I grew up in the Los Angeles region, Pacific Palisades specifically. I wanted to learn to meditate while in college at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon in 1976. I was directed to Ananda as a legitimate place to learn how to meditate. People at Ananda, I was told, meditated as a way of life, fully integrating it into daily activity. This made complete sense to me. I felt that in such an environment, the meditation habit could stick and deepen.
I came for a weekend interview for the summer program and was given a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. I returned to Oregon where I was attending College and read the whole book, unable to put it down.
As I made my way through the book I came upon a picture of the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades. I stopped frozen and stared at the picture. Ever since I was about 3 years old my mother had taken me and my sister to walk around the lake every week. We would eat Sunday brunch next door at the Santa Ynez Inn. Afterward, loaded up with scraps of bread from home and breakfast, we would walk around the lake and feed the swans.
Even in high school, the Lake Shrine provided solace and a place of peace and reflection for me. I felt protected there.
Stunned to find that this place of deep solace from my childhood was founded by the author of the very book I held in my hands, I read more intensely, wondering at the meaning of this connection. Where was my consciousness to have been in this Divine energy and not recognize Yogananda then?
Later I would understand that the Master Saint, Paramhansa Yogananda, had flooded the very waters of the lake with his vibrations and consciousness stating that all in future with a receptive heart would feel the Divine presence.
I came to realize that we cannot recognize truth until we are ready, even if it is right in front of us. Even so, the Divine Spirit is ever with us, guiding us, helping us to work out our individual karma and prepare us for the Divine quest. Nothing is ever wasted.
The Autobiography of a Yogi put my life on solid ground and gave me the meaningful direction, for which my heart so yearned. Yogananda’s presentation, while exotic and in many ways unfamiliar, was practical. I was conscious that he was describing a life and an inner search that could be replicated. It was real. I could do it too. It gave me hope, peace, and a map to follow.
Wherever I was in life at that moment, I knew that the inner path Yogananda described could take me from my little life of concerns to a place of infinite peace. Immediately I felt fully armed with the attitude, “I can do this. I have come to do this!“
My new found memory of the great spiritual teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda, now re-awakened in reading his book, revealed his faith in me, and his unconditional love, support and partnership.
You can also watch The Spark, a documentary short film revealing how Yogananda and his Autobiography ignited a spiritual revolution in the West.
Reawaken your memory of truth and realize: nothing is wasted; we are all loved.