]

5.0 out of 5 stars Shouldn't Andrew Cohen step down? July 12 2012
By J C. L - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

"It has been suggested by anonymous sources, otherwise fearful, to me as a critic of various guru figures, to make public a request that Andrew Cohen step down from his position as 'guru' in the context of his EnlightenNext initiative.
The account in this excellent work is so depressingly clear on the issue of guru abuse that I think some kind of outside intervention or declaration is needed.

"The legacy of confusion here has gone on for a whole generation and includes the figures, Da Free John, E.J.Gold, Lee Lozowick and Andrew Cohen. The whole sequence here has been haywire from the beginning.

(((Corboy note: E.J. Gold and Lee Lozowick (now deceased) were both quoted at length in Mariana Caplan's plausible book, "Halfway Up the Mountain - The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment." Andrew Cohen was also quoted in the book. Corboy was impressed by Lozowick's quoted material and attended a lecture given by him. Corboy and another person walked out after 20 minutes due to Lozowick's shocking bad manners.)))

(JCL continues)"The account here (Amercian Guru)is of a baffling display of pathological behavior masked by a misleading endorsement of Cohen's reputed enlightenment. The original source of this endorsement is itself entirely suspect and has empowered a very a questionable career of authoritarian behavior.

"One of the larger problems here is the lack of any traditional context made clear.

" What is the canon of the guru? What religion is in the background, Hinduism, Buddhism, ...? The lack of any clear context for a teaching has produced a completely vacuous teaching made up 'as you go along'.

(Corboy This was rationalized as being 'revolutionary/evolutionary')

"The quest for enlightenment beyond ego is not achieved by (egoic) ego-bashing of 'disciples' by a teacher. Ego cannot be destroyed by castigation and attempts to destroy a person's psyche. It is a misunderstanding to think you can destroy ego, and the task is that of self-enlightening transcendence of ego, by the individual in question, and in the final analysis the guru figure is at best a witness to what the disciple must do. The kind of shenanigans depicted in this book show someone out of control, with no grasp of what is needed.

"The Buddhist declaration of the entry to the Path of Enlightenment makes no reference as such to gurus or guruism. The fetish of the guru as absolute authority is a late distortion of the original primordial tradition.

"Real seekers might well seek the counsel of a wise figure on the way to self-enlightenment. But the decadence of the yogic tradition into the guru royalty phenomenon has no place in a democratic age, and is not needed. In fact it is often a front for reactionary politics masquerading as spiritual practice. The art of being a guru is a hard one, and at best that of a witness to the self-action of those who enter the path.

"On the basis of the information given by this book it should be clear that the authority of this impostor is void, and without any basis.
86 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A response to Roberta's letter Sept. 20 2009

By J C. H - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

"I feel compelled to provide a rebuttal to Roberta's review of Bill's book. I think most of us on the spiritual path will agree that it is the most challenging and difficult work that anyone can engage in. Everything eventually must be looked into if we really want to be free from our conditioning, including those sides of us that are the most painful and difficult to face. I think it is true that whoever endeavors to undertake such a journey must be willing to "face everything and avoid nothing."

"But let's be clear what exactly it is that Bill and other ex-students of Andrew Cohen are alleging here: systematic abusive behavior either done by Andrew or under his specific direction, including pressuring people to give large sums of money when they "failed" in some way (Bill personally was "compelled" to give $80,000 when he fell out of favor with Andrew, which he eventually got back after signing a five year gag order), slapping long time students when they commit some "error", and an incident in which buckets of paint were poured over the head of a women who allegedly disappointed Andrew, just to name a few. There have been many, many more examples of this kind of behavior in Andrew's community (go to whatenlightenment.blogspot.com to read more).

"Roberta, can you please explain to me how these actions can in any way be considered right and ethical? I would really like to hear from you how these actions could be right in ANY context, let alone a spiritual community supposedly upholding a higher standard of integrity. And if you are alleging that anyone outside of a spiritual community are in no position to judge what is ethical and what is not, I profoundly and unequivocally disagree with you.

"Simply put, Roberta, what about the specific events that that Bill describes in this book??!! This is not a story of people having their poor, little egos bruised. This is a story of truly cruel and twisted behavior that is being presented as "enlightened behavior."

"These stories are shocking to read about, and it personally offends me to hear them being rationalized as being done for the "sole benefit of the student's liberation." This could only be true if you consider humiliation and degradation a valid part of the spiritual path.

