I had the most incredible experience today. I have been wanting to go to Yoganandaji’s tomb, a place of great spiritual power, but had not made it until today. I thought I was going to a “normal” cemetery with mausoleums that happened to house the body of Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Yogi Avatar who brought Kriya Yoga to the West, as well as a special dispensation about the teachings of Christ.
As soon as I arrived, I knew I had entered a very special place, a place that is not ordinary, or maybe it was even another dimension. An octave in consciousness higher. I was greeted by the sweetest lady at the information booth, in fact everyone I encountered there was exceedingly helpful and nice, giving warm smiles. It is an immense property with multiple buildings and what might be thousands of souls. The energy was peace and it was a land of sprawling green hills glittered with stunning white marble statuary figures, quotes and writings of a spiritual nature, and the most gorgeous trees and views maybe out unto the ocean. She gave me a map which highlighted my route to the “Great Mausoleum”, one of multiple monolithic buildings with extraordinary architecture.
As I slowly set out down the curvy road there was so much beauty to see everywhere you looked. I pulled over multiple times to take in the variety of interesting treasures. There were people doing all sorts of different things, I saw a family all gathering and talking after a funeral for one of their loved ones, I saw a single woman fussing with the flowers at a gravesite. There were flowers on so many of the grave sites, it was clear that this place was alive with energy. I got lost, but enjoyed it. I finally asked one of the care takers if he knew where the Great Mausoleum was, he said, “I’ll show you, follow me”. I followed his truck and he led me right there. It kind of looked like a castle from the outside, with great pillars and made of stone or cement, but very beautiful, also unusual. You don’t expect what you find inside by what the outside communicates, which for me was a special treat, like a little trick so that when you walk inside and experience the breathtaking beauty of a totally different nature it’s fresh and unexpected. This makes it a deep experience, which I came to find out was intentional.
I parked and began to walk up to the main part of the building, which has a courtyard of sorts with a monolithic work of art, the Builders Creed. You must look up at it, it has to be 30 feet tall, you see it and then you are drawn to it, but not quite sure what it is yet. I noticed the statue of two little children looking up at it, them even smaller than I. As if the artist were trying to give you the experience that you are looking down on them, but that perhaps there is something larger looking down upon you at the same time. All while we are looking up at this great stone carving. Definitely a conceptual intention by the artist to give a tangible experience to the viewer regarding perspective and scale.
The content of the message was even more profound than the physical structure. It is called “The Builders Creed” which is the declaration and origin story of the man who received a vision to build it. It says the following:
“I Believe In A Happy Eternal Life.
I Believe Those Of Us Who Are Left Behind Should Be Glad In The Certain Belief That Those Gone Before, Who Believed In Him, Have Entered Into That Happier Life.
I Believe, Most Of All, In A Christ That Smiles And Loves You And Me.
I Therefore Know The Cemeteries Of Today Are Wrong, Because They Depict An End, Not A Beginning. They Have Consequently Become Unsightly Stone yards Full Of Inartistic Symbols And Depressing Customs; Places That Do Nothing For Humanity Save A Practical Act, And Not That Well.
I Therefore Prayerfully Resolve On This New Year’s Day, 1917, That I Shall Endeavor To Build Forest Lawn As Different, As Unlike Other Cemeteries As Sunshine Is To Darkness, As Eternal Life Is Unlike Death. I Shall Try To Build At Forest Lawn A Great Park, Devoid Of Misshapen Monuments And Other Customary Signs Of Earthly Death, But Filled With Towering Trees, Sweeping Lawns, Splashing Fountains, Singing Birds, Beautiful Statuary, Cheerful Flowers, Noble Memorial Architecture With Interiors Full Of Light And Color, And Redolent Of The World’s Best History And Romances.
I Believe These Things Educate And Uplift A Community.
Forest Lawn Shall Become A Place Where Lovers New And Old Shall Love To Stroll And Watch The Sunset’s Glow, Planning For The Future Or Reminiscing Of The Past; A Place Where Artists Study And Sketch; Where School Teachers Bring Happy Children To See Things They Read Of In Books, Where Little Churches, Triumphant In The Knowledge That From Their Pulpits Only Words Of Love Can Be Spoken; Where Memorialization Of Loved Ones In Sculptured Marble And Pictorial Glass Shall Be Encouraged But Controlled By Acknowledged Artists; A Place Where The Sorrowing Will Be Soothed And Strengthened Because It Will Be God’s Garden. A Place That Shall Be Protected By An Immense Endowment Care Fund, The Principal Of Which Can Never Be Expended—Only The Income Therefrom Used To Care For And Perpetuate This Garden of Memory.
