Thursday, July 1, 2010

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Very pretty, very calming, very quiet...wait, did a mac truck just rumble by? Lovely flowers, nice old people, honeysuckle smells...oh man, I just got a whiff of that mac truck. Such is the dichotomy of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. It is very serene, very peaceful and right off of one of the loudest parts of Sunset Blvd. in the Palisades. How LA is that? Some of Gandhi's ashes are interred right next to a street teeming with angry cars. How Gandhi is that? Now that I think of it, very.

One of my favorite things about SoCal is how down we are with all religions, particularly Eastern ones. Paramahansa Yogananda,(you know I cut and pasted that) the man responsible for bringing yoga to westerners and writing the bestseller, Autobiography of a Yogi, founded the center in honor of the underlying truth in all religions. I guess that is why there are five markers that look suspiciously like gravestones with the names of religions on them by the lake. There are also little placards with words of wisdom from the major religions(no Scientology or Mormonisims...yet) placed all around the trees.

Admission to the garden and lake is free and was filled with people meditating on perfectly
placed benches, elderly tourists taking pictures and one bigger lady who was bitching really loudly about her annoying son-in-law(someone needs to do her oms!). There is a little museum and gift shop next to the lake filled with lots of healing stones and Yogi's robes(PS- have you heard that Spencer and Heidi Pratt have spent over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS on "magic" crystals?). Expertly crafted water falls and a breeze from the lake really do make this a soothing, calming place.

The coolest and honestly magical part of the garden was at the meditation chapel inside the recreated Dutch windmill-don't ask me why they chose a windmill. Inside it is like a tiny old English church, all white walls and shiny wood. About ten people, some in robes, sat quietly meditating or praying or thinking or whatever, and the only adornments were pictures of the great teachers, all male of course- Jesus, Buddha, etc. I meditated in there for a while and I must admit it was lovely. It was like the air was rarefied in that small windmill on the lake and everything felt lifted and elevated and well... peaceful.

The Fellowship offers all sorts of classes in the garden and in the great white temple(which is open only for services) which looms overhead. The Gandhi peace memorial, while visually unimpressive, is a very special thing to have in LA.

Ease: B
Subjective coolness: A-
Overall: B

Directions: Take Sunset Blvd. down to the Palisades. The lake/shrine/garden(this place has about a million names) is located at 17190 Sunset Blvd. Turn left and you will enter the free parking lot.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 9am-4:30pm. Sunday: 12pm-4pm.
Price: Free, except for gas or whatever you cannot live without from the gift shop.

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