Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Los Angeles, California

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a meditation garden, sanctuary, and temple of the Self-Realization Fellowship religious organization located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Address: 17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
10am – 4:30pm (Tues. – Sat.), 12pm -4:30pm (Sun.)


This place kept popping up in my research of gardens to visit in the LA area but the name of it was a little intimidating so I was putting it off. The other day, I happened to be in the area and spotted the entrance and knew it was time to overcome my fear. Passing the “Please silence your cell phone” sign you immediately get the meditative vibe of this garden and adjust yourself accordingly. I was a little nervous about using my noisy camera in such a tranquil environment but eventually was able to judge when it was appropriate.

A rustic stone wall leads you along a pleasing pathway around a large spring-fed lake, holding back the flowering stepped gardens that blend into the natural hillsides of the valley.  There were many little nooks and stairways to secluded spots with grassy carpets or benches where you would often notice someone deep in meditation, or just gazing at the serene surroundings with contemplative expressions. I was even so moved by the peaceful setting, I grabbed a bench under some shady palm trees overlooking the lake just to take it all in for a while. 

Across the water, a small waterfall trickles down a rocky hill thick with flowers and greenery. To one side of the lake is set a bright white houseboat looking like it just steamed down the Mississippi River. Apparently the location was once a movie studio and does maintain that set-like quality, complete with a large windmill nestled just so on the edge of the lake. The centerpiece of the whole place is the Golden Lotus Archway, a “wall-less temple” grassy area with a shrine that houses a portion of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi as a memorial to world peace. 

The shrine is run by the Self Actualization Fellowship, a society for promoting self-realization through meditative practice. They stress being open to all people with statues and sections of the gardens referencing all the world’s major religions. They don’t seem to be pushing any agenda or outrightly asking you to join their cause, only offering a sanctuary that speaks for itself in openness and peaceful tranquility. Opened to the public in 1950, the magical location and its parent organization has enchanted many including Elvis Presley and George Harrison of the Beatles whose funeral was held in the Windmill Chapel.

Final Rating: It is funny how intimidated I was by this odd little oasis tucked into a little pocket of land just before Sunset hits the Pacific Coast Highway. Now I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again and share the experience with others. Aside from the alternating flowers and ornamental grasses planted along the pathway and the multicolored rose garden, much of the landscape is left untouched and really adds to the transportive nature of the setting. Although there are some impressive features, I would come more for the atmosphere of peace and meditation than appreciation of gardens. THREE BLOOM RATING

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