For those of us who live near the ocean in Los Angeles, we already feel incredibly blessed and spoiled by nature. No matter how many times you see it, the grandeur of the ocean always takes your breath away - with all its various shades, moods and light - it is never looks the same. So yesterday, I felt like a kid in a candy store, when I discovered a wonderful oasis less than a quarter of a mile from the ocean in the Pacific Palisades. Now while this is a new discovery for me, this place has been here for sixty years. The Lake Shrine was the brainchild of Paramahansa Yogananda - who was also responsible for introducing Eastern Mysticism and yoga to the west. Originally, a Hollywood movie set, this ten acre site was converted into gardens that promoted peace and meditation, and respectful co-mingling of all religions. The spring-fed lake in the heart of the park is framed by hillsides and flanked by two waterfalls. An old Dutch windmill and a boat house sits on the site, no doubt remnants of the old set.
Scattered throughout the park are the statues of Krishna, Christ, the Madonna and child, and the Buddha. The Courtyard of Religions, near the entrance pays homage to the five principle religions of the world - Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism. The park also holds some of Mahatma Gandhi's cremated remains in thousand year old Chinese sarcophagus.
Also inhabiting this park, along side the incredibly rich flora and other vegetation are swans, ducks, a crane, turtles that dive and swim in unison with the koi. Throughout this park's windy paths are also quiet nooks with benches for visitors to contemplate, meditate or just read a book. I went during the busier weekend, and in spite of the crowds, I still left Lake Shrine feeling calmer and rejuvenated. I can't wait to go back on a quieter weekday with my book, to meditate and do a little reading in the company of those peacefully gliding swans and turtles as the sweet aroma of the roses waft by in those gentle ocean breezes.