Eli Jaxon-Bear

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Eli Jaxon-Bear

Eli Jaxon-Bear (born Elliot Jay Zeldow, 1947) is an American spiritual teacher and author. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, with his wife Gangaji who is also a spiritual teacher.[1] Before he met his teacher, Sri H.W.L. Poonja, in 1990, he was best known for his work on the spiritual dimension of the Enneagram. Following his meeting with Poonjaji he continued to teach, carrying his teacher's message to the West.[2]

Early life[edit]

Jaxon-Bear was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1968. In 1965 he was part of a group of students who went to Montgomery, Alabama, to take part in the civil rights marches.[3] Later he wrote of this experience, "Getting on the bus represented a much deeper commitment than simply enduring a few weeks of dangerous adventure. Finally, I had to give my life fully to getting on the bus for freedom without a thought of getting off."[4] After graduating he became a community organizer in Chicago and Detroit. Freedom of Information documents show that the FBI began a file on Jaxon-Bear after his arrest during the Democratic Convention in the summer of 1968.[5] After six months of working in a steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania, he was awarded a fellowship for a doctorate at the Graduate School for International Studies at the University of Denver. He was part of the student strike committee that shut down the university in 1970.[6]

Spiritual path[edit]

Jaxon-Bear's eighteen-year spiritual path began after the 1971 May Day Protests, when he became a federal fugitive during the Vietnam War. As he described, "I was brought face-to-face with death. Through grace, I passed to the other side: I awoke to the truth of my own nature as empty, immortal consciousness."[7] This experience led him on a spiritual search that took him around the world and into many traditions and practices. In 1978, Kalu Rinpoche appointed him the president of Kagyu Minjur Choling, the first Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist dharma center in Marin County. In 1982, he was presented with a Zen teaching fan at Cho Sho-ji Zen Temple in Beppu, Japan.[8] Through the 1980s, Jaxon-Bear ran a clinical hypnosis and neurolinguistics certification program at the Esalen Institute. Also during that time, he studied the ancient Sufi[citation needed] wisdom teachings of the Enneagram. His first writings and teachings on the Enneagram emerged in 1989. He was a keynote speaker at the first International Enneagram Conference at Stanford University in August 1994. His talk was entitled "The Enneagram and Self-Realization".[9]

In 1990 in India, Jaxon-Bear met the teacher Sri H.W.L. Poonja, who is called "Papaji" by his followers. A few months later, he took his wife, Antoinette Varner, to meet Papaji. She too became a devotee and Papaji named her Gangaji.[10] Subsequent to the meeting with Papaji, both Jaxon-Bear and Gangaji were allowed to teach satsang in the West, and given conditional permission to publish Wake Up and Roar.[11] A full account of Jaxon-Bear's early life and spiritual path until he met his teacher Papaji, can be found in his detailed memoir, An Outlaw Makes it Home: The Awakening of a Spiritual Revolutionary (2018).[12]

Core teaching[edit]

Jaxon-Bear's teaching focuses on the nature of egoic suffering in support of self-realization. Today, he claims that he offers the transmission of silence received from his teacher Papaji. He also helps students address egoic identification using the Enneagram as a vehicle for self-inquiry and realization of true freedom. What Papaji called "stopping the mind", Jaxon-Bear called "ending the fixation". He wrote, "The great gift of the Enneagram is that it describes who you are not. It shows the veiling of pure, pristine consciousness by habits of egoic identification."[13]

Writings and publications[edit]

In 1990, Jaxon-Bear established the Pacific Center Press to publish books and videos. The first volume of Wake Up and Roar, a compilation of spiritual dialogues with Papaji edited by Jaxon-Bear, was published in 1992. The second volume followed in 1993.[14] In 2001, he wrote From Fixation to Freedom: The Enneagram of Liberation[15] to reflect the evolution of his teaching of the Enneagram in light of his teacher's transmission.

