EnlightenNext Revisited:

An Attempt to Understand the Complexity and Contradictions of a Utopian Experiment

By Mary Adams

There are many philosophical, spiritual, and ethical questions being explored and debated since Andrew Cohen stepped down as a spiritual teacher in July 2013 and EnlightenNext dissolved as a global organization. The significance of this was, and is far–reaching, with implications not only for EnlightenNext and its community but for the modern spiritual world at large.

As a spiritual teacher, from the very beginning, Andrew attracted controversy. When he emerged onto the western spiritual scene in 1986, young, passionate with a powerful transmission of enlightened consciousness, his countenance was both fiercely vulnerable and confident and yet humble and human simultaneously. The Love that animated his conviction that awakened consciousness was and is our Nature, and entirely realizable here and now even for our postmodern psychologized Western minds, injected a radical tangibility. This was both applauded and reviled. In its freshness and potency, cynicism and ‘time’ were swept away.

Profoundly compelling in its resonance, this message resulted in hundreds of lives being turned upside down within the first few years of Andrew’s teaching. Lit up with the same awakened passion and clarity, and driven by the possibility of creating an awakened culture together, many of us voluntarily gave up our existing lives, and joined Andrew in his utopian vision. His conviction, borne of a profound awakening to the Absolute led to almost three decades of highly committed spiritual work by hundreds of people. That this conviction would also end up having the double edge of a dangerous hubris resulting in destruction and cynicism, is the enormous paradox many of us feel we are left holding: two almost irreconcilable truths.

This essay is comprised of a series of posts written over the past year and a half. It is an attempt to explore the complexity of factors involved, and most of all to acknowledge the commitment and spiritual courage of every person who gave everything of themselves and of their lives, at whatever point in time, from the very beginning right through to the end for a utopian vision. It is also, my response and reflections as a former senior student and teacher at EnlightenNext, on the twenty–seven years I was involved with Andrew and the many questions addressed to me personally about EnlightenNext’s history, our work, and what led to the relinquishment of Andrew’s leadership and the subsequent collapse of a global organization.

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If you would like to contact me directly please send your email to: enlightennext.revisited@gmail.com

With regards, Mary