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Current Update as of September 19, 2004

Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Enlightenment Blues

Enlightenment Blues

(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.


There’s 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.

Often when I ask people when their relationships changed, they’ll say 10 years ago, or after the first few months. Werner Erhard used to talk about an experiment in which rats were given cheese at a certain point in a maze. Then the cheese was removed and yet the rats kept going back to that same place for the cheese. It was even worse when the cheese was occasionally there. Are we are like rats running back for that sensual reward that was once there? 


Andre 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 and co-dependent.

If Andre were willing, I would look at where he had been open to being "hooked," where there was a loop in him for a hook to sink into. After all, there were many people who heard Andrew Cohen who did not feel the need to give up the lives they were leading in order to become a meaningful part of his. So, I would question where the unfinished business of Andre’s childhood was resting. For instance, did he need a mentor/father figure that personified the unique potential he saw in himself but was unlike the more forceful or rigid father he had internalized?

From a Cayce perspective, following a leader, such as Andrew, would be suspect. Cayce, a Christian mystic, didn’t even like to channel entities. He believed in strengthening our relationship with our Creator. He often referred to Jesus Christ as our older brother and role model.

Andrew’s devotees saw themselves as the apostles. It seems relevant to note that the apostles made their mark in history, as well, though it was through recording the works of Jesus. Andre actually was instrumental in facilitating the book of Andrew’s teachings, though without any appreciation, with considerable abuse, and without acknowledgement.

The seduction for Andre was being recognized, considered special. He didn’t see this happening in the regular world. How many of us truly feel seen or understood? Apparently there is a mechanism in the human brain that creates longing, and that longing is ultimately satisfied by connection with the creator.

I think Andre was led by this longing but he was also searching for outside validation in order to find peace inside. Most of us may need that but we don’t necessarily join groups such as Andrew’s. Most of us find solace in romantic relationships and in business, and it’s here that we’re likely to confront the issue of seduction, feeling deceived, being deceived, or being a deceiver.

There were rabbis who were brought to Los Angeles during the 1970’s in order to confront the issue of why so many young Jews were joining cults. What was discovered is that the lack of strong religious affiliation or convictions within the family of origin was creating a need for these people to see that connection elsewhere.

And later, when the Dahli Lama met with the rabbis to find out how they kept their people together in Diaspora, he was asked to supply the answer as to why so many Jews became Buddhists. Judaism was not making its spiritual path available. Heeding the Dahli Lama, the rabbis made Kabbalah study more accessible. (See The Jew In the Lotus, by Roger Kamenetz)You no longer needed to be 40 years old, male, married, or to ask a rabbi three times. Still, it required work.

Who isn’t enticed by the promise of instant enlightenment, which is what Andrew Cohen offered? Similarly, what makes Rabbi Berg’s Kabbalah Centre, which Madonna has made famous, such a popular place to study Kabbalah, despite its cloudy reputation? First, Rabbi Berg’s Centre is fun. Whether it’s true or not, everything is given significance, and there’s instant gratification, though at a monetary price. There you need only purchase and scan the very expensive Zohar, and you’re promised your life will change. Running your fingers along the page is a whole lot faster and easier than deep study, and there may well be some immediate resonance with the act.

For $26 you too can buy the red string (you’ll see Madonna wearing it) to ward off evil. Also, it’s inclusive. It doesn’t matter what your religion; anyone can come into the shop and buy Kabbalah water, or purchase the names of God, or attend classes. You’re immediately part of the community.

In an abusive relationship, there is generally a point where something turns. The good that lured one begins to darken. Looking back we can spot red flags, even where we saw them and chose to ignore them because the desire for what we wanted was greater than what we chose to ignore.

As a psychic, I can point out where the red flags were and why the client may have overlooked them. The purpose would be to own the whole experience, integrate it, release it and not recreate it.

One of the red flags with The Kabbalah Centre is its immediate gratification for a considerable monetary price. Yet it does offer considerable spiritual insight, primarily about love and sharing. It’s when you relinquish yourself for the illusion of what some organization says it has the power to offer that you’re in trouble.

Cayce talked about cooperation, about each person setting an ideal and looking to see how one’s thoughts and behavior measured up to that ideal. He encouraged reading scripture, to learn from the sages and to apply our learning daily. In fact, he counseled people to be "long suffering," a term that conflicts with our desires for immediate happiness.

I take "long suffering" to mean staying with my principles despite whatever currents may be shifting. The I-Ching often encourages us to take no outward action but to keep right attitude and await the changes that will inevitably occur if we maintain proper thinking and being. So Cayce also encouraged us to become more spiritual. Becoming something implies a process.

In writing this article, I’ve been asked to posit how we might empathize with Andre rather than judge him or see his life as something completely separate from our own. What I see is the need to be loved and accepted by someone of quality, or renown.

In any community, no matter how great their purpose, there is the reality of personalities clashing. Twelve step programs speak to that especially, cautioning seekers to follow principles rather than personal issues.

Cayce said we were here to learn cooperation, and ultimately to become soul mates with everyone. No matter what situation you find yourself in, you have that opportunity. The higher the supposed calling, perhaps the bigger the shadow or the cloud that can build around it.

There’s an illusion that other people don’t have to struggle, that they have self-esteem, security, whatever the issue. Living in Los Angeles, I’ve seen the cover of People Magazine with the glossy picture of perfection and the inside story suggesting the cover girl had it all together. The unairbrushed reality was actually quite different, but if you didn’t know the person, you bought the illusion.

If only I had that, whatever that may be, then my life would work. If only I could fall in love and mate the way Andre did, then my life would be….If I were close to someone famous, or had the glow of that fame, that approval, then I’d feel as if I were at the center of something, as if my life had meaning.

Andre’s mission now may be to create a sense of the sacred in life without having to go outside himself for the center. He is still processing his experience and perhaps reeling from the abuse he allowed himself to undergo. Ultimately, the betrayal is about our betraying ourselves. People can do what they do but more important for us is to see where we got hooked, what steps we hoped to bypass in order to find an easier, softer way. And ultimately our freedom rests in forgiveness and release.

Currently, and like an abused spouse, the author recounts his story as if to make it real for himself and to reveal an underside that he hopes will save us from going down the same path.

Pascal said most of our problems stem from an inability to sit quietly alone in a room. Perhaps that has something to do with the nature of being human? We are, however, able to look within and to perceive on numerous levels.

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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

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