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American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing-former students of Andrew Cohen speak out Paperback – August 11, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0982453056 ISBN-10: 0982453051

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American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing-former students of Andrew Cohen speak out + Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru + The Mother of God
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Epigraph Publishing (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982453051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982453056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 9.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,472,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Read the book, folks.
Marc Beneteau
Yenner does an outstanding job answering questions I've had about why intelligent, thoughtful people feel the need to follow people like Andrew Cohen.
Marija Sanderling
Unfortunately for the reader these are all taken out of context.
Loring S. Palmer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Jared C. Howe on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel compelled to provide a rebuttal to Roberta's review of Bill's book. I think most of us on the spiritual path will agree that it is the most challenging and difficult work that anyone can engage in. Everything eventually must be looked into if we really want to be free from our conditioning, including those sides of us that are the most painful and difficult to face. I think it is true that whoever endeavors to undertake such a journey must be willing to "face everything and avoid nothing."

But let's be clear what exactly it is that Bill and other ex-students of Andrew Cohen are alleging here: systematic abusive behavior either done by Andrew or under his specific direction, including pressuring people to give large sums of money when they "failed" in some way (Bill personally was "compelled" to give $80,000 when he fell out of favor with Andrew, which he eventually got back after signing a five year gag order), slapping long time students when they commit some "error", and an incident in which buckets of paint were poured over the head of a women who allegedly disappointed Andrew, just to name a few. There have been many, many more examples of this kind of behavior in Andrew's community (go to to read more). Roberta, can you please explain to me how these actions can in any way be considered right and ethical? I would really like to hear from you how these actions could be right in ANY context, let alone a spiritual community supposedly upholding a higher standard of integrity. And if you are alleging that anyone outside of a spiritual community are in no position to judge what is ethical and what is not, I profoundly and unequivocally disagree with you.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John C. Landon on July 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It has been suggested by anonymous sources, otherwise fearful, to me as a critic of various guru figures, to make public a request that Andrew Cohen step down from his position as 'guru' in the context of his EnlightenNext initiative.
The account in this excellent work is so depressingly clear on the issue of guru abuse that I think some kind of outside intervention or declaration is needed.
The legacy of confusion here has gone on for a whole generation and includes the figures, Da Free John, E.J.Gold, Lee Lozowick and Andrew Cohen. The whole sequence here has been haywire from the beginning.
The account here is of a baffling display of pathological behavior masked by a misleading endorsement of Cohen's reputed enlightenment. The original source of this endorsement is itself entirely suspect and has empowered a very a questionable career of authoritarian behavior.
One of the larger problems here is the lack of any traditional context made clear. What is the canon of the guru? What religion is in the background, Hinduism, Buddhism, ...? The lack of any clear context for a teaching has produced a completely vacuous teaching made up 'as you go along'.
The quest for enlightenment beyond ego is not achieved by (egoic) ego-bashing of 'disciples' by a teacher. Ego cannot be destroyed by castigation and attempts to destroy a person's psyche. It is a misunderstanding to think you can destroy ego, and the task is that of self-enlightening transcendence of ego, by the individual in question, and in the final analysis the guru figure is at best a witness to what the disciple must do. The kind of shenanigans depicted in this book show someone out of control, with no grasp of what is needed.
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36 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Shaw on October 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Congratulations and thanks to William Yenner and all the contributors to this exceptionally clear, important book, American Guru.

It is an open secret that followers of Andrew Cohen are subjected to abuse and exploitation that has nothing to do with spirituality, and everything to do with the pathological narcissism of Andrew Cohen. Former followers have spoken out, in this volume, with great courage and honesty.

It would be wonderful to see such honesty and courage demonstrated by other leaders of the New Age movement. Instead of rationalizing and minimizing the extent of these abuses, instead of ignoring and dismissing the experiences of former followers, wouldn't it be wonderful if people like Ken Wilber, Genpo Roshi, Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Bernie Glassman, etc, could have the courage and the integrity to pay attention, to take up the cause of Cohen's former members, and confront Cohen publicly?

If such celebrities of the New Age do not have this kind of courage and integrity, at least William Yenner and the authors of this book do - and their work will be of enormous benefit to those who have been cruelly violated and betrayed by Andrew Cohen, in the name of spirituality.

Daniel Shaw, L.C.S.W., author of Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective
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30 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Douglas I. Wallace on October 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
As someone who spent little more than a year in Andrew Cohen's community (1988-89), I have mostly kept myself apart from the online rumble. However, reading Bill Yenner's "American Guru" was a fine refresher in the reasons I left relatively quickly.

I will only briefly echo the praise this book has rightfully received. It's honest, humble, and complete without dragging the reader through every horrifying abuse that Cohen has perpetrated (and which is available on the What Enlightenment blog expose for those with the stomach for it.)

If I am equally honest with myself, I have to admit that I saw the cult dynamics at work from the very beginning. I saw otherwise mature people acting slavish and infantilized to meet Cohen's tacit expectation of devotion. A fellow student shared with me her letter to Andrew in which she so thoroughly demonized herself for (fill in the blank: arrogance, ego, selfishness) that it took all the denial I could muster not to see it as the introjection of Cohen's own shadow. When, after a few months, I was offered the plum assignment of editing the transcripts of Andrew's talks, it was just as quickly taken away when I did not drop everything, run to his house with an armful of flowers, and throw myself at his feet in gratitude (all part of the unwritten rulebook).

The final straw for me was attending a series of brutal, 70s-style men's group encounters where the designated scapegoat would be psychically flayed by the community members he had entrusted his spiritual well-being to. When I dared to raise a question about whether this was an effective way of working with the wayward student (leaving aside such wimpy notions as compassion), I drew the collective ire of the group upon myself.
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