I had to visit the university today, because I needed to look at a book in the library. Leaving the university premises, I noticed a poster for a lecture by spiritual guru Andrew Cohen, leader of the so called EnlightenNext cult. (The picture to the right shows a part of this poster.) It takes place tonight, ie, the evening of April 14. More information here. It’s all about self-esteem, ‘finding yourself’, spiritual awakening and transformation. Or so it seems. The subtitle of the Swedish website, and also the international motto of the movement, reads: ‘Evolution of consciousness and culture’. I assume it’s not a big thing in Sweden, but have to admit I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve seen their activities advertised; curiously at, of all places, the university. This wasn’t the only poster with questionable content. Apparently the students’ organisation — whose billboard it is (I think) — allows anything, even blatant woo with scant academic relevance.
Although this may not seem like a dangerous religious cult, it’s definitely a controversial spiritual cult; it doesn’t advertise itself as a cult, obviously, but which cult does?
One website pointing to the dangers of Andrew Cohen’s cult is American Guru, which is also the title of a book written by William Yenner, once a member. John Horgan, who was not a member but met Cohen and interviewed him, wrote:
Cohen describes enlightenment as a form of not-knowing. And yet his guruhood, his entire life, revolves around his belief in—his knowledge of–his own unsurpassed perfection. To borrow a phrase, Cohen is a super-egomanic. His casual contempt for us ordinary, egotistical humans is frightening, as is his belief that, as an enlightened being who has transcended good and evil, he can do no harm. Cohen may not be a monster, as his mother claims, but he has the capacity to become one. If Cohen settled for being human instead of perfect, he’d probably be a better teacher, and a better man.
I’m not sure whether there are any connections between Swedish anthroposophists and Cohen’s group, but a relationship has evolved between some circles of German anthroposophists and EnlightenNext. This isn’t uncontroversial either; some anthroposophists object to it (for good reasons). Read these posts, for examples; many deal in one way or another with Cohen and his followers.
Even the leaders in Dornach seem open to collaboration with EnlightenNext; recently, the EnlightenNext movement’s German leader, Tom Steininger, made an internet-radio interview with anthroposophist and executive council member Bodo von Plato (the interview is/was available online, but sound quality was unfortunately utterly bad, and I couldn’t stand listening to it).
Anyway, the Swedish EnlightenNext group calls itself ‘Evolutionärer’ (‘evolutionists’) and this is the presentation they offer on their Facebook group (sorry Swedish):
Inget folk har någonsin varit mer individualiserade/jag-fixerade än vi svenskar idag. Samtidigt verkar fler och fler inse att nästa utvecklingssteg handlar om att med denna fantastiska självständighetsmuskel lyckas komma samman och mötas i ett högre “vi” – från Världcentrism till Kosmocentrism.
So, we’re waiting for the next epoch. And need a guru to lead us to it, apparently.