Friday, November 09, 2007

Andrew Cohen on Women, Men, and the Evolution of Culture

Andrew Cohen has so many good things to say, so many valid observations, and so much that the rest of us can learn from - and, he grates on so many people, including me. I love "What is Enlightenment," the magazine. I think it's really well done and most of the material presented is extremely valuable, and I totally credit Cohen with it's success. Well done. So what is it that I notice arises from my being when Cohen speaks or writes?

I think it's that ego. I think it's the Guru syndrome that he steps so willingly and so easily into. I think it's that he takes so much credit for things that are already emerging , with him, without him, around him, away from him, and in spite of him.

A perfect example was The Guru and the Pandit article published in WIE in Issue 37 a couple of months ago. I wrote about it on this blog when it first came out, and my Beloved, Anyaa, who has been doing Women's Work for 30 years, also wrote about it here, so I won't revisit that territory.

It's the new blog that's got me going now. In this blog, Andrew Cohen makes the claim that the biggest illusion "this side of the Milky way" is this:
What is that illusion? It is the ultimate sacred cow of our time and culture: the belief that through a romantic connection with “that special someone,” we will experience the deepest connection there is to life itself. I’m speaking about evolving beyond the conviction that spiritual connection and perfect contentment will be found in the romantic and sexual embrace.

This is a very tough message for most people to hear: that as overwhelming as the romantic promise so often feels, it’s just not what it appears to be! It’s what I call the “promise of perfection,” and what Buddhists would call a grand “illusion.” The promise of perfection is the illusion that a deep and profound spiritual happiness or fulfillment can be found in the electric polarity of gender attraction. Most of us will admit, in our more lucid moments, that this promise is rarely fulfilled, and even when it is, that it rarely lasts. But in spite of this, even as we get older, we seem reluctant to give up the belief that one day we will meet a person who will fulfill all our hopes and dreams.

Uh, excuse me? THAT's the biggest illusion? Not "failing to realize we're all ONE?" If the world could get over romantic relationship as the Path to Enlightenment, we'd solve the biggest illusion?

Beside the glaring misplacement of importance, one of the other problems is that Cohen is once again doing the typical male approach to enlightenment as ascension - up and out. In my opinion, not enough attention is paid by him to the expression of our physical bodies and our existence in the relative world as an expression of the Divine.

It seems to me, that while relationship as a Path to Enlightenment is a limited option - after all, not everyone is blessed to be in such a relationship, and, as a fairly new phenomenon historically, romantic relationship simply doesn't exist everywhere and in every culture - it still is, however a path. Not the only path, but a of many available to some. He ends with:

Too often in spiritual circles, men or women only come together to glorify or
romanticize the fact of gender. What I’m pointing to is something altogether different. Interestingly, it is when our self-sense disidentifies with the arbitrary fact of difference—through the deep and profound relaxation of egoic tension and self-consciousness—that the potential for the egoless expression of gender emerges. When men and men, and women and women, are committed to coming together with their own gender beyond ego, the very notion and expression of gender itself can evolve. And it is only then that men and women will finally be able to meet each other on an entirely new ground, one that has never existed before.

In my view, it's not an either/or situation. For a lucky few who discover their Beloveds, it's definitely an both/and scenario. Just as we can be be spiritual beings manifesting in the relative world. That's one of the gifts of the Divine, and I gratefully accept it in my life as one of my paths. While I honor the gifts Andrew brings, I also consciously step back from those who say "I have the path."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,

Thank you for your blog and the way you generously share yourself.

I appreciate the general comment you are making about Andrew Cohen's ego. I value his work in the world, I'm grateful for him, and he is imperfect, and his personality is one that stirs annoyance in some of us.

I notice that he drives up my own shadow the extent that I'm annoyed with his way of relating as a "spiritual authority" him I am seeing my own shadowy "spiritual authority", the one who's got "it" figured out.

So, I'm wondering if Andrew Cohen may be one who teaches by driving up this disowned egocentrism in some of us--and maybe in himself! The better to see, my dear! As I consider it from that perspective, he's making quite a contribution! :)

In humility, this wisdom coming you wrote in your blog entry... is carried through from a faceless, formless, ageless source and although there is quite a bit of wisdom circulating in the world with a copyright attached...that's all just part of the play of this manifest world. May the games play on! :) Maybe what we each can claim a right to is the "hard work miracle" (to quote Stephen Johnson) of developing the self-responsibility to evolve, to become a channel open to receiving and sharing the part of the Truth story we each get to tell.

Blessings, Carolyn Davis