The Twisted World Of The American Guru
File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR
We received a copy of American Guru a few months ago, but have slacked at actually opening it. That said, this review reveals the gist of it, that Andrew Cohen gives every appearance of being yet another personality-disordered, adoration-addicted control-freak cult leader:
Cohen mandated – directly or indirectly – actions such as slapping the face of someone for showing too much ego or pride; banishing followers, at least temporarily, for alleged misbehavior; or requiring followers to shave their heads as a form of humility. In one incident recounted in the book, Yenner says a woman who spoke up to Cohen had red paint thrown in her face as punishment.Yenner himself kept coming back for more, getting fleeced in the process:
In 1998, he says, he gave Cohen a gift of $10,000 to thank him for being his mentor. A year later, Yenner, told that he was exhibiting too much pride, says he was banished from Foxhollow for betraying Cohen and his teachings.Playing God takes two, someone to be God and someone to believe in them. This provides the glue that holds a cult together through each successive episode of the leader's pathological narcissism. What appears to be insanity from an outsider's perspective gets filtered as God's tough love within the group. Yenner and others were paying a lot for that love. Here's to hoping they finally get to see that they got their money's worth for having survived such a towering example of enlightenwrong.
Increasingly exhausted, desperate, and almost mentally broken, Yenner says, he sought to regain favor by offering EnlightenNext an $80,000 inheritance from his father. Things got only more bizarre after that – Yenner was told to go to Australia to stay with another out-of-favor follower. Six days after his arrival Down Under, Yenner says, Cohen ordered him to return to the United States.
After another cycle of banishment and forgiveness, Yenner was told he was no longer welcome at Foxhollow. “I felt nothing,” he writes. “I decided to leave the community for good.” That night, he stayed in a hotel in the tiny town of Florida in the Berkshires. “I could see for miles,” he writes. “I began to feel joy and liberation.”