Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher, bestselling author, and founder of the global nonprofit EnlightenNext and its award-winning publication, EnlightenNext magazine. His original teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment redefines spiritual awakening within the context of cosmic evolution and highlights a new understanding of God or Spirit as the creative impulse toward change in both self and culture.
His bestselling book, Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening is the product of his 26 years of work and has garnered praise from some of today’s leading spiritual and cultural figures as one of the most important spiritual works of our time. Andrew lives and works at the EnlightenNext headquarters in Western Massachusetts and spends much of his time travelling around the world giving retreats, seminars, and public talks about Evolutionary Enlightenment.
Question: Do you receive criticisms for your beliefs?
Andrew Cohen: Well, I think anybody who is pushing the edge, if in fact that’s what one is authentically doing, then any individual who is truly ahead of their own time is usually not appreciated and also is seen as a threat. So most pioneers have had to suffer, some mortally, because they were ahead of their own time and that seems to be par for the course. A lot of people think it’s a very romantic thing to be a pioneer but for those individuals who authentically are obviously on a personal level it would be- it would definitely be challenging and in my case that- yes, that’s definitely been the case, especially because I have- especially over the last ten years I have been speaking very passionately about- I think we- as I was saying earlier, we need to reorient our spirituality and the goal of our spirituality from the urge to transcend the world to the aspiration to create it. And I find it very ironic that so much of postmodern mystical East meets West spirituality, and I’m- we’re speaking about an interesting conglomeration of ideas that is designed specifically for the wealthiest, the most privileged, most educated people that have ever lived that really is about escapism it’s- it- because when we hear some of these spiritual teachers speak to us they’re talking about the need to discover inner peace, they are promising us release and relief. And I often telling people but first of all I don’t think God created the universe so you and I could be happy. In other words, we all want to be happy and there’s nothing wrong with being happy and I want to be happy too, but I don’t think that’s the reason that I’m alive and suffering is an inherent part of being alive. Suffering and chaos is part of the creative process from the very beginning. The universe wasn’t created out-- It wasn’t a peaceful act when the universe was created. It was dynamic and explosive and the creative process at every level is dynamic and chaotic. And what I feel we need to do is stop being so concerned with just seeking for our own sense of well-being and become more interested in taking responsibility for the evolution of the process itself because that’s very thrilling, it’s very exciting, it’s incredibly liberating, and to the degree that we’re able to do that we will discover a sense of self-confidence because we know we are really doing everything we possibly can to make the world a better place. And we’re also pushing the edge and whenever we push- whenever we are authentically and deeply and wholeheartedly committed to a higher purpose in a way that is, as I said, truly authentic and we are- and we’re taking enormous risks to do that it’s very empowering because we’re no longer trying to protect ourselves. We’re really here in this process and we’re committed to being and we’re committed to making a difference. That I think is inherently liberating.
Recorded on: 04/28/2008
I recently teamed up with a Canadian filmmaker named Ian MacKenzie to create a new video explaining some of the key points of my work. Specifically, Ian's piece beautifully expresses a spiritual principle called...