Andrew Cohen is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, cultural visionary, and founder of the global nonprofit EnlightenNext and its award-winning publication EnlightenNext magazine. Since 1986, Cohen has traveled the world giving public lectures and leading intensive retreats. Through his writings, teachings, and ongoing dialogues with leading philosophers, scientists, and mystics, he became known as one of the defining voices of the new evolutionary spirituality. In 2013, Cohen was listed as #23 onWatkins’ Mind-Body-Spirit magazine’s annual list of the “Top 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.”
“Andrew Cohen is a truly remarkable spiritual teacher on the cutting edge of evolutionary thinking and action. He is playing an invaluable leadership role in the emergence of evolutionary spirituality: an integrity-based, deeply meaningful approach to life grounded in our best scientific understandings of cosmic, Earth, biological, and human history. Andrew’s writings and teachings are destined to make a real difference in the world.” —Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution
Born in New York City in 1955 and raised in a secular Jewish family, Cohen had his passion for spirit unexpectedly ignited at the age of sixteen, when a spontaneous revelation of “cosmic consciousness” opened his eyes to a new dimension of life. Some years later, as a result of that experience, he gave up aspirations to become a musician and dedicated himself wholeheartedly to its rediscovery.
After several years of intensive spiritual pursuit in the United States, including the study of martial arts, Kriya Yoga, and Buddhist meditation, Cohen followed the footsteps of a generation of Western seekers to India. It was there, in the land of the sages, that he met his last teacher H.W.L. Poonja, a disciple of the revered Ramana Maharshi, in 1986. In just a few short weeks, Cohen experienced a life-changing awakening, the story of which was told in his first book, My Master Is My Self.
Shortly afterwards, with his teacher’s blessing, Cohen began to teach.
Always an independent thinker, Cohen soon diverged from the traditional Eastern approach that had catalyzed his own awakening, with its emphasis on transcendence and the illusory nature of the phenomenal world. Grappling with questions and challenges that arose as he sought to bring the revelation of enlightenment to a contemporary Western audience, he gradually forged his own original spiritual teaching, Evolutionary Enlightenment.
Cohen’s work is no footnote to tradition, but a distinct and innovative synthesis. He has brought the timeless depth of enlightened wisdom into the twenty-first century and significantly redirected its purpose and promise—calling not for transcendence of worldly attachment, or even for compassionate care and service, but for a deep and heroic responsibility for the evolution of the world. In this, he finds more in common with the great evolutionary visionaries of the last century, such as Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, than he does with the ancient Eastern enlightenment tradition in which his own awakening occurred. To both these streams of thought he adds a further element: a rich and nuanced understanding of the practical dynamics of individual and cultural transformation at our particular moment in history.
“Andrew Cohen is the most precise teacher of the essence of spiritual conscious evolution and its social contribution. He has identified the impulse of evolution as our own subjective yearning to create, and he has given us ways of cultivating that creativity as a spiritual path toward authentic selfhood. This is the growing edge of spiritual/social evolution and he is on it.” —Barbara Marx Hubbard, author of Conscious Evolution
Cohen’s interest in cultural evolution is much more than theoretical. For more than two decades he intensively engaged with committed individuals and groups from around the world who strove to put his teachings into practice. This engagement has, in turn, informed his thinking, creating a dynamic and fertile interplay between vision and practice, ideal and reality.
Among the many fruits of this work, perhaps the most significant has been a series of breakthroughs into collective or intersubjective higher states of consciousness, and the values, perspectives, and principles that are enabling individuals to lay the foundations for a new cultural paradigm. The results of this living inquiry are embraced and shared by a growing global movement of “Evolutionaries.”
In addition to his work as a teacher, Cohen has also been dedicated to changing the cultural conversation about the purpose and significance of spiritual enlightenment in our time. This is best seen in the magazine he founded in 1991, EnlightenNext (formerly What Is Enlightenment?), which became the premier forum for serious discussion at the intersection of spirituality and culture. In its pages, and the live forums that grew out of them, Cohen and his team of collaborators engaged with spiritual, religious, cultural, and scientific thought leaders in a dynamic inquiry about the nature of inner and outer evolution.
Since the end of the magazine’s publication in 2010, Cohen has continued to pursue the intersection of his own evolving spiritual insights with the edge of progressive culture, contributing to many popular websites, including The Huffington Post, BigThink, and Patheos, and his work has been featured in print publications such as The Times of India, Complete Wellbeing magazine, and Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine. Cohen has also continued to develop his dialogues with integral philosopher Ken Wilber, to explore the emerging edge of spirituality in the 21st century.
Cohen’s unusual perspective and commitment to dialogue have led to invitations to speak at numerous forums over the years, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2004, 2009), LOHAS International Conference, International Transpersonal Conference, Integral Leadership in Action, and the International Conference on the Frontiers of Yoga and Consciousness Research, as well as universities, spiritual centers, and business settings around the world. He currently lives in Massachusetts.