Saniel Bonder, a laughingly self-described “Jewish-American tantric shaman, 21st century entrepreneur, and hopelessly addicted golf maniac,” is a founding member of Integral Institute and is, in Ken’s words, “one in whom the Conscious Principle is awakened.” Along with his wife Linda, he is the founder of the Waking Down in Mutuality work, a community of teachers and practitioners who facilitate non-dual, embodied enlightenment and mutual evolution through workshops, retreats, media offerings, and more. Bonder also runs a number of businesses and gives contemplative golf advice in the guise of Honest Swing Golf(tm).
Born in New York in 1950 and moving to North Carolina at the age of seven, Bonder’s journey began on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah--though he didn't figure that out for nearly 30 years. On that early celebratory occasion, he experienced mostly "devastating sorrow.” Later he saw that he had “forgotten the very essence of who [he was] and what [his] life was really supposed to be about: God, spirit, Being, the truth." He credits his parents and also his mentors in the late Sixties at The Webb School—a preparatory academy in Tennessee—with stoking the fires of personal integrity needed for the spiritual path he was about to endure.
Bonder had his first spiritual opening as a student activist at Harvard in 1969 when “[he] saw that everyone was fundamentally motivated by primal, instinctive ego needs, rather than a true impulse to serve others.” Soon he was reading the Beat Poets, Walt Whitman, Martin Buber, and Autobiography of a Yogi. Upon returning to the U.S. from a pilgrimage to India, he discovered the work of the late Ramana Maharshi, whose teachings on Self-enquiry prompted another opening.
After much focus on consciousness, Bonder experienced "many moments of blissful intuition,” yet beyond his meditation practice found his life in complete disarray. In late 1973, he discovered the teachings of the controversial Bubba Free John (now known as Adi Da), and soon joined the Daist community in Northern California, serving an often central role in the worldwide organization for nearly two decades. Yet after increasing discomfort with Adi Da’s emphasis on renunciation and absolute guru-devotion, Bonder left the community in 1992, and with the help of a therapist and a shamanic mentor, attempted to reclaim his personal integrity and autonomy.
After much self-enquiry and a profound establishment in the “Onlyness of Being [he] had been seeking all along,” Bonder found a teaching capacity to "help people transcend self-doubt and actually fulfill their own great quests" in the type of "alchemical mutuality" among teachers, students, and community he found lacking in his previous experiences. These sessions would become the Waking Down process, and soon Bonder and friends were conducting weekend workshops and daily meditation sittings attended by people in both the local area and from around the world. He reports that his own evolutionary shifts "took off at warp speed after awakening" and have continued to be "exhilarating, peace-giving, and humbling." With his whole-hearted encouragement and participation, the national Waking Down community is now collectively embracing a "redesign" process to more fully embody its principles of democratic empowerment and mutual accountability.
Bonder is married to Linda Groves-Bonder, a jazz singer-songwriter and former student who has become a brilliant teacher of the Waking Down process in her own right. The couple are co-owners of the Extraordinary Empowerments holding company, which offers intensive Waking Down in Mutuality programs and residential retreats, hosts Tantra of Trust workshops on spirituality and sexual intimacy, enriches the lives of individuals and organizations via the Matter Magic consultancy, and also provides herbal supplements for the rigors of evolutionary transformation through 21st Century Herbs. Saniel and Linda currently reside in California.
Books and Audio by Saniel Bonder
Waking Down: Beyond Hypermasculine Dharmas—a Breakthrough Way of Self-Realization in the Sanctuary of Mutuality
While Jesus Weeps: Conversations in the Garden of Gethsemane
The Conscious Principle: Talks on Recognition Yoga and Mutual Conscious Embodiment
An Unexpected Dance, And What it Means to Take an Honest Swing (E-book)
The Tantra of Trust: Skilled and Superlative Intimate Sexual Partnership for 21st Century Woman and Man (with Linda Groves-Bonder)
The Fire of the Onlyness of Conscious Life (Audiotape)