Berkeley Temple

Berkeley Temple is composed of members and friends of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), a worldwide nonprofit religious organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920.

The aim of Self Realization Fellowship is direct communion with God in meditation through the practice of Kriya Yoga, an ancient and sacred scientific technique of meditation.

damian_2Our temple serves sincere seekers in the greater Bay Area offering regular weekly inspirational reading and meditation services that are open to the public. The temple provides a meeting place for members to share and practice the teachings of SRF and to serve our Guru’s work together.

For location and directions, please click here.

For details about our regularly scheduled services and activities, please visit the Temple Calendar.

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Northern California History

PY_PFA_bottom10_+Paramahansa Yogananda first visited the San Francisco Bay Area in November 1924. He lectured and taught classes in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Scottish Rite Auditorium, and in Berkeley at the Shattuck Hotel and the University of California. He returned to the Bay Area several times between 1924 and 1949, speaking to capacity audiences on the underlying unity of the world’s great religions and his methods for attaining a personal relationship with God.YoganandaLutherBurbank_top20

Yogananda frequently met with famed horticulturist Luther Burbank, the man he called “an American saint,” at his home in Santa Rosa, California. Burbank was one of the various prominent world figures of the day that became a devoted student of Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings; he was initiated into Kriya Yoga. Yogananda’s spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, is dedicated to the memory of Luther Burbank.

In 1949, Kamala Silva, a devoted SRF member, moved to Northern California and began searching for a permanent home for the growing number of SRF members in the Bay Area. The group initially met in the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco, then moved to various locations in Oakland and Berkeley.

In 1974, a church and three acres of surrounding property overlooking Wildcat Canyon in the Richmond Hills were purchased, and the Self-Realization Fellowship Richmond Temple was born. Over the next 38 years, the Temple and grounds were transformed by devoted Richmond Temple members into a spiritual oasis. Self-Realization Fellowship has continued to grow in Northern California with Centers and Meditation Groups in San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Marin, and Los Gatos.

Recent History

In 2008, a geotechnical report commissioned by Self-Realization Fellowship determined that a surface trace of the North Hayward Fault ran adjacent to the Chapel directly through the Richmond Temple property, resulting in stress to the building. Faced with a difficult decision, the Richmond Temple congregation voted to begin a search for a new home. On March 7th, 2012 the congregation moved to the Berkeley Temple at 3201 Shattuck Avenue, in Berkeley.

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Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India, into a devout Bengali family. As a young boy, his deep desire for God prompted him to seek out many of India’s great saints and sages in the hope he would meet a God-realized master who would one day guide his spiritual search. At seventeen, he met and became a disciple of the great Jnanavatar(“incarnation of wisdom”) Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, and spent the next seven years in Sri Yukteswar’s ashrams in Serampore and Puri, India. In 1915, after graduating from Calcutta University, Mukunda took formal vows as a monk of the ancient Swami Order and was given the name Yogananda—bliss, ananda, through divine union, yoga.

In 1920, the young swami set sail for America to serve as India’s delegate to an international congress of religious leaders convening in Boston. His speech, The Science of Religion, was so well received he remained in Boston and began lecturing and teaching on the East Coast.Yogananda_++ In 1924, he embarked on the first of several lecture tours he made across the United States, speaking to capacity audiences in the largest assembly halls of the day on the science of Kriya Yoga. In 1925 Yogananda established the international headquarters of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Los Angeles, California, the non-profit spiritual organization that disseminates his teachings throughout the world. During his thirty years in the West, he personally initiated more than 100,000 students into Kriya Yoga.

The photograph by which Yogananda is best known to spiritual seekers around the world was taken at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1924 by Hugo Schreiber,  hotel staff photographer.

Master and Ma_captionDuring the following years, Yogananda lectured extensively throughout the United States and met many of the disciples who would help him build his work for the ages, including Rajarsi Janakananda, Sri Daya Mata, Sri Mrinalini Mata, Dr. and Mrs. M. W. Lewis, and Sister Gyanamata. After Sri Daya Mata entered his ashram in 1931, she began recording Yogananda’s lectures, classes, and informal talks to preserve his teachings for generations to come.

