Michael Shoemaker claims to be a swami. The Swamis are said to be the oldest order of monks in the world. Buddha is said to have been a swami some 2500 years ago, and the order was considered ancient then.
Swamis usually wear ochre robes and are called sannyasins. The country of origin is India, and the religion is Hindu.
Swami is derived from Sanskrit and means “one with the Self.”
Depiction of Buddha with his ochre robes.
The first swami known to have come to the west was Swami Vivekananda in 1893. This is known because he attracted media attention when he attended the Parliament of Religions connected to the World’s Fair in Chicago.
Vivekananda initiated several westerners into the order, including a French woman and a Jewish man. Since then, numerous Westerners have donned the ochre robes and called themselves Swami.
When an individual enters the swami order, they take a monastic name. Shoemaker assumed the name Swami Chetanananda. Almost all Swami’s monastic names end in ‘ananda,’ meaning “bliss.”
“Chetan” means “conscious.”
From what I gather, Swami Chetanananda has had a lot of conscious bliss. It may be true that many of his disciples have experienced the bliss of association with him – although perhaps with a little less consciousness.
But some paint a picture of a hedonistic man with deep sexual appetites, running toward sado-masochism. Women describe him as a man who consciously hurts people while enjoying sadistic pleasure.
This is invidious without putting on the garb of the Swami. But that gives him his edge, it seems.
Since the time of Vivekananda, people in the west have believed the swamis held some secret mystical knowledge that they could share.
In India, this belief has been ongoing for millennia.
People have attributed supernatural and psychic powers to the swamis, from levitation to becoming invisible, then materializing somewhere else, conquering the aging process, and seeing the future and the past from the beginning to the end of time.
One Swami I recall was the miraculous Satya Sai Baba. He materialized amulets, rings, watches, and pendants seemingly out of thin air and holy ash from his fingertips. He could produce cosmic eggs made of crystal from his stomach by regurgitation.
Swooning devotees felt that the cosmos had opened and blessed them when he shared these treasures. But technology advanced, and the Swami was filmed with high-definition cameras. It turned out he was producing these items by sleight of hand. He hid jewelry in the sleeves of his robes and holy ashes in a capsule between his fingers, picked up under a stack of envelopes.
Even after this exposure, his popularity did not diminish. He died with literally millions of followers.
Unlike Kruckman, Swami Sai Baba did not prey on attractive women and strangle them. Instead, the holy man raped underage boys. More than 30 of them came out publicly but that did not stop the millions from worshipping the guru.
No, Chetanananda is not unique.
The Swami Chetanananda allows his students to learn from him through traditional fire sacrifices and then a select group makes personal sacrifices to his fiery lust.Shoemaker, AKA Swami Chetanananda, has capitalized on this dynamic. He teaches yoga and meditation. He has a meditation where a group of students gather around him and gaze into his eyes. He calls this “eyes open meditation.” He says this teaches them profound truths and elevates them to higher consciousness. He interprets the scriptures and speaks of tantric yoga.
He can help someone halt the wheel of karma and stop rounds of endless birth and death associated with the struggling soul’s quest for perfection but doomed to reincarnate on earth again and again.
Earnest women seeking to learn these high truths are captivated by the guru who knows the answers to life’s mysteries.
He has the answer to death and pain and suffering. He is a man who promises that he is conscious of an existence beyond the body, beyond “all heavens and earths and hells, all hopes and fears,” and he can take them there.
And when the woman is young and attractive, he takes them to his bedroom.
“You can continuously choose to discover and live in a finer realm than the one you travel in,” Chetanananda said.
Then he tells a woman to take off her clothes, ties her up, or strangles her until she loses consciousness.
His female followers, who have stayed with him over the years, know his proclivities. They tell each other that the swami’s cures imbalances and rids them of bad karma.
Chetanananda claims to know the past lives of the people who come to him. His strangling them is a mercy. He plies them with drugs or requires them to have sex any time he demands. But these actions are not those of a selfish sex addict but the compassion of a divine teacher. Some of his followers believe he is the incarnation of the divine—the embodiment of that spirit of joyous consciousness that is eternal.
He is one with the Self. He knows best. And women surrender their judgment to him, judging him all-knowing.
If strangling, urinating in their mouth, hanging them upside down, beating with a bat, using meth or cocaine, or participating in sex with other women with him is what they need for enlightenment, they do it.
He knows best.
If someone goes to the hospital on a stretcher with oxygen, jumps off a bridge, or becomes drug-addicted, it is excusable. Only the swami knows how much worse it would have been had he not done this.
He saved her loads of bad karma. Indeed if she died, as some have by following him, it was because compassionate swami was saving her lifetimes of sorrowful rebirth.
Since he knows all, those who follow him rely on a promise. He cannot be questioned.
The women who live with him reinforce this. They work to bring more women into his circle.
Recently Frank Report posted a contrarian view of Swami Chetanananda – a view that women are adults who make informed consensual decisions. The article is: Magoo: Students Consent to Joyful Sex With Kinky Swami
A commenter who read this, shared with me her response to the story:
She began by quoting the Medieval writer Christine de PIzan, 1404
“There is no greater sorrow for women than rape….. It troubles and grieves me greatly to hear men say that many women want to be raped” – Christina de Pizan, Le Livre de la Cite de Dames, 1404 (Please note the year this was written was 1404).
Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police.
That means more than 2 out of 3 go unreported. https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system
Hate-filled opinions, like those expressed in this Frank Report article, Magoo: Students Consent to Joyful Sex With Kinky Swami are part of the many reasons that sexual assaults are not reported.
Why have women gone to attorneys to settle their sexual assaults out of court? The claims can be settled quietly and quickly without any blame being laid on the victims.
In 1997, Oregon case # 970604804, Mandell vs. Shoemaker was settled out of court for an alleged seven-figure amount (that means millions!), and the court documents were sealed. No public exposure, no scandals, no reputations put on the line, and Shoemaker was not deterred from abusing more of his “students.”
Stephen English represented Shoemaker. Sharon Ward was also named in the case. English has continued to represent Shoemaker, and no doubt has earned a pretty penny on this type of representation.
Sharon Ward, a devotee with a law degree, joined Shoemaker in Indiana, married his brother, and followed him to Massachusetts, Portland, and Gold Beach.
She knows everything discussed and negotiated – from every settlement and NDA that Shoemaker has been involved with.
Like many cult members, Ward may be willing to take a bullet for this horrible, abusive and disgusting conman.
If out-of-court settlements and NDAs are being negotiated by English like the rest of us sign holiday greeting cards, what does that say about adult consent?
Most alleged victims don’t retain an attorney expecting a hefty settlement saying they consented. Most attorneys won’t take a case of alleged sexual abuse without a retainer if the “victim” says they consented to the abuse.
Time to take these NDAs to the light and find out what Shoemaker and his cult members are really doing to those they abuse.
By Frank Parlato
I agree. I spoke with another woman who has direct knowledge of Chetanananda’s abuse. She told me that in the last year or so he settled a court case with a woman out of court. He injured the woman badly. They settled. In return for a sum of money, she signed a non-disclosure agreement.
This woman I spoke with [not the plaintiff] said Shoemaker has an ally in Australia, Russell Kruckman, who also calls himself a swami.
“Kruckman and Shoemaker discuss which legal strategies on the phone and zoom to use to protect themselves from accusations,” she said.
I know of Russell Kruckman, 78, better known as Swami Shankarananda. He has fended off his own onslaught of women who allege he abused them.
I wrote about Kruckman in An Australian Keith Raniere? Similar Story With a Different Outcome.
Two kindred souls with a lot of bliss but not much conscience.