“The issue of self identity, who am I?, is central to spirituality, until joyfully there is release even from that.” ~ Mokshananda
Born Joe Sousa to Portuguese parents and raised Roman Catholic, Mokshananda began his spiritual quest as early as 8 years old when he first looked through a telescope at the stars and became intrigued by this vast universe. As he grew he lean away from the church, ultimately not really understanding what was being taught there, and began his personal study of physical world which he loved–he studied astronomy, meteorology, physics, chemistry, biology, anthropology, economics, etc. He later received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from San Jose State University. In his quest to understand the natural world, he studied many things, but early on he gave up on God, not understanding spirituality at all in relation to what he considered important. He considered himself more of a scientist, a humanist, and ultimately an animal of the Homo Sapien species on a weird planet around an obscure star in the Milky Way galaxy.
Through years of studying the exterior world, he overlooked the interior, the study of self, and a soul sickness set in. After years of using drugs and alcohol, and through grace, he landed himself in A.A. in 1986. This began his turn inward. He embarked upon a journey of psychotherapy, body work, and study with a shaman trained in the native American tradition. In 1990 Mokshananda, without intent, met his Heart teacher, Gurumayi. It was another moment of grace, Mokshananda reflects. With Gurumayi, he began meditation and self-inquiry.
In the meantime, Mokshananda returned to school and earned his Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, later becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. During this time, Mokshananda came across the works and realization of Ken Wilber who, perhaps more than any other teacher, has influenced the perspective and pointing from which Mokshananda now teaches. In 1995, Mokshananda had a profound awakening experience at a Satsang with Gurumayi, which revealed to him That which is always already here: ever-present Consciousness as his own Self. In 1998, Mokshananda met Adyashanti, a teacher from the Zen Buddhist tradition, who worked with Mokshananda on his remaining doubts. In 1999, Adyashanti released him to teach, renaming him Mokshananda, which in Sanskrit means “the bliss of liberation.” (Adyashanti later nicknamed Mokshananda as “Mokie”). In 2008, Ken Wilber invited Mokshananda to teach as part of Integral Institute’s Integral Spiritual Center.
Mokshananda lives in Santa Cruz, CA, where, in addition to his psychotherapy practice, he offers Satsang, intensives, retreats and Dokusan (private spiritual counseling). He also travels the western United States and Canada offering Satsang and intensives and teachings.