A Life Of

Learning, Relating and Gratitude

With Linesh Sheth


About Andrew Cohen

It was around year 2000, i realized that my meditation practices were becoming repetitive. After doing practices i will feeling energetic fresh and exuberent. i began to think that my meditation had become something like a mental exercise in which one always comes out renewed like a footballer or tennis sport person i began to doubt whether this can be ultimate motive of meditation. I began to search for a breakthrough from my routine.

It was during such a period tha i accidentally came across three pocket books with mystical titles like "Who am I", "Absolute Relationship to Life", "What Is Enlightment". When i read those books i found here was a teacher i was looking for. The name was Andrew Cohen. (Ref: www.andrewcohen.com)

In those days it was difficult for me to trace an author in the world as i was yet unfamilier with Google. Suddenly there was an annoucement in newspaper that Andrew Cohen was visiting india. I atteneded his lectures and he invited me to join him at Rishikesh for two weeks on a meditation retreat in Feb 2000. Later i again attended his retreat at Nice in France, for further two weeks after a gap of two years. During the period i mediatated with him, along with learner from nearly 28 countries.

I learnt:

1. The Tenets of Meditation.

2. Five fundamental Tenets of Enlightment.

3. The Psychology of Liberation.

4. Movement of force of life towards higher ends with enlightened goals of life.

My meditative practices began to change drastically. The level of focus and my mindscape gain a tendency to move from local to cosmic. The energy levels of life changed. The outlook towards life got enlarged. Life began to be more integral and unitive. Circumtances began to reorder as if there was synchronicity at work. I realise that i was transcending old limits and was entering a new era of life.

Since, then the doors of new experiences are going on opening as life is passing by. This was the importance of entry of Andrew Cohen in my life.

Andrew Cohen visited my home to be with gathering of my family and friends in the year 2012. My whole family knew Andrew because of my frequent references about him. Attached are some of the photographs taken during the gathering in Feb 2012.

Five tenets of Andrew Cohen

The goal of spiritual life is to live free of the mind. The spiritual life boils down to two things: meditation and contemplation.

Meditation is the experience of being beyond the mind, free of thought, which is a revelation for the individual because normally, we are habituated to a constant thought stream. Meditation is being conscious, aware, free of the mind. Then I realize that I’m not what I thought I was because I see thoughts out there.

Contemplation is intense, focused pursuit of truth. Here we use the mind to help us discriminate between true and false.

Meditation is willingness to become simple, letting everything be. During meditation, everything slows down-reaching deep within, we experience bliss, peace, joy. And an infinite space.

Enlightenment dawns when we want nothing. Normally, there is a tyranny of wanting. But, clearly, no object can give us eternal happiness. Liberation is stopping the endless seeking of gratification.

The spiritual questions are: Who am I, beyond personality, beyond gender? How shall I live? In deep meditation when I need nothing, I know nothing, that is what I really am. But human life demands action. As long as we breathe, we have to act, live in the world of cause and effect, make choices. A spiritually minded person cares about the right thing for its own sake, not for personal merit. This is where contemplation comes in.

How to do the right thing? There are five tenets of spiritual life which help in making the right choice.

1. Clarity of Intention

The first tenet, Clarity of Intention, is the foundation of the authentic spiritual life. It states that in order to succeed in liberating yourself from fear, ignorance, and self-deception, you have to have no doubt whatsoever that you want to be free more than anything else right now.

Explanation: An intense desire to be free more than anything else

I want to be liberated, be sane in an insane world. If so, this desire should be more important than spouse, children, success, wealth. Make it your anchor. The desire to know the truth should be cultivated to the extent that it determines all choices. It takes courage to not conform to the status quo.

2. The Law of Volitionality

The second tenet, The Law of Volitionality, tells us that if we want to be free more than anything else we have to be willing to accept responsibility for everything that we are doing and for the consequences of any and all experiences that have happened to us in the past.

Explanation: Consciously renouncing the victim mentality

We’re not victims of our experience. Secretly or not, we feel like victims, even those who in the world’s eyes have been very fortunate: ‘Oh, I’ve had such a hard time.’ But even if we suffered, in the present moment we decided to be free. A victim is helpless. It is a neurotic habit to take refuge in victim consciousness. A person who wants to be free rejects it and takes full responsibility for all life, all karma. Only one person makes choices—Me. I’m the only one doer.

3. Face Everything and Avoid Nothing

The third tenet is the ultimate form of spiritual practice, and it is called Face Everything and Avoid Nothing.

Explanation: Face everything and avoid nothing

This is very demanding. Normally we face little and avoid a lot—like a horse with blinkers on. It needs stoicism and great courage to face everything and avoid nothing.

4. the Truth of Impersonality

The fourth tenet states that every aspect of the human experience is a completely impersonal affair. It tells us that the personal sphere, the personal narcissistic self-sense that is ego, is created moment by moment through the compulsive and mechanical personalization of almost every thought, feeling, and experience we have.

Explanation: Every aspect of our personal experience is impersonal

Over the years in my experience as a spiritual teacher I have met so many people. But I have come to realize that there is only one person, only one human condition. We imagine that what we experience is unique to us. But experience—whether of love or fear or lust—is identical with everybody, though the intensity may vary. Experience is universal. So, if we step back, we stop identifying with our experience. Then, nothing personal is left. The awareness of universal nature of life leads to universal consciousness.

5. For the Sake of the Whole

The fifth tenet points us to the highest and most wholesome context for the aspiration for liberation. That context is for the sake of the whole. Why is it that you would want to be free with such passion and intensity? It's not merely for your own liberation. It's for the transformation of the whole world, for the enlightenment of the whole universe, for the evolution of consciousness itself.

Explanation: Giving up the materialistic relationship to life

Generally I live for myself. Even spiritual growth I want for myself. I want my enlightenment for myself. In fact, many seekers are, if not more, as materialistic and self-centered as non-spiritual people. True spirituality is to give up everything and live for the sake of the whole. We normally want freedom from suffering, but there is more to spiritual life than bliss.

How Andrew Cohen's teachings influenced my life

I first learnt meditation from Mahesh Yogi during the year 1976. I became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation(TM) taught by him. I started practicing TM daily for about 20 to 25 minutes.

My first concept about meditation was that it is a tool for relaxation. I thought, it was useful for efficiency and to remain with less stress in daily life. I did not think then that there was more to meditation than relaxation. This view was based on my ignorance. It was a very restricted view merely concerned with body and mind.

I went on practicing meditations until i felt, at one point, that my practices were becoming positively repetitive in the sense that every time i was feeling energetic, exuberant and pleased with myself, and nothing more. When i discovered that even sport persons feel the same way after their practices, I began to enquire deeper into the dimensions of meditation that i was unaware of.

I felt there has to be something higher than the feelings i was experiencing. It was at that point that i came across Andrew Cohen's teachings of enlightened relationship to life.It had a little mystical touch. I attended Andrew's retreat in the year 2000 in Rishikesh. I came to understand mystical dimensions of meditation that had something to do with experiences beyond relaxation and expansion of force.

Andrew called it evolutionary dimension of breaking the old limits to experience enlightenment. I could not understand the implicit significance of that statement but i wanted to launch myself into that direction. Slowly i began to feel that i was emerging out of the old experiences. I was learning new things. New ideas were entering my vision of things. I thought that i had more to do, more to give, more to discover than my present experiences.

Life was taking a new turn internally. I felt that i was introduced to something new which was mystical but useful and yet unknown to me. Today i think that my present state of meditation practices are signitficantly different in their approach and discoveries than what i began with. I think my contact with Andrew Cohen has a lot to do with this.

Linesh Sheth