In 2004, Jaxon-Bear wrote Sudden Awakening Into Direct Realization. "In this book, I offer you the gift of awakening that was given to me by my teacher, Sri H.W. L. Poonja, a fully awakened satguru called Papaji. Awakening is real: it is actually the only reality. Awakening is permanent: it doesn't come and go."[16]

In 2017, a new edition of Wake Up and Roar: Satsang with Papaji was released by New Morning Books. In 2018, An Outlaw Makes It Home: The Awakening of a Spiritual Revolutionary was released by New Morning Books.

Leela Foundation[edit]

Jaxon-Bear established the Leela Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The organization offers events, books, videos, audios, and outreach programs dedicated to world peace and freedom through universal self-realization.[1] Jaxon-Bear holds public meetings and retreats in the US, Europe and Australia.

Leela School[edit]

Jaxon-Bear is also principal teacher at the Leela School of Awakening,[17] which was established in 2016 as a separate educational non-profit organization. The Leela School offers a A.C.H.E.[18] accredited training and certification in therapeutic intervention and hypnotherapy, with branches in Ashland, Oregon, Sydney, Australia and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Personal life[edit]

In 1975, Jaxon-Bear met his life-partner, Antoinette Roberson Varner (born Merle Antoinette ("Toni") Roberson) known as Gangaji, in Berkeley, California. They spent their first five years together living on a small farm in Bolinas, California. In 1989, they were married in a cave in Haleakala Crater on Maui.


In July 2007, Jaxon-Bear was discovered to have fractures in his spine and a broken rib. He was diagnosed with last stage multiple myeloma and given a maximum of three years to live. Since he was diagnosed as a non-genetic inheritor of the disease, his exposure during 9/11 may have been a causal factor.[citation needed]

Jaxon-Bear was recommended to put his medical care in the hands of Bart Barlogie, a doctor originally from Heidelberg. Barlogie was the leader in the field at that time and immediately put Jaxon-Bear on an experimental protocol with two stem cell transplants and years of the heaviest chemotherapy. This saved his life but did not get rid of the cancer. In 2018, he qualified to try a new class of drugs that target the specific gene deletions that causes the cancer. Within six months his blood work returned to normal and he is now in full remission.


In October 2005, Jaxon-Bear admitted to his wife Gangaji that he had recently ended a three-year affair with an adult female student who was at the time employed as the executive director of his organization, the Leela Foundation. After a brief separation, Jaxon-Bear and Gangaji reconciled in December 2005. In October 2006, he disclosed the extramarital relationship to the Gangaji Foundation board of directors and staff. Following the disclosure, Jaxon-Bear publicly apologized for the pain he had caused his wife, the woman he became involved with, and his community. At that time, Jaxon-Bear resigned from teaching. He and Gangaji held open meetings to heal the wounds experienced in their spiritual community, as well as holding retreats on the subjects of disillusionment, betrayal and relationship.



  • An Outlaw Makes it Home: The Awakening of a Spiritual Revolutionary (2018), (ISBN 978-0692599877)
  • Wake Up and Roar: Satsang with Papaji, (2017), (ISBN 978-0-985691127)
  • From Fixation to Freedom: The Enneagram of Liberation (2006), (ISBN 978-1-893840-26-3)
  • Sudden Awakening Into Direct Realization (2004), (ISBN 1-932073-11-6)
  • Wake Up and Roar: Satsang with H.W.L. Poonja, Editor (2002), (ISBN 978-0-963219-41-1)
  • Healing the Heart of Suffering: Using The Enneagram for Spiritual Growth (1989) (Droemer Knauer, Germany.)
  • Flame of Freedom, (1998) Luchow Press, Germany


