Exposing the spiritual authoritarianism and exploitation of Andrew Cohen

Book: William Yenner, American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing-former students of Andrew Cohen speak out, Epigraph Publishing, 2009.

For all those who are mesmerised by EnlightenNext …

David Lane reviews an important expose of contemporary spiritual exploitation:

“In Yenner’s explosively revealing book, American Guru, we learn that Andrew Cohen displays all sorts of loutish behavior when his disciples don’t kowtow to his every neurotic whim. Women devotees especially receive harsh treatment from Andrew Cohen, including his own mother who eventually left him and exposed her son in her ironically titled book, The Mother of God.

What an outsider might find both unbelievable and astounding is how so many very bright and men and women can be so hoodwinked by a guru like Andrew Cohen who has never impressed me (unlike Da Free John, for instance) as being particularly intelligent or insightful. He reminds me of someone I knew in high school who got picked on and perhaps roughed up a bit by other students (for maybe not being athletic enough in gym or sharp enough in algebra class), and who vowed early on to someday get his revenge.

Andrew Cohen doesn’t at all act like an enlightened guru passing on valuable gems of wisdom. Rather, he acts like a spoiled brat who suffers from a chronic case of high school insecurity and has finally discovered a way to get even.

And who does he get even with? Those spiritual seekers who are naïve enough to transfer over to Andrew Cohen their deep-seated yearnings, their love, and, finally, their wallets and purses. Even Andrew Cohen’s obvious infatuation with Ken Wilber is indicative of Cohen’s chronic intellectual insecurity. Cohen’s and Wilber’s tete-a-tete is grounded in their own self-interests, but the fact that Ken Wilber has aligned himself once again with an abusive self-proclaimed guru, such as Andrew Cohen, speaks volumes about Wilber’s so-called “integrity”.

Ken Wilber has never fully admitted how mistaken he was about Da Free John and his nefarious actions (lamely back-peddling, albeit slightly, only after the New York born guru was exposed in the national media). It is all too clear that Wilber hasn’t a clue about the gurus he associates with or endorses. Or, to put it in a darker light, it seems as if Ken Wilber will chummy up with any guru provided he or she will give him a featured section in their monthly journal.

I have read a large number of books that have exposed modern spiritual leaders and their organizations, including The Bare-Face Messiah (L. Ron Hubbard), Monkey on a Stick (the Hare Krishna movement, Life 102: What To Do When Your Guru Sues You (John-Roger Hinkins), etc. I think that American Guru is a valuable addition to the growing literature devoted to exposing fraudulent gurus.

American Guru is not a mean-spirited book. It is, rather, a refreshingly honest one. I think American Guru should be required reading for all of Andrew Cohen’s past and present students.”

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