Announcing the release of a new documentary on Andrew Cohen
View the trailer of “How I Created A Cult” here.
How I Created A Cult
The story of Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext:
A 6-part documentary produced by Conscious 2.
Episodes will be released weekly starting 16th October for streaming exclusively by subscription at www.conscious2.com
(Note: This series will be offering a free 14 day subscription to see first two episodes, and a paid subscription thereafter.)
Andrew Cohen is one of the most controversial spiritual teachers of the last 30 years. In 2013 his organization EnlightenNext collapsed amidst claims of abuse and the shocking revelation it had been a cult.
This groundbreaking 6-part series features interviews with Andrew Cohen, former students including William Yenner (author of American Guru) and Marlowe Sand (author of Paradise and Promises), and commentary from experts such as Dr Roger Walsh, Tami Simon and Steve Macintosh. How I Created a Cult explores the potential dangers of unchecked power and charismatic leaders, investigating three decades of psychological abuse and financial extortion with the purpose of facilitating a spiritual awakening.
Latest development…Andrew Cohen is currently attempting to re-launch his career as a spiritual teacher with a speaking engagement at the “Forum for the Evolution of Consciousness”, an effort opposed (for obvious reasons) by many of those who were abused by Cohen as recently as three years ago …as more details become available they will be posted here.
Where things currently stand:
1. The Relaunch(es)
Cohen went on sabbatical in 2013, purportedly “to become a better man”—having discovered that, like his comparatively unenlightened followers, he, too, had “an ego.” He issued his first of two public apologies. He then departed for India, and wasn’t heard from (or about) for the next two years. When he returned to the U.S. following his two-year “sabbatical” (a term that itself indicated an intention to resume “teaching” at some point), there were rumors about his potential re-emergence as a “thought leader,” if not a wholesale “relaunch” of his guru career. He issued his second public apology“, and began an “apology tour” that entailed visiting several former students while avoiding former members of his inner circle (and others) from whom he knew he could expect the harshest criticism. As part of Cohen’s rehabilitation campaign, he now claimed that his role and authority had been undermined by his former core group of students, who, he also claimed, had closed down EnlightenNext without his knowledge or approval while he was on his “sabbatical.”
Meanwhile, several leaders in Cohen’s organization, some of whom during the course of Enlightennext’s final years had begun their own careers as authors and seminar leaders (some independently and some under the wing of EnlightenNext), had been gradually emerging from Cohen’s shadow. (See “Baby Andrews,” below.) This has led to widespread suspicion that Cohen’s “abdication” might actually have been the result of a coordinated putsch by those emerging leaders who had begun to regard Cohen’s authoritarian ways as an impediment to their own professional and spiritual ambitions. There were potential careers to be made, spiritual authority to be claimed, and money to be “earned.” Some members of this former leadership group posted public complaints about how much they had sacrificed for the sake of “the Revolution” only to find themselves in middle age with no track record outside of Cohen’s orbit, which made for embarrassingly thin resumés.
But there were, of course, many other individuals, remote from the levers of power and/or devoid of professional ambition; for them, Cohen’s abdication was simply a painful and disorienting event which produced no obvious advantages or potential career embellishments. Thus, while some of Cohen’s followers found ways to benefit from EN’s collapse, or to at least continue their nascent spiritual-teacher careers unencumbered by Cohen’s authority, the majority found themselves bereft of their community and way of life, without any plan that might enable them to negotiate a viable new form of existence. For many, this was the beginning of an entirely new ordeal.
2. The Money
The local non-profit legal entities of EnlightenNext, both in London and the U.S. (the Foxhollow estate in Lenox, MA) have been forced to acknowledge that their stated missions are defunct and to determine what to do with their substantial assets, invested almost entirely in real estate. EnlightenNext London sold its Centre (for approximately $4 million) and has spent the past couple of years in a decision-making process regarding how to allocate these funds. At Foxhollow, real estate holdings (once worth $7 million according to previous EnlightenNext financial statements) have been liquidated in pieces, and all having been sold at this point. Per the latest publicly available financial report, “EnlightenNext EIN: 22-2951275″ reports in its most recent report of 2014, income of $507 and assets of about $1.5 million. According to Massachusetts Law, a charity that ceases operations must donate its remaining assets to another charity with similar goals, failing which its remaining funds must be turned over to the state. Meanwhile, EnlightenNext’s U.S. Board of Directors has issued no communications regarding its intentions with respect to the distribution of its funds on hand.
3. Baby Andrews
Former members may have a variety of reasons for not wanting to accept that Andrew Cohen’s organization was a sham, and they may employ elaborate mental strategies to avoid doing so, but failing to recognize pathology for what it is has to make their lives more difficult at some crucial level, usually in ways they may not be even slightly aware of. (In many cases, of course, this lack of awareness is precisely the point.) Ultimately, though, an important event in the unfolding of this kind of pathology is that some people become sufficiently immunized against its euphemistic overtures (and their own rationalizations) to be able to recognize it for what it is. It’s a matter of being the canary in the coal mine, or of being able to see all the way through the emperor’s new clothes.
People like Jeff Carreira, Craig Hamilton, and Pete Bampton, on the other hand, who have chosen out of personal expediency to avoid accepting responsibility for their part in the debacle that was EnlightenNext, continue to portray themselves as enlightened purveyors of salvation through “higher consciousness” to a species they condescendingly regard as frozen in its collective adolescence. The obvious irony here is that their so-called “evolutionary worldview” was nurtured in an alarmingly dysfunctional environment. But these slick new “spiritual teachers,” with their free webinars and early-bird discounts, would rather have a career than a conscience to show for the endless hours they spent enduring, enabling and perpetrating emotional abuse (and worse) during their much-touted decades of “transformative spiritual practice” in a “living laboratory of spiritual evolution.” Because this kind of self-deluding hypocrisy can’t fail to leave its imprint on the new “communities” and “collectives” that such individuals have in turn attracted and gathered about them, it’s important for all concerned to know more about their backgrounds, and to think carefully about what their prospective or existing followers may be getting themselves into. I’m not (necessarily) suggesting that these self-appointed “leaders” have nothing to offer, but at the very least they owe their customers an honest admission of the nature of their past participation in EnlightenNext, regardless of its potential to diminish their aura of authority or their bottom line. Their unwillingness to own up to the more questionable aspects of their “apprenticeship” is an indication that what they’re offering people is at best an attractive illusion and at worst a form of self-serving manipulation that merely extends the tentacles of Andrew Cohen’s unfortunate legacy.
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