From Rudi’s Ashram to Swamiji: Early Encounters with Michael Shoemaker Leaves Yoga Teacher Shocked at What He Became

J. Michael Shoemaker, AKA Swami Chetananda, is a purported spiritual leader of some renown. He led the Movement Center in Portland.
He was highly regarded, especially by women, some of whom considered him divine. They believed he could cleanse bad karma and alter destinies. Many women were deeply devoted to him, with some believing that being sexually involved with him conferred spiritual benefits.
Despite these beliefs, many followers were unaware of or ignored his abusive actions. Some women at the center made excuses for Swami’s behavior, labeling it part of their spiritual journey.
Followers suffered injuries or odd incidents. One woman supposedly broke her back. Another jumped off a bridge. One woman died by drowning in the river.

Some women suffered abuse, concealed as accidents.
The Swami appeared to indulge in BDSM of a violent nature. One woman had a black eye and bruises. She said it was an accident, but her car was undamaged.

Another woman left by ambulance. The Swami settled her claim in a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money and a non-disclosure agreement. He allegedly had choked her into unconsciousness.

Another woman claims in a new lawsuit that Swami choked her by surprise from behind. After she regained consciousness, she ran away.

Another woman incessantly blinks and babbles. Once, a witness alleges, he severely beat her. They had to clean up her bodily fluids and blood.

One woman said he hung her on a hook in his room. He choked her on another occasion by surprise, making her unconscious.
According to a witness, he saw the Swami beat a woman with a baseball bat and then sent her to a sex club to have sex with anyone in a parking lot.

One woman said the Swami ordered her to have sex with repulsive strangers while he watched on his phone.

The center eventually moved to Gold Beach, leaving many longtime devotees behind with nothing to show for their years of free labor and devotion.

An individual who knew the Swami long ago read a Frank Report article describing some of the above. He chose to make the following comment.

By a Yoga Teacher

Bear with me, this is long, but I’m in shock

I first met Michael Shoemaker along with Liz (before she married) when I lived at Rudi’s Big Indian Ashram in my early 20s, long before he was Swamiji.

Even in his 20s, he was spiritually powerful, physically magnetic, and head of the Rudrananda Ashram in Indiana.

Shoemaker and Rudi

I left after three years, but learning Kundalini Yoga was a life-altering experience and may be the single most important thing I’ve ever done.

But I’m also aware that there’s stratification in ashrams, and people, being flawed, tended to strive for the “Inner Circle” and be worshipful toward the Teacher.

Not good if the teacher can’t absorb and transmute the energies to stay balanced. After all, the purpose is to shed the Ego, not to make it worse.

Michael (Swamiji) is no Rudy by any stretch of the imagination. But then again, who is?

And I understand that being part of an insular, energetically charged, beautiful environment is a privilege. But I’m shocked that some stayed – and served – for four decades!

The Movement Center

It’s also interesting that Michael switched running a Kundalini Yoga Ashram to a more ambiguous “Movement Center”, and I can see how, under the right conditioning and circumstances, Tantric could morph into BDSM.

Many vulnerable (abused?) women gravitate to the ashrams, and teachers (me included), and I can see how all this could have happened.

Apparently, the “Flow” of 50 years ago stagnated and calcified in something hideous.

Poor Liz. She deserved better.

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  • LKL. What is that???! It’s called the Loving Kindness Lawsuit. For those deserving folks, who need to learn how to treat others.
    Hey Swami, eat some lawsuit pie for breakfast. You asshole. You deserve it. All of it.

  • A bitter pill to swallow that what you lent yourself to isn’t so pure after all.

    I understand it’s difficult, but try not to blame the victims with the same tired, misogynist tropes as you fade away into irrelevance in your dotage.

    Here’s the facts for you: None of these “spiritual practices” are pure. They are all tainted by our thousands of years of history of predatory male chauvinism, selfishness, and entitlement. Didn’t Rudi basically have at least one of his books entirely ghostwritten by a woman? So stop blaming women for the evil actions of useless, naked-emporer con men. Rudi was a predatory fraudulent hat trick, and he was the daddy of the next hat trick, Shoemaker. Same same, as they say.

    The way women respond to predators isn’t because women are “damaged”. We are coping with historical, systematic and ritualized humiliation, silencing, objectification, exploitation and excoriation. Our fathers, our religions, our institutions break us so we are more sexually available to the next man, so men can collectively share in stealing our labor; both emotional and physical. The subjugation of the female spirit leads to extreme dysregulation, which is actually a normal response to trauma. Your eastern faiths are no less misogynist bs than all the rest, where all of this abuse comes from, the sad thing is that people genuinely searching get duped into it.

    BTW, I’ve since learned now the hard way that you boomer hippie types were not feminists or progressives at all, you made sure the women stayed back in the kitchens making brownies, sewing and doing dishes while you hogged the mic about “the man”, and lured their teenage daughters to you who you made sure were “nubile” and available to you under the banner of “sexual liberation” and “tantric practices”. You were wanking it to Brook Sheilds centerfold at 10 years old, celebrating it!!! You didn’t NOT KNOW she was a child. You fucking LOVED IT.

    You made sure that we women knew our place as consumable objects from childhood to the grave, and when our sexual appeal was expired we became mommy servants- “the shakti to be tamed”, just like every male before you throughout history. Your kundalini practices really just were all about dick worship, weren’t they.

    Does your poor peen get sad contemplating the pain your garbage beliefs have brought to women? Is that why you need to shift blame? Is it easier for you to process that the poor widdle guru was tricked into the naughty by bad behaving witches who had daddy-daughter “damage”?

    Don’t get me started on the elitism inherent to this nonsense belief, “it’s because of their lower incarnation, their worse karma” right?

    You should be ashamed, and shut up. History won’t remember your generation well already, so have some humility and stop defending the defunct.

  • Makes a person want to vomit when it’s all set out like this. And these women are just the ones who’ve come forward.

    • lol.
      that’s what they thought, and ended up in drug-addled hell.
      he’s a tormented soul spreading darkness & misery.

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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