Our Director: Shunyamurti

DSC_9302Shunyamurti is the founder and research director of the Sat Yoga Institute, headquartered in Costa Rica. The institute’s mission is to accelerate the transformation of human consciousness and contribute to the spiritual and cultural renaissance that is fermenting now on our planet. Shunyamurti was inspired to lead such an effort as a result of his own inner work that has led to attunement with the ultimate source of consciousness.

Shunyamurti’s spiritual path has been wide-ranging and profound. It has included many years of Yogic training, in diverse forms of Yoga, including five years of intensive practice of classical Ashtanga Yoga followed by ten years spent in a formal Raja Yoga monastic order, and many more years of meditative practice in diverse spiritual traditions. He has also deeply studied numerous other transformational disciplines, from shamanism to various schools of psychology and psychoanalysis.

His spiritual experiences began early, with an interest in poetry writing. The practice of searching inwardly to discover words to express his innermost sense of being led him to a serendipitous auto-initiation in the practice of meditation. Soon, the interest in actual poems was replaced with a fascination with the fount of intelligence and feeling itself. This culminated in a mystical realization of the presence of God.

A more systematic study of religion followed. He worked with a teacher of Kabbalah and learned other ways of entering into contemplative prayer. He was later influenced by esoteric Christian and Sufi approaches to God-consciousness. He lived attuned to the Divine Presence. After entering college, he was faced with the problem of how to respond to the military draft, and his conscience would not permit him to support the use of violence. He discovered the writings of Gandhi and began a deep and long-lasting study of the roots of aggression in the human soul, beginning with himself. In addition to taking the Yogic vow of ahimsa, he studied many ways of transforming destructive energy into creative power. This led to the practice of various martial arts for many years, including judo and aikido, kung fu and tai chi, as meditative means of channeling aggressive energies into a force of peace. This also led him to the study of Zen, and later of other forms of Buddhist and Taoist thought and practice.

During that period, Shunyamurti also experimented with entheogens, discovering both the power and the limits of botanical and chemical substances in opening the doors of perception. He studied with shamanic teachers many native ways of gaining the alliance of the powers of nature and entering into paranormal states for healing, communion with higher beings, and deepening ecstatic wisdom. He experimented with fasting, and discovered another portal to the infinite that opened on long fasts of forty days and more, and he came to understand the internal biological component of the production of soma, the divine nectar of bliss, in the human brain.

All of this informal spiritual education added dimensions of understanding to what he was learning in his formal education, which focused on the fields of philosophy, theater, and political science. Eventually, he also earned a degree in law. But his spiritual calling led him on a vision quest that resulted in a decisive out-of-body experience, an ascension that determined his life course away from the professional practice of law and fully into the life of a yogi and mystic, and further training toward becoming a spiritual guide.

Led by the higher power to an ashram in India, he entered into constant practice of the remembrance of God. As a consequence, ever more extraordinary and more ego-shattering encounters with the Absolute ensued. In the ashram, he was often asked for help and counsel, and in deep dialogue with his fellow yogis, he came to understand what he still needed to learn to unravel their karmic knots and thus fulfill his own destiny. He returned to the U.S. to study hypnotherapy, after which he opened a private practice. At the same time, he pursued a doctoral program in psychology, and began a rigorous study of Jungian analysis and other forms of transpersonal theory. His meditative practice continued to deepen, rapturous uprushes of kundalini occurred often, ecstatic moments unfolded in which time would stop and the miraculous fact of eternity manifested. Consciousness became continually more saturated with the realization of nonduality.

Shunyamurti also became an ever more serious student of dreamwork and symptomatology, which led to the study of Freudian psychoanalysis, especially in its Lacanian and other postmodern approaches. This opened out into a deeper study of Western philosophy—from the Pythagoreans and pre-Socratics to the neo-platonists of ancient Greece to medieval thinkers including Nicolas of Cusa, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, and others, including in the field of alchemy, to the founders of modern thought, including Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel, and Schelling, to the contemporary theorists of phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstruction, and post-structuralism.

He studied logic, language, semiotics, and sciences such as quantum physics, which gave him more nuanced symbolic concepts with which to understand his own immersion in super-consciousness. He was able to synthesize his realization of Advaita, the ultimate truth of nonduality, with the fragmented and elided nature of ego-consciousness, and thus to be able to guide others to complete the purification of the unconscious, and traverse its phantasms to realize the Oneness beyond the event horizon of the ego.

The absolute emptiness of transfinite potentiality, called by Spinoza Natura Naturans, became palpably reunited with the forms of the phenomenal plane, Natura Naturata. Shunyamurti recognized this as the original intention of Yoga practice, and reconstituted Yoga on a conceptual foundation that would be more coherent to the modern Western mind. He further refined this approach, which came to be called Sat Yoga (meaning union with the Ground of Being), and he became increasingly adept as a healer and teacher, and a remover of obstacles for those on the spiritual path. A large and unique corpus of higher knowledge was accumulating, ready to be disseminated for the benefit of other seekers.

Before moving to Costa Rica, Shunyamurti maintained his flourishing private practice as a transformational healer in California for over twenty years, integrating the healing effects of unitive presence with such modalities as hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis, family systems approaches, gestalt, transpersonal and Jungian work, in addition to several forms of bodywork and kundalini energy transmission. He connects always with the resonant presence of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj as his closest teachers, for whom he feels the deepest reverence.

In 2001, Shunyamurti received another vision, to build an “ark” to survive the cataclysms of a world in chaos. SYI was designed to be an advanced spiritual school and ultimately a self-sustaining creative eco-community that could serve as a transitional medium to bring humans from the present state of ego-consciousness to the next state, that of full Self-realization and reintegration with the Cosmic Intelligence. He foresaw that Costa Rica would become a major center of the new global culture of peace. Thus was the Sat Yoga Institute conceived.

Shunyamurti functions now as a spiritual guide, retreat leader, and teacher, and he is engaged in spiritual community building, in addition to his ongoing advanced research in the Yogic sciences. He can be reached through the Institute’s contact page. The Sat Yoga Institute offers ongoing psycho-spiritual training and accepts sincere volunteers who seek the opportunity to enter into an intensive process of Self-realization.

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