Swami Chetanananda (“Swamiji”) encourages his students to discover the amazing possibility that resides within them, and to connect and live from it each day. A teacher in the lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, he is a powerful presence and a source of great nourishment for those who come in contact with him.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Swamiji’s life was transformed, in an instant, upon his first meeting with his guru, Swami Rudrananda (Rudi), in New York City in 1971. Swami Chetanananda describes the moment: “I took one look at him and melted…I felt an extraordinary beauty and love shoot into me and shatter me…It took me all of five seconds to know that this was what I had lived for.” Since that day, Swamiji has devoted himself to realizing his highest potential and to empowering others to realize theirs.
Swamiji became Rudi's senior student (view letter from Rudi) and studied with Rudi until Rudi’s death in 1973. At age 24, after Rudi’s passing and at Rudi’s direction, Swamiji became the head of the ashrams established by Rudi. He is now the abbot and spiritual director of The Movement Center, based in Portland, Oregon.
Like Rudi, Swamiji works with students to awaken their creative energy and support them in the process of its unfoldment. He teaches eyes-open meditation, a direct transmission practice in which teacher and student share the experience of the underlying unity of all things.
In 1978, Swamiji took sannyas with Swami Muktananda, and took the name “Chetanananda,” meaning “the joy of consciousness.” In the course of his studies with Muktananda, he began to explore the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism. Recognizing that the treatises written by the practitioners of this tradition described much of his own experience, Swamiji studied Shaivism in depth. He spent time with Swami Lakshmanjoo in Srinigar and has collaborated with major scholars and sponsored translations of many important Shaiva texts, including the first English translation of the Tantrasara of Abhinavagupta.
In 1997, during a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, Swamiji met Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche, a highly accomplished practitioner of the Shije (Pacification of Suffering) teachings of Padampa Sangye. Swamiji understood that Padampa Sangye’s teachings and Shaivism shared a common origin, and he began to study with Rinpoche. Over the next few years, Rinpoche transmitted to Swamiji the complete Shije lineage of Padampa Sangye as well as the highest teachings of the Nyingma tradition, the Longchen Nyingthig.
For the last 15 years, Swami Chetanananda has continued to study the tantric tradition in all its forms from the plains of North India to Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley and the steppes of Tibet. He has sought out adepts who preserve powerful lineages. With the experience he has gained, Swamiji has expanded and refined Rudi’s later teachings, which Rudi called his “tantric work.”
Swamiji has a profound grasp of the philosophical and practice traditions he has studied. He conveys their essence in direct and accessible terms, making them relevant to everyday circumstances. He offers simple, practical techniques for working with creative energy and explains them in ways that can be practiced by anyone. The fundamental method he teaches uses the power of the breath to circulate the creative energy (kundalini) and intensify its flow so that tensions and obstacles are dissolved, leading to a more refined awareness. As Rudi did, Swamiji emphasizes the importance of working deeply over time.
To complement his spiritual practices, Swami Chetanananda has a working knowledge of a range of healing systems and methodologies, from the time-honored traditions of hatha yoga and acupuncture to the more modern techniques of homeopathy and osteopathy. He studied for many years with Dr. Rollin Becker, a gifted cranial osteopath in the tradition of Drs. William Garner Sutherland and Andrew Still. Dr. Becker's work had great impact on Swamiji's teaching. As Swamiji remembers, "Dr. Becker had a profound understanding of the potential that animates the human being and the process by which that potential is transformed into physiology, cognition and perception."
Swamiji is the author of several books on spirituality published by Rudra Press, including Dynamic Stillness, Vols. I & II ; The Breath of God; Open Heart, Open Mind; Choose to Be Happy; Will I Be the Hero of My Own Life? and There Is No Other. He has traveled extensively in Asia and has a deep appreciation of Asian art.