Friday, January 13, 2012

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

This is a 10-acre meditation garden that includes a spring-fed picturesque lake. In the 1940s Twentieth Century Fox had their studios here and built an authentic reproduction of a 16th-century Dutch Windmill.
The Self Realization Fellowship church worshiped in that building until a new temple was built. The new temple is a domed octagonal building crowned with a golden lotus. It sits high on a hill overlooking the lake to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The founder of the church was Parmahansa Yogananda, who came from India in the 1920s. Students of the church learn through Self-Realization studies how to balance their lives with meditation. However, the garden is a shrine to each of the five principal religions of the world. At the Court of Religions (where there is a monument to each of those religions) one can gaze upon a nearby hillside to see a life-size statue of Christ. Yogananda felt that the goal of every faith is the same- direct experience of God.
On the grounds is also the Gandhi World Peace Memorial. Here a brass coffer containing a portion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes was enshrined in a stone sarcophagus at the dedication of the Lake Shrine in 1950.
It is quite the spot for reflection and prayer. A path goes around the lake and along that path there are many small private areas where one may sit quietly and meditate. Flowers abound everywhere and their fragrance permeates the air. Birds also seem to enjoy the gardens, it all certainly gave me a sense of being in paradise!

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