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Andrew Cohen & The Dark Side of Enlightenment

    • 957 posts
    June 5, 2015 1:35 PM MDT

    While this article doesn't deal specifically with near-death experiences, it does deal with foundational issues that near-death experiencers struggle with. I urge everyone to read this article. If you've ever wondered how dangerously out-of-balance we can get by overemphasizing the vertical, spiritual side of life, this article will help flesh that out. It also showcases how deeply undone we can be and not realize that anything is wrong until our lives blow up in our faces...

    Andrew-Cohen

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    Editor's Comment:

    While it has been a long time in coming, Andrew Cohen is finally coming to terms with just how deeply undone he was as a spiritual teacher -- and how badly he mistreated his students. He is also beginning to realize how much personal work he has to do in order to heal his life, work, and relationships.

    While there are many remarkable things about this situation, there are two that I want to mention here:

    1. Gurus who have fallen into the hole that Cohen fell into seldom come clean. Most continue to live imbalanced, destructive lives never realizing something is fundamentally wrong with themselves and the path they are walking and teaching. Or they self-destruct when one or more scandals tear their lives a part. Cohen, by publicly admitting his failures and trying to make amends, is breaking new ground here. I applaud him for that.

    2. Cohen is also able to articulate what happened and why. Simply put, he understands that he overemphasized vertical or spiritual perspectives while underemphasizing horizontal and human ones. Here's how Cohen describes his failings:

    "Even though I always said the Teachings were a work in progress, I certainly was not aware of the obvious and important holes that I had left in them. The most obvious and the most important has been the absence of Agape or Love as a FUNDAMENTAL principle that stands in contrast to and in support of the emphasis on Eros that I gave so much importance to over the last 10 to 15 years. Eros is the VERTICAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. Agape is the HORIZONTAL manifestation the Absolute principle. To say I neglected Agape is an understatement to be sure. Eros and Agape BOTH are essential ingredients of a truly Evolutionary Dharma. They BALANCE each other. They hold each other in a dynamic embrace of loving, creative and Integral tension. My over-emphasis on Eros with little respect for Agape created the circumstance where a collapse was inevitable. And that’s why it happened so fast…and for this I am to blame.

    "In order to open up to the deeply painful truth of my own central role in this great calamity, I have had to open my heart in ways I have denied to myself for most of my life. That’s what has made it possible for me to begin to truly let in the damage I have wrought and the harm I have caused to too many of you. I only wish I had been more awake to and in touch with my own flawed humanity from the very beginning. If I had been, so much of this would have never happened.

    "Over these 2 years I have struggled to awaken to my Shadow, to those unconscious forces and drives within us that will, as long as they remain hidden, continue to wreak havoc with our lives. This will remain the case even if in many other ways we are unusually conscious and aware, and as hard to believe as it may be, even if we may be lucky enough to have access to Enlightened awareness. I know this is hard to fathom, but it certainly has been true in my case, and has been true in many other cases where powerfully awakened Teachers have acted out in either destructive or self-destructive ways…or both. It’s been a significant part of the rocky legacy of eastern Enlightenment coming to the psychologically informed west. Ironically, I spent much of my early career speaking and writing about this very issue."

    To learn more about how these two elemental forces can (and must) be balanced in our lives -- and what can happen if they aren't -- watch What Near-Death Experiences Teach Us and read The Formula for Creating Heaven on Earth.

    Since this situation is a text-book case of what can happen if vertical and spiritual perspectives are overemphasized, I encourage everyone to become familiar with this situation. As human beings, we all have the tendency to lean one way or the other -- to focus too strongly on the vertical, spiritual side of our natures, or too strongly on the horizontal, human side of our natures. In order to live healthy, happy, balanced lives, we have to balance and integrate both. When we swing too far one way or the other it's only a matter of time before we get into serious trouble.

    This post begins with a recent letter that Cohen wrote to his former students. Cohen's letter is followed by links to websites, interviews, articles, and books that graphically flesh out the whole situation.

    For additional insights, be sure and read the comments that follow Cohen's letter.

    -- David Sunfellow

    ...................

    AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL MY FORMER STUDENTS UPON RETURN FROM MY SABBATICAL
    By Andrew Cohen
    May 12, 2015

    Original Link

    Dear Ones,

    It has been almost 2 years since the structures of our shared Utopian experiment collapsed so violently and so completely. It’s also been almost that long that I have dropped out of sight. As most of you already know, I was asked to step down, which I reluctantly agreed to. Ever since that moment, I have wanted to find out what happened. I have understandably been desperate to find out why this has all occurred. Why did this terrible destruction have to happen? To be honest, for a long time I have simply not been able to take in the unbearable truth that I somehow actually caused this collapse to occur. How could this be the case? I have dedicated the last 28 years of my life to the Spiritual upliftment of humanity, to the evolution of consciousness and culture. For so many years I thought of little else. So with all of this in place, how could I have caused this collapse to occur? As I have let this in, I have had to embrace both the truth and beauty of where we all went together and my own participation in the downfall that occurred two years ago.

    During those years just the notion of higher development, the extraordinary possibility of emergence, would make my heart beat a little faster. It really WAS possible… and I could always feel the immanence of the miraculous always just around the corner. Over the years I took many risks so that great leaps forward could actually happen. I also whole-heartedly encouraged others, my students, to do the same. It was all so amazing because it was so tangible. My gift was my capacity to inspire others to believe that it was possible… and to be willing to take great risks so that miracles could really happen. As the years went by I gradually began to define the meaning of the spiritual life lived in earnest in our post modern era as the willingness to be someone who would care so passionately about what appeared to be humanity’s next step at the leading edge, that they would be willing to make any sacrifice and take any risk, so that that future could emerge here and now in the present between us, as our very own selves. And it actually happened. More than once. These perceived and intuited potentials did reveal themselves again and again and so many of my students saw and felt the power and potential of what we had all given so much for. It was so exciting and such a grand spiritual adventure the likes of which most people never experience or even imagine.

    At the same time as all this was happening, slowly but surely cracks appeared in the shared fabric of our new world. Some people left. This had been happening from the very beginning when it all started back in 1986. The existential challenge of what we were trying to do together was simply enormous. In some cases the challenge was just too much and people also suffered, at times unnecessarily.

