Current Update as of September 19, 2004
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
(Monkfish Book Publishing)
(Summary with Commentary by Lorrie Kazan*)
In the 1980’s, Amsterdam Andre van der Braak had just completed college and was embarking on what felt like a mundane career when his close friend, Harry, called him with ecstatic news. The two men had explored various paths of enlightenment together and had promised to alert one another if either one of them found the true teacher.
Harry returned to Amsterdam, no longer the suffering, depressed person he’d been when Andre last saw him. He declared that the change came as a result of time spent with emerging guru, Andrew Cohen, whom he believed would be their generation’s "Buddha."
Entranced, Andre attended Andrew’s Satsang where almost immediately he entered into a state of bliss. (Satsang has been loosely defined as a gathering of friends, also from the Osho website: to be in the presence of a Master, in a loving communion); this was everything he’d been looking for. Previously Andre had been struggling with maintaining a Buddhist practice that he’d found overly rigorous without offering the kind of emotional sustenance he still craved. He was elated and relieved when Andrew Cohen told him, "Enlightenment is now." You’re in it and you no longer have to prepare.
When their new guru, Andrew, relocated to England, both men followed. For Andre, this was a chance to be near the epicenter of something exciting, life transforming. It also offered him enough of a break from his own malaise/depression that he was able to overcome any misgivings about relinquishing his current life.
The friends entered a world where, as he said, "everything seemed possible." They joined other devotees who lived together in several houses in a kind of extended family. Their lives were now based around Andrew, his teachings, his picture, spending time with him, discussing him; they viewed him as their "Beloved Master," just as they believed Andrew regarded his own Indian teacher, Poonjaji. After all, it was Poonjaji who had anointed Andrew as one worthy to be called Master.
Quickly the devotees found menial jobs that would not interfere with their spiritual pursuits. They felt as if their lives had taken on a sense of the sacred, as if everything they did was important. Soon, however, bliss began to darken. The next move was to America, and it was in the U.S. that their Master became more autocratic.
Now enlightenment was no longer their presumed state of being. Increasingly, the devotees had to prove themselves to be without ego, anxiety, guile or anything that might provoke Andrew’s ire. However, his ire was fairly consistently provoked, and devotees found themselves censured (for instance, sent to live in a less prestigious house) or banished from the community altogether.
Andrew inaugurated house meetings where the devotees would regularly use their perceptions of his standards in order to correct and discipline each other. Now intimate relationships smacked of attachment and Andre and his girlfriend, Sara, were forced to dissolve their relationship in order to stay in the community.
This pattern with relationships was revisited two more times for Andre during his eleven-year tenure with the group. Three times the relationships were either encouraged or allowed to progress to a certain depth before Andre and his partner were forced to sever their ties, all in the name of living the teachings, and not showing favoritism or attachment.
When the house members intimidated each other, it was done in the name of cutting through the ego. How do you argue with someone who has your best interests at heart and is telling you that your ego is blocking your vision?
Disturbances grew to such an extent that Andrew’s own mother, Luna, (an early follower) left the fold and authored a scathing book about her son and the prototype dysfunctional family she believed he had created.
Andre had respected Luna, and her words mirrored some of his own feelings. However, he had committed his life to this relationship with Andrew and the others. When we commit to someone or something, we commit to our dream of what we think that is and what we believe we’ll receive as a result of our commitment. Ultimately, the dream may keep us in a situation long past the time when its reality has become untenable or even unbearable.
Several questions arise. For instance, why would intelligent people continue to delude themselves and mistake megalomania for enlightenment? What did Andrew provide that allowed them to shut out their own better instincts? Why do we stay in situations that hurt and betray us?
My assignment in this article is to make Andre’s situation understandable to the reader. How his situation reflects on our own lives? On one level, the question is where do we sell ourselves out in order to have what we perceive as our true needs met? And another level is the psychic or even mystic one. Why do we engage with the people we do? What is being completed? What healing are we searching for via our connections in the world?
