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Registered User
(12/2/02 3:36 pm)
Western Gurus -- Thoughts and Experiences
I was wondering if anyone knew anything about Andrew Cohen. He's the publisher/editor of the magazine "What is Enlightenment," which is a hip, Americanesque presentation of eastern philosophy. I've heard that their catchphrase is "we don't do dead gurus" or something like that... Anyhow, I have read a couple issues of this magazine, and have mixed feelings about it. While it is informative and really trying to appeal to a larger American audience, it's also trying to appeal to an American audience... What I mean is, I'm afraid that by trying to be hip and American, it may be fluffing over certain things. I'm also uncomfortable with the fact that Andrew Cohen seems very "guruish" and calls himself "The Guru" in his own magazine... It's also $9.00 PER ISSUE!!!

Anyone have any personal experience with Andrew Cohen who might be able to give more insight into this "American Guru?"

Edited by: MastersChela at: 12/6/02 2:14:57 pm
Registered User
(12/2/02 7:53 pm)
Re: Andrew Cohen--Enlightened Guru?

I must say you really baffle me. For someone to whom Yogananda has personally come to guide and instruct, why on earth would you care about some Andrew Cohen, Guru-character? What are you seeking outside of the guru and path toward which you profess devotion and allegiance?

Edited by: wholetruth at: 12/2/02 7:56:30 pm
Registered User
(12/3/02 3:42 am)
RE: Seeking elsewhere???
For someone to whom Yogananda has personally come to guide and instruct, why on earth would you care about some Andrew Cohen, Guru-character? What are you seeking outside of the guru and path toward which you profess devotion and allegiance?

I'm not "seeking" in the sense that you're talking about. I do, however, seek information about Yoga and meditation outside of Master's teachings because I find value in the presence of other devotees of God, especially if those devotees have a deeper level of Self-Realization than I do. While we each have only one true Guru, we can have MANY spiritual teachers in our lifetimes. Master himself had many teachers outside of his Guru Sri Yukeshwar. He even went seeking other teachers to learn from AFTER he'd found his Guru (See Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 13: The Sleepless Saint). We especially, who do not have our Guru with us in physical form can benefit from the presence and the teachings of a living spiritual Master.

The reason I asked this question doesn't have anything to do with me seeking a "new" Guru, anyhow. I was in the bookstore, and I saw a magazine which I'd never seen before called "What is Enlightenment?" Being a Yogi, and interested in enlighenment, I picked it up and browsed. I was just presenting this question because the magazine (his magazine) made Cohen out to be this great spiritual teacher and I'd never heard of him before, so I asked, as this is pretty much the best place (I've found) to get a good mix of oppinions on spiritual paths and teachers.

My other reason for being interested is that I sincerely believe in Master's prophecy that "Self-realization will be the religion of Dwapara Yuga." I take him to mean that people will turn more inward in their spiriual quest and more true Gurus will arise, not that SRF will be the religion of Dwapara Yuga... With that in mind, I am always interested in newly emerging meditative traditions; especially those coming out of purely American teachers. While find myself more sceptical of "Western" Gurus, I am also very intregued by them, and see them as powerful harbingers of Self-realization to a greater number of Americans. If a Westerner truly does have a deep spiritual awareness, then they're doubly as prepared to present it to a Western audience, as they already speak the cultural language, and have a better grasp (from a standpoint of the material world) of the way in which to present the wisdom to Americans.

One teacher I'm VERY impressed with is Eckhart Tolle, the Author of The Power of Now. I just started reading his book this week, and I am so blown away by his obvious level of spiritual awareness. Listening to his voice (I found some samples on a website selling his tapes), one can tell without a doubt that he is speaking from the firm footing of Spirit.

Reading other authors and investigating other Gurus doesn't make me less dedicated to Master... In fact, it makes me more dedicated to him. When I read other teachers, they help me to change certain aspects of my life that perhaps my Guru didn't focus on as highly in his writings (Tolle, for example, focuses on how to maintain a meditative "mood" when going about daily activities, with less focus on specific meditation techniques). These other teachers' lessons help me to improve my overall state of consciousness, which in turn makes for better Kriya sessions. Kriya is the core of my sadhana, the center of my world. Master, and his work, is my life, but that's absolutely no reason to not read other books or seek wisdom wherever it can be found. The AY is a record of the Many saints that Yogananda learned from. Each gave him important pieces of the "enlightenment pie," but only his true Guru could give him Samadhi. Yogananda will give me Samadhi when I am ready to recieve it, but he's not going to tell me never to seek bits of wisdom in other places as well. We can all benefit from the physical presence of a saint, whether they're our Guru or not.