    Over the previous 15 years I had become an evolutionary through and through. I had experienced a profound awakening to a process perspective and to be honest, have now understood that in that light, I had come to see my students as means to an end, hopefully a higher end, but not as ends in themselves. I gradually lost sight of people’s humanity, including my own, and only saw all of us as the living Self Aware consciousness that, in an evolutionary context, was going somewhere. And that was all that I believed was important or really mattered. I even stated this clearly and unequivocally at times when I was teaching. As I was losing touch with my own simple humanity and everyone else’s, I also was simultaneously not paying attention to the gradual growing of my spiritual ambition, of my spiritual ego. I believe that my intense longing for the evolution of consciousness in my students was real, but I have begun to see more and more clearly how over time my pride and my desire for fame and recognition slowly but surely began to blur and corrupt my vision. The worst part of it is that I was oblivious to the many different ways some of my students were being pushed too hard and at times too relentlessly to make breakthroughs and too often breaking down as a result. It’s hard even now for me to grasp how I could not see this happening right in front of my eyes. The very human, frail, fallible and vulnerable dimensions of myself that I was denying, I was simultaneously denying in those who had come to me for liberation. I was blind and ambitious and yet sincere in my spiritual aspirations as a teacher and as a thought leader. The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing much of the time…I became more and more a living paradox.

    Most often when I would teach, I would experience the grace of my Guru, the gift of enlightened awareness, which would engulf my being in the most glorious way. The amazing part of it all is that in the midst of the growing problems I have been describing, I was simultaneously continuing to evolve and develop as a teacher and as a thinker. I was moving and was still often creative in finding ever-new ways to express the inexpressible. And I was still curious. Even after 28 years of being a guide and a guru and a public thinker, I was still reaching and stretching to understand more and more about Life, Reality and the meaning/purpose of it all. It was really because of this that I wrongly felt that I was ok and in good shape and on the right track. This fact of my still evolving and developing as a teacher made it that much easier for me to avoid and deny that slowly the world that I had given so much to give rise to over so many years, was beginning to crumble from the inside. My closest and most devoted senior students were beginning to see through my façade, could see that I was out of control, and see that I didn’t even know it. What made matters much worse is that I ignored the evidence; I ignored their respectful pleas for me to slow down and listen to them. For over six months during this period I literally couldn’t sleep, and night after night I convinced myself that I had no idea why this was the case. My self became more and more divided. I was still an inspired teacher and speaker, but I adamantly remained steadfastly and obstinately oblivious to the growing storm I was creating.

    It was only a matter of time before the entire edifice came tumbling down and it has taken me the better part of these last 2 years to begin to come to terms with all that has happened and all that I have done. I realize that much harm has occurred, and that I am to blame. I justified my at times ruthless attacks on my students’ egos as being akin to the revered Tibetan Master Marpa’s ruthless treatment of his famous disciple Milarepa. And at times this indeed was the case. There were times when with individuals or groups of individuals my arrow of discriminating wisdom hit the bulls eye and magic happened…dramatic and meaningful Liberating Clarity and Love Beyond Description emerged…and new potentials and miraculous possibilities that had been previously unimaginable and unseen were collectively experienced. In those historic moments it all seemed worth it. But there were and have been too many moments where I simply have been wrong. Not only did my arrow miss the target but it caused unnecessary pain and suffering to too many people. For this I am deeply and terribly sorry. Too much suffering has resulted from my at times misguided efforts to create breakthroughs. I should have known better.

    Slowly over time I have come to see the parts of myself that were broken, that I have been in such ferocious denial of. In that denial I became at times untrustworthy. I see that now. So many of you trusted me with your souls and I proved myself at certain pivotal moments unworthy of that trust. Again I am sorry.

    What I feel dreadful about is that the very idealism that I inspired and released in so many of you, I have wounded in the worst way possible. It’s difficult to bear that this is the case, but it just is. I would do literally anything to turn back the clock…but I can’t.

    I am committed to finding a way to honour all that was real and true that we stood for, for so many years. There is nothing else for me to do. There is nothing else I want to do.

    I still believe in the fundamental principles that I taught and stood for all these years. I feel the Teaching is basically sound. Like someone said to me recently, the Teachings of Evolutionary Enlightenment are self-consistent. That is one of the reasons why so many of you stayed for so long. And that is why we spent so many hours learning how to look at reality through the extraordinary multidimensional lens that the Teachings provide. That being said, it has also become obvious that there have been important gaps in the Teachings from the very beginning. Even though I always said the Teachings were a work in progress, I certainly was not aware of the obvious and important holes that I had left in them. The most obvious and the most important has been the absence of Agape or Love as a FUNDAMENTAL principle that stands in contrast to and in support of the emphasis on Eros that I gave so much importance to over the last 10 to 15 years. Eros is the VERTICAL manifestation of the Absolute principle. Agape is the HORIZONTAL manifestation the Absolute principle. To say I neglected Agape is an understatement to be sure. Eros and Agape BOTH are essential ingredients of a truly Evolutionary Dharma. They BALANCE each other. They hold each other in a dynamic embrace of loving, creative and Integral tension. My over-emphasis on Eros with little respect for Agape created the circumstance where a collapse was inevitable. And that’s why it happened so fast…and for this I am to blame.

    In order to open up to the deeply painful truth of my own central role in this great calamity, I have had to open my heart in ways I have denied to myself for most of my life. That’s what has made it possible for me to begin to truly let in the damage I have wrought and the harm I have caused to too many of you. I only wish I had been more awake to and in touch with my own flawed humanity from the very beginning. If I had been, so much of this would have never happened.

    Over these 2 years I have struggled to awaken to my Shadow, to those unconscious forces and drives within us that will, as long as they remain hidden, continue to wreak havoc with our lives. This will remain the case even if in many other ways we are unusually conscious and aware, and as hard to believe as it may be, even if we may be lucky enough to have access to Enlightened awareness. I know this is hard to fathom, but it certainly has been true in my case, and has been true in many other cases where powerfully awakened Teachers have acted out in either destructive or self-destructive ways…or both. It’s been a significant part of the rocky legacy of eastern Enlightenment coming to the psychologically informed west. Ironically, I spent much of my early career speaking and writing about this very issue.

    I often wonder how much of the outrageous evolutionary Fire could have awakened and been shared between us in the way that it was, without there being some kind of fall out, some measure of pain and suffering. And if that’s possible then how much would have been acceptable, and when would it all have become too much? At this point I really don’t know.

    I do know that without the ultimate challenge this enormous calamity has given to me personally on a soul level, my own ego would never have backed down. It’s been extremely challenging on many levels to even begin to let in what has actually happened and why it has happened. And I know there is further to go.

    I am beginning to become simply human after so many years of hiding out in transcendence. It’s like coming back to earth after almost a quarter of a century of flying above the clouds. As much as I spoke about the need to "embrace heaven and earth," I was obviously still rejecting so much of what it means to be a fully human being.

