By Anna B. Mercury
From all the information presented in the series on Swami Chetanananda, he is anything but poor.
Melinda Mandell sued him in 1997, a lawsuit against the Swami AKA J. Michael Shoemaker and Shraon Ward. The causes: Misrepresentation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Breach of Contract, and Racketeering.
This case was settled out of court and was sealed. But I wonder how much has changed since then?
If witnesses are truthful – and I believe them – the Swami is guilty of assault, battery, sexual assault, rape, accessory to rape, human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labor, state law extortion, statutory rape and more
Frank has told us that we may learn about pedophilia and murder.
J. Michael Shoemaker’s affiliates include:
- his brother Bob Shoemaker,
- Kelly Ponzi,
- Sharon Ward,
- Liliana Lopez,
- Jen Wilhelm,
- Theresa and Salman Kahn,
- Jim Brissette,
- Ruth Knight,
- Susan Marshal,
- Maggie Daley,
- Connie Dyer,
- Steve Ott,
- Scott Hanley,
- Margie Pos,
- Alexis Sanderson,
- Howard and Vivina Boster,
- Heather Green,
- Karen and Jerry Sutherland,
- Faith and Alan Shepard,
- Chris Cartwright and Lisa Hoberg,
- Dr. Rebecca Reese,
- Dr. Nathan Bonner,
- Linda Lack,
- Michelle Valentino,
- Marilyn Ritter and on and on.
We have read about: drug use, menstrual blood rituals, jumping off bridges, attack dogs and fraudulent recruiting.
I thought it might be nice to look at some pictures. One thing for sure. Shoemaker is anything but poor.
I had to laugh when he whines about betrayal and leaves his mansion in Portland. A mansion where he always had free servants and sex slaves.
He wrote, “On Sunday, I got into my car and drove off with 90% of my stuff to Gold Beach, Oregon, where I am now going to live. I have no idea what is in front of me. I mean really zero. That doesn’t trouble me.”
Poor little rich renunciant….
***THE MOVEMENT CENTER, PORTLAND, OREGON***
According to https://www.nityanandainstitute.org/, “Nityananda Institute, a center for spiritual practice in the tantric tradition, was founded by Swami Chetanananda in 1971.
“In August 2008, the Institute changed its name to The Movement Center.
“The Movement Center is based in Portland, Oregon, and offers programs and instruction in kundalini meditation, hatha yoga, Vajrayana practices, health and well-being, and leadership.
“The spiritual practice at The Movement Center offers you the opportunity to tap into the highest potential that exists for you as a human being.
“We support your growth as you awaken to the power of life within you, are enlightened by discovering the dimensions of that power, and become empowered to live a life of your own design.
“The name ‘The Movement Center’ was chosen to create a new identity, one that reflects our unique Western cultural context for Eastern spirituality.
“Center refers to our core, which is total well-being, and movement refers to flow, so the name reflects the circulation of energy that is the essence of our spiritual practice.
“The name also evokes dynamic stillness, the phrase Swami Chetanananda has often used to describe the ultimate reality.”
The webpage for the Movement Center states you “ARE IN THIS WORLD TO GROW. The Movement Center offers you the opportunity to tap into the highest potential that exists for you as a human being. We support your growth as you awaken to the power of life within you, discover the dimensions of that power, and become empowered to live a life of your own design.”
“Love is alive inside you and is the very essence of your life.” — Swami Chetanananda
It seems, after 25 years in Portland, Oregon, Shoemaker felt betrayed and badly treated by his devotees.
Swami Chetanananda laments in social media posts (below). Shoemaker “had enough” and would leave his Portland ashram (and many devotees) behind:
Swami Chetanananda, May 18, 2019:
“After being betrayed by loved ones, thrown under the bus by friends, attacked and slandered by strangers with no actual information what so ever… I decided… enough… and retired to the wilderness to completely change my life… surprisingly… it turns out to be not an end, but a new beginning and another unimaginable possibility…!!! Thanks to the blessings of my Gurus, and the Goddess…! Amazing!
“This is the biggest change in my life since I met Rudi… and finally… I’m going to stop at failing at making everyone else happy… and start taking care of myself!”
Swami Chetanananda- Facebook post: WHO DO WE LOVE AND WHAT DO WE LOVE
“Where I started the ashram in Bloominton, Indiana, I lived in a place where the Klu Klux Klan was founded eighteen miles away. It was not a place that was particularly warm and fuzzy toward neo-Hindu meditators. Since it was a small town and I already had a reputation as a radical in any case, it was my experience that most of the feedback that I received in expressing love and creating a spiritual community was criticism and complaint. But, I was undaunted by that.
