Friday, October 20, 2006

Andrew Cohen Defends Himself in New Blog

Thanks to a tip from ~C4Chaos, I have been reading the first blog entry by the guru Andrew Cohen: A Declaration of Integrity: An open letter from Andrew Cohen to his friends and foes.

It should be made clear at the outset --I don't like Andrew Cohen, as my post The Abusive Guru: Andrew Cohen no doubt made clear.

This is from his sort-of introduction:

There’s something uniquely disconcerting about the dawning realization that countless people you have never met are holding an image of you that doesn’t even remotely resemble reality. It’s a strange predicament that I’ve lived with almost from the day I became a teacher of enlightenment. Indeed, from the very beginning, people have responded to me in extreme ways. I’ve always been the kind of teacher who evokes reverence and respect from some, and suspicion and hatred from others. In recent years, however, this polarization has become more extreme, due in large part to the dedicated efforts of a small group of former students who seem to have made it their life mission to create and spread a negative picture of who I am, in a couple of books and in online forums.

I know many people have wondered why I have not responded sooner to all of this. To be honest, I simply didn’t know how to even start. Everything I was being accused of was so absurdly misrepresented and taken so far out of context, so obviously designed only to malign me and my work and cause doubt about my integrity, that I was reduced to a two-dimensional caricature of a cultural stereotype: the “charismatic and corrupt guru.” The motives of my detractors appeared so transparent that I thought they would be obvious to others, and I naively concluded that there was no point in responding. Besides, it just felt beneath my dignity to do so. I was wrong. I have now, obviously belatedly, come to understand that my lack of response is being considered by some as an admission of guilt or wrongdoing, or even worse, as a lack of integrity in itself. Respected friends had advised me: “Let your work speak for itself.” I had hoped that anybody with the eyes to see would easily recognize that the ever-evolving creativity, rationality, and open-mindedness of my teaching and my magazine, together with the confidence, joie de vivre, and open-heartedness expressed by my students consistently over a long period of time, just didn’t jibe with the bizarre picture my detractors were trying to paint. But it seems that the time has come for me to speak out more directly and set the record straight.

From there he goes on -- at length, seems no one told him much about blogging -- to defend himself and his motives. It's worth the read. I suspect that he truly believes in his integrity and mission, but he comes off -- as he often does in the Guru & The Pandit series -- as egotistical and narcissistic.

I feel the need to mention that his teachings and books are often on-target -- it's only when he begins speaking from his own enormously inflated ego that he comes off sounding like an idiot.

Andrew Cohen, for all his attempts to argue otherwise, is simply not credible in his own defense. But that is just my opinion -- read the article and make your own conclusion. Then, check out What Enlightenment?


Tom said...

I totally agree with your analysis. It is astonishing how unaware Cohen seems to be with his thin-skinnedness and focus on himself.

ebuddha said...

Hey there,

Man, u r blogging up a storm! Saw this on Zaadz, had 2 go to your second page to get to it!

At any rate, what is very apparent is strong control on the site. As you say, he clearly doesn't know a lot about blogging.

I of course agree with you, regarding Cohen. Massive ego.

There is a lot more there, of course - at no point do any specific charges get addressed, at no point is there even the possibility he has made mistakes.

Every issue is abstracted, to basically a strawmen objections such as "postmodern", "rebellion against authority", etc, etc.

Still, there are some valid points made, if one dismisses Cohen, and looks at the points themselves. And it brings up interesting questions about the nature of transformation.

At the same time - apparently spiritual transformation doesn't seem to include such features as freedom, openness, tranparency.

I left a comment there last week - a mildly adversarial one - and the comment hasn't been posted.

To expose the control facade, fairly easily you - or I - could encourage people to post there, and then post the exact same comment on an independent side. Very quickly, it would become apparent how much this actual blog is acting out of fear and control.

WH said...

Hey ebuddha,

Yeah, I've been blogging more -- it's either that or I start drinking beer again. I'm gonna hang with the blogging for now.

I agree about Cohen. I'll drop by the site and post a comment and see if they put it up. I'm doubtful. I'll post the comment on my blog and encourage others to post there and leave a copy in the comments section here.

I agree that there is something to look at with Cohen and his approach, but he makes it hard to take the good and leave the bad.


Anonymous said...

There has been several very good rebuttals to Cohen's statement of perfection, err I mean his Declaration of Integrity. It's on the What Enlightenment?! blog:

Also critiqued are Cohen's very dishonest fundraising techniques, aimed at his most supportive students of all people:

Don't be fooled by this sheister!

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