UPDATE – Integral Abuse: Andrew Cohen and the Culture of Evolutionary Enlightenment

Review by William Yenner

In late April, 2010, I received an email from Be Scofield telling me about his new article “Integral Abuse: Andrew Cohen and the Culture of Evolutionary Enlightenment”, which he said was posted at Tikkun Daily, a blog at Tikkun Magazine which he writes for. Upon reading it, I felt his article to be a very comprehensive, insightful and disturbing piece revealing the depth of abuse and corruption within the Integral spiritual scene.

However within a couple of hours the post disappeared from Tikkun, with no explanation. (The article was saved, however, by blogger Goeff Falk on his blog here:
http://www.geoffreyfalk.com/documents/TikkunComplete.htm)

The following day I heard again from Be Scofield, saying that Tikkun took it down due to stylistic and tone concerns, and not due to content or subject matter. He said that with the guidance of editor Dave Beldon at Tikkun, he will be preparing a new version which will be posted later on Tikkun Daily. The article is quite critical of not only Andrew Cohen but also of several other well known spiritual teachers, including Ken Wilber, Craig Hamilton, Marc Gafni, Terry Patten, Sally Kempton and Diane Musho Hamilton. I have since heard that it is highly unlikely that Tikkun will post any version of “Integral Abuse.” Given the fact that it was Tikkun that first posted this article, and Tikkun’s normally high journalistic standards, a fuller explanation is due from the magazine.

For any readers wishing to request a fuller explanation from Tikkun about this, here are contact details:

* rabbilerner@tikkun.org (Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the magazine)
* dave@tikkun.org (Dave Belden – Managing Editor)
* webmaster@tikkun.org (Web Site Comments and Questions)
* letters@tikkun.org (Letters to the Editor)

Be Scofield has now reposted his entire article on his own blog: God Bless the Whole World. Additionally the article has been posted on Integral World.

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UPDATE: Since originally posting the above commentary, I have received an email from Rabbi Lerner stating that he feels Be Scofield is wrong to publicly criticize Andrew Cohen for what Lerner believes to be private conduct. He calls this type of criticism “evil speech.”

Whether or not private conduct is a fair target for criticism or discussion, what is being discussed in the case of Andrew Cohen is not private conduct. The issue here is about how Cohen conducts himself in his very public role as a spiritual teacher, a role which he advertises himself in, a role where he travels and meets interested, and vulnerable, spiritual seekers all over the world. When some of those seekers become closely associated with Cohen, and find themselves subject to abuses as described in countless detail in three books and a former student blog, then the issue is of true public concern and Be Scofield has done a public service by bringing more people’s attention to it.

The fact that Rabbi Lerner, who is also a participant in various forums and publications of Cohen’s, objects to the public exposure of Cohen and bases it on a false use of the idea of right speech, is really further cause for concern. Why do so many of the spiritual luminaries and leaders seem to turn a blind eye to the predations of all too many of the spiritual teachers?

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Here are some brief excerpts from “Integral Abuse” by Be Scofield –

As Frank Visser [founder of Integral World] says, “Integral confirms integral confirms integral.” I have heard people defend Marc Gafni by stating that Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber support him. But it actually is a silly game they all play because they all defend and support each other. It goes something like this. Patten, Hamilton, Gafni and Wilber support Cohen. Cohen, Wilber, Hamilton and Patten support Gafni. Wilber, Gafni, Hamilton and Patten support Wilber. Wilber and Cohen support Patten and Hamilton. Wilber and Patten support Adi Da….etc. And they all appear on each others integral programs, websites, conferences, book chapters, magazines and platforms. Among the various offerings is Integral Life Practice, Integral Naked, Integral Institute, Integral Spiritual Center, Integral Enlightenment, EnlightenNext magazine…etc. And as Yenner notes above, they seem to employ the same tactic: surrounding themselves with other luminaries, celebrities, and public faces who agree with them and provide much needed support. If all of these amazing people support Cohen he must be ok, right? Now adays it seems all you have to do is add the word integral in front of something to boost its credibility. Add the word integral and you have a sexy and attractive product ready to be sold to eager spiritual seekers who are hungry for idealism and more purpose in life. The whole thing equates to a very large money making machine.

… Is it wrong to call out Cohen’s enablers? Is it wrong to expect them to break the silence on Cohen’s legacy of abuse, manipulation and cultish behaviors? In the face of the sadistic acts of Cohen isn’t it problematic when Wilber says “Cohen is here to tear you into a thousand pieces?” What about accountability? Responsibility? Ethics?

…In a post-Jonestown and present day Catholic Church scandal era we simply cannot afford their silence. I doubt any accountability will be had because this particular integral community is a family of “evolutionary thinkers,” who has discovered a revolutionary truth and will defend it to the end. They simply employ a form of group think that rationalizes, justifies and spins the truth to meet their agreed upon conclusions about each other. The ultimate irony is of course that these spiritual teachers are supposedly on the forefront of instructing us on how to confront the shadow. However, I won’t take their advice until they confront the very large shadow of Andrew Cohen.