When Diane Asay Died, Shoemaker Was Silent as the Grave

In Richard Read’s series in the Grip of the Guru, we read the name, Diane Asay.

The guru he referred to is J. Michael Shoemaker, AKA Swami Chetanananda.

In Richard Read’s series in the Grip of the Guru, we read the name Diane Asay.

The guru he referred to is J. Michael Shoemaker, AKA Swami Chetanananda.

Diane Asay

Here is what Read wrote in 2001.

Diane Asay, a current disciple, said students bear responsibility for choosing to have sex with the guru.

I’ve watched people climb all over people to get into his bed,” Asay said.

She says jealous former lovers are going public to hurt the swami, who is helping to lead a grand spiritual reformation that will make their complaints appear trivial a century from now.


Diane Asay died January 20, 2021.

Asay defended Shoemaker in the Read article. Twenty years later, she died outside the “community.”

A few of her fellow students paid tribute to her decades of work for Shoemaker.

In 2001, Diane speculated how people would remember Shoemaker in a century.

How did Shoemaker remember her?

Diane Asay passed away on January 20, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. She was 77.

Her brother, William L. Asay, and sister-in-law, Lisbeth Asay, of Portland, also came to Portland for unknown reasons.

Diane was born in Los Angeles County in 1943. She attended Hollywood High School and studied at UCLA and UC Berkeley. She graduated with a major in English. Diane was the co-author of “Body, Self and Soul: Sustaining Integration.” In the 1980s and 1990s, she was a senior acquisitions editor for Productivity Press, in Boston and Portland. [These are two cities where the Swami lived during those decades].

She was a Reiki practitioner and was known to have Pyrenees dogs. It appears Diane may have been the reason why the Kreiger family  became part of the Shoemaker enterprise.

Karen Kreiger

Kristin’s daughter Karen left Shoemaker under curious conditions, while Gretchen is President of the Church of Divine Energy, a Shoemaker enterprise.

Here is a tribute to DIane written by Kristin Kreiger.

It is unclear if Kristin is still under the grip of the guru, but here is what she wrote.

Kristin Kreiger 
February 18, 2021

When I first saw [Diane Asay], she walked tilted slightly backward, with her long legs lengthening out – first thigh, then lower leg and finally foot, one large step after another. Her entire body seemed long: her torso long and lean, her arms and legs relaxed, and moving from the most proximal bone to the most distal, which gave her a unique gait, almost as if she were unfolding forward. She was compelling to watch.

Diane Asay

The boy I liked decided he liked her better, so I was quite interested to see who she was. I didn’t like her then. I was fifteen.

She lived with her parents and younger brother, Bill, in Studio City.

She went to Hollywood High. For college, she moved north to Berkeley, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that she had become a dancer. She married Rick, a man I never met. The marriage didn’t last.

We became friends later.

Diane had returned to LA and become a therapist using movement.

Since she wanted to learn to play the ‘cello, we traded. Often, she came to our house. She loved our daughters [Karen and Gretchen] too, and they loved her back. She had a number of splendid enormous dogs. Patch was the first one I knew. He looked like a bear, his nickname, with very long, shaggy black hair interspersed with brown here and there. He was fierce and smart. He never forgot anyone, friend or foe.

Living alone in a tiny house in a slightly dicey area in those days, he was her perfect companion and protector. Over all our years, our intimacy ballooned and deflated over and over again. When things were going well, we had a wonderful time. This pattern repeated all our lives together. She had power in her being, and she wasn’t shy about sharing it.

At one point, with her permission, I gave her phone number to a brilliant, quirky cello student. He’d studied architecture and music at Harvard and said he’d played all the instruments except ‘cello, saving the best for last. They had fun and moved in together for a while.

They each had wrinkles the other couldn’t unwrinkle and ultimately couldn’t stand. She went to Boston to meet him once when he was working. His colleague took her to Bloomington, Indiana the next day to meet his meditation teacher. She returned to LA and announced she was moving out, into the Bloomington ashram.

I was flabbergasted.

Ultimately, I also studied with that teacher [Shoemaker] for 30 years.

The Bloomington ashram moved to Boston for more than a decade, and then to Portland, Oregon. She moved with them. She later moved into her own house, working in business, traveling widely, and continued writing, which was her real love.

In all our time together, she never gave me anything to read that she had written.

We met once or twice a year, every year or two, and had a long meal, usually three hours, and talked most intimately. Her liver died. No reason was ever discovered. She got a transplant from a young man who’d died in a motor accident. She could feel much about him inside herself. So sensitive, she could also feel each of her organs separately and checked in on them daily. Last year, we spoke long and deeply and rarely. Then she died. Total organ failure. It was fast. We loved each other. It’s a great hole where we’d been.

