The Five Obstacles to Enlightenment
A Six Part Course
For People at the Third Stage of Life
What is the course about?
Spiritual transformation is possible at any age, but this course, The Five Obstacles to Enlightenment, is designed specifically for people at the third and fourth stages of life.
As we enter the later stages of life, we are in a unique position. We’ve lived through the endless dramas of the small self countless times, and we’ve developed a kind of wisdom that can only be gained through lived experience.
In postmodern culture, these stages of life are tragically undervalued. I have developed this course because I believe that those of us in the third and fourth stages of life have a unique and untapped potential.
I believe that the evolution of culture depends upon mature, awakened individuals taking a heroic degree of responsibility, at the deepest level, for evolution itself. This kind of deep maturity only really comes with age and experience.
That’s why I believe that spiritually committed men and women at the later stages of life have the greatest natural potential to become shining examples of conscious evolution. In order to break the regressive cycle of postmodern narcissism and flatland materialism, we urgently need to come together.
What if together we could begin to transform culture itself, and to redefine what it means to be an older person? What if we could become so spiritually powerful that we could hold out a light in the darkness, and set an example for subsequent generations to follow?
If you've been on a spiritual path for a long time, and you still haven't given up on the utopian promise of enlightenment, this course is for you.
The course will include teachings on:
- The five main obstacles to enlightenment, and specifically how they impact us in the later stages of life.
- The five central tenets that allow us to overcome those obstacles.
- How to practice both direct and gradual approaches to enlightenment.
- The practice of meditation, and why enlightenment and meditation are one and the same.
- The process perspective, and why it is essential to understanding and practicing evolutionary spirituality.
- The pivotal role of spiritual friendships in radical or transformative spiritual practice.
There will be six sessions in total beginning 17th August and concluding 21st September 2019. The course comprises 6x 150 minute classes: a one hour talk, breakout groups, and a Q&A session.
Each session will consist of:
- 60 minute introductory talk by Andrew
- 45 minutes of guided group discussion
- 45 minutes of discussion with Andrew
Each session will take place on a Saturday at:
8am PST • 11am EST • 4pm GMT • 5pm CEST • 8:30pm Indian Standard Time.
Session One (Aug 17th 2019)
From Doubt to Faith
As you enter the third stage of life, wouldn’t you naturally assume that the conditions for enlightenment are better than ever?
You have more time to devote to the evolution of consciousness, you have more life experience and maturity, and you’ve been doing this for many years. Shouldn’t you be more enlightened now than you’ve ever been before?
So why doesn’t it seem to work that way? What’s the problem? Why are you still preoccupied with things that you know in your soul are ultimately irrelevant?
We all experience this pain. When you’ve been on the spiritual path for a long time and you haven’t had the breakthrough you’re looking for, it can be horribly disheartening. The truth is, a life lived without meaning is painful, and we all look for relief in things that seem comforting and familiar.
Something has happened to you without you realising it. Over time, almost imperceptibly, doubt has begun to quench the fire that once burned brightly in your heart. You have lost confidence and strength. Even if you know enlightenment is real, you have lost faith in your own ability to access what it promises.
There’s something that I have learned in my many years as a teacher, and also by living through and confronting my own “dark night of the soul”: the most fearsome enemy of enlightenment is doubt. It’s a pernicious enemy, often masquerading as our friend – and this is why it so often overwhelms us.
If we are really serious about becoming enlightened in this lifetime, we need to discover and cultivate a doubtless intention to want to be free more than anything else. We need to know what we really want. More often than not we think we know what we want, but how many of us have interrogated this question deeply? I mean, really deeply?
When we know how to practice this process of deep self-enquiry, we move past doubt and rediscover the miraculous truth that the best part of us always wants to be free more than anything else, and that we are in fact already free.
In an instant, doubt is banished and replaced with a doubtless faith that reaches way beyond the relative. We discover and cultivate an absolute trust in our own capacity to realise and express freedom, because we see directly that it is our natural condition.
In this teaching, I will talk in great depth about this movement from doubt to faith, and I’ll talk about why, on an authentic spiritual path, this is really the foundation of everything.
Session Two (Aug 24th 2019)
From Victim to Hero
Part one of this teaching was about doubt as the enemy of enlightenment. In part two, we will speak about another consequence of doubt, and one that can ultimately undermine your every step on the spiritual path.