    In so many ways I thought I was awake when I was clearly not. In my rejection of Agape, I was also rejecting the feminine principle in myself and in others and most painfully in women as a whole. I am ashamed of how badly I blamed women for their evolutionary challenges. Instead of being truly encouraging, after some time I let my frustration with the enormity of the task at hand get the better of me. I blamed and condemned instead of encouraged and nurtured, which was after all, my job as mentor. Many people accuse me of hating women. This is not and has never been true. But I was in so many ways arrogant and insensitive and even cruel in my impatience at times. Uncovering deep (and outdated) developmental structures in our psyches takes time and long-term commitment. It takes a DEEP vision and LOVE of ourselves. Not blaming and condemning and ridiculing. I apologize to the women who were affected and am so very sorry for being so lacking in the real heart that was desperately needed. I failed many of you in the worst way and for this I really have no excuse. I became a caricature of the very behaviour and attitudes in men that I was so sure I had transcended. And the painful and ironic truth in all of this is that I did have a real passion and commitment for a very radical expression of women's liberation. I had seen a truly miraculous potential and possibility. But, in the end, I proved to have neither the patience, nor the skill, nor the deep humility and care (agape) to create the conditions that would have made a stable breakthrough actually possible.

    In the middle years of my teaching career, at times I came up with and tried many outrageous stunts in order to once again catalyze big breakthroughs. Also to be honest I was many times actually in a state of desperation because I cared so much, and was trying to get my students to care as much as I did about what was possible, the very promise we had all given our lives for.

    But as well-meaning as many of these attempts were on my part, some were certainly just too much…too outrageous and simply lacking in compassion and a deep appreciation of what is actually involved in change at the deepest level. More often than not what is needed is simply more love and encouragement, not more shocks, challenges and confrontations with one’s own division. There were times of course where strong challenges are called for and many former students have reminded me of many ways in which I did help them to reach breakthroughs through harsh tactics…but there is no doubt this happened too often, and more often than not it caused more harm than good. I apologize for this. I should have known better…but I was misled by the conviction that without such big pushes, most people would simply compromise their own inherent potential to evolve and grow in the deepest and most profound way. I was a revolutionary, and publicly declared myself as such…and that’s why many of you came to me. But that can no longer be an excuse for my own insensitivity and at times ruthless attempts to force deep changes to occur. Again I deeply apologize to any of you who suffered unnecessarily because of this. Elizabeth Sahtouris’ famous statement that “no evolution occurs without stress” became a justification for those times when I inappropriately pushed people too hard to let go and face themselves.

    Over these two years away, I have come to appreciate with growing regret that the hierarchies that I had used as a teaching tool gradually over time become ossified and rigid, becoming for some not too different to being held in a straight jacket or a prison. Originally this was intended to humble my students’ culturally conditioned narcissism and often exaggerated sense of self-importance. And for many years it actually did help a lot of people to learn how to become humble, to learn how to keep their egos in check, to learn how to put Spirit first. In our time this is no small feat. But instead of helping people to grow spiritually, over time the hierarchies ended up putting people in boxes, actually inhibiting the very growth they were intended to nurture. I know some of my students who made very deep commitments to our work together have suffered very much as a result and, for good reason, are angry about this. I am very sorry that this happened and in particular, apologize to those previously known as the Resolute Core Students. With all of my interest in Integral Philosophy, I should have known better and seen the obvious error that I was making.

    Finally what has been hardest for me has been facing and coming to terms with the fact that I have let down so deeply and betrayed my former students whom I was closest to, those former senior students who had entrusted me with their lives and souls and who gave so much to make it possible for the promise of Evolutionary Enlightenment to come alive in the world. And largely because of their commitment, it actually DID. So much that is Good, True and Beautiful has come into being as a result of the precious commitment of those who dared to be leaders. I know they also have made mistakes and at times caused much suffering, some of which is yet to be atoned for, but it must be said that most really did give from the deepest parts of themselves and did have the courage to care more than most. I know that when push came to shove when I, their teacher, seemed not to have the resources to live my own teachings, it was experienced as the ultimate betrayal. I who had demanded so much was, when my turn came, seemingly unable or unwilling to do the very thing I had asked from them. I am so ashamed about this and my public apology was really meant for them.

    Almost 2 years after my fall from grace and the collapse of EnlightenNext, I still care as much as I ever did about most of what I taught and a lot of what I stood for. I am committed to giving the rest of my life to trying to make good on it all. What that will mean, of course, remains to be seen. Through this process of coming to terms with all that has happened, so many important questions have understandably arisen. As I make progress in my inquiry, I will be writing more about it here.

    I still love you all very much and hope from the bottom of my heart that you will find it in yourselves to believe that even Gurus with big egos can find the courage and humility to change. I know in ‘Embracing Heaven and Earth,’ I boldly stated that once Enlightenment has occurred, an individual gets frozen in their development - that from then on their evolution actually comes to a halt forever.

    I am committing the rest of my life to proving myself wrong.

    With Deep Love,
    Andrew

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    Previous NHNE Post

    • Andrew Cohen's New Book: 'Evolutionary Enlightenment'

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    Supportive Andrew Cohen Links

    Andrew Cohen's Website
    Andrew Cohen's Blog
    Andrew Cohen on Facebook
    Andrew Cohen on Twitter
    Andrew Cohen on YouTube
    EnlightenNext on Facebook
    Guru-Talk (Positive testimonials about Andrew Cohen by students)

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    Websites & Resources That Challenge Andrew Cohen

    • Overview: Ex-Followers on Andrew Cohen
    • Blog: WhatEnlightenment??!
    • Blog: EnlightenNixt

    • Article: Integral Abuse: Andrew Cohen and the Culture of Evolutionary Enlightenment (Be Scofield)
    • Discussions: The Rick A. Ross Institute on Andrew Cohen
    Ken Wilber's Dubious Endorsement of Andrew Cohen
    • Interview: Andrew Cohen on Andrew Cohen: The Rude Boy of Enlightenment
    • The Myth of the Totally Enlightened Guru by John Horgan

    Wikipedia on Andrew Cohen

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    Insider Books

    Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru
    By Andre Van Der Braak
    January 1, 2003

    Z

    Enlightenment Blues is Andre van der Braak’s compelling first hand account of his relationship with a prominent spiritual teacher. It chronicles both the author’s spiritual journey and disenchantment as well the development of a missionary and controversial community around the teacher. It powerfully exposes the problems and necessities of disentanglement from a spiritual path.

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    The Mother of God Paperback
    By Luna Tarlo (Andrew Cohen's Mother)
    July 6, 2009

    2Q==

    This is a mother's account of her experience as a disciple of her own son -- Andrew Cohen, a well-known American guru -- and of her struggle to free herself from his control. What had been a close, affectionate relationship slowly becomes a nightmare of domination. The story begins quiely in India and unfolds with growing intensity as Andrew, his mother, and a few people who have gathered around him, travel to England, Holland, Israel, and finally the United States, but which time Andrew has attracted hundreds of devotees to his "meetings." The abuse of power, incessant fear, and the pyschology of obsession are all explored here from an intimate perspective. Since brainwashing cults and their grandiose gurus are proliferating -- in this country and all over the world -- this book is not only a mother's lament, but also a finger pointing to the growing appeal everywhere of authoritarianism and absolutism.

