Los Angeles News

Ellen Leyva's favorite spot: Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not far from the jammed 405 Freeway, near Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway is an oasis of pure serenity.

Since 1950, Lake Shrine has inspired people of all faiths to visit and refresh their minds and spirits in a peaceful serene sanctuary.

Brother Satyananda has been with the self-realization fellowship for 35 years. He has seen thousands of people walk onto the grounds, harried and tense from their busy L.A. lives.

"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," Satyananda said. "You can see that as they walk around, there is a little bit of a transformation. They become calm. They become peaceful."

Paramahansa Yogananda's vision included a court of religions, in which all five principal religions are represented. He believed in an underlying harmony of all faiths that unites us all. Given the recent chaos in the Middle East, it's an inspiring place to be.

"The themes of the shrines here at the lake I think can be described as a theme of universal compassion, compassion for human rights ... and the needs of people suffering," Satyananda said.

It's a magnificent 10 acres of manicured nature, colorful flowers, winding paths and a spring-fed lake inhabited with koi fish and turtles.

"The gardens are magnificent. It's just really peaceful, it's just, you're surrounded in nature. It's an amazing place," said Laura Andrews.

Guests can take part in meditation classes at the authentic 16th century windmill. Or for those who prefer solitude, there are many little hideaways for reading or just being.

Behind the Golden Lotus Archway, in a "wall-less temple," is the Gandhi World Peace Memorial. Enshrined in the stone sarcophagus is a portion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes.

It doesn't matter what faith you are, this is a place to step away from our society of consumerism. In Yogananda's words, "You cannot buy peace, you must know how to manufacture it within."

The Lake Shrine is a perfect place to listen to the silence, and that's why it's one of my favorite spots.

Visiting the gardens at Lake Shrine is free, and they also offer tours and meditation classes.

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