Baby Andrews: Next Generation of Enlightened Purveyors of Salvation

While Andrew Cohen apologizes and backs out (sort of)

While the disaster and disarray of EnlightenNext continues to play out in many people’s lives, there were a few who played a sort of junior teaching role while EN was up and running, and a few of those have chosen to set up shop as teachers in their own right, rather than deal with the mess in the way almost everyone else has had to, which provokes some consternation among us who have struggled to pick ourselves up, face into what happened, and tried to help each other as well as carry on with our own lives. How is it possible to pivot from “that mess” into a shiny new career without all the damage suffered by so many others, one wonders. I asked a friend who like me came out “the other end” of EN what to make of this, and the response I received follows.

From the perspective of someone who spent many years in EnlightenNext, the bottom line has to be that we were duped. People may have a variety of reasons for not wanting to accept this—and elaborate strategies to avoid doing so—but vis-a-vis “reality,” 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!) I know that saying this may come across as presumptuous on my part, but what we are talking about, after all, is social pathology, and the essence of pathology is that some people, at some time, become sufficiently immunized against its euphemistic overtures and rationalizations as to be able to recognize it as such; otherwise the designation has no meaning. So it really is 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, Pete Bampton and Elizabeth Debold, 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. Never mind that their “evolutionary worldview” was nurtured in an alarmingly dysfunctional environment; 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 innumerable 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 cannot fail to leave its imprint on the new “communities” and “collectives” that such individuals in turn attract and gather about them, it is important for all concerned carefully to consider the dynamics in play.

I am not (necessarily) suggesting that the self-appointed “leaders” emerging from the ashes of EnlightenNext have nothing to offer, only that they owe their credulous followers an honest and humble admission of their participation in what went on there, 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” strikes me as an indication that what they are offering people is at best an attractive illusion and at worst a form of self-serving manipulation that can only perpetuate the radical duplicity of Andrew Cohen’s unfortunate legacy.

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Some background to the Cohen/EnlightenNext story beginning in 2013 when Andrew Cohen announced his sabbatical, and issued a letter of justification/apology, then subsequently made a further apology, his second.

After announcing publicly in 2013 (in Apology #1) that he was taking a leave from his work as a guru because he’d discovered, under pressure, that he did in fact have an ego and thus was taking time to “become a better man”, Andrew Cohen subsequently disappeared to India making no public utterances for the next two years.

In June 2015 Cohen made the announcement that not only was he back in the U.S., but that he’d rented a home to live in, in Lenox MA, where his Ashram once was, now a crumbling mansion that has been on the market for sale for many years with a steadily declining price tag. Shortly after arriving back in town, he issued Apology #2, with all the fanfare of every other great advance of his Work, and he posted this Apology/Announcement on his blog and invited or at least allowed comments.

You may read the Apology #2 here.

I have selected comments to include which reveal something about this new development, and how it is being received.

The comments selected are from long time fully involved students, and they fit into three categories: Those who fully support Cohen and find no fault (1), those who fault some of his actions but still believe in the spiritual theories and practices of EnlightenNext (1), and those, the majority, who find a great deal of fault in both Andrew Cohen the man and EnlightenNext the organization and its practices. The reason there are only 1 in each of the first two categories is that there was only one commenter whose remarks fell into each category.

I have selected about a dozen out of hundreds of comments, first for the sake of brevity and second only comments by those with long time fully involved experience. This effort to post the apology letter and selected comments is to make the record permanent, since in the past Cohen has deleted some of his more outspoken expressions. As one example there was a blog post he wrote entitled “A Declaration of Integrity”, posted in 2006 and removed several years later.

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