Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California
I am not entirely sure how I was first attracted to Vedanta given I first started coming to the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood in the late sixties. It might have been the term ‘Vedanta’ itself since, as a student at UC Berkeley, I lived next door to the Berkeley Temple. I remember being vaguely interested in the term but thought it was a private organization. I was impressed as a child by the book Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, with its emphasis on compassion and dedication. I most definitely remember being acutely interested in Indian music.
Initially I came into contact with ISKON (Hare Krsna) in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. As much as I related to the philosophy and music, it became clear the devotional path was not for me. A friend told me about the Hollywood Temple and I went to check it out. I attended a lecture by Swami Prabhavananda and was totally captivated by him. You didn’t have to listen to him lecture or attend classes, you had only to observe him and you were spiritually uplifted. He had an extraordinary effect on me and still does fifty years later.
While I am aware it is not our custom to reveal spiritual experiences, I will do so only to emphasize how special he was. I used to see a halo radiating from around his head when he was lecturing. At first I thought there was something wrong with my eyes and would rub them; I soon realized this was not the case. I was total mesmerized by him and his lectures apart from this experience. Vedanta was clearly the path for me.
Aligning myself with Vedanta is one of the best decisions of my life. It is an absolute honor and privilege to have heard so many great teachers and met so many exceptional people through the years. The Vedanta society and the Temple in particular are home for me, places of comfort and tranquility in a confused and conflicted world. Vedanta provides a substantive perspective on the human condition. Vedanta enriches life and lends nourishment to heart and mind, giving life purpose and meaning.
What I found most valuable and compelling in the teaching is what Swami Prabhavananda said in a class half a century ago. He first told us what was NOT most important: lectures, books, association with spiritual aspirants. Then he said what WAS most important: remembering God and showing by example.