By Leona James
“I promise you, I’m not trying to sell you anything.”
That is what Swami Chetanananda [AKA J. Michael Shoemaker] said in a Facebook post on Oct 20, 2019.
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.
So he is not selling anything, not in 48 years.
However, the website, “Leaving Nityananada, claimed he sold overpriced stuff.
“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.”
There are websites that sell Shoemaker’s books, streaming videos, and paraphernalia for Chod practice, like a double dorje amulet ($90) and a Nityananda statue (no price given).
Courses are offered at: E-TMC Academy: The Movement Center
Among the courses is one with Dr. Alexis Sanderson for $100. How does Dr. Sanderson feel about that, given that he and Shoemaker are on the outs?
Other courses range from $249-$279.
But, Shoemaker isn’t trying to sell anything?
Rudra Press offers at least 45 books. Rudra Press 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 this a non-profit church or a business meant to bring in cash for Shoemaker?
Such commercial activities reinforce what Melinda Mandell claimed in her civil suit in the 1990’s.
The Institute 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 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 paid the guru a monthly retainer.
Diane Asay, a decades-long “loved one” of Shoemaker, was a senior acquisitions editor for Productivity Press in the 1980s and 1990s.
Asay was a public supporter of Shoemaker.
Read quoted her in an article 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 told Read, “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.”
Yet when Asay died in 2021, she was “forgotten” by her guru.
Asay may have been the “loved one” who brought the Kreiger family to Shoemaker. Yet, Shoemaker didn’t post a word on her obituary page.
Ames, a longtime devotee, who has left the group, said Chetanananda paid a visit in February 1996 to the ashram office where she edited his lectures.
Ames remembers him saying Productivity was in trouble and might stop paying his retainer. According to Read’s articles, Ames gave Shoemaker about $1 million in gifts and loans.
Rudra Press, a business associated with Shoemaker, published a book Ames wrote, Mastery: Interviews with 33 Remarkable People Hardcover – September 25, 1997.
Ames’ book is the only non-spiritual/Buddist/Hindu/Tantric book offered by Rudra Press. So maybe $1 million did get her something.
But why did Thomas Frabrizio, another decades-long “student” of Shoemaker, self-publish 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?
So here is the business model.
Recruit and groom your “loved ones” to care for you, cook for you, clean, keep your mansion in tip-top shape, and let them work for “seva” points in the next life.
Gold Beach Mansion
Have them edit your “sermons,” then sell them as books and courses. Run these enterprises out of your “non-profit church” and pocket all the cash, while your “loved ones” give you gifts, sex, and drugs.
What could be wrong with that when you are a reincarnation of the Goddess?
Maybe Ganesha can answer the question.