    ...................

    American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing -- Former Students of Andrew Cohen Speak Out
    By William Yenner
    August 11, 2009

    9k=

    American Guru is a multifaceted account of life in the contemporary spiritual community known as EnlightenNext, and the controversial "teaching methods" of its New York-born founder, self-proclaimed "guru" Andrew Cohen. With contributions from several of Cohen's former students, William Yenner recalls the thirteen-year trajectory of his career as a leader and manager in Cohen's community -- his early days as an idealistic "seeker," his years of service on EnlightenNext's Board of Directors, his ultimate disillusionment and departure,and his efforts to make sense of his experiences as a once-devoted follower of a "Teacher of Evolutionary Enlightenment." With wit and insight, Yenner and his colleagues have produced a riveting cautionary tale on the dangers of authoritarian spirituality, and an insider's case study on the promises and pitfalls of postmodern discipleship.

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    American Guru Website
    American Guru on Facebook
    • American Guru Book Review: Andrew Cohen Exposed (David Christopher Lane)

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    Stripping the Gurus (pdf)
    By Geoffrey D. Falk (Author)
    February 1, 2009

    Z-1

    Ramakrishna was a homoerotic pedophile.

    His chief disciple, Vivekananda, visited brothels in India.

    Krishnamurti carried on an affair for over twenty years with the wife of a good friend. Chogyam Trungpa drank himself into an early grave. One of Adi Da's nine "wives" was a former Playboy centerfold. Bhagwan Rajneesh sniffed laughing gas to get high. Andrew Cohen, guru and publisher of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, by his own reported admission sometimes feels "like a god."

    These are typical of the "wizened sages" to whom otherwise-sensible people give their devotion and unquestioning obedience, surrendering their independence, willpower, and life's savings in the hope of realizing for themselves the same "enlightenment" as they ascribe to the "perfect, God-realized" master.

    Why?

    Is it for being emotionally vulnerable and "brainwashed," as the "anti-cultists" assert? Or for being "willingly psychologically seduced," as the apologists unsympathetically counter, confident that they themselves are "too smart" to ever fall into the same trap? Or have devotees simply walked, with naively open hearts and thirsty souls, into inherent dynamics of power and obedience which have showed themselves in classic psychological studies from Milgram to Zimbardo, and to which each one of us is susceptible every day of our lives?

    Like the proud "Rude Boy" Cohen allegedly said, with a laugh, in response to the nervous breakdown of one of his devoted followers: "It could happen to any one of you."

    Don't let it happen to you. Don't get suckered in. Be prepared. Be informed. Find out what reportedly goes on behind the scenes in even the best of our world's spiritual communities.

    You can start by reading this book.

    ...................


    This post was edited by David Sunfellow at October 10, 2016 1:45 AM MDT
    • 290 posts
    June 6, 2015 7:26 AM MDT

    When Andrew Cohen started his magazine and group, I was at the U.Conn Medical School working on after effects of the NDE. I wrote him because of the close proximity and suggested exploring how we could share. I never got a response. I read his magazine a couple of times and had a huge "Yuk" reaction.

    I now had no idea what was going on til I read the above and have been telling myself -- "I told you so." When people throw around the word "enlightenment" (I believe) it throws them right back into their shadow because now they have to defend that position. People who "don't know" and are "nobody special" (an Eastern belief that we wrote about in The Power of Humility) have nothing to defend so they're not energizing their shadow or ego.

    Kundalini Research Network, the organization that I have belonged to since its inception 25 years ago, has always had this debate going on -- "To Guru or not to Guru?" In fact I wanted to have  panel discussion on it years ago and the Guru followers reacted in negative ways and refused. I still don't know the answer to all this.

    Charlie and I have been invited to several ashrams where we saw good, lots of good, and some bad too. The one that stands out was when a group of us visited Yogiville, Satchdananda's ashram before it even opened 30 or so years ago. He is (or was) a real hoot. He pulled up in a pink 1950s Cadillac convertible with a license that read "Peacock." The most interesting part of the tour was in the temple,  a vault that was positioned in the center of the lowest floor (positioned under what appeared to be a huge neon lit pyramid.) This had something to do with initiations and had raised letters that were from a different kind of language. I took pictures of it. Later that day I took my film to Kmart to be developed. When I went back a few days later, they had lost the film. I knew there was no way they could trace it.

    I also observed the way the women in his and other ashrams "flutter" around the Guru and that is sad, very sad. These are American women who weren't raised in that culture. I just don't get it! 

    • 37 posts
    June 7, 2015 10:01 AM MDT

    I know that there is a venerable tradition for the guru in many cultures, and certainly we all have many people to thank for sharing their wisdom for our spiritual journeys. However, I can not ever think about these journeys without also thinking about the Arthurian stories of the quest for the grail. In these stories it was made clear over and over that each knight had to find their own way, and if one knight followed another on the same path, he would fail in his quest. The guru, it seems to me, can only be an advisor, not a director. Living out his or her enlightenment in our lives does not make us enlightened. To become enlightened is to become ourselves in that we are then living closer to our essence, but never reaching it fully. Freedom to find our path is often terrifying to us, and we recoil from it in favor of deferring to someone else's path.

    Enlightenment, to me, seems as though it begins and ends with the experience that we are all one. Without that, it matters little what else is found. To me, there is only one status among seekers then that makes sense: we are all sharing what we find as equals. To elevate any one above the rest is to run the risk of making them responsible for our own development, which is 180 degrees off from the path we need to be on, and the risk of letting them escape their own humanity in favor of some mythical status that doesn't work for them or us.

  • June 8, 2015 10:41 AM MDT

    This reminds me of another thing:

    Deepak Chopra, whose books I'd been reading since I was a teen, and who I had just recently seen speak live in San Francisco, walked into the restaurant I worked one night.  He was alone. My friends and I were beside ourselves with excitement and wonder.  My good friend was his server that night, and I watched closely as Deepak was indifferent and cold towards Shannon… And after she did everything pretty much perfectly, he finished his meal and left with out tipping her.

    I was amazed, and disappointed. Confused!

    And… I wasn't exactly sure what to do with my beliefs then… Because I still loved the wisdom of his message.  I was still very much in the glow of his powerful words and effect when he spoke at the event I went to earlier in the week. He was amazing, and his message was of about love and presence.  I think everyone in the room had chills at one point (like 400 people or so).  He got through to people.

    And finally I realized that I can't look to the person delivering the message.  Its the message that actually counts.  Meaning, I can't throw out truth, just because I have dubious feelings about the mouth the truth is coming out of. 

