About EnlightenNext: another Mass-based cult …

This fascinating video documentary, produced by The Atlantic, not only interviews ex-members of now defunct cult EnlightenNext, but Andrew Cohen, ex-leader, who called his “teaching”, “evolutionary enlightenment”.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult

Interestingly, Cohen sat down with The Atlantic and admitted that his ego took the wheel; he says that he’s apologizing to ex-members. Is it possible that an ex-cult leader could sincerely be taking responsibility for the damage he inflicted? In this particular interview he can’t bring himself to admit to hurting others; but he does say he’s traveling the world to ” … sit down with people who feel that they’ve been hurt.”

In turn, the ex-members interviewed spoke, without blame or vitriol, about mystical experiences, glimpses into cosmic knowledge, experiences of a hypnotic state, thousands of hours prostrating themselves and repeating the following phrases:

To be free is to know nothing …

To be free is to be no one …

To be free is to have nothing …

…and worshiping a picture of Andrew, i.e. “God”.

Cohen describes a bit about his own spiritual search and the teaching that he claims “unfolded” when people started to follow him. He describes how he started to believe his personal feelings were “objective truths”. He admits to making “a lot of mistakes.”

One ex-member describes the exit process this way: ” … it’s got to feel like coming out of prison and entering the world again … everything was amazing.”

Both ex-members, and ex-leader, admit that they don’t really understand what unfolded.

I admit that I am dubious of Mr. Cohen’s apologies as sincere. But it is this type of dialogue that will shed light on this bizarre and damaging phenomenon called cults. I hope that he is – in fact – able to take responsibility for his hurtful, ego-driven, actions. Maybe Cohen can begin contributing to healing, reconciliation and solutions. In the meantime, though, this video is a start and a worthwhile 20-minute viewing.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult


7 thoughts on “About EnlightenNext: another Mass-based cult …

  1. EllieB. says:

    For a well written thoughtful account of this man’s cult, please see/read Paradise and Promises by Marlowe Sand. She was in the Cohen cult for years. The Atlantic article is him seeking Damage Control as a response to this one woman’s story. The quotes from students have been edited. Mr. COHEN is still starting and running cult groups around the world. He is Not Sorry. That’s just part of his Con Game. Many of his ex students are trying to debunk him. Here is link to book:

  2. The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

    Hi Ellie B,
    Thanks for posting.

    Interesting. I’ll definitely be reading that book and as for over reacting –I have to say, I am trying to give Cohen the benefit of the doubt, but his strange emotionless affect and his passive voice, i.e. sitting down with ” … people who feel that they’ve been hurt”, as opposed to directly admitting that he hurt people with his ego-driven “teaching”, make him look insincere. So, you probably aren’t overreacting.

    • EllieB. says:

      The Atlantic video leaves out the extreme abuses of Cohen He’s not apologized for the verbal thrashing, nor the emitional torture, or physical dangers the members were subjectwd to under his “guidance”. A SIT DOWN down with him would most likely be like “coffee with Robert” wherein Robert twists what you say and you come away feeling more abused, bullied, and slightly threatened. Hopefully the uocoming documentary will explore that. The trailer above was chilling.

  3. The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

    It does kick off with Cohen interupting and admonishing a woman named Lynn: ” … you have no idea what it is to be involved with a real teacher; you have no respect and there’s no dignity in your behavior, Lynn. You don’t have any idea who you’re dealing with here. You know the point is it doesn’t matter where you’re at Lynn, you take a stand. Either you’re with us or not, I don’t care what you think, or how you feel. I don’t really care; it doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ, Lynn, what is the matter with you?”

    Yep. Typical narcissistic, self-aggrandizing cult leader abuse: Don’t you know who I am? You, your feelings, your thoughts don’t matter.

    I wonder if Mr. Cohen has apologized to Lynn? Because he really should, if he wants anyone to believe he’s sincerely contrite.

  4. Bluebeard says:

    Another interesting movie about cults:

    Any one want to do a movie about “our” cult? I am willing to be interviewed on camera. Anyone else?

    • The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

      wow. I thought that one was very good, actually. Disturbing, as hell. A good reminder for me that my “school” days were – as 007 & I like to say — cult lite.

      I might have to post on that video … thanks for pointing it out.

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