As we approach the later stages of life, despite the wealth of our experience and our emotional maturity, doubt can erode our deepest values and principles. We can lose conviction and become cynical.
When we doubt the strength of our own conviction, we lose touch with our ability to choose our own spiritual destiny. We stop taking responsibility. And when we don’t consciously choose to take full responsibility for everything – past, present and future – we lose touch with awakened conscience.
If we’re not careful, victimhood can become our default position. Then, as we get older, we can begin to feel tragically indifferent towards life’s most heroic quest: pursuing the ultimate goal of enlightenment, the great and timeless mystery that lies beyond life and death.
Taking full responsibility for everything that has, will or could ever happen to us is one of the fundamental positions of freedom. But if we truly want to become liberated in this life, it’s even bigger than that.
We need to take heroic responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for the entire unfolding cosmic evolutionary process. We need to find the capacity in ourselves to become the biggest hero that it’s possible to be.
In Evolutionary Enlightenment I call this “enlightening the choosing faculty”, and in this teaching I will show you the profound power and importance of conscious choice.
I will show you how to take up the gauntlet and embark on the biggest journey of all: from time-bound victim to timeless, heroically liberated spiritual warrior.
Session Three (Aug 31st 2019)
From Fear to Courage
The third and fourth stages of life offer us a unique perspective on one of the most challenging aspects of what it means to be human. For the first time in our lives, we are starkly confronted with the truth of our own mortality.
In the early stages of our life, awareness of our mortality is a distant dream. It isn’t truly real to us. But as we age it begins to dawn on us, with ever greater insistence, that physical death lies ahead of us.
When faced with the inevitability of physical death, we are asked to come to terms, in an ultimate sense, with life itself and the totality of our experience.
It’s hard to overestimate the privilege of what it means to be born a human being. After nearly 14 billion years of cosmic evolution, in an inconceivably tiny corner of the vast cosmos, matter has become conscious. After unthinkable aeons of time, the universe is becoming self-aware through you.
That’s why it’s so important, from a spiritual perspective, to move from a fundamental position of fear in the face of what it means to be human, to a fundamental position of courage.
As human beings in the later stages of life, we have a unique opportunity to come to terms with life in an absolute sense. We finally have the opportunity to fearlessly face everything and avoid nothing as if our life depended on it.
In this teaching I want to show you why, in the third stage of life, spiritual realisation is more important than at any other time. I want to show you how moving from fear to courage, in the context of what it means to be human, is essential if we want to be free.
Session Four (Sep 7th 2019)
From Personal to Impersonal
In the early stages of life, we see all of our experience through a lens which is deeply personal. Everything is about the endless drama of our personal lives. Our whole relationship to life, for understandable reasons, is fundamentally self-centered.
But something begins to change as we enter the third and fourth stages of life. The dramas of our early life seem to lose their potency. We become more objective, and we start to naturally assume a bigger perspective on all of our experience.
You might assume that you’ve simply become older and wiser, but this shift is actually more significant than you may think. The movement away from a fundamentally personal view of reality is actually the beginning of a perceptual shift to what I call the process perspective.
The process perspective allows us to see ourselves not just as individual human beings with personal stories, but rather as part of a vast process of cosmic evolutionary unfolding. In this context, the story becomes infinitely bigger than us, and infinitely more compelling.
This is the journey from personal to impersonal, and in this talk I’m going to speak about the huge significance of the process perspective within the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment.
Session Five (Sep 14th 2019)
From You to God
What is the ultimate motive for seeking enlightenment? Is it about feeling better? Is it about becoming happier? Is it about personal fulfilment?
The truth is, this is not about you. It’s never been about you. The call of spirit comes from the deepest part of the universe, and it is about fulfilling the ultimate will of God, or the absolute principle at the heart of reality.
As you enter the third stage of life, you have the opportunity to bring all of the beauty, truth and goodness that you have accumulated to this ultimate goal – not for your own sake, but for the sake of all sentient beings, for the sake of the evolution of the cosmos.
Can you relinquish your ego’s attachment to all of life so that you can become a vehicle through which the universe can become conscious? Can you surrender so completely that you become a living Bodhisattva?
