About The Essence

The Essence is a genuine inquiry into the fascinating world of esoteric philosophy, rituals and practices of mystical traditions, a quest to unravel the very essence of timeless and universal teachings of traditions that venerate the Divine Feminine principle.

The film examines the nature of our contemporary individual and collective belief systems, encourages us to introspect on the causes of our mental distress and inspires us to drop fragmentation and develop a life-affirming culture.

Featuring interviews with some of the most knowledgeable spiritual teachers, and practitioners of today, The Essence weaves a thread that connects all spiritual traditions beyond limitations of space, time and mental constructs.

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Participants

A growing list of incredible people we had an amazing opportunity to spend time with.

Ācārya Bhagavan Shanmukha Anantha Natha

Śaiva Āgama master with forty years of teaching experience.

Bhagavan Shanmukha is traditionally educated and initiated in the Veda as well as various Āgamas and Tantras (Kula, Kaula, Mata, and Krama), Kashmiri or Uttara Śaivism, Dakṣiṇa Śaivism, and Tamil Śaivism. He is also learned in the Lingāyat or Jangama ideology—the Śaivism of Karnataka state in India.

Bhagavan Shanmukha is well versed with the traditional reading of the Veda including Vaiṣṇavism, Krṣṇaism and Buddhism. He understands and practices the Pāśupata rituals.

Bhagavan Shanmukha is fluent in Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi and English languages as well as a few other non-Indian languages. The title Bhagavan is synonymous with the term Sarvadarśana ācārya: an ācārya whose initiation takes him to understand the whole science.

Ācārya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)

Founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies.

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) is one of the few Westerners recognized in India as a Vedacharya or teacher of the ancient Vedic wisdom. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Vedic Topics including Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology,Vedanta, Hinduism, Yoga and Tantra, as well as translations and interpretations from the Vedas.

Dr. Frawley has been given many awards for his work in India including the Veda Vyasa award by the International Institute of India Studies. He is a Jyotish Kovid through the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences, and is also the President of the American Council of Vedic Astrology, the American offshoot of the Indian council; He has a Doctor’s degree in Chinese Medicine and has also been certified as an expert through the University of Poona for his knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda.

Rabbi Chaim Miller

Author of the popular Gutnick Edition of the Torah, and a host of other Judaic titles.

A versatile creator and visionary, Rabbi Chaim has authored thirteen soulful books in the last decade, including the bestselling Gutnick Chumash used in Synagogues and homes around the world.

His enthusiastic, personal and warm teaching style has endeared him to a wide range of audiences and he skillfully engages large crowds with impassioned oratory.

With profound empathy and a deep understanding of the human condition, he has counseled thousands to heal their borken selves and relationships and to find greater focus and purpose in their lives.

Yogini Shambhavi

Mystic Yogini, spiritual guide and educator of ancient Vedic traditions.

Yogini Shambhavi is a mystic Yogini, spiritual guide and educator of ancient Vedic traditions and is noted for her clear, direct, and uncompromising expression, and her ability to inspire seekers from every walk of life.

She unfolds the bliss of well-being through Vedic Upaya, ancient rituals, mantra and meditation, drawing one to the deeper ‘Yogic Reality’, awakening the universal Shakti power within us. Her teachings are rooted in the ancient teachings and traditions of Bhakti Yoga, Shakti Sadhana, Jyotisha (Vedic Astrology), Mantra Yoga and Ayurveda.

Rav DovBer Pinson

A leading authority on authentic Kabbalah and Jewish spirituality.

Rav Pinson is a master of the revealed and inner aspects of Torah and has written dozens of groundbreaking books on Kabbalah, Jewish Philosophy and Halacha.

Rav Pinson is an internationally acclaimed speaker and has lectured in both scholarly and lay settings throughout the world. He travels extensively and has attracted many thousands of loyal followers and students around the globe.

Dr. Mark Dyczkowski

One of the world’s foremost scholars on Tantra and Kashmiri Shaivism.

Mark has lived and worked in India for close to forty years and studied at the feet of Swami Laksmanjoo and distinguished scholars in India and abroad.

Both a scholar and a practitioner, he has an undergraduate degree from Banaras Hindu University and a Ph.D. from Oxford University, where he researched Kashmir Shaivism under the guidance of Professor Alexis Sanderson.

Mark has published extensively including the 12 volume Manthanabhairava Tantra and is considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on Tantric Shaivism. He is affiliated with several major academic institutions in India and has lectured in Universities in Europe, the States and India.

Metin Bobaroğlu

Founder of Anatolian Enlightenment Foundation, Philosopher, Melami.

Metin adheres to Melami Sufi Tradition that has a distinguished place within Anatolian wisdom, and is specifically known for conducting mystical, philosophical inquiries or “sohbet” into the very nature of metaphysical reality.

Metin works on realizing and elucidating the universal wisdom within spiritual traditions, beyond appearances and religious contradictions. He divides his time between giving seminars at various universities and preparing radio and TV programs on ancient wisdom, gnostic teachings, islamic mysticism and other insightful interdisciplinary works.