But for one brief return to his homeland in 1935-36, Paramahansa Yogananda spent the remainder of his life in the United States building his work—lecturing, teaching, and writing. He also compiled the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons , a home-study course of his teachings. Today, many of his books—including Autobiography of a Yogi , God Talks With Arjuna , his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, The Second Coming of Christ , his interpretation of the Bible, and Scientific Healing Affirmations —are acknowledged classics of spiritual literature and used as texts in many colleges and universities. 

lake shrine PY_+Paramahansa Yogananda passed away on March 7, 1952. The spiritual and humanitarian work he founded in the West almost 100 years ago has been guided since his passing by disciples who directly received his spiritual training: Rajarsi Janakananda (1952 – 1955), Sri Daya Mata (1955 – 2010), and currently, Sri Mrinalini Mata. Monks and nuns of the SRF Order serve in the Fellowship’s ashram centers and Temples; conduct lectures, classes, and retreats around the world; and provide spiritual counsel to SRF students and members. Today, Self-Realization Fellowship has more than 600 temples, retreats, ashrams, and meditation centers worldwide.

To learn more about Paramahansa Yogananda and the work of Self-Realization Fellowship, please visit the SRF website.

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Self Realization-Fellowship

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Paramahansa Yogananda founded Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Boston in 1920, shortly after he arrived in America. In 1925, Yogananda established SRF’s international administrative headquarters atop Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, California, to disseminate his teachings and carry on his spiritual and humanitarian work. Today, SRF has more than 600 temples, retreats, ashrams, and meditation centers around the world.

When Yogananda returned to India in 1935, he established the headquarters for Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India which he had founded in 1917. YSS has grown to include more than 180, ashrams, meditation centers, schools, and medical dispensaries throughout the country.

The spiritual and humanitarian work Yogananda began nearly 100 years ago has been guided since his passing by disciples who directly received his spiritual training: Rajarsi Janakananda (1952 – 1955), Sri Daya Mata (1955 – 2010), and currently Sri Mrinalini Mata. As President of SRF/YSS, Sri Mrinalini Mata and the SRF/YSS Board of Directors preserve Yogananda’s spiritual legacy for future generations and oversee the delivery of his teachings around the globe.

Aims and Ideals of Self-Realization Fellowship

As set forth by Paramahansa Yogananda, Founder

goldl_lotus bullet_+To disseminate among the nations a knowledge of definite scientific techniques for attaining direct personal experience of God. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort, of man’s limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness; and to this end to establish Self-Realization Fellowship temples for God-communion throughout the world, and to encourage the establishment of individual temples of God in the homes and in the hearts of men. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To point out the one divine highway to which all paths of true religious beliefs eventually lead: the highway of daily, scientific, devotional meditation on God. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To liberate man from his threefold suffering: physical disease, mental inharmonies, and spiritual ignorance. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To encourage “plain living and high thinking”; and to spread a spirit of brotherhood among all peoples by teaching the eternal basis of their unity: kinship with God. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To demonstrate the superiority of mind over body, of soul over mind. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To overcome evil by good, sorrow by joy, cruelty by kindness, ignorance by wisdom. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To unite science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To advocate cultural and spiritual understanding between East and West, and the exchange of their finest distinctive features. 

goldl_lotus bullet_+To serve mankind as one’s larger Self.

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Yoga Meditation

Woman with swanThough the practice of yoga and meditation is today part of our modern culture, when Paramahansa Yogananda came to the West in 1920, these ancient, time-honored Eastern principles were novel, seemingly esoteric concepts. In his lectures and classes, Yogananda often said that the key to understanding the science of yoga lay in the Bible verse, “Be still, and know that I am God”; that yoga was a concrete way for any sincere seeker of God of any religion to still the restless mind and body and personally experience their divine nature—to know beyond any doubt what we really are.

The word yoga means “union”—of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit. Though many people think of yoga as physical exercises—the asanas or postures that are now widely practiced—yoga is actually a comprehensive system of scientific techniques that incorporates physical postures, scientific techniques of meditation, service to others, devotion to God, and the attainment of wisdom or Universal Truth. The goal of yoga is mastery of the energy of the body, mastery of the senses, the mind, the emotions, and the consciousness. By consciously directing the normally outward-flowing energy inward, yoga practitioners connect with subtle levels of spiritual awareness within themselves and personally experience the perception of God within.

