Anandamali was born Nikola Ristic in Serbia (former Yugoslavia). Growing up in a communist country he witnessed both the benefits and pathologies of that political system. From his early teens, Anandamali had various mystical experiences which, back then, he did not know how to interpret. In the 90’s he witnessed the tragic ethnic conflict in the Balkans which pushed him to discover the transcendental Ground of Being beyond the suffering caused by the economic crisis, dictatorship and war and beyond the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
In 1992 Anandamali began studying Western philosophy at the University of Belgrade, wholeheartedly asking fundamental questions such as: Who am I? What am I supposed to do here? What is Reality? Is there a way out of suffering? What is happiness? Is there everlasting happiness? After getting his B.A. degree in philosophy in 1998, Anandamali came to the US in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
In the US, Anandmali found better resources to continue his philosophical and spiritual search. From the very beginning, he saw the US as a place of genuine meeting of East and West and was inspired to be a part of the Western Dharma. After getting his Ph.D. in philosophy in 2004 Anandamali entered a period of intense and wholehearted seeking for Wisdom, Peace, Love and Home. In 2005, he met his wife, Shawna, and at her suggestion, he discovered Integral Theory and the spiritual philosophy of Ken Wilber. Integral framework has helped Anandmali interpret and hold his spiritual experiences and offered him a map of Kosmos and human potential. In this period he tried various practices for body, mind, soul and spirit, both East and West. He particularly studied Buddhism and Hinduism and brought Integral theory, meditation, and contemplation into the world of academia.
In 2010 Anandmali met his root teacher Mokshananda. Lovingly and elegantly through Satsang and private sessions Mokshananda helped Anandamali end seeking and pointed to his True Self. In 2011 Anandamali had an awakening at a Satsang with Mokshananda and he shifted from identifying with ego to simply being Presence. In 2013 Mokshananda invited Anandamali to teach.
As a university professor and spriritual teacher, Anandamali helped thousands of individuals find meaning and purpose, connect with their soul and realize their True Self.
Anandamali lives in Santa Cruz, CA and teaches worldwide both in person and online.