The deepest reason for all of this is to make the journey from you to God, from “my will” to “thy will”. Ultimately we come to the realisation that, from an absolute perspective, they are one and the same.
In this final teaching, I’ll reveal why a fundamental shift of context from you to God is the ultimate spiritual practice. I’ll show you why the later stages of life provide the most ideal opportunity to finally commit to the spiritual path in a way that leaves no room for doubt.
Session Six (Sep 21st 2019)
Wrapping up • Next steps • Q&A
The concluding part will be an open question and answer session, during which you will be able to share the experiences and insights you've had over the six weeks of the course.
Your journey doesn't end with this session. I'll give you plenty of direction on how you can develop and sustain stability in your practice, and I'll also talk about the next steps you can take.
I hope you'll want to deepen your understanding and experience of Evolutionary Enlightenment, and there many ways you can continue to connect and stay in touch with other students and adepts to support your onward journey.
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The Five Obstacles to Enlightenment
Andrew Cohen's Evolutionary Enlightenment is considered by many to be the seminal text on evolutionary spirituality. Sign up for the course now and you'll receive a FREE audiobook of Evolutionary Enlightenment - the perfect study aid for the Five Obstacles to Enlightenment course.
Book your place on the course now to receive FREE access to the Evolutionary Enlightenment audiobook, and begin your journey right away.
“Andrew Cohen maps out a path to be the change we not only should want to see in the world but that we objectively and urgently need in the world. Whether we take his path or look to another, we should read what he has to say, for it is based on deep personal experience that has proven meaningful for thousands and thousands.”
— Ervin Laszlo, author of Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos
“If the fourteen-billion-year cosmic experiment that resulted in our lives is not to end in the next few centuries, it will require brave and brilliant steps in our spiritual evolution. With instruction at once tough and tender, Andrew Cohen gives us the inspiration and the means to accomplish the greatest of all endeavors for the human spirit. This is a spiritual masterpiece.”
– Jean Houston, PhD, author of A Mythic Life
What people are saying
Andrew Cohen's teachings are brilliant in their simplicity. I have been a spiritual seeker for 25 years, and have experimented with multiple teachings. I find Andrew's approach, temperament and commitment to be not only powerful, but also fully approachable. His dual approach of merging traditional spiritual teachings with evolutionary spirituality cuts through much confusion and distortion. Andrew Cohen is a truly inspiring teacher. Rudy
As a scholar, I live in a world where people are passionate about articulating the nature of the dual world. Andrew Cohen is different – he is pioneering the articulation of the non-dual and the inter-penetration of these two realities. There is quite simply no other teacher who can do this right now. In a loud and confusing spiritual marketplace, Andrew is the real thing. His transmission will change your life forever, if you let it. Sally
I feel a deep sense of honor and joy having been a part of Andrew's first Evolutionary Enlightenment online course. His stable and enlightened presence allows room for the full discovery of me in a relative sense and also provokes an ongoing and living desire in me for true freedom and liberation. Karen
Evolutionary Enlightenment was the recognition of my own deeply felt truth. Awakening to the absolute is one thing – staying awake and becoming a conscious agent of evolution takes something else. Andrew shook me up by detecting a flaw in my thinking that I didn’t realise was there. I had lost my ability to totally surrender. The Universe needs me to want to be here – I can embrace this fully now. Thank you Andrew for unwaveringly following your calling.Andrea
Reading Andrew's brilliantly written book "Evolutionary Enlightenment" took me on a wild journey beyond time and space, and helped me to envision an extraordinary collective future. But his physical presence at a recent teaching enabled me to reconcile the relative mortal self with the eternal Self Absolute, as partners in the bliss of infinite creativity. This wonderful, unique and very simple fusion of radical teaching and deep meditation changed my perception about dealing with daily life forever!Henk
With Evolutionary Enlightenment, Andrew Cohen continues where other Advaita teachers stop. His unique way is an integration of Being and Becoming. All that sitting on a cushion and tuning in to the silence and the void is beautiful. But there is more. Beyond the silence, we are also the relentless momentum of creation itself. Silence is no longer an end in itself, but a way of tuning in to that which longs to manifest through you. After numerous journeys with so many teachers, deep inside I can sense that this is so true.Erica
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