Edited by: MastersChela at: 5/7/03 6:08:09 pm
Registered User
(12/3/02 4:46 am)
Re: RE: Seeking elsewhere???
what wholetruth just did to you, is what srf members do to each other ALL the time. This is a form of brainwashing / control to prevent you from exploring other paths, and perhaps finding a better one.

Cohen has a place on the east coast where you can live with him and others. You need a way to support yourself AND then you need to do service for the community

Registered User
(12/3/02 6:36 am)
Re: RE: Seeking elsewhere???
Even Yogananda enjoyed meeting and talking to spiritual people of other paths. Didn't you ever read the AY?

Registered User
(12/3/02 7:02 am)
Re: RE: Seeking elsewhere???
username: I think you're having a relapse into "Hitler Youth" type generalizations.

Registered User
(12/3/02 7:12 am)
Re: RE: Seeking elsewhere???
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Read and explore whatever you want, MastersChela. I certainly don't have a problem with it. I do the same. (Sorry, username, I prefer not to be classified as an SRF member. That phase of my life is over.)

I just thought I detected a little contradiction in MasterChela's fervor and depth concerning Yogananda versus wanting to explore everything else that is out there. I thought that true devotees found enough in Yogananda's teachings to keep them occupied day and night and that spiritual realization is an inner, intuitive, meditative thing and not an intellectual pursuit. Hey, but what do I know--I'm neither a spiritual nor an intellectual adept! (I've enjoyed the discussions here, though.)

Edited by: wholetruth at: 12/3/02 7:28:24 am
Registered User
(12/3/02 8:37 am)
Re: Andrew Cohen--Enlightened American Guru???
Andrew Cohen www.andrewcohen.org

seems to be a 55 year old disciple of

H.W.L. Poonja www.poonja.com

himself a disciple of

Sri Ramana Maharshi, www.mararshi.org

who was born in 1879. He was self-realized at 16, that is, had no human guru, and often said that his guru was Arunachala, a holy mountain in South India where he meditated. This lineage is Advaita Vedanta, just like Yogananda's. There are many such lineages in India.

The magazine is partly online

and my experience is that it seems to be edited by Carter Phipps, not founder Cohen. It is well received on the East Coast and abroad. I heard it had 80,000 subscibers, but have not verified this.

Edited by: srflongago at: 12/3/02 1:56:30 pm
Registered User
(12/3/02 2:33 pm)
Great Spiritual resources!!
See what I mean! This forum is great for finding out more information about spiritual teachers.

Registered User
(12/3/02 3:13 pm)
Is Master enough to keep me occupied?
wholetruth said:

I just thought I detected a little contradiction in MasterChela's fervor and depth concerning Yogananda versus wanting to explore everything else that is out there. I thought that true devotees found enough in Yogananda's teachings to keep them occupied day and night and that spiritual realization is an inner, intuitive, meditative thing and not an intellectual pursuit.

I agree that spiritual realization is an inner quest, and that no ammount of "book lernin' " :) can replace meditation and true experiential evidence... But, I'm an intellectual, a gyana yogi, and before I was a yogi, I was a student of relgious studies, so I still have those samskaras. I love to read about other paths just for the sake of knowledge, not because I think it'll bring me closer to God. That's what Kriya and meditation and chanting are for.


Registered User
(12/3/02 8:45 pm)
Wasn't Yogananda a dualist? He talked about the devil and stuff didn't he?

Registered User
(12/4/02 3:46 am)
Re: Yogananda
Advaita Vedanta is compatible with all religions, Lahiri, Yusteswar, Yogananda, were all raised in this tradition. So was Yogananda's student Premananda (Jotin). The latter named his church the Church of Absolute Monism to make it clear this is not a dualist tradition. The meaning is the absolute unity of self and universal consciousness when the veil of Maya is removed, which it may be by practice of higher Yoga.

When Yogananda decided to form a Church in 1935 and to incorporate as specific elements a lot of Christian themes, he may have fallen away from his mentor's strict vedantic tradition. If he spoke of the devil and such only metaphorically, he may not have. These are difficult philosophical-theological issues.

Registered User
(12/4/02 6:40 am)
Re: Yogananda
I agree. The Autobiography of a Yogi did show Yogananda seeking out others and enjoying the diversity. His real disciples know this. SRF's policy that you stay away from other churches or books or lectures is just part of their cult nature.

Most organizations have problems so it is never good to put an organization or person between you and God. That is one lesson many of us SRF people learned the hard way!