Metin writes extensive commentaries on traditional and modern culture, history of spiritual traditions, society and myth, and has written two books titled “Symbolic Thinking” and “Enlightenment Question and Values”.

Whitney Wheelock

Teacher & Practitioner of Kaula yoga. 

In 2006 Whitney left his known “western” environment arriving in Thailand to explore other cultures and perspectives of life. In his first two weeks in Asia he met Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Natha. He would soon find that his desires to explore life “outside the box” were met.

He has studied with Bhagavan Natha continuously since their first meeting, returning to the USA for a year in that time to care for his grandparents. He credits Bhagavan Natha and the traditional systems of knowledge with informing and culturing him to know himself and understand life as a celebration. He now shares his experience and knowledge with others in Texas at the Svatantrya Temple.

Madhu Khanna

Indian historian of religion and noted Tantrik scholar.

Madhu Khanna is a distinguished fellow in Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Until recently, she was Director for the Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion and Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

She is at present Visiting Professor of Indic Religion at the same Centre, where she teaches interdisciplinary courses in Hindu Studies. She has several books and exhibition catalogues to her credit and has contributed to three national projects, as well as several research projects for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Yukey Matsunaga

Former president of the Japan Buddhist Federation (JBF) and the patriarch of Koyasan Shingon-shu.

The JBF is the only association in Japan representing all of traditional Japanses Buddhism, bringing together 103 denominations, sects, and organizations across the country, over 90 percent of all Japanese Buddhist groups. The JBF promotes freedom of religion, the separation of religion and state, human rights, and engages in disaster relief and intra- and inter-religious outreach.

Koyasan Shingon-shu is an important temple for the practice of Shingon Buddhism, an esoteric branch of Vajrayana Buddhism and one of the major schools within Japanese Buddhism.

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

An Aleut elder and indigenous wisdom teacher.

Indigenous wisdom keepers throughout the western hemisphere and other parts of the world have shared their wisdom, knowledge and prophecies with him, asking him to share their words with the world. Issues related to cultural and community wellness, traditional ways of living, elder wisdom, and the environment are close to his heart.

Larry’s clarity of mind, heart and spirit delivers a connected and timeless message from the wisdom of his ancestors that adds insightful meaning to the next age of mankind.  His writings, interviews, and wisdom appear in a wide array of publications.

Christopher Hareesh Wallis

Tantrik Shaivism practitioner and teacher.

Christopher (Hareesh) Wallis’ teaching balances accuracy with accessibility, profundity with clarity, and intellectual integrity with heart-expanding inspiration. As a gifted scholar, Hareesh holds a Masters in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley, an M.Phil. in Classical Indian Religions from the University of Oxford, and is currently completing doctoral dissertation at Berkeley on the traditions of Tantrik Shaivism, and head Faculty at The Mattamayura Institute.

Traktung Rinpoche

Teacher and practitioner of Nyingma lineage of Tantrik Buddhism.

For 23 years Traktung Rinpoche has transmitted the essence and methods of Tantric Buddhism’s science of transformation. Traktung Rinpoche does not commercialize dharma by charging for teachings offering quick hit, drive through, workshop self help seminars as if the great questions of life can be bought and sold in the market place of spiritual materialism. Instead he teaches in the style of the ancient sages who simply offered teachings and example of living realization to those with a true thirst.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PHD

Chairman and Spiritual Head of the Himalayan Institute and successor to Sri Swami Rama.

Born into a family tradition steeped in spiritual wisdom, Pandit Tigunait has lived and studied with renowned yogic adepts and lectured and taught worldwide for over 30 years. He has written 14 books and holds two doctorates: one in Sanskrit from the University of Allahabad in India, and another in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Pearl Daniel-Means

Dineh Mother and Grandmother born into the A’shiihi (Salt) Clan.

Pearl walked at the side of the late American Indian Leader, Activist, Artist, Author and Actor Russell Means as his wife, business manager and collaborator. From Activism to the Arts, from Indigenous Issues to Hollywood she accompanied, organized and managed the affairs of the most influential American Indian of our time.

Pearl is Chair of the T.R.E.A.T.Y. Total Immersion Educational Endowment Fund. Its current projects are the Lakota Language/Culture Immersion School and the Russell Means Library.

Brother David Steindl-Rast

A Catholic Benedictine monk, author and spiritual leader…

Brother David Steindl-Rast has been a practicing Benedictine monk for over half a century and was one of the first Vatican-sanctioned delegates to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He is a recipient of the Martin Buber Award for his outstanding role in building bridges between religious traditions, and serves as a senior member of the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York.

Fervently committed to what he calls “mysticism in action,” Br. David has been an outspoken advocate for social justice, environmental issues, and international peace. He has written and contributed to well over thirty books, and with famed physicist Fritjof Capra, co-authored Belonging to the Universe, recipient of the prestigious American Book Award.