This Is The Builder’s Dream; This Is The Builder’s Creed.”
I was in tears. I needed to hear this. I needed to know that there are others who hold Love as the highest order of all things. That someone else knew so certainly that death is a beginning he would dedicate his life to creating something so much bigger than him and us. That someone would endeavor to create such a thing as he describes. With all that is happening in our world, all of us effected, all of us dealing with such immense challenges, and with so much hate and destruction happening, my heart needed to have this experience of Divine Grandeur. My heart has been hurting. As I stood looking up at these words and they began to penetrate my heart, I feared I would begin to weep, so I had to gather myself. There was an equally beautiful, marble statue on the other side of the courtyard. Each piece of artwork called me in, asking me, no inviting me to visit and look, then look deeper, be moved.
I finally made my way into the main building and spoke with the guard, he explained that Yogananda’s tomb was in the next building. I asked if I could go inside this main building and he said of course. It was overwhelming, cathedral like ceilings with stained glass of magnificent ornate detail and beauty, a statue of Moses was the first thing I saw.
As I began to walk in, I almost wanted to tip toe to respect the deep silence I was met with. My keys were jangling and I stopped to hold them in a way they wouldn’t make noise, after all this was the resting place many many souls. It is hard to describe the feeling that came over me, it was intense yet calming, the ceilings drew your eyes upward toward the heavenly light shining it’s rays through the ornate stained glass windows.
I walked in further and there were these halls that were many, each with their own art and magnificent beauty behind archways made of stone with ornate details and finishings. There was too much to take in, my senses were overwhelmed. And there was not another soul in there, I was alone with all of this majesty. What is this place I thought to myself, it was so heavenly. I thought of what a great blessing it was for those who were resting here. I was then met with an Angel statue that was massive, maybe it was even 10 feet tall, but also it stood on a great and high stone.
It was time to make my way to the building where Yogananda lay. I entered that building and it was even more magnificent inside than the last. As I walked down the great hall curiously looking for where Yogananda’s tomb my attention was again drawn upward to the great architecture above.
There was a signpost for Yogananda, he is probably the most visited site there. There were two Yogi’s there in silent meditation. I had hoped to be alone, but was grateful that I could meditate with gurubais, even if we didn’t speak to one another. There it was, the sacred place his body is laid to rest. I was finally there to receive a spiritual blessing from my beloved Guru. To offer my love to him, to God, to Christ. To receive Spiritual nourishment and to cleanse and refresh my heart. I sat in meditation posture on the floor, as there was only a single bench in this particular hall which was already occupied. I prayed deeply for my loved ones, for my karmas and challenges, for our world on fire with the delusion of Maya and the unrewarding path of base materialism. It was a bit surreal knowing that his body was right there, in that wall.
When Yogananda died he was taken to Forest Lawn Mortuary, where to their great surprise his body did not decay. He was so permeated with Divine Love that his fleshly vessel was preserved by the Divine Force. Here is an excerpt from the letter from Forest Lawn Mortuary:
Extracts from Forest Lawn Letter
“The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body of Paramhansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience …. No physical disintegration was visible in Yogananda’s body even twenty days after death. The body was under daily observation at the Mortuary … from March 11, 1952, the day of the last public rites, until March 27, 1952, when the bronze casket was sealed by fire. During this period no indication of mold was visible on Yogananda’s skin, and no visible desiccation (drying up) took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one.”
Read more about that here:
After finishing meditating, I took a closer look at the two stained glass windows in this hall. All of the stained glass in the mausoleum halls had the most delightful and profound inscriptions in them.
After my visitation I decided to explore the great hall a bit more, and at the entrance of each of the minor halls which are where the tombs are, there were these marble statues that looked like a book stand with an open book, each with it’s own unique inscription:
I hope you enjoyed going on my little journey with me, thank you for taking the time to read this. May you find your place of peace, spiritual nourishment, and the refreshing waters of Grace and Holiness that are truly accessible to us at anytime. While having places like this is so important to humanity, it’s also important to remember that we can talk with God anytime, by going within. And as Yogananda says;
“Everything else can wait, but our search for God cannot wait”
To learn more about Paramahansa Yogananda and his teachings I leave you the following links: