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".
Be Scofield is a queer/trans writer, activist, founder of decolonizingyoga.com
, Dr. King scholar and web/interaction/graphic designer
who specializes in helping progressive and alternative health platforms shine. Her work has appeared in Tikkun Magazine, Huffington Post
and she has a chapter in the book 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics & Practice.
Be holds a B.A. in Psychology/Philosophy from Warren Wilson College (2006), has done graduate coursework in Postcolonial Anthropology and holds a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in the Unitarian Universalist tradition with emphases in women’s studies in religion, sacred dance, African-American religion and Buddhism. Be specializes in the radical teachings of Dr. King and has taught a graduate course called “Dr. King and Empire: How MLK Jr. Resisted War, Capitalism and Christian Fundamentalism.”
Andrew Cohen and the Culture
of Evolutionary Enlightenment
"Andrew Cohen is a Rude Boy. He is not here to offer comfort;
he is here to tear you into approximately a thousand pieces."
Luna Tarlo spent over three years living with her guru Andrew Cohen (founder of What is Enlightenment? magazine now called EnlightenNext) in India and the United States. After she experienced extreme forms of public condemnation and humiliation she broke from him and wrote a book depicting Cohen as an “arrogant, power-hungry, dangerous figure who practices mind control over adherents.” She is, however, different than the hundreds of other disciples who followed him. Luna Tarlo is Andrew Cohen’s mother. In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1998 she stated, Cohen “requires total surrender to him. You have to obey everything he says and trust him 100 percent, and anybody who disagrees is subject to derision and verbal abuse.” In tragic fashion she ended what had previously been a healthy and loving relationship, “I know my life with him is over, and it’s very sad. I love him a lot.”
Twelve years after Tarlo’s “The Mother of God” (1997) was published, William Yenner a follower of Cohen’s for over 13 years and insider of his Foxhollow ashram has released a scathing book which chronicles the abuse that Cohen’s mother spoke of. “American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing – former students of Andrew Cohen speak out” (2009) is an insider’s look at how this self-proclaimed “rude boy” manipulated, abused, pressured and controlled his followers. The accounts given (an excerpt from the book is below) are very disturbing. After reading them I feel saddened, shocked and angry. And as I note below Cohen’s contemporaries have an ethical responsibility to speak out. Yenner was certainly in a position to know about these abuses as he was a central player in Cohen’s operation. He explains his role, “I was a member of the “inner circle” of Cohen’s students; in fact, I lived in his personal residence for several years, was a member of the EnlightenNext Board of Directors, and was the real estate scout who located and helped arrange the purchase of the 220 acre, nearly three-million-dollar, EnlightenNext “World Headquarters” at Foxhollow, as well as the EnlightenNext Centre in London.” And like many others in the group Yenner had “donated” a very large amount of money ($80,000) to Cohen. These large sums of money were part of Cohen’s plan. Yenner writes,
Andrew let it be understood that his good favor could also be had for a price, establishing a practice that was morally reprehensible, legally questionable and indicative of a degree of corruption that had warped his ideals and would eventually stain the fabric of his entire organization. It is a testament to the faith that so many of us had in Andrew that, despite the questionable nature of these new financial arrangements, we complied – some of us taking on enormous and ill-advised debt. Though it may be difficult for outsiders to comprehend, our desire to please our guru was so great that we were prepared to mortgage our futures in order to do so.
Survivors of Jonestown speak similarly about how once they gave their money, assets and signed over their homes to Jim Jones and the “church” it was the final step in the loss of their identities. I don't mean to suggest that Cohen is comparable to Jim Jones or that his followers are about to commit mass suicide. But rather I am merely highlighting the similarity in these actions to illustrate how the giving over of yourself includes money, property and belongings. And furthermore this loss of property is directly linked to the increasing loss of the ability to remain an autonomous agent within the group.
For years after his departure in 2001 Yenner remained silent. Like the others he was pressured under “extreme psychological distress and in an emotionally crushed state of mind” into giving his $80,000 and a few years after he finally broke with Cohen he wanted it back. Cohen agreed but made Yenner sign a five-year non-judicial but binding gag order to not speak about his experiences at Foxhollow or with Cohen. This enforced silence was, Yenner states, but yet another reminder to him that Cohen wasn’t ready to let him go. But the gag order expired in 2008 and now Yenner’s book is published.
