Homesick for the Fellowship in Self-Realization Fellowship

We have been living with my in-laws for over three weeks. It was supposed to be a much shorter visit, but it’s hard to leave these grandparents! Being a religious woman and a member of Self-Realization Fellowshipa church that encourages discussion and questions, I always enjoy the theological discussions I have with Walter’s namesake, Grandpa Walter, a devout Catholic. Theological discussion, a documentary, the news this past month full of the Catholic Church and a conversation with Walter about the need for community for the church to truly do its work–it all made me homesick for the feeling I have whenever I am on “SRF” property. For about twenty-four hours, I even wondered if I was feeling actual distance from the church I grew up with. I asked myself, am I feeling called to convert to Catholicism?

It wasn’t a comfortable question. Converting to a religion is a big deal, and my politics don’t exactly mesh with the Catholic Church’s views on birth control, choice and who knows what else. I could ask the question, however, because SRF would still embrace me. The “Church of All Religions” teaches children at its Youth Programs that “all paths reach the mountaintop.” There is a garden that celebrates each of the world’s major religions at the beautiful Lake Shrine in California, right near the entrance. Conversion would be a very big deal for me and my family, but it would not cause any rifts.

The interior of the temple at Lake Shrine, couresty of
The interior of the temple at Lake Shrine, couresty of

Then, today, I attended Easter Mass with my in-laws, baby and husband. The homily was delivered by a priest from India, the same man who performed mass at Christmas. The only two Catholic masses I have attended in my adult life were performed by this priest. This is a bit of a divine joke, in my opinion, because the founder of SRF came from India to the United States in order to offer a spiritual path that united East and West. It makes me smile. The priest is an intelligent, devout, eloquent, passionate speaker. When he spoke today about the Resurrection, he said that the Resurrection of Christ was a reward for the life Christ had lived. This resonated with me deeply, because I believe that union with God, the Realization that our true Selves are, in fact, one with God, and that we have to work for that. The work that we have to do is to cast aside the delusion that keeps us from that knowledge, the desire for worldly achievements and things that distract us from the desire to reunite with God.

Easter Mass with Cousin Elliott and Aunt Peggy
Easter Mass with Cousin Elliott and Aunt Peggy

And therein lies my answer to the conversion question: I do not believe that the Catholic Church is the one true church. I believe in reincarnation. I may not be a member of the religion of Self-Realization Fellowship yet, not having received the meditation technique Kriya Yoga, but I am still a proud member of the church. Paramahansa Yogananda is my guru. When I pray, I sometimes choose to begin with the same beginning I have heard so many times at Sunday talks and Youth Program meditations, “Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God; Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahashaya, Swami Sri Yukteshwar and our Beloved Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, Saints and Sages of All Religions, I bow to you all.” Krishna and Babaji, in particular, are too dear to my heart.

I do not want to convert to another religion. I simply long for community. When I visit my mother, in Phoenix, AZ, and see the various ways in which she can choose to be involved in the church there, I long for those same choices. Members of SRF are not holier or nicer than Catholics or anyone else. They simply share a longing that I, too, feel, to take this particular path to mountain top.

Today, I was thankful for the massive statue of Christ that hangs above the altar at the local Catholic church. Rather than Christ on the cross, it depicts Christ rising. I looked at that image and prayed another familiar prayer, deep in my heart, “May thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion.”


Paramahansa Yogananda, courtesy of
Paramahansa Yogananda, courtesy of


  1. Jane said:

    You know I’m in a tough place on my own spiritual journey, so I was sad to read this and remember how my connection to my own childhood faith is so lost right now. But I wanted to let you know that I love the openness and love and clarity in this post. I love how you talk about conversion without embarrassment or fear, and then, because you have the space to safely consider it, realize what you really long for – which is the same thing I long for. This really is an amazing post.

    April 2, 2013
    • Anne-Marie said:

      I think the best gift my summer camp/Youth Program gave me was the push to ask, Is this my path? Our parents had “converted”–found it themselves! They were so excited! We grew up with it, so a lot of us went through the motions, some of us rebelled, some of us tried to reflect our parents’ devotion. But there’s no way to really go through the motions as an adult, because meditation is being discussed everywhere you turn. I guess I’ve been asking myself why I’m not meditating, and I finally realized the answer *while* writing this. I’m afraid to be alone with my thoughts. I’m afraid to turn inward. How many false conversions have happened through fear? The more I sit with this, the better I understand that my discomfort is a cognitive dissonance that’s moving me in a productive way. It would be a lot harder if I had grown up hearing that other paths were wrong or believing in Hell.

      April 2, 2013
  2. Dennis G said:

    Hi, I was just looking for information for the Phoenix SRF Temple and saw your post.

    I became a Kriyabahn in Germany in 1984. I moved to Phoenix in 1985. I attended fellowships and meditations for a few years before moving to CT.

    I too long to return to the Phoenix Temple. I have many blessed memories of those brief years.

    I see God in all Religions and all paths do indeed lead to God. Master showed me how to be in the present with God. I see Her everywhere.

    I like your post, send me more.

    Blessings from our Guru keep you always.

    May 23, 2014
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