The future Swami Chetananda was born as J. Michael Shoemaker. He studied with different teachers. Most of them are dead, so we cannot get their testimony about how wonderful he was as a student.
Here are some of the teachers he claims to have learned from.
Of those Shoemaker sought wisdom from, he found the most significant were Swami Rudi and Swami Muktananda. Both were disciples of Nityananda.
Shoemaker met Rudi [Albert Rudolph] in New York City in 1971. Rudi told Shoemaker about an experience he had at age 6 in a park in NYC.
Two Tibetan lamas appeared out of thin air. They put several large clay jars inside his body. They told Rudi that the energy and spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism were inside the jars. The jars would open when he was 31, and he would assimilate their content for the rest of his life.
Rudi never showed Shoemaker or anyone an x-ray of the jars inside his body. But we have Rudi’s good word about them.
Rudi told Shoemaker about other miracles. Rudi met Nityananda at his ashram in Ganeshpuri. After Nityananda died in 1961, Rudi visited his shrine. Rudi explained, “He would step out of his tomb, and I would see him… This is the way my spiritual voyage began.”
Rudi was alone when the ghost of Nityananda made his appearance. While we have no witnesses, we have Rudi’s word.
After Nityananda stopped leaving his grave to see him, Rudi went to Swami Muktananda. He initiated Rudi into the Swami order.
Soon after, Rudi began teaching Shoemaker. But not long after he began, Rudi died in a plane crash in 1973.
After he died, Shoemaker claimed he was Rudi’s successor. Shoemaker fought with Rudi’s other disciples to take control of his legacy. He established the Rudrananda Ashram, Nityananda Institute to continue Rudi’s work.
In accepting Rudi as his guru, Shoemaker became part of the lineage of Nityananda.
Muktananda initiated him in 1978. Shoemaker became a swami, making the two vows of lifelong celibacy and poverty. Shoemaker changed his name to Swami Chetanananda.
The disciplic succession — Nityananda – Muktananda- Rudi – Shoemaker.
While Muktananda had great lessons to give his female disciples, and Rudi had miracles, the subject of our series, Shoemaker was not to be easily topped in either category.
In 1978. Shoemakler explained, he was teaching meditation in Bloomington, Indiana, when a goddess named Tripurasundarī came in a vision.
She transmitted her “essence mantra” to him. No one saw this. Some have scorned his pretensions to divinity. But we have something better than an eyewitness. We have his word for it.
This goddess came and transmitted to him.
There is also the story of how Shoemaker could levitate into the air. A portrait of Shoemaker levitating hangs in the Movement Center. While no one has seen him levitate, we have his word for it. And the picture as proof.
Like Muktananda, some students Shoemaker conferred his penile blessings on could not keep it secret.
In 2008, 11 former students described their experiences with Shoemaker.
Swami Chetanananda: An Open Letter from 11 Former Members
“We sacrificed a great deal to stay close to the guru: we relinquished close ties to family members and old friends, changed jobs and degree paths, ended marriages and partnerships or entered into them at Swami Chetanananda’s suggestion; we sold homes and delayed planning for our own financial security in order to pay for his programs and community projects….
“Most of us left the ashram after discovering… his lying, cheating, and manipulation; his rampant sexual misconduct with female students – including adultery and having sex with the daughters of his students; his secret use of alcohol, cocaine, and prostitutes; his behind-the-scenes displays of violence and anger; the egregious fundraising manipulations by him and his staff; his luxurious life-style attained at the expense of devotees; his terrifying threats to students who spoke openly about his private life; and the endless cover-up of all the above abusive behaviors….
“He told us that the only thing we had to surrender was our tensions, when in fact we were expected to surrender… our families, our girlfriends if we were men, our bodies if we were women, our daughters’ bodies if we were parents, our money, our former religious beliefs and morals….