Luna Tarlo and William Yenner’s books are not the only criticisms of Cohen to surface. Prior to the release of Yenner’s book some of Cohen’s former followers had set up a website, What Enlightenment?, in 2004 that chronicled his abusive and controlling methods with advice on cult recovery. Yenner’s book also contains the passages from other former Foxhollow members. In 2003 former What Is Enlightenment? editor Andre van der Braak published “Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru”. An eleven year disciple of Cohen’s, van der Braak chronicled the abuse and manipulation he witnessed and experienced as part of the Foxhollow community. He reports that one of the more mild but still disturbing elements of daily life in the community consisted of 600 daily prostrations while repeating the required mantra, “To know nothing, to have nothing, to be no one.” And Geoffry Falk in his Stripping the Guru’s: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment dedicates an entire chapter ‘Sometimes I feel Like God’ to Cohen. It places Cohen in context of his guru Poonjaji and provides a short history of his life. (This is an excellent and important book with startling revelations about everyone from Krishnamurti and Osho to Trungpa, Sai Baba and Yogi Amrit Desai just to name a few. My endorsement of this book is not about its level of scholarship as I must humbly admit I am in no position to evaluate this. Rather I appreciate the book because it draws attention to the phenomenon of cults, gurus and spiritual abuse. The whole book is available free online. Here is a link to the chapter on Cohen).
What did Cohen do? This is an excerpt from American Guru.
Some years ago at Foxhollow, a student named Jeff, a very good writer, was having a great deal of trouble with a writing project he had been assigned to do. He was supposed to write an introduction to a book Andrew was publishing, but he was having no success. Feeling terrible guilt about this, he wrote in a desperate letter to Andrew, “If I don’t come through, I will cut my finger off.” Andrew seemed to like this idea. When Jeff still did not succeed at his writing, Andrew called for Mikaela, [who was a] physician, to come see him…. Andrew told Mikaela to go to see Jeff, and to bring her medical kit. She was instructed to tell Jeff that Andrew was taking him up on his offer to sacrifice a finger. She should take out her scalpel, her mask, her gloves, a sponge – everything she would need for such an operation – and lay them all out. She was told to carry through the charade up to the very last minute, and then stop. When Mikaela visited Jeff, he had barely slept in about a week. He was in a desperate state…. Mikaela [later] confirmed…that she had followed Andrew’s instructions precisely. Jeff was severely and obviously shaken by the incident. He left Andrew and Foxhollow a few weeks later.
Face slapping and name-calling, while they were uncalled for and may have been damaging, were mild in comparison to other questionable manifestations of “crazy wisdom” that occurred at Foxhollow. One such incident involved a student (Mikaela) who was responsible for the marketing of Andrew’s publications and who had fallen out of favor by reminding him that something he had criticized her for doing had been his idea in the first place. He decried her as evil and ordered that the walls, floor and ceiling of her office (which had been relocated to an unfinished basement room) be painted red to signify the spilled blood of her guru. She was ordered to spend hours there contemplating the implications of her transgression, with the additional aid of a large cartoon on the wall depicting her as a vampire and the word “traitor” written in large letters next to it.
Andrew often employed red paint in this fashion to create environments designed to induce shame and guilt in students that he felt had questioned his judgment or disobeyed him. Another female student who had displeased Andrew and, after leaving the community, had returned to help out on a weekend painting project, was summoned to another basement room. There she was met by four female students who, having guided her onto a plastic sheet on the floor, each poured a bucket of paint over her head as a “message of gratitude” from Andrew. She left the property traumatized and fell ill in subsequent days (during which she was harassed by phone calls from another student who, at Cohen’s instigation, repeatedly called her a “coward”) and never again returned to Foxhollow. “Crazy wisdom” is the most charitable possible explanation for these often traumatic and disturbing incidents, many of which have already been related on the whatenlightenment.net blog. Several of these student accounts of Andrew Cohen’s “acts of outrageous integrity,” employed to dubious or damaging effect, are reproduced below.
Read more disturbing details from American Guru.