Registered User
(12/4/02 7:30 am)
Re: Is Master enough to keep me occupied?

You're okay! I love how you don't take things personally.

More blessings!

Registered User
(12/6/02 3:39 pm)
Eckhart Tolle--"The Power of Now"
You all have probably noticed that I decided to change the title of this topic, because I'd like to go into a deeper exploration of not only Andrew Cohen, but perhaps other "Western Gurus" or spiritual teachers.

One teacher whom I briefly mentioned in an earlier post was Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now. I recently began reading it at the recomendation of a fellow Kriyaban who said that it had done a great deal for him in deepening his ability to stay in a meditative mindset when not "in the seat". I finally got around to buying the book and giving it a try this last week, and I can't say enough good things about it. It is deceptively simple, and those who have read much in the way of meditation and enlightenement thinking will not find anything "new" here, but what you will find is old wisdom presented in simple, common Western language. This book is so much better than "What is Enlightenment" as far as presenting the teachigns of the east to the Western mind, in my opinion, because it doesn't try to be "hip." It just takes the teachings and tells the ancient wisdom in a way that anyone can understand. Reading Tolle is like meeting the Buddha on the streets of London or Seattle or Portland. He just tells us what is wrong and how simple it can be to fix it, if only we would begin.

Check out his website:


or listen to clips of some of his talks at:


It's worth the time.

Edited by: MastersChela at: 5/7/03 6:04:15 pm
Registered User
(6/14/03 11:16 pm)
The Mother of God (mother of Andrew Cohen)
For further information on Andrew Cohen's deceitful actions and what he has done to his very own mother, check out this site:


Registered User
(6/14/03 11:18 pm)
Re: The Mother of God (mother of Andrew Cohen)
Here is an article about Andrew Cohen, his mother, Yogananda and a few others.


L.A. Times, Saturday, August 15, 1998

Teachers or Tyrants?


* Faith: Some find spiritual mentors vital to gaining transcendence. Others say they are inherently authoritarian and therefore prone to abusing their power.

When they committed their lives to spiritual teachers, Luna Tarlo and Dennis White both sought the same thing: bliss. Tarlo found horror instead -her own beloved son transformed into an arrogant and power -mad guru who used fear, threats and insults to control followers, she says in a scathing new book, "Mother of God."

But White says his guru, the late Paramahansa Yogananda, gave him the lessons and yoga techniques to help him uncover his own spiritual nature. He says he obtained the bliss he had been furiously searching for in a quest that cut a heavy intellectual swath through tomes on subjects from Western existentialism to St. Francis and other saints.

Thirty years later, White is still a devotee of Yoganda, as Brother Satyananda since joining the monastic order in 1976, he speaks joyfully of his guru's overwhelming love, humility and gentleness, his deep respect for others and his boundless desire to serve.

That two seekers could end up with such radically different experiences illustrates the timeless dilemma involving spiritual teachers. Whether Hindu guru, Jewish rabbi, Zen priest or Christian preacher, are teachers necessary for spiritual growth? How do you tell the mad from the magnificent? Are gurus, as some analysts argue, inherently authoritarian in their insistence on obedience and surrender? Or, in helping guide people to realize deep spiritual truths and directly experience transcendence or God, do they offer liberation and empowerment?

The questions yield emphatic answers-of every stripe.

Although Americans love experts-- and flock to them for guidance in everything from picking mutual funds to developing "thighs of steel" -spiritual gurus tend to have a bad name. Some analysts say gurus or spiritual masters may be more apt to abuse power in America. Some cite the culture's materialism or moral decay or what the noted Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman called our "long -term Western patriarchal structure deeply embedded with an omnipotent monotheism figure seen as all-controlling and all-powerful."

Or, as he puts it more colloquially, "Despite our self-image of independence . . . there is a general problem in this society of seeking father figures and saviors-of looking for Big Daddy."

In their 1993 book, "The Guru Papers," Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer argue that the guru-disciple relationship-and all religious systems, East and West-are inherently authoritarian because they require absolute surrender and obedience to a person or ideology deemed unchallengeable and infallible. "There is a social virus in our religion and morality and culture that conditions people to give power away," Alstad said.
In the public mind, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh is probably remembered less for his spiritual philosophy than for his 93 Rolls - Royces, tax evasion and free -sex practices. The tragedies involving Jim Jones of the 1978 Guyana suicide -murders, David Koresh of the 1993 Waco, Texas, inferno and Marshall Applewhite of the 1997 Heaven's Gate millennialist, suicides have all reinforced the image of gurus as deluded, sometimes dangerously disturbed people.

