…left his body on May 3, 2015

Vinaya might have been Osho’s oldest sannyasin. Born October 9, 1920, he was 94 when he passed on while living in Sedona, Arizona. Swami Dhyan Vinaya took sannyas in 1981 via mail. Although he was in his early sixties when he took the jump, having already lived a full life in the world, Vinaya (“capable of surrender”) moved in Osho’s world with joy and enthusiasm.

He spent years at the Ranch, working in the bakery department among other jobs. Vinaya also served as a teacher in the Antelope school. In Poona Two, he worked in the finance department. And in Sedona, he was a student in the Osho Academy for 15 years; he rarely missed the meditations and Osho videos, and also devoted his time to helping with the work.

Vinaya 1a
Vinaya 2
Vinaya 3
Vinaya 4
Vinaya 5
Vinaya 6
Vinaya 7
Vinaya 8

Born William Austin Shonerd in Bremerton, Washington, Vinaya was the son of a Navy man. Consequently, the family moved around a lot and even lived in the Philippines for a while. Vinaya followed his father’s example. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was immediately ushered into active duty, serving in World War II as a Lieutenant Commander and electrical engineer on submarines.

His sub was in the thick of the action during the war on the high seas. His ship took two depth charge hits, which caused some permanent hearing loss. Vinaya served 21 years in the Navy, and after discharge he taught math in a Virginia high school for 19 years.

Always a seeker, Vinaya was into Ram Dass until he discovered Osho via the book “Meditation: the Art of Ecstasy.” He spent some time at the Paras Meditation Center in Berkeley before taking up residence at the Ranch.

Vinaya also played the father role. He had three children, two girls and a boy, and his family members made frequent visits to Sedona during his time there. Said his son, Robert Shonerd:  “I loved my father very much. He was not a father that was molded from a recipe, but a man who wanted to explore. He found a home in Sedona and never really left. I always respected what he wanted in life and he respected my life choices.”

Vinaya loved Sedona. He was an avid hiker until his health began to deteriorate. Official cause of his death was congestive heart failure, although he had suffered for years with pulmonary (lung) issues. When he knew the end was near, he prepared fearlessly, aided by his wry sense of humor. All of his papers and possessions were in order; he summoned his family to Sedona, then checked himself into a hospice facility where he died peacefully.

The day before his passing, he told a friend, “I think it’s good to get a new body so I can start fresh!”

There was no official celebration for Vinaya after his cremation on May 4, except in individual hearts. He was a beloved figure in every Osho community he blessed with his presence. Said a friend, “He was a free spirited, courageous and gentle soul.”

Vinaya’s son Robert reports, “We are planning to have a funeral for him in the future, here in Marietta, GA. I plan to put his ashes in a military cemetery so we can visit him sometimes.”

Text credit to Viramo


You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (pls add ‘Vinaya’ in the subject field)…

Vinaya was a beloved friend and fellow traveller of mine through many years in Pune and Oregon. He also visited us in the Philippines where he spent some time of his childhood and had fond memories of the Filipino nanny who gave him warmth. Vinaya will stay in my heart as a very loving man who enriched me through his presence in many ways! Thank you, farewell and bon voyage, beloved friend ♡

A lovely man…. fly high Vinaya…
Ma Deva Liberty

Vinaya was a remarkable Being. I met him in Sedona in the Osho Academy. We became dear friends. He loved children, and he oftentimes watched lovingly over my daughter Vivek. He was so fun to be with, always playful with a childlike innocence. He carried a deep wisdom, which he shared gently, spiced with his special sense of humor. He had the most generous heart and was fully devoted exploring and going deeper into his own awakening. Always caring and loving…
With my heart full of gratitude, Vinaya, I wish you a beautiful journey into infinity. So much love… Fly free, fly high…

Beloved Vinaya, I wish I could have had one last hug and looked in your eyes one last time before you left the body. You are a whole loving man, who taught me to pursue my joy and passion. Blessings,

Vinaya, I always felt so comfortable with you, so welcomed and loved – you gave me your presence. Thank you,

Beloved Vinaya, I always will remember you as the sweetest man and I’m sure your new body will smell like roses and taste like honey. With love,

Vinaya, my friend, off you go, now! Working with you at the Ranch and in Pune brought fun and ease and a sense of true sailing. You seemed to always have a good feel for your inner compass and that translated to me personally as pure compassion and generosity. I am a living gratefulness, and you are blessed in my heart. And yes! A fresh start is one of the Akashic Gossips going around the Ethersphere. Many of us are prepping just for that. See you there, buddy. Which is Here, of course, without the blinders 😉 Much Aloha,

Loved the way you loved my roses after you took over my apartment in Sedona. You are a flower of a man in your own right. With love,
Shunyo Mahom

May his light and love embrace you forever.

May your soul fly high, Vinaya. I wish I could have said good-bye to you in person. I am happy for you that you left your body so peacefully. I just read the last letter you wrote to me and the love in my heart for you will always be there.

Comments are closed.