In 2006 Cohen finally "responded" to his critics with a "Declaration of Integrity." While you can read for yourself, his 11-page response is more of a treatise on how he is an amazingly revolutionary and groundbreaking teacher than any refutation of charges. And the website Guru Talk was established by other followers who support him to respond to those students of Cohen's who set up WhatEnlightenment? in 2004 which contains more examples of his abusive behavior. But I must ask, if Cohen's tactics are so revolutionary and "crazy wisdom" is needed to become enlightened, why haven't any of his students become enlightened? And why are these tactics so necessary when neither Cohen or Wilber attribute their awakenings to these sorts of experiences?
Andrew Cohen's Supporters
These people have an ethical responsibility to speak out against the abuse that Cohen was responsible for.
Despite years of allegations, two books and numerous followers who have broken from him to tell their stories Andrew Cohen still has his supporters. These people, many of them well known psychologists, therapists and spiritual teachers have an ethical responsibility to speak out against the abuse that Cohen was responsible for. His longtime friends, supporters and anyone who shares a stage with him or interviews him has a duty to confront him on these abuses if they know about them. Otherwise they simply provide legitimacy for him and support the culture of denial that surrounds these kinds of personality cults.
Craig Hamilton, now a Berkeley based “evolutionary spiritual teacher” was in a similar position to Yenner. For fifteen years he was a close disciple of Cohen’s and for eight of those he worked as senior editor of EnlightenNext magazine. Now Hamilton runs Integral Enlightenment. Hamilton here is speaking about how much he loved being in the community with Cohen, “And the inner life of everybody there was elevated to a profound level of well-being – I mean, in this environment everybody was living in a non-ordinary state of consciousness most of the time; there was a sort of enlightened Buddha-field…that permeated the place…” And from his website:
But the most profound influence on the teachings and practices of Integral Enlightenment is without a doubt the Evolutionary Enlightenment teaching of contemporary spiritual trailblazer Andrew Cohen. IE founder Craig Hamilton spent 13 years at the heart of Cohen’s living “laboratory of evolution” now known as EnlightenNext. As part of the core leadership team guiding this international movement, and editor of its communication arm, What Is Enlightenment? magazine, Hamilton was nourished by, and played a formative role in the development of this powerful force for spiritual and cultural evolution.
Yenner questions Hamilton for his silence on Cohen’s abuses and his continued praise of “rude boy.”
Interestingly, however, in the same period during which Andrew Cohen’s reputation has been so stoutly defended by guru-talk.com’s cadre of “fallen” or “unsuccessful” students, the integral community has also seen the emergence of another of Cohen’s former disciples, Craig Hamilton, as a self-proclaimed “teacher” in his own right. As I implied in a footnote of American Guru, no one who knows Andrew Cohen is likely to believe he was pleased by Hamilton’s surreptitious departure from Foxhollow, much less by Hamilton’s own subsequent (and well-planned?) ascent to integral guruhood – but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Cohen ought to be feeling swell. As a “successful” former student, Hamilton has outdone his fellow alumni not only in his wholesale assimilation of Cohen’s “teaching model” but in his astute – some might say opportunistic – emulation of his teacher’s tried-and-true PR strategy of using public dialogues with famous “luminaries” as a means of enhancing his own reputation. That Hamilton was able to cultivate such relationships while selflessly “serving” as his guru’s senior editor and ambassador to high-level interfaith conferences is yet another manifestation of that “something other than enlightenment” that seems to be Cohen’s less than inspiring human legacy.