"I don't think anyone becomes a guru unless they want power," said Tarlo, whose son, Andrew Cohen, was transformed from what she described as a sensitive young man enamored of music into an internationally recognized guru today. "A lot of them start out OK, but the more power they get, the crazier they get."

During the three years she spent with him in New York, India and elsewhere, Tarlo says Cohen was arrogant in the certainty of his own infallibility and demolished the self-esteem of followers to gain control publicly calling one a "hypocrite, liar and prostitute," for instance. Tarlo said Cohen offered no particular spiritual techniques or extraordinary philosophical insights, but exuded a magnetic confidence that captured people's allegiance.

Tarlo says she was vulnerable to his lure partly because she had just suffered through the deaths of her parents and husband and because he was her son.

"I was open to it because I really wanted to believe he was the most amazing man in the world," she said in a phone interview from New York. "I loved him so, like a foolish mother." Cohen's organization did not respond to requests for interviews.

Alstad and Kramer argue that religious authoritarianism must give way in today's climate of accelerated change and open itself to questions, challenges and feedback.

Some spiritual teachers would agree-and the Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakao of the Zen Center of Los Angeles is one who is making such changes.

The center had been plagued by charges of abuse of power, sexual misconduct and 'alcoholism among the leadership in the past, but Nakao says she has already started "flattening the hierarchy" to help heal her community since taking the helm last year.

Among other things, she is instituting a formal- process and supplementing the traditionally hierarchical teacher-student relationship with regular "councils" -open forums of all Zen community members to discuss issues and share information on equal footing. An outside "witness" is invited to give feedback on the discussions.

We need to change by really opening up," Nakao said. "Buddhism is about all -inclusiveness, and the question is, 'What forms can we use to make it more inclusive?"'

Asked if she requires surrender from followers, she laughed. "Never, It gives me chills just to think about it.
"I teach by questions," she added. "Inquiry is very, very important. I can guide you, be your companion, maybe interpret the dharma [teachings] in a way you haven't thought of. But ultimately, it's you who has to confirm them yourself. I can't do it for you. In that way, it's very empowering."

Indeed, followers of many religious traditions dispute the notion that all forms of spiritual authority are inherently authoritarian.

Lively inquiry and debate- not coercion or force- characterize the relationship between teachers and students in many faiths, and the spiritual bond between a student and a gifted teacher can be of immeasurable value, they say.

"A rabbi helps deepen the student's knowledge of Torah and through that knowledge create his or her own path to God," said Rabbi Joel Rembaum of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles.

But, he added, the learning relationship is reciprocal-- a point he said was underscored in the following Talmudic statements:
"I have learned much from my teacher. I have learned more from my colleagues. I have learned most from my disciples."

Although the rabbi - a word that means teacher - is presumed to possess superior knowledge and understanding. Rembaum recalled times when his students have given him new insights. One student, he said, pointed out a structure of storytelling in Genesis that he had never before noticed. It underscored God's simultaneous existence as a universal god and as the particular god of the Israelites.

Thurman, a follower of the Dalai Lama, said he is constantly debating with his esteemed teacher and even once got the better of him, sort of. In one passionate, hour-long debate over whether the concept of reincarnation was absolutely valid or only partly so, Thurman said the Dalai Lama ended the discussion with a laugh and agreed that Thurman's view of partial validity might be right, "but not to let it out."
He also publicly told a crowd to follow what he said-"unless it was stupid." Thurman recalled.

Followers of Yogananda-an Indian swami who came to the United States in 1920 and eventually established today's organization of 500 temples in 54 countries before his death in 1952- emphasize that free will and the constant testing of the guru's teachings an critical elements in their relationship.

"He doesn't ask you to take anything on blind faith. He says try the [meditation] techniques, and if you like the results, stick with them," said Jeff McDowell, 38, at a recent annual gathering of Yogananda's organization, the Self Realization Fellowship, in Los Angeles

McDowell was born into the tradition-his father discovered Yogananda after unfulfilling experiences with Pentecostal and Baptist traditions-and says the guru's techniques of yoga and meditation have enriched his life with a deepening sense of joy, calm and well -being.

Followers say Yogananda's prolific writings have also given them sage, down-to-earth advice for specific challenges involving relationships, work and health, as well as answers to the kinds of timeless questions that burned in Brother Satyananda's soul: "Why are we here? Why are we seemingly born unequal? How do you explain abortion? Why do I have this great sense of unknowing? Why don't I know where I'm going?"

The Yogananda devotee said those seeking a teacher can recognize a genuine one by his or her "loving, encouraging qualities."

