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William YennerWilliam Yenner is an engineer by training and a seeker by nature. He has studied meditation in India, lived in a Buddhist retreat center, and spent time in a commune. In this contribution specifically written for Integral World he reflects on the publication of his book American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing-former students of Andrew Cohen speak out and its reception so far. See also his website for excerpts, comments, news and reviews.

A Response to
Pete Bampton

William Yenner

In the end, my idiosyncrasies and faults are irrelevant to the tale of Andrew Cohen's far-ranging abuse of spiritual leadership and authority.

In addition to what has already been written in response to Pete Bampton's cultic, confused and misleading article, I would like to add that his argument is premised on serious factual inaccuracies concerning me. The psychologically coerced $80,000 contribution that Cohen returned to me only on the condition I agree to a 5 year gag order had nothing to do with the conflicts with my siblings or the article I wrote about it, as asserted by Bampton. Nor did my "fall from grace" have anything to do with that personal event. As Bampton admits, Andrew Cohen supported me in the writing and attempted publication of the article about the machinations surrounding my family inheritance. In fact, it was Cohen who coined the description of the situation as "Shakespearean," as stated in the article's introduction.

The introduction to the article was written by Jeff Bitzer, a top writer and editor at the time in the Enlightennext organization. (This is the same Jeff, by the way, who left the organization after being subjected to a simulated finger amputation performed by a community doctor on Cohen's orders, as punishment for failing to "come through" on a piece Jeff was working on, as described in American Guru.)

Other leading members of the community helped me with the article in other ways, all with Cohen's knowledge and consent--including Bampton himself, as, again, he admits. My "fall from grace" with Cohen (which led to my "contribution" and, ultimately, the gag order) occurred later and arose from my discomfort over Cohen's betrayal of a confidence I had made to him, as described in detail in American Guru. In the end, my idiosyncrasies and faults are irrelevant to the tale of Andrew Cohen's far-ranging abuse of spiritual leadership and authority.

Mine is only one voice among many--including three former editors of Enlightennext Magazine, the former director of Andrew Cohen's European community, author Andre Van der Braak, Luna Tarlo (Cohen's own mother) and approximately 40 other former student contributors to the What Enlightenment??! blog--who have felt called to speak out about Cohen's harmful conduct. But I think I would be remiss if I allowed Bampton's factual distortions to stand uncorrected.

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