An Interview with
By Andrea Adler
Andrea: What was the impetus for the three of you to come together in this way?
Shankarananda: Yes, very good question. Well, I guess I provided the impetus. All of us worked together during Baba’s lifetime... Swami Muktananda’s lifetime... and I always loved it when the swamis used to work together with joint intention. During the last year of Baba’s life he had five of the senior swamis do an intensive and that was a lot of fun. So, I’ve always had this model that we should all work together.
Andrea: Thus the title of the event in Santa Monica, “Unity and Diversity”?
Master Charles: We wanted to show that three teachers, independent and successful in their own rights, with their own facilities, their own disciples, and their own books, could come together and share the same stage and be brothers. In that understanding, we model the unity of consciousness at the holistic level, and at the same time, show and delight in the diversity of that unity. We came together in Australia. It was received so beautifully. We had great fun!
Chetanananda: We come from the same place, we are going to the same place, and in the middle we have the various life experiences that we have given rise to through different perspectives, different interests and different languages.
Andrea: So, you were all initiated into Siddha Yoga through Baba, and yet you have all disseminated your knowledge differently, is that correct?
Shankarananada: That’s right. Master Charles and I are both disciples of Baba, Swami Muktananda, while Swami Chetanananda is a disciple of Rudrananda, who was once a student of Baba’s. Our common meeting ground is Bhagawan Nityananda, who is Baba’s guru. So, we all come from the same lineage. We’ve each taken the seed that was given to us and interpreted it in different ways, and yet there is this commonality, which is interesting for us.
Andrea: Master Charles, what was the motivation for you to create the Synchronicity Sanctuary in Virginia? How is it different from the Siddha Yoga path and do you incorporate Kashmir Saivism in your teachings, one of Baba’s main philosophies?
Master Charles: The motivation for creating Synchronicity was Baba himself who said to me, “You are an American. You are a westerner. Find a way to transpose — to contemporize and modernize the ancient classical experience of meditation and its philosophy.” So, basically, I have updated and transposed Kashmir Saivism and taken all the Eastern culture out of it.
I authored a work called The Synchronicity Paradigm, which has three components. The first is the holistic model of reality, so when reading it you could understand the nature of reality in holistic terms in a very contemporized modern _expression. Secondly, I delineated the mechanics of actualizing the holistic model of reality.
In other words, rather than just remaining a philosophy you could read about, you actualize it into your own daily practical experience to make it a practical modern spirituality. The first was contemporary meditation and the second was holistic lifestyle.
With contemporary meditation, I originated a sound technology that assisted people to easily access various authentic meditative states of awareness. That technology is now known as high-tech meditation and people all over the world now sit on the meditator’s seat, perhaps in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have. As a result, the media has referred to me as the electronic mystic, or the high-tech guru. They’ve said of me, “He’ll never win a Gram-my, but he has gone platinum with High-Tech Meditation.”
Andrea: Are these high-tech CD’s used to achieve different levels of the meditative state?
Master Charles: Yes, we classify these recordings according to the three brainwave frequencies of alpha, theta and delta. Alpha being light meditation, theta being medium range meditation, and delta meaning the deepest level of meditation.
Andrea: Swami Chetanananda, you have created the Nityananda Institute in Portland, OR. Would you describe the essence of what your ashram offers to seekers?
Chetanananda: Our core practice is the same core practice as all the various
manifestations of the Tantric tradition, which is the circulation of energy
through various channels and chakras and into the central channel, the Sushumna.
In the same tradition as Siddha Yoga, the guru transmits his own creative power
into the disciple, which awakens the kundalini energy within them — expanding
their own vital energy and giving them the sensitivity and capacity to circulate
Andrea: By what method do you transmit this energy?
Chetanananda: The method I use an is eyes-open meditation where I transmit the energy by looking directly at people, but I also do the touch and when I do that, I use my hand... or my foot.
Andrea: You have also brought an aspect of Tibetan Buddhism into your teachings, is that correct?
Chetanananda: I have been immersed in Tibetan refugee and cultural issues and Tibetan Buddhism for a long time. In 1996, in Katmandu, I met Lama Wangdu, who is the last living lineage holder in a tradition a thousand years old, and the holder of the practice, Chod. Lama Wangdu told me he was going to die within the next five months and that he had no disciple. He asked if I would be willing to learn his practices and carry on his teachings. I agreed and now incorporate this ritualized meditation in the ashram.
Andrea: What does Chod mean?
Chetanananda: It means cutting through ego-clinging — going beyond your ego to experience what you are, beyond your body, beyond your mind, beyond your personal identity and your personal history.
Andrea: Swami Shankarananda, what would you say is unique about Shiva Yoga, and your ashram in Australia?
Shankarananda: We have a certain structure. We emphasize — chanting, mantra, meditation, and so on. I have also introduced a certain process of self-inquiry that arose within me while I was with Baba.
Andrea: Would you explain this process?
Shankarananda: Well, I would sit and meditate around Baba, and I was in this situation which was exacerbated by reading his spiritual autobiography, The Play of Consciousness. He had every possible experience known to man, and a lot of us in my day were really striving for those experiences. I would be sitting there wondering when I would get this, and when I would experience that, and when I would get realized, and pushing and pushing — it wore me out.
Once I was in this struggle, sitting in front of him, and suddenly a clear understanding came, which was that you can’t always have the meditation you want — it sounds like that Rolling Stones song — but you can always have the meditation you are having. That was the form in which that understanding came to me. What it meant was that you always have to start where you are, not where you’re not. So you have to begin right now with what is, and then move from there.
Then a whole new chapter in my meditation started to take place, where instead of striving for some unknown goal, I would always say, “What is going on now? What is happening here? What is going on inside me?” and I would look within myself and see what was there. Then I started to notice there were points of tension within myself, like in my navel area, and I would feel a certain negative feeling in my heart, and then a feeling in my throat and my brow... these particular points started really coming up for me — these four areas, or chakras, you could say.
And then I said, “What is this about?” I understood those feelings of contraction were separating me from the self, the goal, or the experience for which I was looking. The way through them is to investigate them, see what they are made of, and then we see if we can shift beyond them.
This is what started happening; I would say, “What is the feeling? What is the emotion here? What caused it?” and, then, “What medicine can I bring to it?” This process had great results for me: starting where I was, examining it, and undoing the contractions, or the tensions I was experiencing. That was a radical shift in my approach, and I have been teaching inquiry of this type for years.
The 3 GURUS will be appearing September 12 thru 25 at the Doubletree Guest
Suites, in Santa Monica, CA. For more information, see
For more information on each of the three Gurus, visit: Swami Shankarananda: www.shivayoga.org; Master Charles Cannon: www.synchronicity.org; Swami Chetanananda: www.nityanandainstitiute.org
Andrea Adler has been a Siddha Yoga disciple for 29 years. She met Baba
Muktananda in 1976 and has since been a disciple of Gurumayi Chidvilasanda.
Andrea is founder of HolisticPR.com and travels the world presenting workshops
and lectures on Spiritual Marketing.
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