Chetanananda, Swami

Chetanananda, Swami
(1949– )
   teacher of Kashmir Shaivism and Trika Yoga
   Swami Chetanananda is an American teacher in the tradition of Swami RUDRANANDA. At his two institutes, he propounds a SHAIVISM that generally downplays asceticism and withdrawal from life and draws on Tibetan and Kashmiri practice.
   J. Michael Shoemaker was born in Kentucky the son of a pharmacist and a nurse, both devout Catholics, and he was raised in the Catholic faith. He attended school in Connersville, Indi-ana, where he was a football player and swim-mer. He attended but dropped out of Indiana University.
   Shoemaker studied with Swami Rudrananda and lived in his ashram in Big Indian, New York, until 1973, the year of Rudrananda’s death. In 1971 he founded the Nityananda Institute upon instructions from Rudrananda in Bloom-ington, Indiana, to foster Shaivite teachings. After Rudrananda’s death, he traveled to India and was initiated into SANNYAS (renunciation) by Swami MUKTANANDA in Ganeshpuri, India, in 1978 and given the name Chetanananda (the bliss of pure awareness). He was also initiated into the ancient Tibetan Buddhist ritual practices of Phowa and Chod, and others from the Longchen Nyingthing and Padampa Sangye Shi-je tradition.
   After Rudrananda’s sudden death, Chetanan-anda read the Shiva Sutras, a text in the Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism; he discerned a close connection with the teachings of Rudrananda.
   From 1980 to 1986, he studied Kashmiri Shaivism with Swami Laksmanjoo in Srinagar. In 1983, he embraced the ancient KASHMIRI SHAIVITE practice of Trika Yoga, the philosophical framework for the practice of Kundalini YOGA. According to Rudrananda, Trika Yoga denies that renunciation is the superior path to spiritual development, but instead embraces all ethnic lifestyles as avenues to realization. Trika Yoga emphasizes a commit-ment to positive participation in life as a means for developing spiritual discernment.
   Swami Chetanananda, as an advocate of Trika Yoga, teaches MEDITATION and the philosophy and tantric practices of Kashmiri Shaivism. He over-sees a translation program for both SANSKRIT and Tibetan spiritual texts and has expertise in Indian, Tibetan, and Indonesian art, history, and archae-ology. He has studied ASANA (postures in HATHA YOGA) practice, cranial osteopathy, homeopathy, and acupuncture. He is the author of several books on spiritual practice, published by Rudra Press. Although he received initiation into SANNYAS (renunciation), he does not give sannyas initiation to others.
   Chetanananda serves as abbot of Nityananda Institute and Rudrananda Ashram, both of which are now located in Portland, Oregon. He is spiri-tual teacher, mentor, and guide to students. The institute emphasizes the role of the teacher in promoting spiritual growth and the importance of being engaged with a specified lineage within which the teacher was trained. The Nityananda Institute, under the imprint of Rudra Press, pub-lishes books on Kashmir Shaivism, Trika Yoga, and hatha yoga. The institute also includes the Abhinavagupta Institute, which offers scholarly translations of Kashmiri Shaivite texts.
   Further reading: Swami Chetanananda, The Breath of God (Portland, Ore.: Rudra Press, 1988); ———, Dynamic Stillness. Part 1, The Practice of Trika Yoga (Portland, Oreg.: Rudra Press, 1990); ———, Songs from the Center of the Well (Portland, Ore.: Rudra Press, 1983).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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