At such moments, it is worth remembering that the list of spiritual leaders who have “fallen on their faces” – often with catastrophic results for their followers – is a long one indeed. In his foreword to American Guru, Stephen Batchelor suggests that things might have turned out far differently if, at the time of Andrew Cohen’s “emergence” as a teacher, those who felt they had reason to question his motivations or qualifications had spoken out more forcefully. This is all the more reason to scrutinize Hamilton’s account of his many years “working side by side” with Andrew Cohen; yet despite his acknowledged involvement in “trying to guide and work with [Cohen's] global body of students,” Hamilton remains curiously silent on the issue of the abuses that took place under his nose (and mine) at Cohen’s Foxhollow ashram. As Daniel Shaw has observed, “It would be wonderful to see…honesty and courage demonstrated by…leaders of the New Age movement. Instead of rationalizing and minimizing the extent of [Cohen's] abuses, instead of ignoring and dismissing the experiences of former followers, wouldn’t it be wonderful if people like Ken Wilber, Genpo Roshi, Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Bernie Glassman, etc., could have the courage and the integrity to pay attention, to take up the cause of Cohen’s former members, and confront Cohen publicly?” As an up-and-coming “spiritual luminary” – not to mention one who was actually there! – Craig Hamilton certainly deserves to have his name added to that list. The dangers of a “free pass” based on charisma and inspiring intentions having been borne out by history, I feel it ought to be perceived as reasonable, rather than gratuitously destructive, to raise questions about anyone representing himself as a “pioneer” of a cutting-edge spiritual discipline.
While Hamilton evaluates himself rather differently than most of his fellow former students – insinuating references to his own “awakening” into his “free preview,” to a virtual audience of nearly 700 spiritual seekers, of a 9-week “teleseminar” for which he is charging each participant $285 – he shares with guru-talk.com’s contributors the same abiding nostalgia for a community very different from the one I remember (a community in which abuses such as those documented in American Guru took place over a period of two decades) as well as their retrospectively rose-colored notions about the significance of what happened there.
It isn’t surprising that Andrew Cohen’s best friend Ken Wilber continues to be a supporter as well. There is probably no more of a featured figure than Wilber in Cohen’s EnlightenNext (formerly What is Enlightenment?) magazine. Wilber, the leading figure in the integral movement is another subject entirely but his support for Cohen his uncompromising. This isn’t surprising because Wilber believes in the same sort of authoritarian teaching style as Cohen (and employs it himself in many ways). Here is what Wilber has to say about Cohen:
[Rude Boys] live as Compassion – real compassion, not idiot compassion – and real compassion uses a sword more often than a sweet. They deeply offend the ego (and the greater the offense, the bigger the ego)….
Andrew Cohen is a Rude Boy. He is not here to offer comfort; he is here to tear you into approximately a thousand pieces … so that Infinity can reassemble you….
Every deeply enlightened teacher I have known has been a Rude Boy or Nasty Girl. The original Rude Boys were, of course, the great Zen masters, who, when faced with yet another ego claiming to want Enlightenment, would get a huge stick and whack the aspirant right between the eyes…. Rude Boys are on your case in the worst way, they breathe fire, eat hot coals, will roast your ass in a screaming second and fry your ego before you knew what hit it….
I have often heard it said that Andrew is difficult, offending, edgy, and I think, “Thank God.” In fact, virtually every criticism I have ever heard of Andrew is a variation on, “He’s very rude, don’t you think?”
Wilber has received attention for the abusive way he treats critics and the insular nature of his Integral project. One book written about Wilber is called “Norman Einstein: The Disintegration of Ken Wilber.” This is a link to a chapter called "Bald Narcissim." And this is a great summary of Wilber's ordeals from Frank Visser's Integral World called The Wild West Wilber Report:
In June 2006 Ken Wilber embarrassed himself in front of the world by abusing and insulting those of his critics who did not “understand” his work, and invited those who “did” to come to his integral “sanctuary…” Obviously, this alerted some cult-watchers to reflect on what on earth is currently going on in the integral scene. Here’s a listing of most of the relevant blog postings and articles, including my three personal replies to Ken Wilber. Compiled for future historians, Wilberologists – and psychiatrists!
Craig Hamilton works closely with Terry Patten another Bay Area Integral teacher who is also a senior trainer in Wilber’s Integral Institute seminars and contributor to Cohen’s EnlightenNext magazine. Patten and Wilber share another common theme: they were both students of the controversial spiritual teacher Adi Da also known as Adi Da, Da Free John and Bubba Free John (birth name Franklin Jones). The followers of Adi Da believed he was “an ‘adept,’ a person who came into this world already enlightened with eternal truth. The sect’s publications also call Jesus an “adept,” but make it clear that Jones is considered more important.” In 1974 Da claimed to be “Divine Lord in Human Form.” Da also had nine common law wives. For more see the section on Rick Ross’s cult watch site and the chapter on Adi Da from Stripping the Gurus from which this is taken:
"Also in 1974, during his “Garbage and the Goddess” period, Bubba apparently started his “sexual theater,” involving the switching of partners, sexual orgies, the making of pornographic movies and intensified sexual practices (Feuerstein, 1996).The Mill Valley Record (Colin, et al., 1985) further reported:
[James] Steinberg [head of the Hermitage Service Order] says the destruction [of the pornographic films] took place a few months after they were made. Steinberg also says that the church’s dildo collection was either sold or destroyed, he isn’t sure which."
