Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher and visionary thinker widely recognized for his original contribution to the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. Through his talks, retreats, publications, and ongoing dialogues with the leading philosophers, mystics, and activists of our time, he is becoming a defining voice in an international alliance of individuals and organizations who are committed to the transformation of human consciousness and culture.
Cohen's original spiritual teaching for life in the twenty-first century, Evolutionary Enlightenment, places the traditional realization of enlightenment in the context of fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution. As a vocal critic of the extreme individualism that characterizes much of contemporary spirituality, Cohen is awakening in people around the world a purpose for living that far transcends egoism: namely, a moral obligation to wholeheartedly participate in the evolution of consciousness itself. He travels extensively each year, lecturing and leading retreats on Evolutionary Enlightenment throughout the United States, Europe, India, Israel, and Australia. In his pursuit of a contemporary redefinition of the spiritual life, Cohen has sought out religious leaders and spiritual teachers around the world to inquire into many of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. He was a featured speaker on the future of religion at the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions, has given talks on authentic leadership to major corporations, and is also a founding member of philosopher Ken Wilber's Integral Institute.
As an author, Cohen has expressed his teachings in a number of books, including My Master Is My Self (1989), Enlightenment Is a Secret (1991), and Embracing Heaven & Earth (2000). His most recent publication, Living Enlightenment: A Call for Evolution Beyond Ego (2002), was praised by cosmologist Brian Swimme for its "simple, searing wisdom connecting religious ideas about enlightenment with the scientific understanding of an evolutionary cosmos." Cohen is currently writing a new book on Evolutionary Enlightenment to be released in 2006.
The founder and editor in chief of the international, award-winning magazine What Is Enlightenment?, Cohen is dedicated to creating "nothing less than a revolution in consciousness and culture." Since 1991, Cohen and his small team of editors have met with mystics and materialists, physicists and philosophers, activists and athletes in an effort to create a popular forum for dialogue and inquiry regarding the meaning of human life in the postmodern era. Converting to a more mainstream, quarterly magazine format with its twenty-fourth issue, WIE has grown beyond the limits of its printed pages, spawning an international speakers series called Voices from the Edge, an online multimedia forum known as WIE Unbound, and a partnership with the Connecticut-based Graduate Institute (TGI) to offer an accredited master's program in Conscious Evolution. Recent contributors to WIE include H.H. the Dalai Lama, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Carlos Santana, Ken Wilber, Don Beck, Ray Kurzweil, Howard Bloom, Thomas de Zengotita, Elisabet Sahtouris, Robert Wright, Duane Elgin, Dadi Janki, and Andrei Codrescu, among many others.
Cohen was born in New York City in 1955. Raised as an atheist, his life was irrevocably changed by a spontaneous revelation of "cosmic consciousness" at the age of sixteen. Haunted by the experience, Cohen eventually abandoned his dream of becoming a jazz drummer and, at the age of twenty-two, began seeking spiritual enlightenment. Moving from the study of martial arts to Kriya Yoga to Buddhism, Cohen's search finally came to an end in 1986 when he met the Indian master of Advaita Vedanta H.W.L. Poonja. Shortly after this life-transforming encounter, and with the encouragement of his guru (with whom he later parted ways philosophically), Cohen began to teach.
Spiritual mentor to hundreds of students worldwide, Cohen founded EnlightenNext in 1988, a nonprofit educational and spiritual organization dedicated to pushing the edge of progressive culture. In addition to an expanding network of individuals and groups around the world, EnlightenNext has public centers in New York, Boston, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, and Rishikesh, India. The main center for EnlightenNext is a 220-acre retreat venue in western Massachusetts, where Cohen and his largest body of students currently reside.