5 Elemental Challenges — Earth (part 2)
SBNR has established real intellectual and experimental centres, cultural and living centres, centres of investigation. IONS is doing real research. Esalen and Findhorn still exist and have been through many changes of outlook. The Lindisfarne Fellows still exist. The Monroe Institute exists along with its even bigger Brazilian rival, the International Academy of Consciousness. These are serious organisations, although doubtless they are not without their flaws, and there are many others less well known too — hundreds.
Some of them have survived a good long while. People forget tangentially relevant places like Saybrook University are still going. Their multiplicity of approach mirrors that of SBNR itself. But such organisations can still get captured by a regressive monomythic approach, and the same flaws again show all too clearly. I’ve talked before on the ‘Box about Andrew Cohen, albeit briefly. His abuse of position parallels that of any other narcissist guru. It’s an extensive example centred more on bullying than on sex (so far as I know). Even his own mother has joined in the chorus of protest against him.
His operations have been substantially funded by bilking “students” out of enormous sums of money, and psychologically speaking he is running a cult. His magazine, EnlightenNext, must be paid for by activity of that kind to some extent, which makes its multimything look a little less fresh to say the least. His friend, the unimpressive philosopher Ken Wilber, abets him and other narcissist gurus like Adi Da, not least via groups of his own, like the Integral Institute.
This is where the advantage of many separate places becomes clear. We have here a fairly standard Western manifest destiny-tunnel, trying to gather all the multimythed SBNR lines into one thing. Brian Hines has suggested this is in fact simply an attempt at religion now, with people like Wilber and Cohen as figureheads. Certainly it has become an unquestionable ideocracy… can psychosis be far away? And certainly Cohen is seen as a world saviour by many of his students. But the capturing can never happen, the eliding of many ways into one — even when they all interact closely, each maintains its own focus.
Which is lucky. Something about living a monomythic “destiny” in a polymythic milieu seems to allow people to forget the basics of how you treat other human beings, even though that’s part of what you’re supposed to be learning. The person’s soul curdles into grasping for glory. The end justifies the meanness.