"I was a student of Andrew's for around three years over ten years ago. For many years after I left, I still felt a sense of loyalty to Andrew and what his community was doing. For a long time I have wrestled with these stories and my own personal loyalty to Andrew and his community, but no longer. The documented events are unequivocally abusive acts, and they offend my conscience to the point where I feel I must speak up, for the sake of what's right.

"Roberta, I know you personally from my time in Andrew's group many years ago, and recall you warmly. But I think you are doing a great disservice to the truth by insinuating that what this book contains is only Bill's "refusal" to face himself. Are you saying that the events Bill and other ex-students have mentioned did not take place? If not, do you personally condone these events as legitimate actions from an enlightened master solely concerned with the student's transformation?

"Enough is enough! I feel that it is time for those of us who disagree profoundly with these abusive, destructive acts to speak out against them forcefully and unconditionally. Personally, my conscience demands it.

-
34 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly important, healing book Oct. 25 2009

By Daniel Shaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback

"Congratulations and thanks to William Yenner and all the contributors to this exceptionally clear, important book, American Guru.

"It is an open secret that followers of Andrew Cohen are subjected to abuse and exploitation that has nothing to do with spirituality, and everything to do with the pathological narcissism of Andrew Cohen. Former followers have spoken out, in this volume, with great courage and honesty.

"It would be wonderful to see such honesty and courage demonstrated by other leaders of the New Age movement. Instead of rationalizing and minimizing the extent of these abuses, instead of ignoring and dismissing the experiences of former followers, wouldn't it be wonderful if people like Ken Wilber, Genpo Roshi, Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Bernie Glassman, etc, could have the courage and the integrity to pay attention, to take up the cause of Cohen's former members, and confront Cohen publicly?

"If such celebrities of the New Age do not have this kind of courage and integrity, at least William Yenner and the authors of this book do - and their work will be of enormous benefit to those who have been cruelly violated and betrayed by Andrew Cohen, in the name of spirituality.

Daniel Shaw, L.C.S.W., author of Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective
28 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sullied from the start Oct. 30 2009

By D I. W - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback

"As someone who spent little more than a year in Andrew Cohen's community (1988-89), I have mostly kept myself apart from the online rumble. However, reading Bill Yenner's "American Guru" was a fine refresher in the reasons I left relatively quickly.

((Corboy note: 1988/89 were within the earliest years of Cohen's guru movement.)

"I will only briefly echo the praise this book has rightfully received. It's honest, humble, and complete without dragging the reader through every horrifying abuse that Cohen has perpetrated (and which is available on the What Enlightenment blog expose for those with the stomach for it.)

"If I am equally honest with myself, I have to admit that I saw the cult dynamics at work from the very beginning. I saw otherwise mature people acting slavish and infantilized to meet Cohen's tacit expectation of devotion. A fellow student shared with me her letter to Andrew in which she so thoroughly demonized herself for (fill in the blank: arrogance, ego, selfishness) that it took all the denial I could muster not to see it as the introjection of Cohen's own shadow. When, after a few months, I was offered the plum assignment of editing the transcripts of Andrew's talks, it was just as quickly taken away when I did not drop everything, run to his house with an armful of flowers, and throw myself at his feet in gratitude (all part of the unwritten rulebook).

"The final straw for me was attending a series of brutal, 70s-style men's group encounters where the designated scapegoat would be psychically flayed by the community members he had entrusted his spiritual well-being to. When I dared to raise a question about whether this was an effective way of working with the wayward student (leaving aside such wimpy notions as compassion), I drew the collective ire of the group upon myself. I was berated for days, until my own good sense caught up with me and gave me permission to leave.

"The point? Whatever stupendous and transcendent experiences I had (and we all had them), the corruption was there from the start. Cohen's own demons were not vanquished upon meeting Poonja-ji. To the lasting sorrow of all who have thrown away their autonomy for him, those demons were given free rein and given the name "Master". "

40 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair and Balance and NOT from FOX NEWS Sept. 13 2009
By D H. Pr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback

"Having been 'on the road' as a tourist in the spiritual landscape of post-modern America for decades myself, I can appreciate the pains, the pitfalls and feelings of bitter resentment that are too often the only reward after years of dedicated practice in the hands of a teacher that promises more than they can actually deliver.

Yenner's candid and even self-deprecating review of his time in the Andrew Cohen community is a clear eyed examination of his personal experience and observations. He pain-stakingly details and footnotes his recounting of the rise and fall of an idealistic follower who, as is too often the case, came to the end of an initially inspiring and finally gruelingly abusive relationship broken and racked with self doubt and self recrimination.