Gretchen Kreiger.

This is fascinating because Kristin seems to be the architect of her meeting with Chet.

They knew each other in LA as teens. Kristin introduced Diane to a cello player. She went to Boston to meet him, and his roommate introduced her to Chet in Indiana. Diane decides to leave LA and move to Bloomington.

Somehow she, it seems, introduced Kristin to Chet – who introduced her family.

Only three other members of Shoemaker’s group wrote tributes for Diane:

Rio Hibler, Karen Sutherland and Rachel Dyer (a “second generation” member, daughter of Connie Dyer).

Rachel wrote, “With so much love for our beautiful girl, I am deeply grateful to have known her and to have been blessed by her dazzling being!”

Nothing from Shoemaker.

Shoemaker calls his students his “loved ones.”

Fair enough.

What loved ones has Shoemakier harmed, exploited, abused, and thrown under the bus?

Who else has given so much to him and gotten so little back?


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • I’m not sure what your intent is in this post about my friend Diane Asay. But one thing I’m sure about is that the photo you used of Diane under your headline is phony. The book appearing next to the smiling Diane is photoshopped. It wasn’t there. I know that because I took the photo. I took the other photos of Diane, too (except the last one) many years ago. You found them where I publicly posted them in her obituary tribute wall. The photoshopped book isn’t investigative journalism, Mr. Parlato, it is fraud. And my friend isn’t here to defend herself, so I am. Shame on you.

  • Once one is no longer a student, they cease to exist. His eulogies we’re awful. Always looped it back to himself in true narcissistic form

  • Once someone leaves the community–or is pushed out–that’s it. They’re out. “Loved ones” are treated as though they’re dead, so why would there be any care or consideration when they actually die? People exist to serve him and are ranked in as much as their capacity to do so. Each new person a shiny new toy, until they’re not. They’re disposable. Shuffled in and out on a conveyor belt of human misery.

  • Shoemaker has loyalty only to himself. As a spiritual leader there’s no ceremony when a devotee passes on? Why is no one else at the ashram questioning such an omission?

      • Guy Boster


        My name is Guy Boster. I’m an artist living in Portland, Oregon. I was born and raised is Central Pennsylvania. I was an art director/graphic designer for many years, working 10 years in New York City, yes, during the Mad Men era, 17 years in Dallas, Texas, 6 years in San Francisco, and 15 years in Portland, and took up painting full time about 10 years ago. My relatives are Howard and Vivina Boster, aka Swami P and his wife. I worked in the basement of the Movement Center in Portland, and I got “likes” on my Facebook page for my art from these “loved ones” of J. Michael Shoemaker.

        If you want to have a Movement Center reunion and talk about what Frank Parlato is publishing, drop by Guy’s next show. All of you can even talk about Richard Read’s articles because some of you have been in the “grip” that long. But seems that Guy doesn’t know anything about abuse, drug use, fraudulent recruiting, exploitation, gaslighting or any criminal activities. He was high on linseed oil for 10 years.

        “Sweet old ones” who “liked” Guy’s art on his Facebook page. His art was on display in February 2022 at Splendorporium in Portland:
        1. Molly Merideth, broke her knee during the move from Portland to Gold Beach, carried clean sheets to bed ridden “abused ones”, but she didn’t get to move with the guru;
        2. Claudia Henry, married to a “loved one” Govinda, was warned about pedophiliac activities by Anna Merli and Margo Massoud Marver and did nothing about it;
        3. Margo Massoud Marver did “like” Guy’s painting but kept quiet about possible abuse;
        4. Sarah Mocas,
        5. Christopher O’Brien,
        6. Brenda A. Siragusa, who does not believe that Shoemaker is a monster, thinks he is a Goddess;
        7. Cassia Herman, still “loves” Swami, started a recruitment site in Seattle with Margie Pos;
        8. Vivina Boster, has made a lot of money from the sales of Swami and “loved ones” real estate, capped her goal in 2019;
        9. Angie Shoemaker, which Shoemaker is her dad;
        10. Susan Marshal, living the life in Gold Beach;
        11. Mark O’Brien, is he related to Christopher, another happy family in the cult;
        12. Laura Shanti, still in the grip of the guru, afraid to speak to non “loved ones”;
        13. Rio Hibler
        14. Karla Refoxo, can tell many tales of “plant spirit use”, is that why she left;
        15. Melinda Montague, in the “grip”;
        16. Cynthia Brown, spent a lot of time with the video camera, what does she have on tape:
        17. Lisa Hoberg, has been with Shoemaker since he began;
        18. Connie Dyer, her daughter had nice things to say about Diane Asay, does that get her shunned by the “loved ones”;
        19. Jessica Butler, Laura’s daughter, she was there when Ayaz died, when Liz died and when others were harmed, how did she escape, or is she still in the “grip”;
        20. Chris Cartwright, long time in the “grip”;
        21. Keri Gronningsater, still in the “grip”, cooks in Gold Beach;
        22. Margie Pos, started a recruitment site in Seattle, still in the “grip”;
        23. EJ Rosen, worked many “seva” hours, still “loves” the guru;
        24. Barbara Rabin, joined in 2008, is she still active;
        25. Kelly Ponzi, still “gripped”;
        26. Nicolas-John van Nieuwenhuysen, there are more with this name affiliated with the guru, another family affair;
        27. Barnett Davis, did he buy a painting, or just “like” it, he has plenty of money and gave a lot to Shoemaker;
        28. Melinda Montegue, growing old with her guru;
        29. Irene Dakini, is that her real name:
        30. Drew Carlson, not at Gold Beach, cooked at the Movement Center, got sick and didn’t make the cut to follow Shoemaker;
        31. Patty Slote, still in the “grip”, she will be true to death;
        32. Marilyn Ritter, word has it she likes the rough stuff, some still remember Shoemaker working her over, still in the “grip”, has been with Shoemaker since Indiana;
        33. Karen Sutherland, with her husband Randy will clean toilets, work in the garden and spy for her master, in the “grip” for life.