  • Connections Magazine (May, 2010), "I Love, Therefore I AM"
  • KGS Magazine, Hamburg (2008), "Saints, Sinners and Self Realization"
  • NOVA Magazine, Australia (August, 2005), "Mirror, Mirror"
  • Sein Magazine, Germany (2005), "Interview with Jaxon-Bear"
  • Pathways Magazine (April, 2004) "The Awakening Power of Two Simple Questions" (with Gangaji)
  • Visionen Magazine (March, 2004), "Meditation"
  • Connections Magazine (2004), "Therapy and Spirituality"
  • Connections Magazine (April, 2003), "Uncovering Self-Betrayal" (with Gangaji)
  • Wegweiser Magazine (June/July, 2003), "Questions on the Roots of War"
  • Advaita Journal, Germany, (December, 2003), "The Essence of Evil"
  • Sein Magazine, Germany (2003), "Being a True Friend: Putting Relationships in Service of Truth"
  • Visionen Magazine (August, 2002), "Commitment to Truth – Do I Want to Be True or To Be Right?"
  • KGS Magazine (2002), "What Do You Really Want?"
  • Wegweiser Magazine (September, 2001), "New York Report"
  • Connections Magazine (May, 2001), "Interview with Jaxon-Bear"
  • Recto-Veseau Magazine, Switzerland (March, 1999), "Interview with Jaxon-Bear"
  • Connections Magazine (1997), "Interview with Jaxon-Bear"
  • Gnosis Magazine (1996), "Preserving the Transmission and Spiritual Context of the Enneagram" (Letter)
  • Enneagram Monthly (1995), "Journey to the Land Down Under"
  • Enneagram Monthly (1995), "The Enneagram and the Silent Tradition"
  • Enneagram Monthly (1995), "Eights: The Outlaw Mentality"
  • Enneagram Monthly (1995), "The Soul of the Six"
  • Enneagram Monthly (1994), "The Enneagram of Character Fixation"

Audio and video[edit]

  • An Outlaw Makes it Home: The Awakening of a Spiritual Revolutionary (2019), ASIN: B07NF9LK8W
  • Wake Up and Roar, Audiobook, 2017, ASIN: B01N34Y4J9
  • From Fixation to Freedom, CD, 2008, ISBN 978-1-59179-593-3
  • Self Realization and The Enneagram, DVD, 2005, ASIN B000B5KX10
  • Living Freedom, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B000A36K8I
  • Space for it All, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B000A36K8S
  • Trust of Your Nature, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B000B5KX0G
  • Chasing the Smoke, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B000B5KX0Q
  • Staying True, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B000B5KX06
  • Seeds of Awakening, DVD, 2005, ASIN: B0009XBR0K
  • Way of the Bodhisattva, VHS, 2000, ASNI: 1893840093
  • Interview with David Freudberg: Humankind/NPR Radio


  1. ^ a b "The Leela Foundation".
  2. ^ Wake Up and Roar: Satsang with H.W.L. Poonja, Editor (2002), (ISBN 978-0-963219-41-1)
  3. ^ University of Pittsburgh Yearbook, 1965, page 91-93. Jaxon-Bear is shown boarding the bus with other students: http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=pittyearbooks;cc=pittyearbooks;idno=1965e49702;q1=Zeldow;node=1965e49702%3A12;frm=frameset;view=image;seq=97;page=root;size=s
  4. ^ Sudden Awakening p11-13
  5. ^ New York Times, January 8, 1969 https://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=Elliot+Zeldow&more=date_all
  6. ^ University of Denver Magazine Summer 2009 http://blogs.du.edu/today/magazine/dus-woodstock-of-the-west
  7. ^ Sudden Awakening, "Preface", page xiii-xiv
  8. ^ Yoga Journal, January 1986
  9. ^ Enneagram Conference
  10. ^ Gangaji
  11. ^ Letter dated September 28, 1992 in which Papaji asked Jaxon-Bear to hold Satsang in the US, http://www.leelacommunity.org/eli-jaxon-bear/lineage.html Archived 2010-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Eli, Jaxon-Bear (2018). An Outlaw Makes it Home: The Awakening of a Spiritual Revolutionary. New Morning Books. ISBN 9780692599877.
  13. ^ From Fixation to Freedom: The Enneagram of Liberation, "Introduction", p. xii.
  14. ^ Wake Up and Roar: Satsang with H.W.L. Poonja, Editor (2002), (ISBN 978-0-963219-41-1)
  15. ^ From Fixation to Freedom: The Enneagram of Liberation (2006), (ISBN 978-1-893840-26-3)
  16. ^ Sudden Awakening, "Preface", p. XV.
  17. ^ "The Leela School of Awakening".
  18. ^ "American Council of Hypnotherapy Examiners".

External links[edit]