I don’t think the majority of us are likely to move into a guru situation, such as Andre’s, but I do see the similarity in our relationships. To me, we’re dealing with the issue of seduction and betrayal. In the infatuation stage of a relationship, we’re in projection, seduced by what we perceive or even project upon the object of our affections. Sometimes that person is actively saying or doing what they sense will draw us in. Take a look at what’s currently being revealed in the news about Scott Peterson’s seduction of Amber Frey.
However, seduction is often followed by betrayal because people's real selves and real issues tend to reappear.
Nothing is ever one-sided. The seducer is hoping for the same level of enrichment as the seducee. In effect, both people are projecting the hope of their needs for fulfillment onto each other. We’d all like to think we were beyond this. People don’t become followers just through lack of intelligence. Andrew’s coterie was composed of highly intelligent people. They filled a need for each other, but ultimately they couldn’t fulfill the earlier unmet needs that had brought them together.
Andre’s search for enlightenment took him to Andrew, where initially he entered a state of bliss, of shared approval, a kind of high at having connected with like souls and being recognized for his true self. Then personalities took over and love turned into a kind of drudgery of people reacting to each other and trying to win Andrew’s increasingly rare approval.
Isn’t this one of the reasons people seek fame, in order to fill themselves with love and approval on a more massive level, a desire to be actually seen and heard?
What Would I Advise Him If He Sought A Psychic Reading?
First of all, he would need to seek my advice, and I’m not sure he would have been in a place to do that before his final disillusionment with Andrew. He was relying on his best thinking and on others in the group. And everyone still believed that Andrew was in some way above them, more gifted, able to bestow something upon them that they couldn’t give themselves.
It’s interesting to me that Andre and Andrew have such similar names. It’s the difference of a "w" that separates them. Edgar Cayce, one of the most documented psychics in history, said that like always meets like. We come to face ourselves through others and to face our past lives through our current issues with others.
Andre already had a strong sense of dissatisfaction about how he and the other devotees were treating each other. He’d observed the changes in Andrew’s mood and his teachings, and he’d certainly experienced the negative side of Andrew’s personality but he had not trusted himself.
Instead he rationalized. After the person who sponsored their move to Amherst dropped out of the group, Andre silenced his misgivings by deciding that the sponsor must have succumbed to the pull of his ego. "It’s a reminder to us all," he thought, "how important it is to have clarity of intention and to guard the precious realization of enlightenment against the poison of our own mind." Andre was still in some of the infatuation stage.
If you cannot trust your own mind, or your inner guidance, then whom do you trust? In this case, Andrew recommended that the devotees hold regular house meetings where they could hold each other accountable to living up to his standards. "Andrew’s message had been, nothing has to change, everything is perfect as it is, just realize this and surrender to it deeply and all your problems will be over. So what is all this talk about having to change now?"
Even though Andrew’s time was much less available, Andre at first tried to share his concerns with Andrew. "You have to align yourself with the standard of enlightenment," Andrew told him. However, the standard of enlightenment now seemed to be subject to Andrew’s whims and upsets.
a saying that "there are no victims, only volunteers," which
probably makes no sense when you’re in a situation in which you feel victimized
or abused because it doesn’t seem like there’s a choice. The question
is, why stay in those circumstances? As I’ve mentioned above, one has
committed to an ideal; in Andre’s case the ideal was based upon another
person, and there was still the hope that what he’d once received (or
perceived) would be available again.
formed three successive, meaningful love relationships in the group, and
ultimately after leaving the group, married a former devotee. The women
in his relationships were portrayed as having an easier time than Andre
letting go of the intimacy that he struggled to give up, and still intensely
needed. Andre was able to bond, even in the relationships that were arranged
for convenience. Perhaps there was something in his bonding that was non-specific
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* Lorrie Kazan is a field-tested psychic reader for the Edgar Cayce Foundation. To sign up for her free prosperity meditations, psychic newsletter, or to access articles, reviews and information, click on www.lorriekazan.com.
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