American Guru » Evolution As Metaphysics And Spiritual Violence

Evolution As Metaphysics And Spiritual Violence

Posted by Joseph on Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality.

I recently acquired a DVD set of one of my all time favorite BBC series, James Burkes wonderful The Day The Universe Changed. In episode 8 – Fit To Rule: Darwin’s Revolution, he spends a good deal of time pointing out that the theory of evolution was quickly misused by a variety of political theorists as a justification for their point of view. American free market advocates promoted social darwinism, German racialists proclaimed the necessity of eugenic social programs to preserve the purity of the aryan race, Russian communists saw Darwin foreshadowing the emergence of Marx’s new man.

Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, and most of the luminaries in the Integral scene espouse an idealist, perennialist metaphysics that holds the pinnacle of human development as the realization of the one divine reality. Our flawed, fragile, & contingent self must undergo a radical transformation to attain this realization. It is easy to see why the metaphor of personal evolution fits into this metaphysical worldview. Too often, however, this has led to a violent devaluing of the self. KW is infamous for endorsing ‘rude boy’ gurus such as Adi Da & Andrew Cohen, who have both had former students make allegations of physical, psychological, & financial abuse against them. If the only worthwhile goal is the transformation of the unrealized self, then any means necessary to achieve that goal can be justified.

Peter Bampton, a loyal student of Andrew Cohen, attempts to refute Cohen’s critics in his essay American Guru: Andrew Cohen & Allegations Of Abuse (also from the Integral World website). It’s a long, grandiose, jargon laden exaltation of Cohen’s teaching work. His rhetoric exhibits a manichaean quality, creating absolute dichotomies contrasting the internalized division of ‘the ego’ vs the enlightened teacher, or the externalized separation of loyal disciples vs those who betray the guru…Following the example of his teacher, he invokes evolution as a divine principle;

“Evolution moves in mysterious ways. When the totality of our experience is being embraced and nothing is being denied, when we are no longer holding onto grievances, fixed conclusions about who we are, who Andrew Cohen is and what is possible now, then all boundaries and fixed positions break down and dissolve in the liberating surge of the Authentic Self.”

“When I look back on it now, the explosion that began on the night of July 30th 2001, and that continued to flare forth unabated like an erupting volcano for several weeks, was a collective initiation into a new matrix of human evolutionary potential.”

read the essay