"Rather than settle for the well earned cynicism that justifiably belongs to those who have been exploited by a charismatic a leader, Mr. Yenner submits himself to a process of self reflection, scrutiny and personal responsibility that carefully leads the reader step by step through his process all the way to the beginnings of self-reclamation and healing. An invaluable accounting of one man's journey from love to betrayal and back again. If your looking for an Andrew Cohen hit piece this is not it ~ but if you are interested in learning how otherwise highly intelligent and idealistic individuals can be drawn into cults of any kind, and come out the other side in one piece, this book is invaluable. (unquote)

The money situation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 30, 2014 06:07AM

Quote

Not So Fast: Following the Money

[americanguru.net]

January 2014

According to the Board of Directors of EnlightenNext (USA), the organization is closing and liquidating its assets. By Massachusetts law such liquidated assets must be donated to a “similar charity”. The Board of Director has indicated that they intend to funnel these liquidated assets to essentially sister organizations with close ties to EnlightenNext. In response to this news 81 former students of EnlightenNext have filed an official complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging that EnlightenNext has been in breach of its Fiduciary Responsibilities over many years, and that the intended recipient organization(s), being comprised of many of the same people who have directed EnlightenNext, would allow the abuse to continue. Therefore the Attorney General is being asked to prohibit such a transfer of assets. The full letter to the Attorney General appears below.

Another recent development is that both websites associated with EnlightenNext have been taken down. Given how central the internet has been to the existence of EnlightenNext and to its marketing, this seems to be an important step along the path to a final closure. Those websites are [enlightennext.org] and [andrewcohen.org]

(Since this article was originally posted, andrewcohen.org has been put back up.)

Through the use of the internet archives “Wayback Machine” it’s possible to find previous pages of these sites before they were shuttered.

Here is the most recent image of the EnlightenNext webpage, captured by the Internet Archive on January 2, 2014:
[web.archive.org]
For andrewcohen.org, the most recent image is from December 13, 2013: [web.archive.org]
Andrew Cohen’s archived apology can be seen here:
[web.archive.org]
The archived announcement of Andrew Cohen’s sabbatical can be seen here:
[web.archive.org]

The 200 acre Foxhollow ashram property continues to be on the market after several years of being for sale and various portions being sold off separately. What remains unsold is the very large Manor House which once housed the offices and community center of EnlightenNext. Today it has fallen into disrepair and is reported not to be heated in the winter. A photo album called Foxhollow, the Aftermath shows the current state of this once proud building. (Pride IS viscious.)

Andrew Cohen continues his “sabbatical” while many of his former students wonder what to do next, and some have come up with an answer which involves establishing themselves as spiritual teachers and advisers in their own right, often borrowing many of the same names and approaches used over the years by Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext. Some examples include Craig Hamilton’s Integral Enlightenment, (“spiritual practice for an evolving world”), Jeff Carriera’s Evolutionary Collective, and The Ten Agreements course by “two top transformational leaders” Mary Adams and Elizabeth Debold. None of these newly minted spiritual teachers has publicly distanced themselves from the abusive practices that EnlightenNext was known for.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The following letter was sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General from former students of EnlightenNext:

Re: Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities by the Board of EnlightenNext, a Massachusetts 501(c)3 Charity

To: Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts
From: William Yenner
Mimi Katz
Jeff Bellsey
Cathy Snow
Former members of EnlightenNext charity, Lenox MA

Date: December 12, 2013

Dear Attorney General Coakley,
We, the undersigned, are contacting your office in order to express our deep concern over the proposed liquidation and transfer of assets by a Massachusetts 501(c)3 charity, located in Lenox, Massachusetts, known as EnlightenNext, Inc. One of the primary fiduciary responsibilities of a charity so designated is the welfare of its participants. In the case of EnlightenNext, this responsibility has been routinely violated hundreds of times, against dozens of individual members, since its initial registration as a charity in 1988. A summary of the abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext against its members, entitled The A List: A Catalog of Trauma and Abuse, see appendix.

The abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext have included violations of confidentiality; various sexual abuses, including wanton interference in the sexual and familial lives of participants; physical abuse, including violent attacks; the systematic infliction of emotional trauma; and financial abuse involving the routine application of psychological duress and manipulation in the solicitation of donations. Furthermore, the organization and its leaders allowed its premises—which were financed by charitable donations and developed through countless hours of pro bono labor on the part of its members—to fall into a state of extreme disrepair, occasioning a considerable loss in their market value.