    This way, I get to still enjoy his books, and also realize that just because a person has the ability to channel wisdom and convey it well, and inspire others with it… It doesn't mean that they themselves are perfectly practicing what they preach.

    My good friend works for New World Library as a publicist and she's told me so many stories about authors who have wonderful messages, but they themselves are hard to work with, narcissistic, egotistical, etc … sometimes in the extreme! 

    Reminds me also of a wonderful saying that Ive heard applied to Jesus:

    "Only a fool stares at the finger that points to the sky"

    We are all fingers, as was Jesus and any other human, guru or not.  We (humanity) often choose to focus on the finger (human) that is pointing to truth, rather than focus and work with the truth they are reminding us of.

    (I am reminded of what David keeps talking about which is that we have to do the work ourselves… no one can do it for us).

    (All this being said, I know nothing of this guy, Ive never heard of him before.)

    • 55 posts
    June 8, 2015 12:59 PM MDT

    What is the difference between the "Enlightened" vs the "Unenlightened"?  The unenlightened believe they are individuals, individualized consciousness or organisms disconnected from everything else engaged in a futile struggle to survive. The enlightened have at least some idea that all Consciousness is One and that there is actually only one Being (God) pretending to be everyone and everything else, playing all the roles in the universe at once.  So does this mean the enlightened roles being played out are necessarily perfect as judged by society?  Are the Gurus perfect?  No.  Are the followers perfect?  No.  Are NDErs perfect?  No.  Lack of perfection however does not invalidate the NDE, transcendental experience, or transcendental knowledge.  This play we're in is meant to be by appearance imperfect.  The best we can do is recognize this, not judge, and most importantly Love unconditionally.

    • 55 posts
    June 8, 2015 1:05 PM MDT

    Imagine how difficult it must be to have thousands of people after you all the time to solve they're problems.  It's impossible to be totally attentive to each person you run into all the time.  The best thing your friend could have done would be to recognize this and choose not to be offended.  As you say its the message that's important.  I'm not sure if it's in the Bible but in the rock opera about Jesus at one point he exclaims in exasperation "Heal yourselves!'.  How true.

    • 957 posts
    June 8, 2015 1:27 PM MDT

    Amphianda, concerning Deepak, there's a movie for that: "Decoding Deepak." The movie, which explores the schism between what Deepak says and what Deepak does was created by his son who was trying to work out the issues he has with his father. Thanks for sharing the story about your friend, btw, I appreciated it!

    Concerning spiritual teachers who may be fantastic talkers (and writers), but not so good at doing what they preach, two huge issues come up for me.

    The first is that we, as human beings, tend to emphasize the talk or outward appearance part of things over the actually doing and becoming part of things. We are attracted to superficiality in all of its manifestations. We worship Photoshopped movies stars who act heroic in multi-million dollar epics. Politicians who can dazzle us with soaring rhetoric. Religious leaders who inspire devotion with angelic costumes and over-the-top spiritual acts (western televangelists and eastern perfect masters are some of my favorites). They inspire us because a lot of us really, really, REALLY want a quick fix. The idea that we can just send in a few bucks, say a couple prayers, receive a spiritual blessing, buy some magic books or beads or candles and our health will be restored, our bank accounts fill with money, our soul mate manifested, and our broken lives made whole overnight, is exceedingly enticing. 

    The unglamorous, toilet-bowl-cleaning stuff -- deeply working on shadow issues, healing childhood traumas, getting along with our neighbors, raising healthy, happy, caring children, taking care of elderly parents, treating the waiters and waitresses with kindness and respect, helping those less fortunate than ourselves (including when we can least afford to), well, that doesn't get as much press, because this is hard, messy work that doesn't promise instant results.

    I think all human beings struggle with these issues. And our culture certainly goads us on. The equation for success and happiness that most of us have been taught is that if we learn how to look happy and successful, we will be happy and successful. And this, of course, is baloney. We actually have to do the work and be the work, not just talk and look like it.

    The second thing that comes up for me is more serious: Just because a person can say the right words doesn't mean the words they are saying are true, or that they are saying the words in the right way. One of the huge lessons I've learned in my life is that people usually can't say the right words, in the right ways, unless they have honestly mastered them. What that means is that it is dangerous to listen to what people have to say who have not mastered, to some degree, what they are teaching.

    To bring these ideas into sharp focus, here's a story that graphically illustrates what happens when a fake master meets a real one:

    A Sobering Lesson: Real Mastership Versus Fake Mastership

    In my work with NHNE, I have spent years tracking all kinds of charlatans. Some were low grade snake oil salespeople; others were more sinister, malicious, and dangerous. In the case of Andrew Cohen, when I was involved in the integral movement, I was one of the few people telling other integrally-minded people that something was very wrong with him and what he was teaching. There were serious holes in his spiritual platitudes and his squeaky clean perfect master persona did not jive with the ex-student horror stories that were piling up behind-the-scenes. 

    Anyway, for those of you who are interested, here are a few of the dark side stories I have covered over the years:

    Emissary of Light

    The Infamous Sai Baba

    The Life, Death & Corrupting Influence of Sun Myung Moon

    Scientology

    Gabriel of Sedona/Urantia

    The Dark Side of Carlos Castaneda

    Joseph Smith, Mormons, and Mormonism

    You might also find these articles VERY intersting:

    Must Watch: ‘Kumare: The True Story of a False Prophet’

    Derren Brown Documentary: ‘Miracles For Sale’

    1972 Best Documentary: ‘Marjoe’

    Bottom line: one of the things that near-death experiences advocate, in otherworldly technicolor, is the importance of telling the truth and doing the work. While we can fool ourselves and others into thinking we are highly advanced spiritual masters in this world, the truth, whatever it is, becomes painfully, sometimes embarrassingly obvious to everyone -- most of all ourselves -- on the other side. The moral of the story is to see, speak, and live the truth now, as fully and honestly as we can. And this, in turn, protects us from charlatans who mostly bamboozle people who are looking for quick fixes.

    • 290 posts
    June 9, 2015 5:50 AM MDT

    Amen David! 

    When I "worked" for Kundalini Research Network chairing a conference here in Atlanta back in 1998, I invited the usual speakers. Over the years we had several self proclaimed "Enlightened" masters and gurus from all over the world come and speak, replete with their Entourages. 

    There was a lot of eye-rolling from the board members after these conferences were over -- except by the members who were following gurus. And us "eye rollers" accepted their points of view because that's the human thing to do. We probably had at least 10, maybe 12 conferences from the early 90s to a few years ago and I personally believed that I only met one person who was "enlightened." He called himself "a Householder" and that was the path he chose. He was "nobody special" and was married with a couple of young kids. His work in this world said it all -- He bought old houses in total disrepair, fixed them up himself and put seniors in them that really couldn't afford the rent. They paid whatever they could. And he checked on them all the time, making sure they had enough to eat and clothes to wear. I'm sure he loved every one of them. He did a workshop before the conference and the highlight of the conference for me was when he laid his hands on our daughter's 8 month pregnant belly and blessed our grandchild. He also asked me -- asked me-- half way through the conference if he could leave early because his kids were missing him and he was missing them. 

