Silent Meditation Retreats with enlightened Sage Sri Brahmam   |   Nov 5-10 and Nov 10-15, 2023

Silent Meditation Retreats with enlightened Sage Sri Brahmam 
 Nov 5-10 and Nov 10-15, 2023

Journey of aYogi

Meet the founder of
Hariharalaya, and his beard!

Joel’s down to earth and relatable nature, his wisdom and insight, and surrender to the flow of life are impressive, but it is the relentless and constant energy he puts into creating a space for all of us to come together and experience life changing growth, that is his real gift!



Walk down Joel’s Memory Lane

From Classical Music to Hariharalaya


Classical Music, Tennis and Baseball

Joel was born in Philadelphia, USA. He was a quiet and reflective child, always keenly observing the way things worked.
He started training in tennis and baseball from 7, and when he was just 8, took a deep interest in the double bass and would go on to pursue classical music for the next 10 years.


Orchestra, Linguistics, Yoga and the Path of Awakening

While in High School, Joel toured with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra through Europe and Asia, expanding his view of the world. He later spent one summer in Puerto Rico connecting with the roots from his father’s side of the family and discovered another one of his life passions – language. This inspired Joel to leave the United States at 18 to pursue his studies in Montreal in linguistics and translation.
Towards the end of the decade he was initiated into Kriya Yoga and introduced to the revolutionary teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This began a long period of deep love for the yogis, sages and enlightened masters, who he immediately recognized as his long lost family. He began an intense period of sadhana and tapas that carried all through his 30s.


Doctorate, Jeweler, Community, Healing
The new millennium marked a period of deep transformation and purification in Joel’s life. He started a PHD, but eventually moved to Brazil to follow his heart and intuition where he apprenticed as a jeweler, living and training with healers, artists, and shamans in the villages.
Joel returned to the US in 2003 and joined the Pendle Hill Contemplative Community where he lived and studied for 3 years looking after the organic garden and then working in the kitchen. His time at Pendle Hill deeply inspired Joel’s view of education, community and lifelong learning. Hariharalaya is based on this radical approach to community process.

Meeting His Gurus, Chanting and Tantra

In 2005 Joel met his guru Sri Karunamayi. He was deeply touched and traveled across the US to spend time in her presence between 2005 – 2010. In 2007 Joel spent 9 months at Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Ashram. For 1 month Bhagavan Das took Joel under his wing and revealed many secrets of chanting and tantra.

The Path of Embodiment

In 2008, Joel dove into the path of embodiment studying contact improv. He attended hundreds of classes, jams and workshops, deconstructing his sense of physical limitation and exploring the flow states of improvisation.


Leaving USA, India, Cambodia, Center for Awakening, Service
In February 2010, Joel left the United States for the last time and moved to India to pursue the path of Awakening.
After 6 months in India he had to leave because of his visa. He traveled to Thailand, where he received a call to come to Siem Reap to catch up with an old friend. Unbeknownst to Joel, he would spend the next decade and beyond, marking the next phase of his life.
Upon arriving in Cambodia, Joel felt at home. He was deeply touched by the temples and the mystical melodies of traditional Khmer pinpeat music. He decided to stay for a couple of months to connect with the hidden power of Cambodia.
Joel met a Vipassana master at an ancient Pagoda, where he spent 7 days on retreat with a few old monks. When he came out of the retreat, he received a powerful calling to set up a center for awakening in Cambodia. He had no money, no plans and was supposed to head back to India… but he had long since learned to surrender to the call of the heart and trust in the flow of life.
In December 2010, Joel moved to Bakong village to start Hariharalaya. Slowly people started to come and visit from all around the world, contributing their love and wisdom and receiving spontaneous healing and connection.
Joel met his wife, Srey Pen, in 2011, and they were married in 2012 in a traditional ceremony at Hariharalaya during retreat. He raised his daughter Srey Saw from the age of 6 years old.
In 2013, Joel published a book called Foundations of Stillness which outlines the basic teachings and approach to integration through Yoga, Meditation and Healthy Living.
In 2017 Joel and his family spent one month in India with his son already growing in Srey Pen’s belly. Amma rubbed her belly and blessed his child to be. That year Joel was also invited to chant the Rudram and Vedic mantras at the daily fire ceremonies, a rare privilege bestowed upon Westerners.
In November 2017 Joel hosted Amma Sri Karunamayi at his house in Siem Reap, and helped organize and prepare for their temple tour.
2019 marked Joel’s first trip to the holy Arunachala Mountain in Tiruvannamalai. He had many transformative experiences and met several siddhas. He also spent time with many Tiru oldtimers who had been with Papaji, Poondi Mahan, Nisargadatta Maharaj and other great saints.


Creative Learning Comunity, Angkor Campus, Future of HHL
2020 This marked a shift in the world rhythm, and after 9 years of hosting powerful retreats everything was put on hold. In March 2020, a few days before Joel’s 40th birthday, the team took the decision to cancel the retreat as the world shut down for the pandemic.
A few close friends and teachers remained at the center, and a month later Hariharalaya opened its gates and continued offering a space for healing and awakening, during the fear and isolation of Covid.
Hariharalaya shifted to a creative learning community – receiving guests for extended stays – from 3 to 12 months. We were able to continue hosting community classes, talks, meals and ecstatic dances and to celebrate the magic of the present moment with a community from all around the world. We were able to host more than 500 souls on a deep journey of learning and healing.
During this period, Joel received an inner calling to move Hariharalaya to a new Home. After 9 years, the huts and facilities were fading away and the noise from the weddings and celebrations in the village had started to plague the peaceful garden oasis that was Hariharalaya.
As if by miracle, Joel was guided to the new Angkor campus. It would require months of renovation and preparation in order to transfer the energy system to the new land, however Joel had 5 weeks to accomplish this task.
Hariharalaya opened its gates on December 23rd 2021, just weeks after Cambodia reopened its borders, and since that time we have received hundreds of guests from all over the world flying in to experience the magic of Hariharalaya.
6 months in, Joel is full steam ahead with expansion plans and to offer simple tools to inspire and awaken hearts and minds, beautiful nature to soothe the soul, creative outlets to reconnect with the childlike joy and to offer a cutting edge healing centre to nourish and rejuvenate humanity.
2022 to Infinity
All of this is only possible because of the grace and guidance of Joel’s gurus and the powerful lineage of the rishis. Joel’s life mission to hold an authentic space for awakening is unfolding day by day. Heis still involved in the daily running of the center as well as leading the retreats and has immense gratitude and love for all who come to share in this great journey.
We invite you to join Joel on this one of a kind journey in the present moment, to reconnect with yourself and to awaken your inner wisdom and joy.

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