Our lives have been an unimaginable possibility since then, because I was fiercely committed to growing that love. I look around the meditation hall in Portland and the art and everything in it speaks to a level of sophistication in practice and learning that is really remarkable. There are ancient spiritual traditions and ancient and modern healing systems that have all come together in one place in a pretty integrated system of practice on a lot of levels. And, the beauty of the physical place is like no place in the world. So, leaving it is not exactly my idea of a happy ending.
However, going forward for each of us, whether you are just getting up in the morning or you are moving 500 miles away to a remote forest, like I am, we cannot allow ourselves to be driven by our minds and our fears or our attachments. We cannot. Each day we have to wake up and ask ourselves: “What do we love”” and “Who do we love?” ANd, we have to live our lives not from fear, not from desire, not from ambition, and not from anything other than SERVICE to who we love and devotion to what we love.
If we will make the effort to rise above all the mental and emotional land mines that are laid out in from of us as the disappointments of our ancestors which keep sprouting up in our life no matter what we seem to do, if we can train ourselves to focus on who we love and what we love to grow that love, then all the days of our life, from the insanity of our youth to the disappointments of our old age, are going to be filled with joy.
My going off to Gold Beach is changing a lot of things for all of us. I am not clear at all about what I am going to or how things will unfold, but I go there with a great deal of peace and joy, because I understand who I love and what I love. And, I am fiercely, fiercely, totally committed to growing that love until the last breath departs this body and it is no more.”
This is not the first time Shoemaker skedaddled for safe harbor.
Swami Chetanananda previously abandoned his Bloomington, Indiana ashram following a federal case where “a 24-year-old member of the ashram was kidnapped by family members who intended to deprogram him,” raised serious concerns about cultlike conduct, [reported in The Oregonian].
Shoemakers protector, executive director, attorney, devotee, and spokesperson, Sharon Ward, “Sadhvi”, explains the departure from Indiana to Massachusetts, “was prompted by the spiritual community’s desire for more and better opportunities.”
Decades later, another family tried to extricate their loved one from the “grip of the guru”, their efforts proved futile.
Their daughter, Natacha, would jump from a bridge in Portland and endure years of torture, before escaping the physical clutches of Swami Chetanananda.
But the unrelenting master manipulator Sharon Ward pursues such victims, vilifying, destroying and silencing anyone who leaves the ashram or speaks against Michael Shoemaker for years to come.
And just as Sharon Ward coordinated Shoemaker’s departure from Bloomington, Indiana, Sadhvi executed Shoemaker’s hushed move from Portand to Gold Beach.
According to Willamette Week,
“Movement Center Is Moving: After 26 years in the historic Mann mansion in the Kerns neighborhood, the Movement Center, also known as the Nityananda Institute, is under contract to sell the property to an undisclosed buyer…
A letter circulated to community members said its leader, “Swamiji,” aka Michael J. Shoemaker, is relocating to Gold Beach, Ore., but urged anybody thinking of following him “not to convey a message that the Ashram is moving” lest it upset people in the seaside village of 2,000.
Sharon Ward, an attorney for the group, says it will buy another property in Portland and continue to offer services here and in Los Angeles.”
Dear Loved Ones,
We are starting a simple notification system to let you know about the status of TMC’s move.
So far, we have purchased an “anchor” property, which will house our Abbot, Swamiji, in Gold Beach, Oregon. Many students intend to move to that area. Please, this is a very small community of 2000 people. Anyone looking to rent or to purchase property there, please do not convey a message that “The Ashram is moving” or “My Guru lives here” or any such characterization. Anyone going there is going as an individual who wishes to live, work or retire there. If you have questions about this, please ask me and I will explain further.
Regarding Portland, we will continue to have a meditation center here. We are in the process of looking for one now.
Shortly we hope to have a purchase and sales agreement with the Ashram. Once it is signed and we know the timeline we will share that information with you. Possible move out dates are between Christmas and April of next year. Again, as soon as we know, we will let you know.
Michelle is researching low income housing in the Portland area. If you have questions about this or would like information about this, please contact her.
Please, if you have any personal items of furniture, art, etc. in the common areas of the house, please take a picture of them, put your name somewhere on them (not visibly on the surface please) and send the picture and location to me. We need to give the buyer a list of items that will be transferred with the property and we don’t want to give your belongings away. Please do this by this coming Sunday, May 26.
Again, we will regularly update you and please feel free to ask me if you have any questions or concern.
