Swami ‘Not Selling Anything’ on His Path to Wealth

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.

Portland Mansion

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.

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  • @Fig
    How is the drug use “his business?” He’s pretending to be someone who is against drug use, presenting himself as someone who’s deeply concerned for the physical and medical wellbeing of others. Offered the ashram as a place for drug addicts to recover, and those who’d had serious medical challenges to heal. Using donations and tuition payments to fund his drug habit. He’s a drug addict who physically and mentally abuses vulnerable women and forces them to take drugs with him. He lures unsuspecting students and women into relationships and commitments under false pretences. How is this remotely “his business?”

    So you’re ok with opening yourself and your life up to a drug addict? To sit in open-eye meditation week after week and merge yourself spiritually into the field of a drug abuser and abuser of women? What do you think that does to a person? To their relationship with themselves and the standard by which they wish to live in this world? You clearly must believe in the energetic field to have been involved. So what do you think it does to unknowingly be in a relationship with your spiritual mentor who is blatantly lying to you and presenting himself to be someone he’s so clearly not. Someone who cannot control his habitual cocaine, meth and alcohol addiction. His sex addiction?

    If you think this is “his business” then you never loved him, never gave yourself to him and the community. Not really. How could anyone think this is his business? This is such a monumental betrayal of everything people thought they were dedicating their lives to. To the years and decades-long commitment his students made to him to support him financially, emotionally, socially and spiritually. IF he had a bunch of money after paying out all the people who sacrificed their lives for him to live his “big life” and compensated all the women he harmed, and he still had money to live large, then that’s one thing. But he has scammed and lied and manipulated his students for decades, and physically and emotionally damaged so many women to accumulate what he has. Outrageous liar, fraud and scam artist. And he’s still doing it. THAT’S the issue.

    • You make excellent points. I agree with you. Believe me, I do not condone drug use. And, you are right, he lied to everyone. He is a complete and total scam artist

  • I have no gripe whatsoever with this institute selling books, nor requesting fees for retreats. That is not the issue here. The issues are around the games Chetanananda plays with people (where the deck is stacked in his favor). The sexual, and psychological abuse that he inflicted upon many. The drug use is his business, but it is quite disappointing. The fact that he cashed in at the end, isn’t even an issue. The issue there is this guy told people not to focus on money, and yet here he is ending up in his 10,000 sq foot house by the sea. Hypocrite much?
    Let’s get up off our our meditation pillows, and yoga mats and so something shitty to someone else, and call it good. THAT is the ONLY issue. Go ask the Manson Sisters. They are pros at that.

  • Chetanananda is a big exaggerator. He is also a habitual liar, and plays “fast and loose” with others’ risk in life, and in business. Selling spiritual books, however is not a problem. I dont see the issue with that. This guy talked about having no money, and being poor for years, yet flew first class, drank fine wines, and drove nice cars, and had a getaway in Malibu. So, go figure. He is a full of shit guy, on many levels, and in many ways. Go tell him I said so, Michelle. You little, spy, you. Good retirement program, become a stool pigeon for a spiritual bully.

    • Joan Ames. She funded Richard Reed’s research on Chet. She deserves our thanks for trying long ago to end his career. I hope she lives to see him fall.

      She gave him oodles of money but that wasn’t good enough, Chet made a move for Joan’s daughter. I always applauded Joan for her effort to end Chet: she just didn’t have enough support

    • Why Shoemaker and Raniere are so much alike. They both went for the money, cultivated the wealthy, they are both traumatizing narcissists and they are both getting the Frank treatment. Thank you, Frank

      Below is part of Frank’s story about his initial relationship as a consultant to Keith Raniere and the advice he got from Roger Stone who was also a consultant. Neither Parlato nor Stone was aware of the sex cult aspect of NXIVM. Both were aware of the financial issues that were emerging from the group. Frank was the whistle blower on Raniere and it was not easy, he is still caught in blowback.

      The example that Frank brings forward of how both he and Roger Stone were kept in the dark about how NXIVM worked, is repeated in Shoemaker and his cult. I have been criticized because I don’t know everything about what the Shoemaker cult was doing and everybody who was doing it! That is because that is the way cults work. Other casual attenders or supporters of the Shoemaker cult have expressed doubt about what Frank has published, or what victims/survivors have said about their experiences. NXIVM and Shoemaker are cut out of the same culty cloth.

