A couple weekends ago, my husband and I drove an hour north of Laguna Beach to attend the wedding of one of his old friends. Robert was a longtime follower of what I call New Age thinking, and so it was no surprise the ceremony was held at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple in Pacific Palisades, California. We had no idea what to expect, but were delighted to find this garden oasis just up the hill from the Pacific Ocean.
Robert and his lovely new bride, both from Santa Fe, New Mexico, were married under this golden Lotus monument. I think it’s so romantic that Robert got married for the first time at age 57! I have to admit I was prepared for some chanting, aura-gazing and the hugging of strangers, but the ceremony was simple and short. After a declaration of their mutual love and eternal commitment to each other, the couple was showered with white and red rose petals.
After the ceremony, we all strolled the 10-acre gardens, which surround a natural, spring-fed pond. What I learned is that this spiritual sanctuary was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1950 to honor the world religions, and is open to the public. Directly behind the wedding ceremony was this shrine to Gandi, a World Peace Memorial, and even contains some of his ashes.
Yogananda,who came to the U.S. from India to share his yoga-based teachings, wrote the famous Autobiography of a Yogi, which Steve Jobs reportedly read almost yearly. It’s no coincidence you can download it free from iTunes.
Although I missed the koi and swans that frequent the pond, we enjoyed walking the lush grounds, which feature the Court of Religions that honor the principal religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
In this meditation garden (click link for more photos), there are flowers and trees representing species from around the world. With everything from wisteria, iris, roses, lilies, passion flowers, plumeria, palms, pines, magnolia trees, and willows, it’s an impressive mix!
Since it was late September, a lot of the plantings featured interesting blends of fall colors.
Beyond this giant rose garden, you can see the tribute to Christianity with the statue of Jesus up on that little hill.
Along the banks of the little lake, you pass a large windmill and a moored house boat, which somehow represent the famous yogi’s message of love and inclusivity. Since we had a date to eat Italian food at a nearby restaurant with the wedding party, we didn’t make it up to the actual temple, where they teach meditation, yoga and other classes. But this sweet oasis devoted to universal love is definitely a place worth returning to!