Once in a rare while we are lifted high on the wings of grace. Last week was an extraordinary week filled with laughter, tears, joy, inspiration, friendship, and hope. We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Ananda and dedicated our new Temple of Light. For the thousand people attending it felt like we were raised out of the mundane world and into an astral heaven for a few days at least. Many people told me that their lives will never, can never, be the same after feeling God so close and tangible.

interfaith religions celebration at the ananda temple of light

Leaders of major world religions at the Temple of Light, Ananda Village.

One of the highlights at the Temple dedication ceremony on Saturday, July 6, was a panel of eight spiritual leaders representing the various world religions. We have built niches into the outer walls and placed there sacred religious symbols, making the Temple of Light truly a temple of all religions, as Paramhansa Yogananda did with his temples, which he called “Churches of all Religions.” On Saturday the panel of eight teachers spoke about how light shines from each of their faiths. A dear friend made a comment afterwards that was shared by many: “I have read, heard about, and longed for interfaith unity. Today I experienced it. Now that we know what it is, we must go forward and share it with others.”

What I personally found most inspiring was that, no matter the outer expression of different religions, the essence is the same. Here are a few of the themes that each religion expresses in its own way:

A Search for Universal Truth. Each speaker talked about the quest for higher consciousness. Rabbi Ted Falcon added that these principles are easy to talk about, but the real challenge is to do the work needed to make them real in your life.

Compassion. Every religion recognizes the need to help others, whether it is expressed by Jesus as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or by Buddha as the noble eightfold path. As Daljit Singh told us, “Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, tells his followers that they must share whatever they have with all, whether it be wealth, merit, or talent.”

Love. Love is central to all paths—the love that has manifested the world, and is the fastest path to God. Imam Jemal quoted Mohammed: “God told me in a dream, ‘O beloved humanity, I cannot be contained in the space of the earth, I cannot be contained in the space of the heavens, but I can be contained in the space of the pure, loving heart.’”

Light. Since we were dedicating the Temple of Light, we ended our ceremony by having each representative light a votive candle from a central flame. They then carried their light and placed it before the symbol of their religion. Then, one by one, they each prayed, “May the light of Hinduism [Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Self-realization, all religions] bless this temple and the world.”

Then, nearly a thousand people joined their voices as one, singing Swami Kriyananda’s wonderful song, “Thy Light Within Us Shining.” At that moment we were united with one another, with each of the great religions, and with God. As the song says, “In inner freedom of the heart, our night has turned to day.”

May the one light unite us all.

Nayaswami Jyotish

P.S. I urge you to listen to the presentation of that sacred day. Here is the link:

Due to technical difficulties, this week’s podcast will be posted to this blog within the next few days. To subscribe to the podcast and receive a notification when it is added, click here.

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  1. Thank you Jyotish and Devi for another beautiful post. The temple of Light is another jewel to reflect God’s light upon all those who see her.

    With all the stories shared about swamiji’s journey and his mission to bring the world the teachings of self realization, I thought back to the beginnings of Ananda, after swami started sharing Yogananda’s message in San Francisco. I don’t recall the exact time he decided to do this, but I came across Scott McKenzie’s song from that era, 1967, San Francisco. It, along with many others, heralded the awakening of the 60’s. And 1967 was the coined as the “summer of Love.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZcyRLtwUVY

    Although the focus then was very much on the physical level, the founding vibration was, change. Change from the past, an embracing of the brotherhood of man. The turmoil of the world events demanded a new perspective. Peace, Love, music, these vibrations filled the streets of San Francisco. And there, to offer up the answer, was a disciple of Yogananda, our beloved Swamii. Surely, his mission was to find souls like Jyotish and Devi and all those who came to him seeking not just the summer of love, but the bliss of God contact, and a path capable of lifting the whole of humanity.

    And lo, here we are…

  2. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for this blog. We watched the live broadcast from Chennai. What a blessing it was to witness this sacred event. It was like a festive time in the family for us 🙂

    Jai Guru

    In Master’s love
    Prem

  3. Thank you for sharing your deep wisdom, words cannot describe the blessing, of having you and Devi, as our guides, carrying Masters and Swamiji’s light. The collective experience of everybody there was quite moving. We were deeply touched my family and I. I believe what happened last weekend will shift Humanity, it is in the ether now doing its work of transformation

  4. Thank you Jyotish and Devi for a most blessed week. I to felt such unity at that wonderful presentation. Something that you hear about almost daily but never seems to be realized. What an uplifting and inspiring week. In Master’s love and friendship, Jerry Champagne.

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