"In the highest sense, a guru is one with a tremendous, loving, joyful state of consciousness that he or she very much wants to share, based upon a deep sense of giving or serving or loving," Brother Satyananda said. "So there is no evidence of trying to control, coerce or manipulate."

Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, says he tells students who ask that they should look for a teacher who is reluctant to be one and who tries to accelerate the process of spiritual self-reliance.

"The really great teachers will not try to be your teacher. The bad ones will try to keep you and exploit you." said Thurman, whose insights on finding contentment though Eastern philosophy are expressed in his new book, "Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness."

He also said vigorous research- the hungry exploration of various religious traditions, philosophies and thought now animating the American cultural landscape-will help people make the right choices. "One thing wrong with the guru thing is that too many people jump into these things blindly. If people were really well-informed, they would be immune to bad gurus."

Various religious traditions disagree even on whether a formal teacher-student relationship is necessary. In Tibetan Buddhism, says Thurman, only a small group of people desiring very advanced spiritual practices initiate a relationship with a lama in which they basically pledge to see him or her as their personal icon of the Buddha.

By contrast, Rembaum said a teacher is indispensable in the Jewish tradition. "The Torah is not in heaven; it has been given to human beings," he said. "You need to have the knowledge of Torah refracted through the intelligence, spirit and experience of the master teacher. You've got to have at least two minds interacting so that questions can be asked."

Such debates leave Tarlo cold. She is still mourning the loss of her son, with whom she has not spoken for three years, and no longer trusts anyone who purports to hold a position of spiritual authority.

"It's terribly sad-this was a child I loved," she said.

Now, she said, "I don't believe you need anybody. I feel that anything that will happen to you will come from you and not from outside of you."

Registered User
(7/25/03 11:21 pm)
Re: Western Gurus -- Thoughts and Experiences
Regarding Marshall Govindan (head teacher of "Babaji's Kriya Yoga"): I've talked with him many times and taken his classes. He's always impressed me with his vast knowledge of yoga and meditation, and is a helpful and compassionate person who is happy to devote large amounts of time to dealing with individual inquiries and requests for clarification (at least from his own students, in any event) about his teachings and techniques. I don't know whether he qualifies as a Western "guru," however, as he regards Babaji as the guru and himself as a teacher.

Registered User
(7/25/03 11:43 pm)
tantric sex; Andrew Cohen; "Americanized" versions
Miranda Shaw can be considered a "tantric sex" guru. More on her below. but first, MastersChela wrote:
"I was wondering if anyone knew anything about Andrew Cohen. He's the publisher/editor of the magazine "What is Enlightenment," which is a hip, Americanesque presentation of eastern philosophy."
I've read some of "What is Enlightenment," but can't figure out what could be "Americanesque" about it. Mind clarifying that? How would the Germans have done it differently?

Speaking of "What is Enlightenment," on their website at www.wie.org/j20/shaw.asp is the delicious interview, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tantra...but Were Afraid to Ask: An interview with Miranda Shaw by Craig Hamilton," in which Shaw claims that in tantric sex, the male becomes a slave of the female:

"WIE: One of the main topics of your book is male/female gender relationships and gender roles. You make it quite clear that in the practice of Tantric sexual yoga, men are to worship women. Throughout the text, men are variously referred to as "devotees," "servants," and even "slaves" of the women, and in particular, men are advised that they should "take refuge in the vulva of an esteemed woman" and should even "be willing to touch and ingest every substance discharged by a woman's body."

MS: And lick any part of her body, if requested to do so!"

Does anyone know whether this is an accurate description of one version of traditional tantric sexual practices?

Registered User
(7/26/03 11:18 am)
Re: Andrew Cohen
I'm confused. Isn't AC the guy who wrote the book on Mother Meera, was a teacher at Univ Chicago and who "came out" at the end of his book on MM?

Is AC the same guy who wrote (Questions and Answers?) about Mother Meera?

$9 for a slick mag. Check out the mag rack at your local Co-op; Utne reader, Shaman's Drum, etc., etc.. They're all high cost. Entertainment's expensive! My friend asked me to check his copy out. I wasn't too sincere about doing so. He's got the money to blow. Much as I love to, I don't have time to read a lot these days.

Registered User
(7/26/03 12:18 pm)
Re: Andrew Cohen
Is AC the same guy who wrote (Questions and Answers?) about Mother Meera?

You are thinking of Andrew Harvey, the guy that does the excellent Rumi translations.

As for WIE, you can get the back issues online. The Guru and the Pandit interviews with Cohen and Ken Wilber are particularly interesting.


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