Kriya Yoga as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda is an advanced technique of pranayama, life-energy control. Kriya reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy (prana) in the spine and brain and produces a deep inner stillness of body and mind that accelerates spiritual evolution and awareness.

Kriya Yoga is the diksha (initiation) or spiritual baptism of Self-Realization Fellowship. By receiving Kriya initiation, members enter into the sacred guru-disciple relationship and accept Paramahansa Yogananda as their guru (spiritual guide).

To learn more about Kriya Yoga meditation, please visit the SRF website.

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For Newcomers to SRF

AYWelcome to the Berkeley Temple, a spiritual home for members and friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are new to Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings, we invite you to explore this web site and the SRF website to learn more about our founder and his worldwide spiritual and humanitarian work.

Spiritual seekers gather at the Berkeley Temple for group meditation, inspirational lecture services, service to others, and spiritual fellowship. Monks of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order lead meditations and give lecture services twice a month and provide spiritual counsel to our members. Satsanga, “fellowship with Truth,” is held on the third Thursday evening of the month and questions about Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings are answered by an SRF minister. Lay members also lead meditations and services based on prepared readings from Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings. All lecture services include periods of meditation, devotional chanting, prayer, and a healing service where we pray for others and for the world.

The Berkeley Temple has Sunday School for children of members between the ages of 3 and 12, and classes for teens, both held during our Sunday Service. SRF sponsors a summer How-to-Live youth program for boys and girls 10 – 18 years old. A Young Adults Group for men and women 18 – 39 years old meets several times a year.

Woman Smiling_looking_Rt_+For a detailed schedule of services, meditations, retreats, and special events at the Berkeley Temple, please consult the Temple Calendar.

An excellent introduction to the life and teachings of our founder is Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, a spiritual classic since its release in 1946. A warm and compelling story, Autobiography of a Yogi is a book for seekers of all faiths, for anyone interested in developing a deep personal relationship with God.

Yogananda’s teachings are also available in a home-study course known as the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons . Compiled under Paramahansa Yogananda’s direction, the Lessons include instruction in meditation and guidance for every aspect of spiritual living.

For further information about the Lessons or to order books, CDs, DVDs by Yogananda and many of his disciples, please visit the SRF website or our Temple Bookroom on Thursday evenings and Sundays after the lecture service.

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Testimonials

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“The temple is my home. It’s where I feel the safest, most connected, most loved and loving. When I walk through it’s doors, a healing calm descends upon me. I am most grateful for this sacred place.”    — C.B.

 “The temple is a sanctuary; a refuge from the chaos of the world. But more importantly than being a physical refuge is that it is a place that better allows me to take refuge from my restless mind. To gather with fellow devotees in a sacred place, in a world where nothing seems sacred is an invaluable gift. And to be able to serve this temple as an usher is an incredible honor.”    — A.L.

“I can’t imagine my life progressing without attending Berkeley Temple 2 or 3 times each week, This is the hub of my life: serving as a greeter and teaching children…such joy! And at the evening meditations we all feel the Guru’s presence in a magnified way because we are together here, in our spiritual home.”    — S.C.

“Walking through the doors of Berkeley Temple is, for me, an experience of entering into Master’s heart. Serving his work — doing whatever he asks of me — is my life’s blood. I could never do enough.”    — M.W.

“What makes the Berkeley temple special for me are the people. There is a very deep bond with those that I have been meditating with for 39 years.It provides an invisible and sometimes very visible support system and a feeling of absolute, unconditional love.The knowing that we are passengers together on the most important journey of our lives binds us in a way nothing else can.The silent understanding of the blessing that we share is priceless.”    — L.H.

“Berkeley temple has been my spiritual refuge, embodied in a building; Strategically located between my home in Walnut Creek and San Francisco is a point of self-mandatory stop to rest my spirit.”    — L.G.

“Do you know that warm cozy feeling when you come back home after being away for a long time? The warm sense of comfort and security of coming back to the soothing, familiarity of home, of your house, your family, your bed? Well, that is exactly what stepping into the SRF temple feels like. It’s like your soul steps into a forgotten but very familiar place, where it can mingle with the souls of other devotees and bask in the unconditional love of Master and God. A home for the soul, that’s what the temple is for me. I am forever grateful for all the people who make it what it is and for Master’s blessing.”    — M.A.

 

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