An Oasis in the Chaos of Los Angeles

Photo by Eric Shalov http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yogananda_Center_-_Lake_and_Swan.jpgLos Angeles might be a busy city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places where you can find peace and solace surrounded by nature. There are some hidden gems in the City of Angels and surrounding areas. One of them welcomes people of all faiths to become immersed in the rich, beautiful oasis. The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple is one such place that offers quiet contemplation in a picturesque landscape.

A Shrine for All to Enjoy

This unique place is located on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades and is owned by the Self-Realization Fellowship. The temple was founded and dedicated to Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yoga guru who introduced meditation to millions of people in the West. He said of the site, “This Shrine has been created for all religions, that all may feel the unity of a common faith.”

It has a serene lush landscape with trees, plants, paths to walk along, and a lake that feature swans and ducks. The Court of Religions has monuments from the five major faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In 1996, a temple was opened on the hilltop. Lake Shrine is an oasis that represents unity and peace, welcoming all to explore the grounds.

Divine Beginnings

But the location wasn’t always so serene. In the late 1940s, the property was sold to an oil-company president who planned to construct a multi-million dollar resort hotel complex on the site. Before he could proceed, however, he had a strange experience.

One night the executive awoke around 3:00am after a vivid dream in which he saw his new property as a “Church of All Religions.” He dreamt that a large group of people had assembled by the lake and ministers gave inspiring sermons from a podium. He fell asleep again, but again the curious vision awakened him. After this happened three times, he got out of bed and looked up “Church of All Religions” in the telephone book. The only such listing was for the Self-Realization Fellowship Church of All Religions in Hollywood.

Deeply moved, he immediately wrote a letter describing his vision and offering to sell the property to Paramahansa Yogananda. But he couldn’t wait. The next morning he called to speak with Paramahansa himself. Before the executive could even introduce himself, Paramahansa asked if he had some property for sale and when he could come see it.

Paramahansa visited the grounds the next day and immediately began making plans for the open-air shrine of all religions he wished to establish in Los Angeles. The Lake Shrine was born.

God’s Blessings

During the construction Paramahansa invoked God’s blessings on all who would visit the shrine and those blessings seem to have been granted. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the wonder of the surroundings — the Gandhi World Peace Memorial where some of his ashes are contained, the sanctuary for meditation, the old Dutch windmill that serves as a Sunday chapel, and even the grass where some visitors practice yoga.

Brother Satyananda, the residing minister, observed the effect the shrine had on visitors. “They get out of their car, they’re very busy and they have their iPhones and their lattes, and then they walk into the grounds, and it’s like they kind of stop. He went on, “You can see that as they walk around, there is a little bit of transformation. They become calm. They become peaceful.”

A Hidden Gem to Visit

If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, this would be a wonderful place to visit. Take a walk by an array of beautiful flowers, get lost in the lush plants, and feel tranquility by the lake. Spend some time being still in the moment and experiencing peace among the various religious monuments. Connect with nature and feed your soul at this oasis.

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About the Author

Gina Merlino is a freelance writer who cares about environmental issues. She has a Bachelor's in Philosophy, a Master's in Engaged Humanities, and is an avid reader of the news. You can find me on Twitter.