    The entourage people left right after their presentations. They made a grand entrance and a grand departure. This guy I am describing was happy, glowing, I mean his skin radiated light. He carried his own suitcase, ate with us and when a participant was having a crisis I could send them to his room in the middle of the night and he would care for them.

    Talk about a role model -- I will always be grateful to him for his honesty and humility.

    • 957 posts
    June 9, 2015 8:15 AM MDT

    Barbara, another fantastic story! You are a walking treasure chest when it comes to stories, insights, and personally understanding how the embodiment process works in the real world. We desperately need more people like you who can explain, with their life blood and experience, what real spirituality looks like.

    I loved the example you gave of the enlightened householder. This kind of person definitely comes closer to the mark of what near-death experiences suggest we are after than the enlightened master with private cars and jets full of adoring followers.

    There's one point you made that I want to emphasize. And that's the idea that while worldly acclaim and success has its rewards, these rewards are very shallow, empty, and hollow when compared to the peace that passeth understanding that overshadows people who are doing the kind of work, and making the kind of deep, soul-ratifying connections that your enlightened householder was. I don't think this can be emphasized too much. While the real work is often very hard, challenging, and obscure (the world at large seldom sees, acknowledges, or honors it), it leaves us feeling loved, connected, and happy in ways that cannot be found in more superficial paths.

    We also see this path championed in technicolor by near-death experiences. Again and again and again, it's the little things -- the kind word, the gentle smile, the small ways we really show up in one another's life -- that causes the universe to explode with joy. The mega best-selling books, the fat bank accounts, the millions of adoring followers, the 10 houses we own and exotic places we traveled to all around the world -- not so much.

  • June 9, 2015 6:35 PM MDT

    Interesting.  I watched the trailer and definitely would like to see the doc now. The Deepak I saw in the trailer was the same Deepak I saw in the restaurant… Same energy!  Thanks David.

    I hear what you're saying David, and Barbara.  I guess what I am saying is that after my Deepak encounter, I try not to expect perfection (my earthly limited idea of perfection, anyway) from anyone (or myself) but that I am thinking more that perfection lies in the moments rather than the people participating in the moments.  Even a homeless drug addict can be a fountain of love or an oracle of truth in certain moments.

    I had an experience last week where I was walking my dog… I was going through something emotionally tough at the moment and feeling rather vulnerable and raw. A homeless woman ( obvious addict too) came up to me and asked to pet my dog.  After that she looked up into my face and said "Thank you so much." and then we talked for a minute and I can't quote her verbatim but she talked about how its whats inside that really counts and told me I was beautiful on the inside, and we spontaneously hugged and blessed each other and went on our separate ways.  But the encounter lifted my spirits in such a huge way.  And I could see she was lifted too.  That encounter was a GOD SHOT.  I was very grateful for it.

    Maybe she goes around blessing people all the time?  And maybe she is also addicted to meth at the same time?  What do we do with that dichotomy?  Do I throw out the up-lifting moment because she obviously isn't on top of her game in her own life?

    Deepak has tapped into some obvious truth (maybe not ALL of the truth).  He can and certainly does act as a catalyst for others to find and follow their hearts and spirits… to see the connection in everything.

    But back to the perfect moment thing… Even the direct encounter with Deepak led the way for me to gain an interesting new perspective.  

     I just think that we will be searching a long time of we are trying to find the ONE who does it all perfectly.

  • June 9, 2015 8:55 PM MDT

    Thank you for sharing that.  I love what you say about wholeness, too.  I will have to explore that idea more.  (you're very good at getting into my head, Gloria RE: your message to me about Hard Work…. I am in the thick of some Hard Work now, actually… so the timing of that conversation was a bit like a clarion call).

    I am interested in hearing more from you about the difference between wholeness and perfection, actually…. And what does wholeness mean to you?

    • 957 posts
    June 9, 2015 10:48 PM MDT

    Beautiful story, Amphianda. And pointing out that the encounter with Deepak led the way to a new perspective is also a very important point to make. Applying this idea to Andrew Cohen, it's pretty clear that the over-the-top harm he caused his followers probably led many of them to greater heights and depths, especially perhaps, those who decided to leave and were mocked, sidelined, and persecuted for years before the tide finally turned. So everyone, and every situation, plays their part and eventually, one way or another, all weaknesses and shortcomings are turned into gold. In the heat of the moment, I sometimes forget that.

    I also tend to overemphasize the need to change and grow (because I'm not particularly fond of suffering -- or watching other people suffer), but when seen from the kind of higher perspectives that near-death experiences champion, everything, and everyone, is not only fine, but also having a delightful time. That's one of the things I really appreciate about you Amphianda. You have been able to express this truth very clearly and beautifully.

    So from where I'm sitting, we are looking at a very nuanced dance between doing and being, learning and loving, horizontal and vertical perspectives. We need both and when we slip too far one one way or the other, we often need a little nudge in the other direction to restore balance, sanity, and inner/outer peace.

    • 290 posts
    June 10, 2015 6:33 AM MDT

    No I haven't. But I will watch this youtube later today and get back to you.

    • 957 posts
    June 10, 2015 7:20 AM MDT

    Barbara and Laurie, because it is directly related to the discussion we are having here, I will first post the video that Laurie linked above and then include the comment I posted about it...

    "The most striking things to me about this video is how Cora repeatedly ignores her daughter, who is crying in the background for attention, and tries to get her daughter to leave her alone so she can finish making her YouTube video. Instead of stopping the video and taking care of her daughter, Cora tells her three-year old daughter to watch television, tries to calm her down with snack food, and threatens to send her to her room if she doesn't stop interrupting her. The worst part begins around 32:40 during which Cora declares "my daughter is ruining my YouTube video." If anyone needs proof that near-death experiences or near-death-like experiences do not, by themselves, automatically transform us into fully present, caring, attentive beings, here you go.

    "This video also demonstrates the challenges we all face in attempting to ground spiritual experiences in this world. While Cora repeatedly ignores her daughter, she does so because she is trying to share her story and  understand it more deeply. She also asks for others to contact her who may have had experiences like hers so she can compare notes with them. And it's all happening in the context of life -- in Cora's case, of being a mother and caring for a three-year old. I can personally relate to this because I raised four kids and struggled with the same issues: how can I fulfill my purpose when my little squirts are asking for their father to pay attention to them. It took me a long time to realize that my children were not only more important than whatever earth-shaking project I was working, but that being fully present with them was what everything else I was involved in was trying to teach me."