There exists extensive documentary evidence of EnlightenNext’s trajectory of spiritual decadence and degeneration, links to which are listed below. This evidence suggests that the recent collapse of EnlightenNext is directly attributable to the abuses it committed against its own members—many of whom strenuously object to efforts now underway to transfer assets derived from their donations to “successor organizations” comprised of individuals who perpetrated or enabled the abuses alluded to, thereby circumventing any authentic reckoning with the organization’s comprehensive history of abuse and betrayal of trust.

There is a high probability that the dissolution and transfer of assets now proposed by EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors (see letters below) will facilitate the perpetuation of the privileges—including protection against personal liability and responsibility—that EnlightenNext insiders (its founder Andrew Cohen and his inner circle of assistant teachers) have long enjoyed, thus leading to a potential replication of the organization’s problems and abuses of the past. It is significant that none of the individuals or organizations presently under consideration by EnlightenNext’s Board as potential recipients of these assets —“senior practitioners” and other longstanding authority figures within the organization—has ever publicly objected to the abuses systematically perpetrated by EnlightenNext. It is equally troubling that organizations such as Ken Wilber’s “Integral Institute,” which publicly sanctioned and encouraged EnlightenNext’s abusive practices, could also become beneficiaries of a transfer of its assets, given extensive commonalities between the mission statements of the two organizations.

Historically, EnlightenNext’s defenses against the allegations advanced here have been that they are the assertions of a “disgruntled minority” of its former membership; that the abuses referred to occurred “a long time ago”; and that groups as “radical” as EnlightenNext are bound to have “enemies.” We, the undersigned, aver that such statements fail to address the overwhelming evidence of the abuse and irresponsible conduct that have characterized EnlightenNext for the duration of its existence as a so-called “charitable non-profit”—evidence which to date no member of that organization has actually refuted.

We maintain that EnlightenNext has been and remains a cult and a fraudulent charity, and has been in continuous breach of its fiduciary responsibilities for a period of over two decades. We seek to have EnlightenNext fully investigated by the Attorney General, and we further request that its dissolution not eventuate in the funneling of its assets to organizations controlled by those who have been complicit in its extensive record of abusive and duplicitous practices.

Sincerely,

—William Yenner, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; author of American Guru; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2001

—Mimi Katz, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2003

—Jeff Bellsey, former EnlightenNext Webmaster and Director of Online Operations; member of EnlightenNext from 1996 to 2010

—Cathy Snow, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; former Managing Director of EnlightenNext, member of EnlightenNext from 1992 to 2007

The letter is also signed by 77 more former members of EnlightenNext

The money situation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 30, 2014 06:07AM

Quote

Not So Fast: Following the Money

[americanguru.net]

January 2014

According to the Board of Directors of EnlightenNext (USA), the organization is closing and liquidating its assets. By Massachusetts law such liquidated assets must be donated to a “similar charity”. The Board of Director has indicated that they intend to funnel these liquidated assets to essentially sister organizations with close ties to EnlightenNext. In response to this news 81 former students of EnlightenNext have filed an official complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging that EnlightenNext has been in breach of its Fiduciary Responsibilities over many years, and that the intended recipient organization(s), being comprised of many of the same people who have directed EnlightenNext, would allow the abuse to continue. Therefore the Attorney General is being asked to prohibit such a transfer of assets. The full letter to the Attorney General appears below.

Another recent development is that both websites associated with EnlightenNext have been taken down. Given how central the internet has been to the existence of EnlightenNext and to its marketing, this seems to be an important step along the path to a final closure. Those websites are [enlightennext.org] and [andrewcohen.org]

(Since this article was originally posted, andrewcohen.org has been put back up.)

Through the use of the internet archives “Wayback Machine” it’s possible to find previous pages of these sites before they were shuttered.

Here is the most recent image of the EnlightenNext webpage, captured by the Internet Archive on January 2, 2014:
[web.archive.org]
For andrewcohen.org, the most recent image is from December 13, 2013: [web.archive.org]
Andrew Cohen’s archived apology can be seen here:
[web.archive.org]
The archived announcement of Andrew Cohen’s sabbatical can be seen here:
[web.archive.org]

The 200 acre Foxhollow ashram property continues to be on the market after several years of being for sale and various portions being sold off separately. What remains unsold is the very large Manor House which once housed the offices and community center of EnlightenNext. Today it has fallen into disrepair and is reported not to be heated in the winter. A photo album called Foxhollow, the Aftermath shows the current state of this once proud building. (Pride IS viscious.)

