In July, 1993, I took a road trip
from Santa Barbara down the coast to Encinitas, California, to the
Self-Realization Fellowship Center founded by Paramahansa
Yogananda. It is located on the top of a cliff
overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I parked along the street and walked in through the side entrance. The main building was to the left and to the right were beautiful lush terraced gardens leading to an overlook. The gardens had a stream running through and the slopes were planted in coleus and begonias, ferns and dichondra grass. Benches were spaced at intervals for rest and reflection. I thoroughly enjoyed my time walking through the garden, sitting down occasionally.
After taking in the view of the sea and winding my way down to the entrance point I walked over to an open window that served as a place visitors could ask questions. I told the nun I was visiting for the day. She invited me to attend the kirtan and talk in the chapel later in the day.
Next, I walked around the corner and entered Sri Yogananda's former living room and study, and sat on a comfortable chair. Almost immediately I dissolved into uncontrollable tears of joy. I felt like I was inside the body of Sri Yogananda. It was such a comforting and coming home feeling and at the same time uplifting.
A nun came over and asked if I was okay and I told her how I was experiencing being inside the presence of the Sri Yogananda. She seemed to understand, and proceeded to invite me to have lunch with the nuns and a few other visitors.
There were about 12 of us sitting around the table. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal of potato pancakes and coleslaw. I felt cared about to be invited to be with their spiritual family. It was a cheerful feeling at lunch.
Later I walked around the grassy grounds and did participate in the kirtan in the chapel.
In early evening I went back to my van and drove to a nearby campground, making myself ready for the night. I just couldn't help crying in joy from the spiritually uplifting experience in the master's study.
After waking in the morning I slowly wended my way home and to this day feel safe and snug in the comfort Sri Yogananda's lasting presence afforded me that day.
What I learned from this experience is that being spiritual is not separate from the physical part of my existence. Rather, it gives an added dimension of joyful feeling to living.
Finding Joy in the Spirit of Yogananda Copyright © 2011-2012 Susan Helene Kramer | photo credit of SRF Center, Encinitas, CA by Susan Helene Kramer
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