Albert Rudolph - Swami Rudrananda (1928 - 1973)
Albert Rudolph was first and foremost a hustler and a bullshit artist. His "lineage" is suspect to say the least. He claimed that two Tibetan Buddhist lamas appeared out of thin air in a park in Brooklyn when he was 6 years old. They were the head lamas of the "Red Hat" and "Yellow Hat" sects, and they placed several clay jars within his solar plexus. These contained the energy and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism. Rudi was as ignorant of anatomy as he was of Tibetan Buddhism. He claimed these jars would stay inside him and begin to open at age 31. Naturally he told this story after 1959.
On a less elevated level he claimed to have studied at the Gurdjieff Institute for 5 years from 1953 and spent 4 months in 1957 as the "personal attendant" of Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha the Śankarācārya of Govardhana Matha, a Brahmin and one of the most important monks in India. In 1958 the Shankaracharya travelled to the USA and stayed 3 months in Los Angeles. Rudolph then "studied Subud for about two to three years with Pak Subud (sic)." Rudi is extremely unlikely to have personal contact with Pak Subuh but anyone who wishes can join a latihan group. Rudi also claimed that he went to India in 1958 (or 1960) and met Bhagawan Nityananda (c.1896 - 1961), the obese, loincloth-wearing guru of Ganeshpuri, and was "awakened!" Rudolph may have received dietary advice from the "Belly Baba", Nityananda.
Upon Swami Nityananda's death, I returned several dozen times to the village temple where he was buried and would receive great guidance from him. He would step out of his tomb and I would see him as clearly as any physical person can see any other physical person. This is the way my spiritual voyage began.
One of Nityananda's major disciples was Swami Muktananda. In 1966 Muktananda initiated Rudolph as Swami Rudrananda into a form of Kashmiri Shaivism. Shaivism, in simplistic terms, refers to the creative cosmic play of energy in manifestation. All perceivable vibrations of the world or consciousness are emanations of Shiva. It's a completely nondualistic philosophy that acknowledges the "divine dance in the world" as against the austerities of Vedanta. Its practices, largely preserved in Kashmir, focus on "raising kundalini". It is controversial. It was perfect for Rudi and other American Homegrown Gurus as the transmission of shakti in Shaktipat and the raising of the kundalini are invisible and undetectable and the results are uncertain.
Rudi's teaching was an eyes-open meditation involving an energy transmission from teacher to student. The experience was immediate and powerful. It could fill a student with an overwhelming sense of presence, of well being, of joy. It could also be like a jolt of cosmic energy, sometimes sending people flying off their chairs or falling backwards to the ground. - Rudi Movie Website
Rudolph's main contribution to Indian spirituality in the USA was financing Muktananda to come from India in 1970. Muktananda's success quickly overshadowed Rudolph who broke with him shortly thereafter in a rancorous dispute:
A teacher in no way is a replacement for God and I found that the person with whom I had studied was so obsessed with his being God, or more than God, that I could not respect and sustain the relationship. - Rudrananda, Spiritual Cannibalism, 139.
Swami Chetananda (b. 1948) one of Rudolph's foremost disciples and successors and said of him:
"Rudi himself fulfilled the ideal of a mahasiddha, great yogi. "He was at once the expression and the contradiction of every image we might have of a realized human being. He could be sweet and terrifying, divine and incredibly human, all at the same time."
Yada yada yada … Chetananda - born J. Michael Shoemaker - was 52 years old, overweight and bald when he was accused of "financial, sexual and spiritual abuse" by dozens of his former followers.
Rudolph was born into Brooklyn poverty, quit high school, joined the army, took a college degree in textiles, ran an East Side art and Eastern import store in Manhattan, supported himself, charged nothing financial for his teachings and was gay.
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