Wilber has made many statements in support of Adi Da. Wilber wrote in the intro to one of Da’s books:
[M]y opinion is that we have, in the person of Da Free John, a Spiritual Master and religious genius of the ultimate degree. I assure you I do not mean that lightly. I am not tossing out high-powered phrases to “hype” the works of Da Free John. I am simply offering to you my own considered opinion: Da Free John’s teaching is, I believe, unsurpassed by that of any other spiritual Hero, of any period, of any place, of any time, of any persuasion.
Terry Patten’s biography claims that he was “a longtime student of the late American spiritual teacher, Adi Da Samraj.” And not surprisingly Patten is also a supporter of Andrew Cohen. The “Great [Integral] Awakening Online Teleseminar” which Patten was involved in with Hamilton features Wilber and Cohen front and center.
And then there is Marc Gafni, founder of iEvolve and (he is also featured in the above Global Awakening teleseminar) another controversial spiritual teacher who is part of the Integral inner circle, supported and defended by Wilber, Cohen, Patten and Craig Hamilton, Sally Kempton and Diane Musho Hamilton among many of the other figureheads of the movement. Gafni also works closely with Wilber at the Integral Institute. Gafni fled his position as head of the Bayit Chadash in Israel after several members of his community accused him of sexual misconduct. These were only the latest in a string of sexual accusations that has plagued Gafni. He was also stripped of his ordination as a Rabbi. While he apologized for his relationships with these women at Bayit Chadash he claims they were “loving and mutual,” (a claim which they strongly dispute). But if it gives any perspective he also says that his relationship with a 13 year old girl when he was 19 and 20 was “loving and mutual.” This is the testimony of the young girl who he claims he was in a mutual and loving relationship with.
The abuse went on through the year I was in 9th grade. The school year was almost over, I remember it was warm out. He called me on the phone one day to tell me that he would no longer be coming over. He realized that what he really needed was to get married soon, and he explained that this would give him a proper outlet for his sexuality. Its hard to describe how I felt at that moment, because it is complex. My molester finally decided to stop abusing me, to leave me alone, to move on. You would imagine I would feel great relief, but actually the full weight of the abuse I had endured in silence came crashing down on me. Here I was, left with this horrible experience, still with no one to talk to about it, and no language for it anyway. And he wasn't retreating because I had some how managed to make him stop, but because he decided it just wasn't worth the risk any more. He was terrified that he would do more and make me pregnant- then there would be no way to keep his secret. Until then, his abuse included exposing my body against my will, forcibly touching my breast, grabbing my hand and forcing me to touch his penis, and forced digital vaginal penetration. All were the most horrifying, degrading and painful experiences for me. All this only a year or so after my bat mitzvah...
Unfortunately, I knew Mordechai very well. He told me a lot about himself, and I knew him as a sexually compulsive, sexually violent man. After talking with counselors, lawyers, and professionals who advise and counsel sexual perpetrators, I learned that in 99% of cases, people who compulsively sexually abuse girls or women, especially those who were abused themselves as children, don't stop. These are dangerous people. The more we are silent about them, the more they have the freedom to act out their sexual compulsions. Further first hand accounts show that Mordechai continued to molest young women after he was married. Unfortunately, marriage did not solve his problems. There is no reason for me to assume he is not still victimizing girls and women. Back when I knew him, he was a refined manipulator, "groomer", "brain-washer", and he used those skills in order to victimize girls and young women. I have no doubt that, years later, he has honed his skills as a predator.
