I'm not a fan of Andrew Cohen, as I've commented before.  But his new book looks like it's generating a lot of positive reviews, at least from an inner circle of evolutionary 'Big Story' proponents.  Ken Wilber has (ahem, hyperbolic?) high praise as well:  "Evolutionary Enlightenment is one of the most significant books on spirituality written in the postmodern world."

 

Evolutionary Enlightenment

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Thanks... Hoping for some real reviews to start surfacing soon.

Here is something (by Joseph) that might serve as a pre-emptive review, to tide you over... :-)

 

Evolution as Metaphysics and Spiritual Violence

Thanks, Bruce. I always enjoy reading Joseph's thoughtful analyses, and this is no exception. I completely agree with Joseph and the misguiding use of the concept of evolution especially by Cohen and his disciples. I fully expect that just as Gafni has finally fallen from Integral grace because the truth was no longer possible to ignore, so will the weight of evidence against Cohen eventually bring him down. In the meantime I will not be running out to purchase any of his propaganda.

Here is Steve McIntosh's brief review of the book, and here's a video teaser (a chapter read aloud, with an amusing Beat poet flavor...)

 

 

The circle jerk continues with McIntosh: "Reflect[s] the leading edge of spiritual evolution in our society...a modern-day masterpiece." See the more accurate cartoon depiction of Cohen here.
Yes, I find McIntosh's endorsement disappointing.  But given his endorsement, I will probably pick up a copy of the book just to get a taste myself.  (The chapter read from the video did not impress me, though!)

Because of the superlative reviews of this book that keep turning up (by Wilber, Swimme, Dowd, Houston, Laszlo, etc), I decided to pick up a copy this weekend.  I've read the first couple chapters so far and it reads like straight neo-Advaita, but now associated with Big Bang cosmology, with the nondual state (here, understood as the "One without a second" rather than as the "not-one, not-two" of Madhyamika) being identified with the pre-Big Bang state of the universe.  Andrew's argument is that, when we experience this state, we realize that we were present at the Big Bang, and that the universe burst into being because we willed it to.  There is a drivenness to evolve that has been present from the beginning (that he identifies with procreative, creative, and spiritual drives), which is one area that Andrew's way departs from Tolle's or Ramana's: time, change, is celebrated, and is identified with a driven, urgent sort of becoming -- evolution as absolute imperative.


In his discussion so far, he hasn't addressed why he believes that the experience of body and thought dropping out of awareness constitutes transcendence of the universe and actual identification with the pre-Big Bang state of affairs.  I can imagine various ways such a conviction might be justified, but he hasn't attempted to do so yet; he just presents it as a fact, which is problematic to me (assuming he doesn't do this later in the book).  I'd like to see him at least attempt to engage serious counter-arguments.


Although the view Cohen presents is consistent, in important respects, with traditional mystical wisdom -- regarding the ultimacy of the Self -- there are a few turns of phrase that give the account a narcissistic flavor: that we are the leading edge of the entire universe story; that ultimately, when everything else is stripped away, there is only Me at the root of the universe, the Self who delights in nothing more than contemplating hirself and enjoying hirself; that there's nothing more important or necessary in the universe than my inner development NOW; etc.


Concerning Wilber's endorsement of the book, in particular, it seems to me (so far) that this book would be subject to many of the same criticisms Wilber directed at other spiritual books in the back of Integral Spirituality, so I'm curious what makes this, in his assessment, the most important spiritual book yet published in the postmodern world.


That's all I'll say for now; I'm still reading, and will return with a more thorough response once I've finished it.

Because it's written by his good buddy Andrew?

Balder said:

Concerning Wilber's endorsement of the book, in particular, it seems to me (so far) that this book would be subject to many of the same criticisms Wilber directed at other spiritual books in the back of Integral Spirituality, so I'm curious what makes this, in his assessment, the most important spiritual book yet published in the postmodern world.


That's all I'll say for now; I'm still reading, and will return with a more thorough response once I've finished it.

Interesting discussion so far. Balder, I've been reading the book too. About halfway through with it now. Yes there's definitely a narcissistic pinch to the philosophy. Although it's talking about the transcendent, this egoic flavor, for me, stops it short of really being a good transporter into the transpersonal (so to speak).

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