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Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru [Paperback]

Andre Van Der Braak
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.99
Price: £8.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru + American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing-Former Students of Andrew Cohen Speak Out
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Product details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Pilgrims Publishing (1 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8177693824
  • ISBN-13: 978-8177693829
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of spiritual travelog. Among the best I've read are 'The Entronauts', by Piero Scanziani, 'Mutant Message from Down Under' by Marlo Morgan, and 'Meetings with Remarkable Men' by Gurdjieff.

This is an interesting wrinkle on the theme. This is a story about one man's experience with the controversial and purportedly controlling and manipulative Andrew Cohen. It's a book about aspiration, idolatry, disillusion and ultimately self-healing. Well written, and clearly difficult for the author to have done. However, that's where my praise and sympathy for the writer ends....

When you give away as much of your freedom, self-governance and will to a charismatic spiritual leader, and idolise them (beloved guru, gorgeous master, divine leader - these are all the types of terms that van den Brak uses in his early relationship with Cohen), then you deserve all you get.

The bleating, self pitying, victim language that characterises the latter half of this novel is a foreseeable consequence of this sort of unconditional spiritual surrender. It would take a bigger man than Cohen is rumoured to be not to get a little power-drunk on this sort of snivelling adulation.

Is Andrew Cohen enlightened? Has he enlightened anyone? I doubt it. In fact, I invite ANYONE making this claim to come forward and prove it. I've met some charismatic and compelling characters in my life, but no-one I could categorically state had made the trip. In fact, I've not even been able to validate whether enlightenment exists beyond fleeting experiences that ultimately vanish with time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Andre 17 Oct 2004
Format:Paperback
Thank you Andre.
Another book about good old Andrew Cohen, the fellow-traveller on the vipassana circuit who found Enlightenment in India and returned to Devon to take Totnes by storm. Today Totnes, tomorrow the world, though it hasn't quite worked out like that. And in the process old Andrew is said to have become so precious that if he was a chocolate drop he'd eat himself. I enjoyed this book and found it helpful. This is because it's about one person's experience, their own personal struggle, their own blood and tears, and to read such a book is always of value. The author is writing about his own struggle to make sense of his life once he has been swept off his feet by the charisma, general good hair sense, and genuinely inspiring "teachings" of Mr Enlightenment, good old Andrew himself. This is what I valued about the book - we have all been there (some of us anyway) - we get drawn to a particular "teacher" by their great wisdom, clarity, depth, etc. etc. and then make the quantum leap into assuming that they are wise, wonderful and enlightened in all aspects of their lives and relationships. Fat Chance. But it takes us time to realise this. And how do we then leave, turning our back on what we thought at one time was the most wonderful wonderful path for a life of (as it may appear at the time) poverty and loneliness? And how do we integrate what we have learnt into our new life and know what is baby and what is bathwater? (It is traditionally thought to be a bad idea to throw baby out with bathwater). This book is valuable because it documents someone going through this process, showing his thinking/feeling/living evolving step by step. Thank you Andre.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the tip of the iceberg. 21 Feb 2005
Format:Paperback
Andre's book has raised red flags for those following Mr. Cohen's teachings. In continuing to question the validity of any spiritual authority, it's crucial to try to get the whole picture, and also to observe how a teacher and his/her group handle critical statements from former students with allegations of abuse.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where do we go from here? 22 Nov 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The list of spiritual teachers who simply don't measure up just gets longer: Gurdjieff, Trungpa, Adi Da, Erhard, Rajneesh, Shoko Asahara etc.... and now Andrew Cohen. I met him a few years ago and he seemed engaging and plausible. I was also impressed by his criticisms of other wayward, amoral or corrupt gurus like the ones I've mentioned here. At last there was someone you could trust. But now Van Der Braak in this quite riveting book exposes the shortcomings of this allegedly Enlightened Master. It makes for fascinating reading but left me unsettled: is there still some mileage left in the idea of enlightenment? Or is it time, in the wake of the seemingly never ending list of discredited characters, to give up on this notion altogether? To be fair to Cohen, he just comes across as being ultra-perfectionistic rather than amoral (which is hardly surprising if you are familiar with his writing). He's not a furtive alcoholic or a sex fiend with a secret laboratory and a plan for world domination. And you know what to expect if you hang around with people like this. Just think of other famously demanding perfectionists like film director Stanley Kubrick, the eccentric rock musician Mark E. Smith, or even the awesome comedian Chris Morris and what they would have been like as gurus.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Andre 12 Oct 2004
Format:Paperback
Thank you Andre.
Another book about good old Andrew Cohen, the fellow-traveller on the vipassana circuit who found Enlightenment in India and returned to Devon to take Totnes by storm. Today Totnes, tomorrow the world, though it hasn't quite worked out like that. And in the process old Andrew is said to have become so precious that if he was a chocolate drop he'd eat himself. I enjoyed this book and found it helpful. This is because it's about one person's experience, their own personal struggle, their own blood and tears, and to read such a book is always of value. The author is writing about his own struggle to make sense of his life once he has been swept off his feet by the charisma, general good hair sense, and genuinely inspiring "teachings" of Mr Enlightenment, good old Andrew himself. This is what I valued about the book - we have all been there (some of us anyway) - we get drawn to a particular "teacher" by their great wisdom, clarity, depth, etc. etc. and then make the quantum leap into assuming that they are wise, wonderful and enlightened in all aspects of their lives and relationships. Fat Chance. But it takes us time to realise this. And how do we then leave, turning our back on what we thought at one time was the most wonderful wonderful path for a life of (as it may appear at the time) poverty and loneliness? And how do we integrate what we have learnt into our new life and know what is baby and what is bathwater? (It is traditionally thought to be a bad idea to throw baby out with bathwater). This book is valuable because it documents someone going through this process, showing his thinking/feeling/living evolving step by step. Thank you Andre.
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