Not So Fast: Following the Money

January 2014

According to the Board of Directors of EnlightenNext (USA), the organization is closing and liquidating its assets. By Massachusetts law such liquidated assets must be donated to a “similar charity. The Board of Director has indicated that they intend to funnel these liquidated assets to essentially sister organizations with close ties to EnlightenNext. In response to this news 81 former students of EnlightenNext have filed an official complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging that EnlightenNext has been in breach of its Fiduciary Responsibilities over many years, and that the intended recipient organization(s), being comprised of many of the same people who have directed EnlightenNext, would allow the abuse to continue. Therefore the Attorney General is being asked to prohibit such a transfer of assets. The full letter to the Attorney General appears below.

Another recent development is that both websites associated with EnlightenNext have been taken down. Given how central the internet has been to the existence of EnlightenNext and to its marketing, this seems to be an important step along the path to a final closure. Those websites are https://enlightennext.org/ and http://andrewcohen.org/

(Since this article was originally posted, andrewcohen.org has been put back up.)

Through the use of the internet archives “Wayback Machine” it’s possible to find previous pages of these sites before they were shuttered.

Here is the most recent image of the EnlightenNext webpage, captured by the Internet Archive on January 2, 2014:
https://web.archive.org/web/20131209041110/https://enlightennext.org/
For andrewcohen.org, the most recent image is from December 13, 2013: https://web.archive.org/web/20131024020804/http://andrewcohen.org/
Andrew Cohen’s archived apology can be seen here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20131213114227/http://andrewcohen.org/blog/apology
The archived announcement of Andrew Cohen’s sabbatical can be seen here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130805230345/http://andrewcohen.org/blog/sabbatical

The 200 acre Foxhollow ashram property continues to be on the market after several years of being for sale and various portions being sold off separately. What remains unsold is the very large Manor House which once housed the offices and community center of EnlightenNext. Today it has fallen into disrepair and is reported not to be heated in the winter. A photo album called Foxhollow, the Aftermath shows the current state of this once proud building. (Pride IS viscious.)

Andrew Cohen continues his sabbatical while many of his former students wonder what to do next, and some have come up with an answer which involves establishing themselves as spiritual teachers and advisers in their own right, often borrowing many of the same names and approaches used over the years by Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext. Some examples include Craig Hamilton’s Integral Enlightenment, (a spiritual practice for an evolving world), Jeff Carriera s Evolutionary Collective, and The Ten Agreements course by two top transformational leaders Mary Adams and Elizabeth Debold. None of these newly minted spiritual teachers has publicly distanced themselves from the abusive practices that EnlightenNext was known for.

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The following letter was sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General from former students of EnlightenNext:

Re: Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities by the Board of EnlightenNext, a Massachusetts 501(c)3 Charity

To: Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts
From: William Yenner
Mimi Katz
Jeff Bellsey
Cathy Snow
Former members of EnlightenNext charity, Lenox MA

Date: December 12, 2013

Dear Attorney General Coakley,
We, the undersigned, are contacting your office in order to express our deep concern over the proposed liquidation and transfer of assets by a Massachusetts 501(c)3 charity, located in Lenox, Massachusetts, known as EnlightenNext, Inc. One of the primary fiduciary responsibilities of a charity so designated is the welfare of its participants. In the case of EnlightenNext, this responsibility has been routinely violated hundreds of times, against dozens of individual members, since its initial registration as a charity in 1988. A summary of the abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext against its members, entitled The A List: A Catalog of Trauma and Abuse, see appendix.

The abuses perpetrated by EnlightenNext have included violations of confidentiality; various sexual abuses, including wanton interference in the sexual and familial lives of participants; physical abuse, including violent attacks; the systematic infliction of emotional trauma; and financial abuse involving the routine application of psychological duress and manipulation in the solicitation of donations. Furthermore, the organization and its leaders allowed its premises which were financed by charitable donations and developed through countless hours of pro bono labor on the part of its membersto fall into a state of extreme disrepair, occasioning a considerable loss in their market value.

There exists extensive documentary evidence of EnlightenNext’s trajectory of spiritual decadence and degeneration, links to which are listed below. This evidence suggests that the recent collapse of EnlightenNext is directly attributable to the abuses it committed against its own members many of whom strenuously object to efforts now underway to transfer assets derived from their donations to a successor organizations comprised of individuals who perpetrated or enabled the abuses alluded to, thereby circumventing any authentic reckoning with the organization’s comprehensive history of abuse and betrayal of trust.

There is a high probability that the dissolution and transfer of assets now proposed by EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors (see letters below) will facilitate the perpetuation of the privileges including protection against personal liability and responsibility that EnlightenNext insiders (its founder Andrew Cohen and his inner circle of assistant teachers) have long enjoyed, thus leading to a potential replication of the organization’s problems and abuses of the past. It is significant that none of the individuals or organizations presently under consideration by EnlightenNext’s Board as potential recipients of these assets senior practitioners and other longstanding authority figures within the organization has ever publicly objected to the abuses systematically perpetrated by EnlightenNext. It is equally troubling that organizations such as Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, which publicly sanctioned and encouraged EnlightenNext’s abusive practices, could also become beneficiaries of a transfer of its assets, given extensive commonalities between the mission statements of the two organizations.

Historically, EnlightenNext’s defenses against the allegations advanced here have been that they are the assertions of a disgruntled minority of its former membership; that the abuses referred to occurred a long time ago; and that groups as radical as EnlightenNext are bound to have enemies. We, the undersigned, aver that such statements fail to address the overwhelming evidence of the abuse and irresponsible conduct that have characterized EnlightenNext for the duration of its existence as a so-called charitable non-profit, evidence which to date no member of that organization has actually refuted.

We maintain that EnlightenNext has been and remains a cult and a fraudulent charity, and has been in continuous breach of its fiduciary responsibilities for a period of over two decades. We seek to have EnlightenNext fully investigated by the Attorney General, and we further request that its dissolution not eventuate in the funneling of its assets to organizations controlled by those who have been complicit in its extensive record of abusive and duplicitous practices.

Sincerely,

William Yenner, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; author of American Guru; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2001

Mimi Katz, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; member of EnlightenNext from 1988 to 2003

Jeff Bellsey, former EnlightenNext Webmaster and Director of Online Operations; member of EnlightenNext from 1996 to 2010

Cathy Snow, former member of EnlightenNext’s Board of Directors; former Personal Assistant to Andrew Cohen; former Managing Director of EnlightenNext, member of EnlightenNext from 1992 to 2007

The letter is also signed by 77 more former members of EnlightenNext