      I have taken Frank’s narrative (FR) and put below his statements the correlating experiences or situations with Shoemaker. (S)


      (FR) I learned this first-hand in my difficult early (but ultimately successful) efforts to expose the multimillion-dollar con and sex-cult of a self-styled guru named Keith Raniere.

      (S) For 50 years Shoemaker has been abusing and scamming his followers. Richard Read had no success, the media in Bloomington had no success and to date there is no success in stopping Shoemaker’s abuse, at least it is exposed.

      (FR) Raniere was not the self-help apostle or genius I had been told he was when I went to work for NXIVM, which billed itself as a totally new, once in an eon, self-improvement “way of thinking” as taught by Raniere. It was “the greatest invention since humans invented writing” was how his teachings were sold. I was also told he had the highest IQ of any human ever tested.

      (S) Shoemaker is a college drop out.

      (FR) In fact, it was a hugely profitable scam in which Raniere and his psychopathic henchwomen recruited the sons and daughters of wealthy children from wealthy families with bulging trust funds.

      (S) Melinda Mandell charged the same thing in her civil suit against Shoemaker and Ward. Mandell said the Nityanada Institute was not really a non-profit church, but rather a for profit business that benefited the guru (Shoemaker) and his inner circle. Shoemaker certainly has henchwomen, Sharon Ward, does his dirty work while the yoga teachers could serve a recruiting role. Natacha spoke to this in her narrative. Perhaps Gretchen, Jen and others serve in this role.

      (FR) Raniere and his minions took in millions of dollars which they invested in real estate, which was put in the name of Raniere’s enforcer, Nancy Salzman. Raniere systematically drained the trust funds of the scions of one of the great American fortunes – the House of Bronfman.

      (S) All the financial details of Shoemaker’s scams are not publicly known, but Richard Read found that Joan Ames gave him close to a million dollars, Norman Bodek gave Shoemaker a house, the Krieger family gave Shoemaker property in California (and allegedly three sexual partners, mother and two daughters), Mary Grace Toia (the mother of Jesse Sweeney) has given substantial donations as has Barnett Davis. Howard Boster’s wife, Vivina “capped” off her real estate sales in 2019, no doubt by “serving” Shoemaker’s “loved ones” who sold their property in Portland to buy in Gold Beach, not to mention the sellling of the Movement Center and the purchase of the new center in Gold Beach.

      (FR) They also looted the trust funds of the offspring of the long socially-prominent Cafritz family in DC – and took more through the children of Mexico’s former president, the fabulously wealthy Carlos Salinas, among others of Mexico’s elite families.

      (S) No doubt more financial scams will be revealed as Frank continues to gather information. The new Gold Beach property reflects the hours of donated labor and other forms of exploitation of Shoemaker and his cult.

      (FR) As I was coming to work, handling public relations and other issues for NXIVM, and at a time I knew nothing about the inner workings of Raniere and his group, the controversial Republican consultant, Roger Stone, was just leaving his brief consulting gig with the organization.

      (S) Frank has picked up on Shoemaker where Richard Read left things.

      (FR) In fact, it was Stone who first warned me about Keith Raniere and the NXIVM set-up.

      (S) Frank published an article on Shoemaker’s associate Russel Kruckman, https://frankreport.com/2021/04/07/an-australian-keith-raniere-similar-story-but-with-a-different-outcome/ Which seemed to bring in information about Shoemaker

      (FR) “His course is some kind of mind control bullshit,” Stone told me back in 2007. “It’s clear that Raniere has lifted millions of dollars from the trust funds of his marks,” he told me.

      (S) Same, same, with Shoemaker, Stone hit the nail on the head. Mind control, cult abuse, exploitation and harm is what NXIVM , Shoemaker and Kruckman specialize in.

      Stone also told me about his own brief interaction with Keith and his crew.

      (skipping some information from the Frank Report you can read in the original post)

      (FR) Stone would tell me years later, “That in the three months that I worked for them, I never saw any evidence of the secretive sex cult that Raniere built to feed his own depravities. All I saw was rich middle-aged housewives and divorcees getting fleeced by this prick.”

      (S) Jana has called these Shoemaker followers, the sweet older members! Cults can keep their dirty business hidden using culty tactics of isolation, gaslighting, separation and by-passing. Cults work hard to control information that their members and the public access. When will Shoemaker let Frank conduct an interview?

      (FR) I can well understand that he did not see anything depraved. I worked closely with the group and I never saw it either. It was well hidden. It was not revealed to outsiders.

    • Do you have some names of “loved ones” with money that got taken by Shoemaker? Frank has coverd lots of the sex and drugs.

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.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com