INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over a hundred published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He's currently the director of the Transpersonal Psychology Program at Akamai University. He has also written a
number of self-published books, including Numberama: Recreational Number Theory In The School System
, Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis And Exposé
, and The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. Elliot enjoys playing the piano, tennis, and ballroom dancing, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
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Conscious Evolutionary Barbara Marx Hubbard
and my Dilemma
Andrew Cohen himself will be conducting one of our teaching sessions as part of the course, and I can already see the drama that is going to develop for me.
I did not intend to enter into the series of Integral World descriptive essays about the alarming guru/cult concerns regarding Andrew Cohen; see for example the essays by William Yenner, Be Scofield, and David Lane . However, as it turns out, I am now a student of one of the world's leading conscious evolutionaries—Barbara Marx Hubbard , as I am enrolled in her Agents of Conscious Evolution (ACE) online/phone conference course , and the focus of this week of the course is none other than Andrew Cohen. Specifically, Hubbard asked us to view a video on Cohen's website that depicts an “evolutionary progress” conversation between Andrew Cohen and evolutionary philosopher/ex-entertainment promoter extraordinaire Harold Bloom , and she enthusiastically encouraged us to read Cohen's 2011 book Evolutionary Enlightenment .
My own personal experience with Andrew Cohen's movement is quite limited, and is related merely to my attending a lecture by his students in New York City that described the similarities of Cohen's work with that of Ken Wilber, about eight or nine years ago, and to my reading his 2003 Living Enlightenment book . Since that time I of course have become aware of the alarming guru/cult concerns about Cohen, which have been readily available on various websites, and have included a book about these concerns written by Andrew Cohen's own mother . I share these alarming concerns, as described by Yenner, Scofield, and Lane (cf. ), and also described by Geoffrey Falk . Scofield paints an excellent description of how prominent Integral leaders continue to support Cohen and ignore these widespread concerns that are so readily available. Scofields's list includes Wilber, Craig Hamilton, Terry Patten, Mark Gafni, and Deepak Chopra (cf. ); I would add a few more eminent spiritual evolutionaries to Scofields' list, including Barbara Marx Hubbard.
I certainly don't want to end up in the same scenario that Scofield describes, ignoring these very real, concrete, and alarming guru/cult concerns about Andrew Cohen. However, I can already feel my “cognitive dissonance”  related to the appreciation and inspiration I feel from the amazing 83-year-old Barbara Marx Hubbard. I met Hubbard at a Neale Donald Walsch Conversations with God retreat about ten years ago , and I was quite impressed with her then, as I conveyed in my Modern Religions book:
Barbara Marx Hubbard
I think of the amazing seventy-three-year old Barbara Marx Hubbard; every fiber of her slight physical being exudes intelligence, realness, purity, and lack of ego involvement....It was so touching to me how Barbara Marx Hubbard honestly admitted that Neale Donald Walsch has an ego problem and that she sees part of her own role in Humanity's Team as offering a feminine balance to Walsch's overwhelmingly powerful masculine nature. (p. 134).
Hubbard had conveyed her informal analysis of her feminine balancing role in Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God movement to me personally as a response to my expressing my concerns to her about the guru/cult dangers of Walsch and Conversations with God. And my brief but satisfying personal interaction with Hubbard ten years ago was a significant factor in my decision to take the Agents of Conscious Evolution course with her that I am presently enrolled in. A few days ago I participated in a phone conference lesson with at least a few hundred people (I don't really know how many people were on the call—it may have been in the thousands), and I somehow got the opportunity to ask Hubbard a question about the role of politics in the ACE training. There is a great emphasis in the ACE training on experience, “resonance,” authenticity, and personal sharing, and thus I find myself in the rather awkward position of sitting on all my strong feelings of concern about Andrew Cohen while I am
surrounded (virtually) by a multitude of eager “agents of conscious evolution” who are licking up everything Barbara Marx Hubbard is throwing out to them in the course.
So what do I do here? I did voice my concerns about Andrew Cohen in a 3-way resonance phone dialogue toward the end of our last phone conference, but I didn't get any verbal response from my two resonance partners. Should I voice my concerns to Barbara Marx Hubbard in one of our phone conferences with a few hundred or a few thousand of her captivated followers listening in? Part of my dilemma involves my sensitivity to Hubbard's age, as well as my respect for her impressive accomplishments and life work. Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill here, and I should just keep these concerns to myself and get what value I can out of the ACE training. But then I think back to Be Scofield's powerful essay, and I know that I cannot just ignore my feelings.
Andrew Cohen himself will be conducting one of our teaching sessions as part of the course, and I can already see the drama that is going to develop for me. But it is good to at least be able to voice my initial conflicts at this time on Integral World, and I shall write a follow-up essay as this whole dilemma progresses for me. I did not ask for this Andrew Cohen learning experience that I am somehow now experiencing, but it is happening for me and I need to deal with it.
1) See the following Integral World essays at www.integralworld.net: William Yenner (2009): American Guru: Excerpt, and an Update; William Yenner (2012): Making Sense of post-Cult Trauma & the Relational System of the Traumatizing Narcissist; Be Scofield (2010): Integral Abuse: Andrew Cohen and the Culture of Evolutionary Enlightenment; David Lane (2009): Andrew Cohen Exposed: A Review of “American Guru.”
2) See Barbara Marx Hubbard (2001): Emergence: The Shift from Ego to Essence: 10 Steps to the Universal Human; Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
3) See http://www.acecommunitywebsite.com/group/ace-training-7
4) See See http://www.andrewcohen.com/2012/04/07/video-faith-progress-evolution/
5) See Andrew Cohen (2011): Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening; EnlightenNext.
6) See Andrew Cohen (2003): Living Enlightenment: A Call for Evolution Beyond Ego; Moksha Press; and Elliot Benjamin (2006): On Ken Wilber's Integral Institute: An Experiential Analysis (www.integalworld.net).
7) See Luna Tarlo (2009): The Mother of God; Epigraph Publishing (first published in 1997); and also see the website http://whatenlightenment.blogspot.com
8) See Geoffrey Falk (2003): Stripping the Gurus (see the Andrew Cohen chapter XXI of the book "Sometimes I Feel Like a God" at www.strippingthegurus.com
9) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive.dissonance
10) See Elliot Benjamin (2013): Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis and Exposé; Natural Dimension Publications, available at www.lulu.com (original work published 2006).