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Eli Jaxon-Bear

Eli Jaxon-Bear

Gurus/Spiritual Masters
Eli Jaxon-Bear
current suggested assesment

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Tradition Advaita Vedanta
Guru HWL Poonja
Category Nondual
Psychology Lacks self-mastery
Inspiration Transcendent aspect of Intermediate zone
Disciples/Devotees see external link external link Leela Foundation
Critics (includes ex-devotees and others) Message board Mail List, blogosphereGoogle search results Guruphiliac, Google search results R Blog.
Abuses Sexual - Moderate
Financial - ???
Emotional - Moderate
Thought - Need Information
Antagonism - ???
Control info - Moderate
External - None
Cultism - ???
Assesment May have a sincere side, but given into heaviness and lower impulses. He seems to have manipulated his wife into covering up for his betrayal of trust. But still charismatic, yet another IZ Guru!

Impression from the photograph

The photograph shows someone with a sincerity and spiritual striving (as can be seen in the eyes), but still with a great deal of heaviness and desire for worldly things. Because of this heaviness of energy, and going through perhaps a mid-life crisis, Eli took advantage of his position of trust and aas an authority figure, teacher, and father figure, to enter into a long-term sexual relationship with a much younger female devotee. This is a classic instance of abuse of trust. So once again a spiritual teacher has run aground on the rock of sexual desire. Now he is further abusing trust by getting his wife Gangaji to clean up after him, with her Jewel in Disillusionment retreat. As a result he is destroying her reputation, because she is following his lead, whereas he should be following hers.

In terms of spiritual stature, Eli can in no way be compared with his Gangaji, as is evident by reading their personalities and spiritual presence from their respective photographs. Nevertheless Gangaji, because of her feminine samskaras, has stood by Eli through the scandal (they were separated for a while but then she forgave thim) showing compassion and forgiveness on her part, but sullying giving her reputation in the wider and more cynical world.

Early Career

Eli Jaxon-Bear was born Elliot Jay Zeldow in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947. In 1978, Kalu Rinpoche appointed him the president of the first Kagyu dharma centre in Marin County. In 1982, he was presented with a Zen Teaching Fan at ChoShoJi Zen Temple in Japan. After travelling widely and exploring many traditions and practices. A student of the Enneagram, his first book Healing the Heart of Suffering (1989), was on its use as a wisdom mirror.

Papaji and after

In 1990 in India he traveled to Lucknow, to meet Sri H.W.L. Poonja, or "Papaji," on the advice of a friend. Papaji became his guru. He wrote to his wife Toni who joined him and also accepted Papaji as guru; he gave her the name "Gangaji".

The two of the returned to the West with Papaji's blessing, to become spiritual teachers and gurus in their own right.

Based in Oregan, Eli and Gangaji taught both separately and together. Eli dedicated himself to passing on the transmission of his teacher, infuses his own teaching with Papaji's living transmission of Silence (i.e. the Intermediate zone). He uses egoic identification as a vehicle for ruthless self-inquiry and final realization of true freedom. In 1996, he founded external link The Leela Foundation, a spiritual organization dedicated to world peace and freedom, which integrates insights of the Enneagram with nondualism. He also became very big in Germany. He wrote another book called Wake Up and Roar.

Eli and Gangaji each have their own foundations, each with dedicated and devoted followers, although there was of course considerable overlap. Together they ran a three year program for students that wanted to deepen their experience.


In October 2006 controversy a scanal became public. Eli disclosed that he had carried on an affair with a 3 year student over the course of 3 years. This had happened all the time behind his wife's back. Eli did not initially present this as an abuse of power, but tried to say it was a "love affair" between consenting adults. The sangha and the board of his foundation did not buy this. Many students left angry or disillusioned, many volunteers quit, a significant number of his foundation employees quit. At the request of the Leela board he has stepped down from teaching.

Message board More comments here. For example, here is a message from a former employee/ student. Here is one from a former student who claims to have known Eli's paramour. This account is painful reading, and runs counter to the sugary sweet public image.

Now the whole salacious affair is Google search results all over the blogosphere.. see e.g. blogosphere link, link, and link, and the tragedy pof it is that it is dragging Gangaji's previously excellent reputation through the mud.

Gangaji is holding a retreat in January, to deal with the aftermath of this event, called "the jewel of (or in) disillusionment". It is my feeling that this is a mistake, she is allowing Eli to drag her down. This is because Eli's level of realisation is very much lower than Gangaji's.

Web links Links Web links

Website Eli Jaxon-Bear Home Page

Web Page Eli Jaxon-Bear - short bio

Web Page Interview with Gangaji and Eli Jaxon Bear

Message Board Still Teachers?: ex-devotees speak out.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 30 November 2006, last modified 1 December