Sadvi (Sharon Ward)
Shoemaker was the “Abbot” and President of The Movement Center, and Sharon Ward is the agent and secretary of the Movement Center, a foreign not for profit corporation, a tax free entity.
Shoemaker purchased the Movement Center property with financial assistance from devotees for $1.2 million, and sold it for an estimated $8.8 million in 2021.
Such profit for the not for profit Movement Center. The Real Estate Agency was Keller Williams, where one of the agents is Vivina Boster, wife of Howard Booster, aka Swami Prakashananda.
Many devotees had lived in the Portland ashram for more than a decade, paying their “tuition” and doing their “Seva”, or selfless service as required. The 2016 Guidelines for Students in Residence states, “SEVA (selfess servide) is an integral part of Ashram life. Students in residence are required to have at least two house jobs, including a regular weekly dinner clean-up or breakfast clean-up. All students in residence are assigned seva responsibilities by a staff member. Seva is not a billable or reimbursable activity and does not replace tuition.”
According to the moving letter, many devoted long-term students were not going to benefit from the approximately $7.6 million dollar difference in price from the purchase price of the Center to the selling price.
There was no plan to include them in the transition to Gold Beach. After decades of servitude and endless labor for the benefit of The Movement Center, they would remain alone in Portland with a list of low income housing options to guide them.
Selfless service, Seva is a means to hide wage and labor abuses. Shoemaker has been doing this for decades, and no one has stopped him.
Swami Chetantananda’s 2019 post, DOORS CLOSE AND DOORS OPEN:
“On Sunday, I got into my car and drove off with 90% of my stuff to Gold Beach, Oregon, where I am now going to live.
“I have no idea what is in front of me. I mean really zero. That doesn’t trouble me.
“I went off to Gold Beach because it was clear that for this circumstance a door was closing on me. It was time to move on.
“In life, some doors close and others open.
“In our lives we have little choice in the matter. The consensus of current science is that free will does not exist, and that pretty much our life is going to do what it wants, and it really doesn’t give a shit what we want.
“I do believe, however, that we have the free will to choose to feel ourselves, to feel our bodies, to feel our breath, to feel the aliveness within ourselves, to feel the energy of which we are a condensation.
“We have to train our attention to that, but we CAN feel that.
“Keeping ourselves centered in the present moment, holding ourselves in the awareness of ourselves and all the processes that are going on inside us and around us, and appreciating this extraordinary aliveness of which we are an expression, brings us into a state of gratitude for the opportunity to experience the beauty, sweetness, and love that is inside each of us.
“When I first started practicing yoga, there was almost no yoga in the West. We created a yoga and meditation community out of nothing. That is not entirely true. We created it out of something.
Top Left: Michelle, Chris Jackson, Jim Brissette, Karen Jones, Michael Shoemaker, Sarah Mocus, Kari Gronningsater, Sal Khan, Maggie Daily, Theresa Khan, Claudia Henry.
Bottom Left: Mother of Viktor Usov, Tim, Susan Marshall, Laura Santi, Patty Slote, Tom Fabrizio, Govind Cornelisun, Jerry Sutherland, Monica O’Neil
“But that something was immaterial. We created it out of the love that we experienced in ourselves as we practiced this simple awareness of body, breath and flow.
“When I started, there was no cookbook for creating an ashram in America. There was no manual.
“I am 72 years old now. I have lived my entire adult life since the time I was 20 for sharing this practice and community.
“I could begin to breathe with the experience of sweetness and joy that happens to live inside every single one of us.
“Living from that every day, increasingly transformed my body, my nervous system, and the entire field of my experience into, actually, an unimaginable possibility.
“Doors close and doors open.
“Planting your ass on the pillow every day, feeling your heart, holding yourself in connection with yourself, and devoting yourself to unfolding the finest place in your heart that you possibly can, will open many wonderful doors for you.
“It will reveal to you your true, true, truest nature and fill your days with sweetness and peace.
“What we can do is be our finest self every single day for the rest of our lives and choose to grow love. If we do, we are making the finest contribution that can possibly be made to this world.
“And, I will endure in my support of all of you in your effort and your activities to grow that love.
*** Seva “Volunteers” at Gold Beach***
Forty-three acres adjacent to the Harrison Ridge Estate were purchased for the “small farm.”
***Swami Chetanananda – The Philosophy of Tantric Yoga***
“Westerners often mistakenly believe that tantric yoga is essentially a sexual practice.
“The essence of tantra is a focus on life energy or kundalini associated with the nervous system and the environment.
“The goal of tantra, as with other spiritual practices, is the achievement of unity consciousness.
“However, tantric yoga is considered a rapid path to that goal and contains some implicit dangers.