    • 37 posts
    June 10, 2015 7:45 AM MDT

    Well, this video reminds me that we all can't listen to the same messenger--we need the message to come through in lots of different forms because we are all different in our adaptations to our environments.  When I hear Cora say, "Like, I used to be a Christian, or whatever . . ." my brain shut off.  I can't hear what this messenger is saying because the way it is said doesn't let me fully get it. 

    I find the same phenomenon occurring when people start a public prayer with, "Lord, we just wanna . . . ."  Something in my brain says, "This is probably not going to be good, so stop paying attention."  I understand that there is bound to be some truth in there, but I have developed in a way that allows that truth to be recognized in a limited number of ways. 

    Pompous, authoritarian gurus are also problematic to me, too.  My brain says, "Run away.  I don't care what he's saying."  It's hard to argue with your brain, particularly the part that shouts warnings.

    • 290 posts
    June 10, 2015 7:55 AM MDT

    For me, "enlightened" comes in moments, not people. Enlightened people have to defend their label and that throws us back down into our false self trying to be somebody. 

    There have been times when I acted instead of reacting to someone and that to me is enlightened. I'm not getting my stuff mixed with their stuff so they can grow instead of get side tracked.

    There are moments when nature draws me into that sense of Oneness. There are times when my loved ones draw me in too. I think of when my son came out of the cesearen  surgical suite and said, "Mom, we have a girl." I started jumping and couldn't stop for about 15 minutes. This is the only child I have near me in Atlanta and I had already volunteered to be daycare. It was suppose to last six months and now is 6 years. Our souls are so intertwined in love. My soul must have known that the moment I heard those words, "Mom, we have a girl." It was an enlightened moment. I can still draw on that essence. Today, she and I are planting a honeysuckle bush because she says that Honeysuckles attract fairies. The man yesterday at the garden store told her, "So do blueberry bushes." She replied "I haven't heard that." And then she quoted a book that says Honeysuckle. That man found a honeysuckle way back at the end of the shop. This scene will be another "bubble" in my next life review. Perhaps it's the bubbles/ life review  that show us the "enlightened" moments.

    Instead of worshipping someone else. Let's try to worship the scenes in our lives. Our lives are our teachers. This little girl certainly one of mine.

  • June 10, 2015 8:45 AM MDT

    I saw the Bob Olsen interview with Eben Alexander last night… It was a really fantastic interview. One of the best ones I've seen.  

    In it he talks about something Ive thought of a lot, which is that whatever he's telling us about his NDE… Every single one of us already knows it, our spirits/souls already know.  He's only reminding us.

    There is a christian saying that goes, "the soul rejoices in hearing what it already knows."

    So, as for me, when I am listening to anyone speak about spiritual truths, I am listening inside as well… I am listening for my soul rejoicing (or goose pimples, or warmth in my chest). I am listening for the resonance.  If it doesn't resonate, I immediately move on. 

    We have been taught in this world to not trust our "good feelings". Thats some things are "too good to be true", etc. 

    We are taught that we need to face "the cold, hard truth"… But the truth isn't cold or hard, the truth is LOVE.  The truth loves us.  The ego may not like the truth… But from the perspective of the NDE, our souls love, trust, and know the truth… 

    Just imagine if we were all taught from day one, that we have an inner guidance system… that we can trust it.That all that is happening is okay and trustworthy.  That there is nothing to fear AT ALL about life, that everything is working to deliver to us just what we need?  I wonder if starting out from THAT mindset would completely transform the world?  I don't know, but I like to imagine it would… by cutting down the fear weeds at the roots, early on. By fostering acceptance and trust, too.

    In my NDE fear was the entire reason for "evil"… or bad behavior.

    But as Anita Moorjani said in that recent interview, we're taught the opposite of what works, the opposite of what is true! 

    Its all very confusing, especially when you add in feelings of separation, fear and unworthiness (all fear).  When we are scared we are vulnerable, and we are looking for the list of directions to live by, instead on looking within.  We don't trust ourselves to know. 

    But I suppose that is part of what we are here to learn… To learn through trial and error, that love and trust or faith are what really works… that we have an incredible inner guidance system…

    Maybe Cohens followers had surrendered their own "still small voices" to him out of fear. They may have felt the flags go up on some level, but they had turned away from their inner voice. Maybe that was their lesson.  And as long as they would blame Cohen for misleading them, they are not seeing that they created the experience as a teaching moment for themselves… to finally be able to see the contrast between their own inner divine guidance system, and fear.  

    Steve Jobs says in his speech to the Stanford graduating class,  "Follow your heart.  It won't lead you astray. Somehow it knows things that you cannot know… "  

    (incredibly powerful speech… Same wisdom and truth that you get from an NDE!! Definitely worth a see if you haven't seen it yet).

  • June 10, 2015 8:59 AM MDT

    " Perhaps it's the bubbles/ life review  that show us the "enlightened" moments.

    Instead of worshipping someone else. Let's try to worship the scenes in our lives. Our lives are our teachers. This little girl certainly one of mine."

    Beautiful.  I love this.

    • 290 posts
    June 10, 2015 9:13 AM MDT

    I DID THIS OUT OF ORDER SO I AM REPEATING.

    A few comments, first on Deepak, Is he being a father to his son? That's what was missing. We can throw all the wisdom at our kids but they don't hear it. They want us to be parents, not prophets. If anyone has kept me humble, it's my three kids. They can have many advisors and therapists but only one Mom and that's me. 

    Being a spiritual teacher can be intoxicating, overwhelming (and very lonely.) When people put you up on a pedestal there is no eye contact AND they expect you to always act a certain way. The worst offenders are the media. As I have mentioned before, I did all the major talk and news shows in the late 80s and early 90s. I was put up at classy hotels with limos and "assistant whatever" fluttering around me at the studios. When the show is over they treat you Like: "here's your limo -- get out." It's an extremely artificial environment but also extremely tantalizing. The famous spiritual teachers are human too and some if not most buy into it.

    I'd much rather be where I am now, talking with you all on eye level. I've been day care for our wonderful 6 year old grand daughter since she was 6 weeks old. Now she takes the school bus here and we play or read until her parents get off work. She finally is giving me the happy childhood I didn't get from my parents (And I was too busy trying to be perfect through my own kids early years.)

    And the last thing is, there was a child's book out when my kids were little about nightmares and becoming brave enough to hug the monster that plagues us in our dreams. All he needs is our attention and he turns into a teddy bear. This is the reason I became friends with my unconscious painful issues. They are scary and we wish they would go away but they don't until we have the courage to face them, give them a hug and realize that they are part of our past but they are not who we are. The more monsters I face, the more teddy bears I get to love. 

