Swami Khecaranatha was once known as Steve Ott. He was a baker at the Tao decades ago when Swami Chetanananada operated his ashram in Bloomington. And ran a free-labor bakery and restaurant.
Chetanananda used to be known as J. Michael Shoemaker. And Ott was under Shoemaker.
J Michael Shoemaker
Ott followed the Swami and came to live at the Movement Center in Portland, again under the leadership of J. Michael Shoemaker.
In time Ott became a swami and up to this day, he offers courses and retreats.
His next retreat is this month, from Oct. 27-30. The cost is $250.
I am heading to California soon to teach and be with our community for a couple of weeks.
(Oct 14-Nov 1). I will be offering a retreat, Oct 27-30, (this is how I celebrate my birthday) on Kundalini Sadhana focusing on Shambhavopaya: The Path of Awareness, Oct 27-30.
East Bay California–In Person and Global live streaming. Registration now open so please register
I look forward to seeing you there, or over the airwaves.
Ott Left Shoemaker
Before the Swami called his ashram the Movement Center, he called it the Nityananda Institute and Rudrananda Ashram.
Ott left Shoemaker around the time the Leaving Nityananda Letter was written, around 2001.
The letter was an expression of what former students of Shoemaker felt when they escaped Shoemaker. They alleged that Chetanananda was abusing his students sexually and taking them for money and free labor.
A website was created and managed by former, unhappy students of the Swami who left him.
Leaving Nityananda Institute was an anonymous website, which remains online but has been inactive for years,
Swami Chetanananda did not respond well to their departure years ago.
He teaches that it is wrong to break connections with the guru. He denounced and threatened the students who left him and spoke openly about their experiences with him.
More than 70 members of the Institute severed their connections to Chetanananda between 1994 and 2000. This was estimated to be nearly half of the average active membership of the group.
The former members wrote,
We hope that Leaving Nityananda Institute will serve as a helpful resource to: all ex-Institute members and their families and friends; concerned relatives and friends of current Nityananda Institute members; spiritual seekers who are considering joining Nityananda Institute; and, current Institute members who are experiencing doubt about Swami Chetanananda and may want information from outside sources.
It was reported that disciples of the Swami had to get permission before reading the website.
The website also published the following:
“Leaving Nityananda Institute believes in the right of every person to worship freely as they choose. We also believe in free speech. We believe former members have the right to tell what Swami Chetanananda did to them without receiving threats from Swami Chetanananda and without being harassed by him and his current students.
The website was launched December 2000. It was last updated January 2008.
About time for another update??
According to his website, “Swami Khecaranatha (Nathaji), the spiritual leader of Heart of Consciousness, has been a master teacher for five decades. He is a carrier of the śakti transmission lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda and Swami Rudrananda (Rudi).
“Nityananda, whose name means ‘bliss of the eternal,’ spent most of his years in Ganeshpuri, a village in southwest India. The resonance of his powerful presence continues to be felt worldwide, to this day.
Rudi, Khecaranatha’s immediate guru, met Nityananda in 1959 and, through that relationship, began teaching the eye-open classes we use in our practice. Rudi emphasized channeling the liberating power of energy, and his fierce presence was the embodiment of that force.
In reply to a question, the Swami or someone writing on his behalf answered what his affiliation is with Chetanananda.
Swami Khecaranatha is NOT associated with Swami Chetanananda. Khecaranatha broke with him about 20 years ago. Although there may indeed be merit to the issues listed below, please understand that we do not condone any misuse of power, spiritual power or otherwise.
Steve Ott became Swami Khecaranatha and proceeded to omit Shoemaker from his “lineage.”
He does not call Chetanananda his guru, though at one time it seems he did consider him his superior.
He does not make any mention of being Chetanananda’s brother disciple, that is they both were disciples of Rudi.
In fact, he seems to imply that he and the Swami did not split amicably.
If you have questions about that split, you might be able to contact Swami Khecaranatha at the East Bay St. Gyuto Tibetan Center in Richmond California later this month.