Swami is in ‘middle of a very different road’ | TheUnion.com

Swami is in ‘middle of a very different road’

Swami Beyondananda isn’t shy about letting others know about his feelings on current world affairs, which he will do tonight via a “State of the Universe” at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

“Every year at this time, the swami feels compelled to give a ‘State of the Universe’ address,” the swami said last week. “This year, Elvis has a very special message: Elvis is affirming that this is the time to bring love on to the planet because it’s now or never.”

While his theme is “Wake Up, America,” which covers serious topics including terrorism, global warming and why the presidential decision was made to wage war in Iraq, the swami, whose real name is Steve Bhaerman, uses humor to make his points.

“This is a great opportunity for us to laugh together. The theme for the ‘State of the Universe’ is ‘wake up America and wake up laughing,’ Bhaerman said. “Although Thomas Jefferson said we were sovereign citizens, we are no longer citizens, we’re subjects. This is a wake-up call to become the citizens our founding fathers imagined. The swami doesn’t believe in left or right – he’s middle of the road, but middle of a very different road.”

Since 1987, the Santa Rosa-based Bhaerman has performed comedy and offered workshops around the country promoting the healing benefits of humor and laughter. Before then, Bhaerman was a labor history and ethnic studies professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and at the University of Michigan.

Today, he is compelled to write books with titles such as “Driving Your Own Karma: Swami Beyondananda’s Tourguide to Enlightenment” and “Duck Soup For the Soul: The Way of Living Louder and Laughing Longer.” His latest book in the works is “Swami for Precedent,” with the premise of “set a new precedent, a new president will follow.” His cassettes include “Yogi From Muskogee” and “Don’t Squeeze the Shaman.”

Bhaerman’s monthly column, “Ask the Swami,” appears in about 35 print and online publications dealing with holistic, political and environmental subjects.

Via the airwaves, the swami also has a local connection. He checks in weekly on Jerianne Van Dijk’s radio show on KVMR (found on the FM dial at 89.5 FM from 7 to 10 a.m. Fridays).

“He has become quite a loved character. In fact, people now know me, that I am with the Swami’s show. He is a fascination,” Van Dijk noted. “The silliest part of this all is that I have never personally met him. I called him last fall and asked him if he would like to do a try at some swami talk every week, and it turned into a true following.”

Bhaerman hopes he has a following tonight at the Center for the Arts.

“The audience will be enlightened, encouraged and empowered, and the swami is asked to leave them laughing until the sacred cows come home,” Bhaerman predicted. “It’s an evening of entertainment and a celebration of the fact that there are more people on the planet awakening.”

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