  • Correction… Rachel Dyer is not the daughter of Connie Dyer. Rachel is married to Connie’s ex-husband Rick Dyer. Connie does have a daughter but for privacy, I will not give her name (she was a child who grew up around/in the ashram/Movement Center and I’m not aware of her having any relationship to the ashram since she became an adult).

  • I promise you, I’m not trying to sell you anything
    Taken from Swami Chetananda Facebook post: Oct 20, 2019

    “But then, I go and sit down, and do what I’ve been doing since starting this practice. I open my heart and connect to the power of Life Itself that is in my breath. And still after 48 years since meeting my teacher, whether sitting in my own puja room or sitting and teaching all of you, it’s an amazing practice to me. For me, the practice that we share with you is the most interesting, exciting, beautiful, sweet experience that I have every single day. That amazes me! And, I promise you, I’m not trying to sell you anything.”

    Taken from: http://leaving-nityananda-institute.blogspot.com/2008/01/open-letter-from-former-nityananda.html

    “He told us he was selling us art and gems way below their actual value, however according to estimates from reputable dealers Swami C overpriced these objects by between two and twenty times their current values.”

    Yet there are many websites that sell the Shoemaker’s books, streaming videos, paraphernalia for Chod practice, like a double dorje amulet, ($90) and a Nityananda statue (no price given)

    Store (themovementcenter.com)

    Courses are for sell at this site: E-TMC Academy: The Movement Center (thinkific.com)
    Including a course with Dr. Alexis Sanderson for $100, wonder how Dr. Sanderson feels about that? Given that he and Shoemaker are on the outs. Other courses range from $249-$279. But, hey Shoemaker isn’t trying to sell us anything, right?

    At least 45 books are offered on the site, sold by the Rudra Press which shares the same address as the Church of Divine Energy: To contact Rudra Press:
    c/o The Movement Center
    PO Box 207
    Wedderburn, OR 97491

    So is all this a non-profit church or a business meant to bring in cash for Shoemaker?

    Such commercial activities serve to reinforce what Melinda Mandell claimed in her civil suit way back in the 1990’s, “ the Institutes was not really a non-profit church, but rather a for profit business that benefited the Guru (Shoemaker) and his inner circle”.

    Shoemaker got funds from a business called Productivity. According to Richard Read, Norman Bodek, who donated his Portland home to the cult and who has since left Shoemaker (wonder why he left?), ran Productivity Inc. This company was a publishing and event-planning organization that gave jobs to dozens of disciples and — according to Ames — paid the guru a monthly retainer.

    Diane Asay, a decades long, “loved one” of Shoemaker, was senior acquisitions editor for Productivity Press in the 1980s and 1990s. Long a public supporter of Shoemaker Diane Asay, was quoted in a Read article as saying “students bear responsibility for choosing to have sex with the guru. I’ve watched people climb all over people to get into his bed.” Asay said to Read that “ jealous former lovers are going public to hurt the swami, who is helping to lead a grand spiritual reformation that will make their complaints appear trivial a century from now.” ( see Richard Read’s articles) Yet when Asay died in 2021, she was totally “forgotten” by her guru. Diane Asay may have been the “loved one” who brought the whole Kreiger family to Shoemaker. Yet, Shoemaker didn’t even post a word on her obituary page.

