Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Breaking Point of Enlightenment

I have no idea what to think of Andrew Cohen. There are people who defend him passionately, and also Web sites that spare no pains in abusing him. His critics seem to be fuming with hatred, which makes it hard to cull wheat from the hyperbolic chaff. At this point, it's hard to say what's true and what's fabricated.

What seems clear is that Cohen takes drastic steps to try and awaken people, and that this has pushed many out of his circle. If some of the stories are to be believed, a few were pushed to the brink of collapse. I wondered why someone would take such a rough-and-tumble approach to awakening Americans - who, as a rule, aren't a psychologically secure bunch to start with.

Then something struck me: How did I get to the place I'm at? It was a life tragedy that brought me here, a life crisis that broke down many of the barriers to practice that my ego had erected. I thought about other people whose spiritual journeys started in a similar fashion: Pema Chodron, who embraced Buddhism after the collapse of her marriage; Lama Surya Das, who went off to the mountains of Nepal after the Kent State shootings; Eckhart Tolle, whose profound realization came when he was on the bring of suicide - and countless, countless others.

Could this be what Cohen is attempting to do with his practice? Is he seeking ways to induce life crises that cause profound shifts in consciousness?

I have no idea if Cohen is himself enlightened. But if he's using such a potentially fruitful yet dangerous tactic to awaken people, he damn well better be.

(And someone should update his damn blog too. Sorry, had to get that out there.)

Hi JD, That's more or less the same point of view I've come to with Cohen. I've met a few of his students in Australia and they seem to be getting something of benefit from his teaching, but I guess by definition they aren't getting confronted in the way that folks at Fox Hollow are.

If you read some of the craziness Gurdjieff got up to it's hard to adopt the view that teacher always have to be nice.
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