Self Realization Fellowship of San Diego
- Contact: 3072 1st Ave., San Diego 619-295-0170 www.sandiegotemple.org
- Neighborhood: Bankers Hill
- Minister: Brother Tyagananda.
- Members: 150-200 guests per Sunday service (9 a.m. and 11 a.m.)
- Age: 57
- Born: Ascoli Piceno, Italy
- Formation: Catholic University of Milan, Italy; Hidden Valley Ashram, Escondido
- Years Ordained: 6
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your sermons?
Brother Tyagananda: Every Sunday, we have as silent meditation period first, which is guided for those who are new to the community. Then we have what we call our lecture services which all the monks offer. We’re open to the public; one doesn’t need to be a registered member of our church to be part of our services. This was part of the style of our master, Paramahansa Yogananda, who established the San Diego Temple at Bankers Hill, which has been in operation for 78 years. We all have different styles in preparing our sermons. In my case, it varies. I like to spend 10-15 minutes every day for a week preceding the sermon on Sunday.
SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
BT: How to create a loving, personal relationship with the divine…. We employ the mind and study the scriptures, but it’s more a work from the heart, especially these days in when men and women live so much in their heads. They operate, as the saying goes, from the neck up. They worry about finances and a job; but here in the West we’ve lost the vital, deep connection with the heart, by which I don’t mean just emotions or romantic feelings. The deepest essence of our soul resides in our heart. So we need to have that deep Love—capital “L”—with the divine so that we can experience it. We cultivate it and it stays with us through the ups and downs of life.
SDR: What is the mission of our community?
BT: The purpose is to bring together truth-seeking souls, and to help them to establish their own connection with the divine…. First, we try to teach every individual, no matter his or her background, to have a practical means of communing with the divine. Then, we help souls to come together as a spiritual community, to love God together, in the temple, and to bring their own children, their elderly.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
BT: In a way, real life begins on the other side—what we call the “astral world.” So we drop the physical body as a shell but we have an astral body—a body of light—which is our soul. When we go to the other side, we continue our spiritual growth and evolution. There will be guides, angels, beings of light, helping us to understand why we had to suffer and to reconnect with loved ones who had passed away. So we believe in the afterlife and in heaven, but we do not believe in eternal damnation. We know if someone has not lived a good life here on earth then when they die, their souls go to some regions on the other side that are a little more hellish, something more like purgatory. So they are guided to introspection and repentance, to use Christian terminology. Then we believe— but don’t ask anyone to believe, until and unless it’s proven—that certain souls come back to earth, taking again a physical body, and continuing to learn the lessons here on earth… We believe that no one really dies, but only the shells of our bodies die.