Masters of gnosis

Consciousness teachers Jonathan Krown and Johana Sand in their Eagan home: “We’re asking people to come out of the false world, or a reality that does not exist, and we want to support them in living as they truly are, as authentic beings.” Credit: Photo by Jim Walsh

If you’re like me, the hint of fall in the air and back-to-school action triggers a deep yearning and an itch to take a class, hit the books, do serious research. At this point, however, my adult education needs are of the infinite kind, and, as luck would have it, my friends Johana Sand and Jonathan Krown have launched a series of weekly classes ( that can only be described as a discussion of spiritual enlightenment, soul freedom, and ways of peaceful being that the Greeks called “gnosis.”

Consciousness teachers for several decades on the West Coast, Sand and Krown’s two-hour “Cracking The Reality Code: The Journey Out Of Illusion” sessions will meet weekly over the next three months at the community space at 3554 S. Bryant Ave. (next to Uptown Plumbers), and I can’t recommend their vast yet simple knowledge highly enough. I sat down with the couple in their Eagan home earlier this week for a crash-course in what we can expect this mind-blowing autumn. 

Walsh: It’s often strange and unsettling to be a human being these days. With reality leaving so much to be desired, I can’t be the only one saying out loud, “Is this it? Is that all there is?” Your series is a questioning of reality and bringing people together who realize there actually is more.

Krown: “First of all, no one’s done anything wrong. We just found ourselves in a society trained to see a reality that is not real. In other words, quantum physics has proven it’s not real; all the mystics and saints have verified again and again that the whole idea of isolated separate individuals is not what the universe or reality is about. So what most people have placed their priorities on, because they’ve been brought up to do so, is protecting and defending their identity; trying to achieve something to be popular and fit in; trying to be so-called successful in the world.

“But when you look objectively at all those things, is that worth living for, or even relevant, or even real? On your death bed, are you going to say, ‘Well, I have so many friends that I have accumulated by pretending to be someone I’m not, and I’ve managed to work well in all these jobs and be very efficient at what I do?’ I don’t think that happens. What you will look back on and say will be, ‘How compassionate was I? How loving was I? How many people did I help? Was I truly who I really am, my authentic being?’

“We’re asking people to come out of the false world, or a reality that does not exist, and we want to support them in living as they truly are, as authentic beings, and to let go of those priorities that are not only not essential, but are not true.”

Sand: “Science calls it a ‘quantum field’ and the mystics call it ‘source energy’ or ‘all that is,’ but there is a source energy without a belief in an external god that is connecting everything and that we all emanate out of, and it’s our sense, from our own awakenings and from what we’ve experienced and conversed with many different people about, is that it’s possible for humanity to be in touch with that authentic being. This is difficult to describe because it’s different for many people and there are many paths to this, but it’s our sense now that this ability to realize what we are is far easier now, and we want to bring awareness, awakening, into the ordinary. We want to make it ordinary enlightenment. There’s nothing wrong with some of the [religious] traditions that have pointed the way in this, and there’s always something authentic in all the traditions, but there’s also a way that many of the traditions take us down roads that we feel are not useful anymore.”

Krown: “We’re not talking about ‘getting better,’ right? ‘Getting better’ is what most paths, and therapies, and approaches are about because it’s still tweaking your identity so you fit in and are more successful within the system. We do work in Seattle, and we spoke to a group of yoga teachers, and they were talking about how they take yoga classes to have some quiet time during their week, and that doesn’t make any sense to us because the true yogic teachings are [about] being in every moment, and attuning in every moment to the source of all being.

“I started as a teacher of consciousness in the ‘70s, and started a number of schools of consciousness in California, and I met Johana and we had a school of consciousness in the ‘80s in Los Angeles. But I felt like I wasn’t embodying what I was teaching. I had a pretty clear vision of what I felt was true, but I wasn’t living my life fully in accordance with it. So I stopped, and it’s only been more recently when we each have figured out we’re living and teaching every moment. That’s very different, because it’s no longer a belief or a concept or something you’re aiming for or advocating or trying to convince someone of, it’s just how you are.”

Walsh: It seems that we need this sort of guidance now more than ever. How much of the outside world chaos do you pay attention to?

Sand: “It’s a different world than the one we lived in 50 years ago. Things are accelerating. Technology. The chaos we’re living in points us to this opportunity, because it shakes us up and makes us look deeper within ourselves. For 40 years I’ve been involved in what I call the consciousness movement. I’m not making any claims about myself, but it’s something I’ve followed closely globally, and in the last five years there’s been an acceleration of this.

“Twenty years ago there were only a handful of what I call ‘awakened teachers,’ now there’s many, many more and the Internet and the ability for teachers to build on each other and look at what we call spiritual technologies and technologies of self-awareness are really accelerating now. So as much as things are getting intense and crazy, there’s also this counter force for those of us who want to realize, not believe, but really realize the energy within us that is eternal.”

Walsh: In a world full of gurus and healers, you guys are like anti-healers. The idea to come to your class to ‘get better’ may not be the point, but the fact is, I just feel better talking about all this with you. Who do you think would benefit best from this and who have your students been historically?

Sand: “There’s a mystery to this waking up process, but typically, people come to look at this when there’s a certain level of maturity, for sure, and there’s a certain amount of disillusionment that sets in. It’s hard to define, but I would say [the classes would be] for anyone who has a yearning to want to experientially realize the freedom they really are as pure energy. Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power Of Now” was a best-seller in 2000, and that’s a pretty sophisticated understanding of this, so there’s a growing number of people who are disillusioned with the standard belief systems that they’re fed and they really want to realize something else within themselves.”

Krown: “What we’re questioning and challenging people with is to not to dip their toe in to this, but to jump. To move from a place where you’re in your thoughts all day and you’re focused on constant distractions and agendas and the past and the future to align with your authentic being and the present moment and attunement with source energy and to trust that above all else. So that takes a certain practice, and it takes a certain wanting, and it takes a certain awareness that can be learned, because we’ve all learned the opposite at some time.”

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at