Swami Chetanananda, Master Charles Cannon, and Swami Shankarananda
The Predicament of the Postmodern Guru: the Gurus Speak Out
The Three Gurus are Master Charles Cannon, Swami
Shankarananda, and Swami Chetanananda. They are highly regarded
Western spiritual teachers who share the spiritual tradition of
the great Indian sage Bhagwan Nityananda*. They have their own
diverse styles of teaching, their own students, ashrams, and
meditation centers stretching all the way from the Blue Ridge
Mountains of Virginia to Melbourne, Australia. And,
occasionally, they also tour as a trio, presenting a unique
program of triple satsang (a gathering before a realized
Master), meditation instruction, music, and dialogue with the
audience. WIE founder and fellow spiritual teacher
Andrew Cohen met with them in L.A., and conducted this candid backstage dialogue about the predicament of the postmodern guru.
With disarming honesty, the three—plus one—gurus
share with us the real world of the spiritual teacher.
They possess a genuine camaraderie and ease (far too rare among
spiritual teachers today) which contributes to the
unselfconscious intimacy of the discussion. Informally moderated
by Cohen, they speak about the joy of their work, but also about
the challenges they encounter while performing their sacred
function—enlightening other people—in a culture of
unquestioned individualism and general mistrust of hierarchy.
Perhaps even more striking than what they say is that it is
being said at all. It is worth considering that at any previous
time in history, gurus of such distinction would not likely be
heard sharing their personal experience in this way with anyone,
let alone with everyone! That these modern spiritual teachers
can discuss their lives and work so freely and that we can make
such a dialogue available to listeners around the world is not
just unprecedented—it is a living testament to the ever
evolving face of spiritual life.
* Swami Shankarananda and Master Charles both are
disciples of Swami Muktananda, and Swami Chetanananda is a disciple of Swami Rudrananda. Both Muktananda and Rudrananda were disciples of Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.
Recorded on: 9/13/2005
Contemporary Spiritual Teachers