Andrew Cohen continues his “sabbatical” while many of his former students wonder what to do next, and some have come up with an answer which involves establishing themselves as spiritual teachers and advisers in their own right, often borrowing many of the same names and approaches used over the years by Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext. Some examples include Craig Hamilton’s Integral Enlightenment, (“spiritual practice for an evolving world”), Jeff Carriera’s Evolutionary Collective, and The Ten Agreements course by “two top transformational leaders” Mary Adams and Elizabeth Debold. None of these newly minted spiritual teachers has publicly distanced themselves from the abusive practices that EnlightenNext was known for.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The following letter was sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General from former students of EnlightenNext:

Re: Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities by the Board of EnlightenNext, a Massachusetts 501(c)3 Charity

To: Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts
From: William Yenner
Mimi Katz
Jeff Bellsey
Cathy Snow
Former members of EnlightenNext charity, Lenox MA

Date: December 12, 2013

Dear Attorney General Coakley,
We, the undersigned, are contacting your office in order to express our deep concern over the proposed liquidation and transfer of assets by a Massachusetts 501(c)3 charity, located in Lenox, Massachusetts, known as EnlightenNext, Inc. One of the primary fiduciary responsibilities of a charity so designated is the welfare of its participants. In the case of EnlightenNext, this responsibility has been routinely violated hundreds of times, against dozens of individual members, since its initial registration as a charity in 1988. A summary of the abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext against its members, entitled The A List: A Catalog of Trauma and Abuse, see appendix.

The abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext have included violations of confidentiality; various sexual abuses, including wanton interference in the sexual and familial lives of participants; physical abuse, including violent attacks; the systematic infliction of emotional trauma; and financial abuse involving the routine application of psychological duress and manipulation in the solicitation of donations. Furthermore, the organization and its leaders allowed its premises—which were financed by charitable donations and developed through countless hours of pro bono labor on the part of its members—to fall into a state of extreme disrepair, occasioning a considerable loss in their market value.

There exists extensive documentary evidence of EnlightenNext’s trajectory of spiritual decadence and degeneration, links to which are listed below. This evidence suggests that the recent collapse of EnlightenNext is directly attributable to the abuses it committed against its own members—many of whom strenuously object to efforts now underway to transfer assets derived from their donations to “successor organizations” comprised of individuals who perpetrated or enabled the abuses alluded to, thereby circumventing any authentic reckoning with the organization’s comprehensive history of abuse and betrayal of trust.

There is a high probability that the dissolution and transfer of assets now proposed by EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors (see letters below) will facilitate the perpetuation of the privileges—including protection against personal liability and responsibility—that EnlightenNext insiders (its founder Andrew Cohen and his inner circle of assistant teachers) have long enjoyed, thus leading to a potential replication of the organization’s problems and abuses of the past. It is significant that none of the individuals or organizations presently under consideration by EnlightenNext’s Board as potential recipients of these assets —“senior practitioners” and other longstanding authority figures within the organization—has ever publicly objected to the abuses systematically perpetrated by EnlightenNext. It is equally troubling that organizations such as Ken Wilber’s “Integral Institute,” which publicly sanctioned and encouraged EnlightenNext’s abusive practices, could also become beneficiaries of a transfer of its assets, given extensive commonalities between the mission statements of the two organizations.

Historically, EnlightenNext’s defenses against the allegations advanced here have been that they are the assertions of a “disgruntled minority” of its former membership; that the abuses referred to occurred “a long time ago”; and that groups as “radical” as EnlightenNext are bound to have “enemies.” We, the undersigned, aver that such statements fail to address the overwhelming evidence of the abuse and irresponsible conduct that have characterized EnlightenNext for the duration of its existence as a so-called “charitable non-profit”—evidence which to date no member of that organization has actually refuted.

We maintain that EnlightenNext has been and remains a cult and a fraudulent charity, and has been in continuous breach of its fiduciary responsibilities for a period of over two decades. We seek to have EnlightenNext fully investigated by the Attorney General, and we further request that its dissolution not eventuate in the funneling of its assets to organizations controlled by those who have been complicit in its extensive record of abusive and duplicitous practices.

Sincerely,

—William Yenner, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; author of American Guru; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2001

—Mimi Katz, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2003

—Jeff Bellsey, former EnlightenNext Webmaster and Director of Online Operations; member of EnlightenNext from 1996 to 2010

—Cathy Snow, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; former Managing Director of EnlightenNext, member of EnlightenNext from 1992 to 2007

The letter is also signed by 77 more former members of EnlightenNext

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