Living in Encinitas, it would be impossible to not know about the Self-Realization Fellowship, aka SRF, or “Swami’s” as locals call it. What I find interesting is that many people have never set foot in the meditation gardens or investigated the services that are available to all seekers. The spiritual work from one of the first yogis to come to America seeks to harmonize the worlds cosmic consciousness. This great world teacher and Hindu mystic, Parmahansa Yogananda, is very much alive today, more than 60 years after his death.
Looking out over the vast Pacific in my special spot in the gardens, I think of him writing his many lessons and books on the subject of Kriya yoga and how to attain heaven within by developing true devotion for God. This is the author of the planet’s most acclaimed classic spiritual work that has changed millions of lives and was written right here in Encinitas.
“The Autobiography of a Yogi” is available worldwide in 52 languages and gives readers an intimate look into the life of this beloved teacher of modern times. Pilgrims come from all over the world to visit the hermitage here on the grounds of SRF and fall on their knees with the thought that he was once there, their beloved master. Famous seekers such as George Harrison of the Beatles and Steve Jobs made this a go-to read for anyone interested in learning how to maintain the state of devotion and love so great that your soul is truly on fire for God.
The movie “Awake,” a documentary on Parmahansa personalized by his quest to share his enlightenment with America, is a deeper look into the life and influence of Yogananda and is a story of a true heart awakening. A modern audience has been developed, and the movie is in English with subtitles in 17 languages.
Bringing ancient Yogic teachings to America from India in the 1920s, a great following was developed in Los Angeles and across the country at a time when turbaned Indian men in flowing gowns were not quite the norm. As consciousness formed and progressed, the teachings became more far-reaching. A following and fellowship emerged at a time when America was open to these spiritual truths. A time very similar to today, where the world seems ready to raise the vibration on earth and immerse themselves in self-realization — finding the god within.
The simplest explanation I received for conveying the philosophy to our readership was also spoken by another great spiritual master, Jesus Christ. “Love God with all your Heart (Devotion), and all your Mind (Concentration), all your Strength (Life Energy/Prana) and all your Soul (Ecstasy). Then Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.”
SRF teaches the student that through meditation, it is possible to attain union with God. However, this time on earth is filled with distractions that take the mind away from time with God — especially these days where we are invaded by electronic influence, internet, texting, Netflix, socializing, work and family demands. It has to be a disciplined practice, and the lessons provided by Parmahansa and the fellowship are a fast track to achieving this level of enlightenment through concentrated effort and scientific techniques.
Seekers are very welcome to come to check out the services on Thursday and Sunday at the chapel on 2nd Street where attendees can glean pieces of the teachings and the science of balancing spiritual and material lives. If you want to go deeper, lessons written by Parmahansa are now online or available to be received in the mail. There is even an app available where the mystical teachings have been moved to the digital age to bring God consciousness to all generations, and have recently undergone a major enhancement in the order and conciseness.
The living presence of Christ the teachings emphasize, combined with the true teachings of Jesus, the Bhagavad Gita, and truths from all spiritual masters and saints from all religions will revolutionize, harmonize and spiritualize the lives of each of us. We can see the beginnings of a different world especially when we attune to this divine energy and commit to renewing that alignment with daily conscious contact with God. Carve out time, even for just a few minutes a day, to study and meditate. Make the effort, urges Swami. You may just become an uplifting influence on your family and friends by taking time to commune with God. The purity of the teachings and the respect of the way of life is evidenced in the followers, disciples, over 2,000 local devotees and multitudes worldwide.
If you would like to experience a taste of heaven on earth and be transported to a divine realm, go to the gardens that are open six days a week and closed on Mondays. The meticulousness of the manicured flower beds, clear water koi ponds, and waterfalls, along with the obvious care and love is further evidence of the devotion given to the memory of a man who brought yoga and ancient spiritual studies to the west. Come to the magical garden to sit, be still and meditate on the beauty surrounding you and start to develop a soul consciousness — a kinship with God. This spectacular coastal patch of paradise is a powerful Spiritual Vortex. The vibrations of this true God realized guru are felt strongly by those that can sit in the silence and are magnified by the sanctified energy left behind by countless devotees that follow him. It is truly a holy place.
We are going to visit the Twelve Tribes in our next edition.
Susan Sullivan is a spiritually conscious realtor with Windermere Homes & Estates in Carlsbad Village
Top: The Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple was dedicated on Jan. 2, 1938, and is now located at the corner of South Coast Highway 101 and K Street. Photo by Jacob Aere