“For many years, he told us he was celibate, even though he had sex with most of his female students… Even now, he conceals the extent of his predatory sexual exploits from the ashram community…
“Swami Chetanananda regularly told his young women students that they were not destined to marry or have a fulfilling relationship in their lives (aside from the one with him). He told numerous young women that they should not have children or that their children would be born deformed… He told women students that sex with him was safe and would advance their spiritual lives. He regularly broke up relationships.”
It was clear these 11 did not understand Shoemaker’s exalted spiritual teachings.
Either that or they thought he was using his position to take advantage of women.
Others wrote about Shoemaker.
One wrote, “Michael Shoemaker had a special meditation for me within a week of my moving in. That was forcing me to fuck him in the meditation room, after which he told me if I let anyone else know, my spiritual gift from him would be taken away… I lived in the house with… girls in a room with four sets of bunk beds… I soon found out Michael had his pick of whomever he wanted to fuck every night.”
She also recalled Shoemaker’s guru, Rudi.
“When Rudi came to town, it was ‘men only time.’ I later found out that Rudi was homosexual. It was a gay orgy. On other occasions, the other men teachers who were married shared their wives who were willing to participate in sex for enlightenment.”
Some women were not as advanced and had to wait longer than a week before they were ready.
One said she lived in the ashram for less than four months. She received an invitation from Swami Chetanananda to attend dinner at his apartment.
He told her, “Please don’t mention this to anyone, as I am trying to keep it simple.”
“I was nervous about this invitation,” she said. “And wondered who the other guests would be. As it would turn out, I was the only guest.”
It was a spiritual feast.
She said, “There was no food when I arrived, the lights were off, and he soon picked me up and took me to his bedroom.”
It is unclear if she realized this special session had a divine purpose.
“I have not even mentioned the drugs I was exposed to countless times,” a woman wrote. “these were to help me ‘open’… I figured my partaking in them was part of my service to my guru.”
Another wrote, “Michael Shoemaker raped me in the meditation room.”
Some deny it happened, since Shoemaker is a celibate monk.
Others may deny it because Shoemaker did not ask them.
One woman said, “If he hasn’t hit you up for sex, you are just not his type.”
One person told FR, “Shoemaker blew the sex part when he introduced the BDSM stuff. And drugs that landed his partners in the hospital, or WORSE.”
One woman died.
Dan lived for three years at the Ashram in Portland, Oregon, with his wife.
“I can confirm these bad behaviors. He did it to several women I knew personally… When he tried to sleep with my wife, we left… Many of our friends left a year or two after once they had their own terrible experiences.”
Michael Shoemaker has taught the highest wisdom for over 50 years. Critics call him the Salami Swami.
He also has the title Strangulation Swami.
This is due to women reporting that the selfless guru cannot get an erection unless he strangles a woman.
Throttling a woman until she loses breath and hits the floor can bring enlightenment.
Not all disciples get this privilege.
One woman wrote to FR, “I lived at the movement center for years. If Swami Chetananda didn’t try to lure you in, you weren’t his type. He liked very specific women, mostly younger.”
Some who correspond with Frank Report do not see the higher nature of his teachings. Someone said, “four decades of this is called a pattern.”
One said he is “a toxic predatory cult leader.”
Another wrote, “I taught Yoga at TMC for three years. What a huge mistake. I saw one of my friends and peers, one who was intimate with him, completely come unhinged and almost die from suicide. After that a lot of teachers quit at once, never to return.”
Some took to sarcasm.
“If the Swami has too much of a grip, he will castrate himself.”
And, “I must confess I’m into being strangulated by a limp dick old Swami for his erotic pleasure. And he says it will relieve me of bad karma too. Good deal.”
Women have contacted Frank Report to tell their stories.
They speak of their traumatic experiences with Shoemaker. Or those of others they knew.
One woman is in the hospital today. Another woman drowned under mysterious circumstances. Another almost died when he strangled her too long, but he did get an erection.
But no one has yet come forward to explain how he is helping these women. For now, we only have Shoemaker’s word for it.