  • June 10, 2015 9:21 AM MDT

    Thinking on this, I am reminded of my own specific horrible struggle to trust my inner self after a lifetime of knowing, living with, and loving a severely mentally-ill person… that being my own Mother.

    I watched her fall into her delusions of grandeur; she believes she is the Lamb of God, literally.  She believes she and her whole family and anyone that gets close to our family is either a perpetrator come to do harm to our family, or a victim of the cult of perpetrators that are harassing our family and trying to drive us to suicide or insanity.  Among these perpetrators are the Queen of England, Ronald Reagan, her sister Pat, etc.

    She once told me, in all seriousness, that I was Jesus Christ.

    If I wear my hair in a braid around her she accuses me of joining the cult.  There was a time I couldn't use the word "actually" around her because to her it was me mocking her, and a secret code for "the book of acts" (bible) which for some reason really bothered her.  There are many examples like this with regard to my mothers mental illness. 

    But what happened for me was that I REALLY had a hard time trusting my inner voice.  I thought that the inner voice was crazy, and that if I followed it I would follow my Mom's path… Ending up homeless and rejected and lonely… lost in a scary inner world.  This was, for years, an utterly petrifying fear.  And once in a while, it still does scare me! 

    (sort of off-topic, but I just thought i'd share… Because it just bubbled up and I myself saw this issue in a slightly new light).

    But I guess too, it is on topic, because when I learn of people like Cohen here, or other crazy spiritual leaders (egos gone wild!), I feel such a terrible internalized sense of embarrassment and shame. In a way, they remind me of my mother.

  • June 10, 2015 9:27 AM MDT

    "And the last thing is, there was a child's book out when my kids were little about nightmares and becoming brave enough to hug the monster that plagues us in our dreams. All he needs is our attention and he turns into a teddy bear. This is the reason I became friends with my unconscious painful issues. They are scary and we wish they would go away but they don't until we have the courage to face them, give them a hug and realize that they are part of our past but they are not who we are. The more monsters I face, the more teddy bears I get to love."

    YES <3  

    I really love this.  I think it is so true.

  • June 10, 2015 9:34 AM MDT

    This fear was something and still is something I am confronting when I openly discuss my NDE!  BIG TIME.  So I suppose this was one of my specific soul challenges from the get go… 

    I still freak out every once in a while about my Facebook page and my posts there (often NDE focused). I say to myself "OH CRAP PEOPLE THINK IVE GONE INSANE!"

    • 957 posts
    June 10, 2015 11:00 AM MDT

    Amphianda, wow, you've really been swimming in the deep end of the ocean!

    One of the reasons I've spent so much time tracking charlatans and false prophets, and exploring all facets of the dark side, is to understand these forces better in myself and in the world around me. You know I grew up in similar circumstances, with a mentally ill mother and Cinderella childhood with a wicked step mother and step brothers. These kind of forces really mess us up -- and once their seeds have been planted, they stick with us until we dive in and do some serious house cleaning.

    Many of us think that we can simply turn within and get clear, helpful guidance from the Divine. In my experience, this hasn't been true. If we have a lot of inner demons and unresolved shadow issues floating around inside us, these forces influence the guidance we receive -- either directly through what we receive or indirectly through the way we understand, interpret, and apply the guidance we receive. At some level, we know this and because of this knowing we feel fearful and untrusting of our inner world.

    What this has meant for me is that the idea of people receiving clear, dependable guidance from within (or from without) is only possible to the degree that we have cleaned up the inner demons that are actively polluting the wells. But this is dark, scary, messy work. And it's complicated. For me, it has meant gathering guidance tools (like learning how to work with my dreams), constantly asking the Divine for help, and then moving in whatever direction I feel like I am being led. At the same time, I am constantly checking and double-checking impulses to be sure I am responding correctly and making constant course corrections. In other words, I know the Divine can and does direct me and I also know there are forces within and without that are constantly trying to mess things up. So I move cautiously and "test the spirits" so to speak.

    In the beginning, I was so acutely aware of how I was being messed with by my dark, unresolved issues, that it was hard for me to trust my inner impulses. I was terrified of making mistakes, getting things wrong, and creating more problems in my life and the lives of others. Over time, I have learned to relax and allow room for making mistakes. I've also seen how the Divine can and does patiently lead us through all the dark realms we loose ourselves in. Step-by-step, day-by-day, turning this way and then that, we are led out and through and up. The end result is that we become increasingly trusting of the process and less fearful of the many monsters we face because we come to know, understand, and befriend them. 

    So learning how to be patient, how to forgive myself for screw ups, and how to trust the Divine to help me get out of whatever messes I find myself in, has been very helpful.

    I've also discovered that my heart's intention is the strongest force for getting me where I want to go. While I can make mistakes, be fooled, and get sidetracked, my innermost desire to become healthy and whole is an irresistible force that keeps pulling me in the right direction. With God's help, there doesn't appear to be any force that can prevent us from healing ourselves and expressing our divine natures more fully if we really want to.

    • 957 posts
    June 11, 2015 12:18 AM MDT

    Very nice post, Gloria. Clear, informed, and helpful. 

    • 27 posts
    June 11, 2015 4:56 AM MDT

    The initial idea of EnlightenNext contains something that could have been truly beautiful. Perhaps it was at times for some. The idea of a coming together of like souls who are reaching for higher 'ground' to evolve a better functioning society would reap great rewards and benefits. They could have been extremely productive and happy if their leader not seen himself at the head of them but rather they were joint co-heirs. It is my understanding and experience that these things happen gradually, power and ego creeping in and taking over. The message might sound right but in practice it begins to feel wrong and if ignored more larger wrongs become tolerated also. The frog in the pot.. If you put a frog into boiling water it will jump right out but if you put it in cool water and turn the heat up gradually it doesn't realise that it is being boiled. We should not put our trust in any man, we should have but one that we serve and obey and He is Wonderful. 

    I am uneasy with how the nurse played along with the order to pretend that she was going to take the finger of the writer. All of us choose what we do and follow, it seem's that people gave up a sense of self until they no longer felt they had any personal responsibility of what they did to others. She gave away herself to follow orders.

    The 'experiment' became a frankenstein's monster. 

    A bit off topic but connecting still is how this brings me to thinking of some certain performance artists who experiment with the physical, emotional and spiritual relationships between individuals in intense way's such as Marina Abramovic who becomes her own artwork, once allowing her audience to do as they please to her (in the name of art). You'd think that could be quite nice.. however It was a frightening experience for her as people hurt her and even put a loaded gun to her head. Human nature seem's to get the better of most people in these kinds of circumstances. Marina was injured and could have been killed for the sake of her explorative art.

    What do we learn from this? Don't ever stop taking responsibility for your own actions and self. Don't give away whatever freedom you have to others? The ever optimistic soul in me thinks also that there is value from what we can learn in every experience which may be had.. At least that is what I am told. <3