Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Abusive Guru: Andrew Cohen

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I found this at the P2P Foundation blog this morning, which was copied from a series on Frank Visser's site. But of course, as Ken Wilber warns, do not assume this has anything to do with what Wilber thinks.

My friend Alan Kazlev has a really excellent four-part critique of Ken Wilber. One part specifically deals with Wilber’s inability to deal with spiritual abuse, and focuses on Andrew Cohen:

“But the most common – indeed, the standard, excuse abusive gurus use to justify their behaviour is that it is necessary that the disciple be abused and humiliated in order for them to overcome ego and attain enlightenment (although at the same time, no abusive guru ever acknowledges that any of their students have ever attained enlightenment) It is this, more subtle argument, that one finds associated with the Wilberian Integral movement as a whole. According to Andrew Cohen, teachers need to break down one’s ego, and this can be a psychologically and emotionally excruciating process. Wilber fully supports this approach. In the Foreword to one of Cohen’s books, says

"When it comes to spiritual teachers, there are those who are safe, gentle, consoling, soothing, caring; and there are the outlaws, the living terrors, the Rude Boys and Nasty Girls of God realization, the men and women who are in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are….

If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self-contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path of stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want Enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passionate Infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence, who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharin solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face”.[
Wilber applauds Cohen as a “rude boy”, and offers him (and abusive gurus in general) as the alternative to a ridiculous caricature that does not match the description of any spiritual teacher. He says that the “rude boy” will “hold you up for ridicule” and “will make you wish you were never born”. Yes, all out of his boundless love and compassion that you may yourself attain Enlightenment! But let us look at the reality, the mind games and psychological conditioning and abuse; things that Wilber, who has never been a disciple at Cohen’s Foxhollow community, has not had to experience.
Read the rest here.

I personally think Andrew Cohen is a very sick man based on all that I have read, but then it is all by people who don't like him (including his mother). With that many people saying such bad things, there must be a lot of truth to it -- that's what my gut tells me.

It really hurts Wilber's image to be associated with such a person as Cohen. It makes anyone who thinks about it skeptical of Wilber's ability to distinguish good teachers from bad. And failing that, it makes one wonder -- assuming KW knows Cohen is awful -- if he is only associated with Cohen for the exposure he gets for himself and I-I in WIE?

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