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Andrew Cohen: Spiritual Teacher or The Next Cult Leader?

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Andrew Cohen was born in New York City in either 1955 or 1956. He hailed from an upper-middle class Jewish household.

At the Age of 16, Cohen claims to have had a cosmic experience, which is described as being a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man.

For the next 6 years, Cohen was seduced by the Jazz music scene, he tried to make it as a musician, but he was mystified by his previous experience, and he fervently planned to delve further into the spiritual realm. Some time during this phase in his life, his hunger for spirituality overtook his desire to become a professional Jazz musician.

Enter Spiritual Teacher Sri H. W. L. Poonja


At the Age of 22, Cohen formally set out on a journey to rediscover the cosmic experience. His journey brought him to Indian spiritual teacher, Sri H. W. L. Poonja.

Through Poonja, Cohen came to believe that he naturally possessed an ability for deep enlightenment, so, he no longer needed to search.

Initially, Poonja took Cohen under his wing, and the young man became a spiritual teacher. Poonja referred to Cohen as his heir, and a strong community was built around him. All was well initially, but Cohen started exhibiting inappropriate overbearing behavior with his students, and Poonja disapproved.

Within a Few Years, Cohen began to demand firm commitments from the community; they adored him, so for the most part, they submitted.

Poonja flatly disagreed with his demanding nature, but Cohen disagreed with his former teacher, insisting instead on "flawless behavior" as the true manifestation of enlightenment.

This change in Cohen's attitude, teaching style and interaction with the community led to a permanent break between he and Poonja. At this point, Poonja, became completely disenchanted with Cohen, and he believed Cohen to be unethical and shortcoming in enlightened behavior.


EnlightenNext Magazine and The Graduate Institute in Connecticut

In 1991 Cohen founded EnlightenNext Magazine. This established him as a major spiritual player, and he became more widely known to the public.

In 2004, EnlightenNext Magazine partnered with the Graduate Institute in Connecticut to offer a master's program in conscious evolution. From 2004 to 2007, Cohen served as a core faculty of the institute. During that time, they enrolled a steady flow of students, but the magazine ceased publication in 2011.

As time passed, Cohen's teachings and absolute desire for flawless behavior from his students led to physical force, verbal abuse, and intense psychological pressure. Students began to lodge complaints...

The Mother of God by Luna Tarlo


One of his students, Luna Tarlo spent more than three years living with Cohen as her guru. In that time, she says she experienced extreme forms of public condemnation and humiliation’

When she finally broke free of him, she wrote a book that depicted Cohen as an “arrogant, power-hungry, dangerous figure who practices mind control over his adherents.”

She further states that he requires total surrender to him, and verbal and psychological abuse would follow if this condition is not met.

The Big twist in all of this is that Luna Tarlo is Andrew Cohen’s mother.

In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1998 she stated she had to end their previously loving mother and son relationship, because she knows her life with him is over.

Andrew Cohen Disappears

In 2013, several of his closest students confronted him about his abusive behavior. Then, on June 26, 2013, Cohen announced on his blog that he would be taking "a sabbatical for an extended period of time."

Cohen made good on his word. he disappeared for two years, but then on May 12, 2015, he reappeared by way of a post on his blog. He posted an extensive apology letter to all of his former students


Andrew Cohen Is Back: The Threat Reappears

As of August 2018, Andrew Cohen is back – offering events and retreats & even enrolling people into his teachings through his website. How much do you want to bet that he already has eager students…

Parents, hug your children and let them know you love them, if they don't get it from you, they'll go out and get it from God only knows where else - predators like Andrew Cohen are always around to pick up your slack and welcome them with open arms.

Seven Signs You're Involved In a Cult

  1. Opposing critical thinking
  2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
  3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
  4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
  5. Dishonoring the family unit
  6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
  7. Separation from the Church

If you're worried that you or someone you love may be involved with a cult, please contact 911 if there is immediate danger.

You can also complete the Cult Victim Support Form if you are in need of supportive services, this program is sponsored by Families Against Cult Teachings And Abuses.

If you need to talk to someone normal during business hours, you can try calling the Cult Education Institute - you can also visit their web page by clicking on the link, as it is full of helpful information.


Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on September 28, 2018:

Indeed. I fear that most people simply aren't capable of critical thinking... They are the ones who are preyed upon the most.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 02, 2018:

It is sad that often seekers of spirituality have to be subjected to some of the abuses of power hungry cult leaders. You are right that if they don't find the answer to their spiritual search, they'll certainly be easy preys to spiritual predators.