    Joan Ames, a long time devotee, who has now left the group, said that Chetanananda paid a visit in February 1996 to the ashram office where she edited his lectures, she too was on salary from Productivity Inc. Ames remembers him saying Productivity was in trouble and might stop paying his retainer. According to Richard Read’s articles, Ames gave Shoemaker about $1million in gifts and loans. Funny thing is that Rudra Press, a business associated with Shoemaker, published a book she wrote, Mastery: Interviews with 33 Remarkable People Hardcover – September 25, 1997 , by Joan Ames (Author).

    The first edition is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Evelyn-Ames/e/B001KMNK1S%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share Ames’ book is the only non-spiritual/Buddist/Hindu/Tantric book offered by the Rudra Press. So maybe her $1million did get her a little something for her trouble.

    Makes me wonder why Thomas Frabrizio, another decades long “student” of Shoemaker self -published his most recent book instead of using Rudra Press? Fabrizio published his non-fiction book through Productivity in 2006 and a revised edition in 2015. Just what you would expect a non-profit church to do, right? But then according to the “about the author”, Tom has meditated every day for over 50 years and identifies with the Hindu God Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. Maybe Ganesh can work miracles with the IRS too?

    Here is a sound business model, recruit and groom your “loved ones” to care for you, cook for you, clean for you, keep your mansion in tip-top shape, let them work for “seva” points in the next life. Have them edit your “sermons” and then sell them as books and courses. Run these enterprises out of your “non-profit church” and pocket all the cash you want while your “loved ones” give you gifts, sex, and drugs. What could possibly be wrong with that when you are a reincarnation of the Goddess?

    • Who are the Ghislaine Maxwells in Shoemaker’s cult? The survivors’ statements have given us some hints as to how some victims were fraudulently recruited onto the “human conveyor belt of misery” of J. Michael Shoemaker’s cult.
      Natacha stated that Shoemaker used her yoga classes as his hunting ground. Gretchen also taught classes as did many others. Yoga clothes and classes certainly gave Shoemaker plenty to look at and to choose from. Did some of the Movement Center yoga teachers start the grooming process? Ruth Knight, Sharon Ward, Susan Maxwell, Gretchen Krieger were all yoga teachers.

      Jessica was referred to the center from a rehab institute and she stated that Shoemaker used the open eye meditation classes to continue his recruitment and grooming of her. Ruth Knight often gave the “orientation” to the open eyes meditation. Such eye holding is a common cult tactic used as part of an indoctrination process. Dr. Steven Hassan discusses the technique on his Freedom of Mind website. https://freedomofmind.com/ He claims it is used by the Moonies (he was one) and by other groups such as Scientologists among others.

      We know now that Diane Asay, who died “forgotten” by her guru (Shoemaker) most likely brought Kristin Kreiger into the cult and Kristin brought her daughers, Karen and Gretchen. Other cult members have brought their family members, Liz Bazzani, Laura Modena, Connie Dyer, and Andrew Bonner, maybe others. Some family members were “born into the cult”.

      Faith Sheppard and Sara Storm have been identified as cult members. They may have recruited others into the group. In an August 5th, 2020 Facebook post, Shoemaker thanks Sara Storm for sending him Byrn, Jana and Faith. Shoemaker posted on his now dark Facebook site, “with Sadhvi, Bryn, Jana and Faith…wonderful companions during this strange time..” In the comments Sara Storm writes, “Heart Warming…!” and Shoemaker replies, “Sara Storm I know these women because of you” . Sara responds, “So welcome” and sent a heart emoji. How many other victims did Sara send to Shoemaker?

      Dr. Jen Wilhelm may have recruited her own patients as potential sexual partners of Shoemaker.

      The Ghislaine Maxwell and the NXIVM trials show that law enforcement is putting human trafficking and coercive control into the courts and the abusers are losing. Shoemaker and his inner circle have a lot to answer for, 50 years of harm and abuse.

      • Susan Marshall, not Susan Maxwell.

        He’s a disgusting pig. Burning through people, extracting what he wants, and tossing them. Breaking them down so they can’t move on for years, so his “prophecies” of “you won’t make it without me” come true. He’s a coward, hiding behind his human rottweilers and blaming everyone else around him for his problems.

        I hope he dies slowly with the bunch of nasty miserable people he’s chosen as his slaves, in his big haunted house, surrounded by a cold indifferent ocean. Death by loneliness is what you deserve. I literally would rather die than spend my last years locked in a house with him, the heartless reptile Sharon Ward, crazy-eye disassociates Jen Wilhelm and Monica, and the doormat zombies Gretchen and Jim.

        Enjoy your self-created hell, asshole.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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