His defenders repeatedly claim that “he as done nothing illegal,” and ask us to believe that Ganfi is the victim of a widespread attack up on him. All of the women (over ten) exaggerated, distorted and lied about what really happened. Gafni also claims to have passed a polygraph test that proves that the relationships with the women were loving and mutual. You can read it for yourself but I would question the nature of the questions he was asked as well as the polygraph itself. You don't have to be an Einstein to know that they are not admissible in most courts of law and are widely thought to be based on junk science. In other words they aren't reliable or accurate. You can read more about them here. And here is a "WikiHow" on how to cheat a polygraph test. Here is a link to a Marc Gafni's website where he responds to the controversy.
There are many places to read about Gafni. "Rabbi Mordechai Gafni accused of sexually exploiting women" from the Haaretz, "Rabbi Gafni accused of sexual assault" from YNet News and The Re-Invented Rabbi from the Jewish Week. This is an article from the Jewish Daily Forward, Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims Defenders Offer Mea Culpa,
At least five female students and staff members have come forward to accuse Rabbi Mordechai Gafni of luring them into sexual relationships through intimidation, psychological manipulation and deception. Late last week, Gafni, an Orthodox-trained rabbi who has become a star of the New Age-style Jewish Renewal movement, was dismissed from his position as the head of Bayit Chadash, a center on the Sea of Galilee that he co-founded six years ago.
Gafni subsequently issued a public apology for having “hurt people I love,” and said that he would seek in-patient treatment for what he called “a sickness.”
…He was originally ordained as an Orthodox rabbi and moved to Israel more than a decade ago, after leaving posts in New York and in Boca Raton, Fla., amid rumors of sexual misconduct. He assumed an Israeli name and transitioned into the world of Jewish Renewal….
Rosenblatt said he had interviewed about 50 supporters and critics, including two prominent Orthodox leaders – Rabbi Yosef Blau, spiritual mentor at Yeshiva University, and Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Efrat – who had known Gafni since the 1980s. Blau and Riskin, who both criticized Gafni, told Rosenblatt that over the years they had spoken with a number of women who had complaints about the rabbi.
Rosenblatt interviewed several alleged victims. One was a woman named Judy, who first accused Gafni of molesting her in 1986, when she was a 16-year-old member of a youth group he directed. Shortly thereafter, Gafni left New York for a pulpit job in Florida. Another woman, Susan, who was an adviser for the group at the time, said that Gafni had threatened her when she tried to intervene on the girl’s behalf.
When asked about the allegations, Gafni told Rosenblatt that Judy was a troubled, unstable teenager who fabricated the story after he rebuffed her advances.
But he admitted to having had a sexual relationship with another girl, when she was 13 and 14 and he was 19 and 20, studying to become a rabbi.
“I was a stupid kid and we were in love,” Gafni was quoted as saying in The Jewish Week. “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”
The woman told Rosenblatt that Gafni had “repeatedly sexually assaulted her” when he stayed at her house for the Sabbath. The rabbi also told her that she would be “shamed in the community” if she told anyone.
The ultimate irony is of course that these spiritual teachers are supposedly on the forefront of instructing us on how to confront the shadow.
As Frank Visser 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. Cohen, 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? Nowadays 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.
I want to be clear that this article is not an attack on integral theory or the nature of the teachings that many of the people here offer. I am a fan of integral theory in generalnot of the Wilber sort, but the principle behind it. One can recognize that many of these teachers have said wise things while simultaneously being aware of their shortcomings.
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?
I would never appear on a program with Cohen, Wilber or Gafni let alone work with them. And if I was in a position of power as Cohen’s friends and supporters Ken Wilber, Craig Hamilton, Terry Patten, Marc Gafni, Genpo Roshi, Diane Hamilton are I would speak out against him. Do they deny the multiple, disturbing claims made by former disciples of Cohen? Or do they merely brush it aside as “Crazy Wisdom?” How can someone like Craig Hamilton continue to praise Cohen given the overwhelming evidence against him? After spending fifteen years with Cohen I suspect that Hamilton is still in Cohen’s cult trance. Can Cohen’s supporters be deemed legitimate if they are unable to call out his abusive, manipulative and sadistic behavior? There is really no excuse for the silence because it only enables Cohen further. 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.