Light Of Truth Universal Shrine Designer and Founder
Sri Swami Satchidananda
Sri Swami Satchidananda is respected worldwide as one of the major pioneers of the interfaith movement. In recognition of his contributions, he was posthumously awarded the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award by the Interfaith Center of New York on the occasion of his centennial (100th birth anniversary) in 2014.
He was ordained a monk in 1949 by his spiritual preceptor, Sri Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India. From the beginning of his spiritual service, Swami Satchidananda was a leader in the interfaith movement. His motto, “Truth is One, Paths are Many,” is a foundational part of his teachings.
Swami Satchidananda founded and is the guiding light for Integral Yoga® International. Integral Yoga combines various methods of Yoga, including Hatha Yoga, selfless service, meditation, prayer, and a 5,000-year-old philosophy that helps one find the peace and joy within. Integral Yoga is the foundation for Dr. Dean Ornish’s landmark work in reversing heart disease and Dr. Michael Lerner’s noted Commonweal Cancer Help program, among many other pioneering programs. Today more than 5,000 Integral teachers offer programs globally.
In 1979, Swami Satchidananda was inspired to establish a residential program/retreat center and spiritual community called Satchidananda Ashram—Yogaville®. Based on his teachings, it is a place where people of different faiths and backgrounds can come to realize their essential oneness. Yogaville is the home of The Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). This unique interfaith Shrine honors the Spirit that unites all the world religions, while celebrating their diversity. People from all over the world come there to meditate and pray.
For more than fifty years, Swami Satchidananda sponsored interfaith worship services and conferences. His teachings advocate respecting and honoring all faiths and he was invited to share his message of peace with many world leaders and dignitaries. He also served on the advisory boards of many world peace and interfaith organizations.
Swami Satchidananda’s many books and teachings are widely available.
Why I Built the LOTUS
Sri Swami Satchidananda
Before I even started building LOTUS, I seriously asked myself, Is it necessary? Should we
spend money for that? Why can’t we spend that money for the more needy people? People ask
me that question. My answer is that I don’t deny the importance of immediate service to the
needy, poor, sick or hungry. But why are people poor, sick, or hungry? The reason is because we
don’t care and share enough.
The aim behind the LOTUS is to bring people together so that they understand their spiritual
oneness and then can live together as a global family. What is it that we should see if we really
want a peaceful co-existence? We should see the one unifying factor, the Spirit. If we see the
Spirit in us, we realize that we are all one. The challenge given to each and every one of us is to
remember that oneness behind the outer differences. When we forget that and identify ourselves
with the superficial differences, we lose sight of the spiritual oneness.
The idea behind LOTUS is not to have all faiths merge into one. All the faiths are different paths
that lead to the same goal. Because we are one in Spirit, it doesn’t mean that we need to
renounce our own path or approach. That is not unity; that is conversion. If there is only one kind
of flower in the garden, it’s no longer a garden. Should the flowers fight about their colors, their
scents, their shapes, and forms? Should they hate each other for their differences? We seem to
appreciate the variety, texture, shapes, and scents of the flowers as they blend together to create a
beautiful bouquet. Our aim should be to understand the unity and enjoy the variety. Real unity
means accepting all the various approaches. That is why my motto has always been, “Truth is
One, Paths are Many.”
Many more people have died in the name of God and religion than in all the wars and natural
calamities. Let’s not forget that. So, what is the cause? We don’t seem to recognize that we are
all brothers and sisters in the same spirit. We may look different, but the same spirit runs through
us all. The purpose of any religion is to teach us about our spiritual oneness, to help us to live
this truth: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
When we understand that essentially we are one appearing as many, then all the other problems
will be solved. Wherever you go say, “We may look different, but we are all one in
Spirit—Hello, brother; hello sister.” No one person and no one religion is superior or inferior to
another. We are all united as sisters and brothers of one global family. We should learn to live
together and work toward one goal: to share and care, love and give.
May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.