Spiritual Los Angeles: The Glass Church, Puvunga and More

Guide to Spiritual Los Angeles by Catherine Auman

Day Trip in Southern California: Seeking out Spiritual Treasure

While to most of the world Los Angeles represents all that is superficial, deep at its core L.A. is the World Center of Spiritual Awakening, the cutting edge of as-far-West-as-you-can-go. Pull up a chair or get in your car and be ready to tour: this book has it all.

You’ll visit people and places much to your liking, and some you’ll wish you’d never met. You’ll learn a little history, some philosophy, and hopefully gain a smattering of enlightenment. Come, explore the treasures and delights of what you’ll adore: the wild and wonderful city, L.A., full of shakti and love.

Excerpt from the Book: 

Wayfarers Chapel
The Wayfarer’s Chapel in Los Angeles.

Start your day early so you can visit the Glass Church before any weddings are scheduled, as later it can be impossible to get in. Then enjoy the leisurely drive down the Coast to the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) Encinitas, eat lunch at Swami’s, and experience Puvunga on your way back.

Wayfarers Chapel aka “The Glass Church”

Designed by Lloyd Wright (not Frank Lloyd Wright, but his son) and built in 1951, the Wayfarers Chapel is not to be missed. It is a beautiful place for expansive heart-opening meditations.

Even the drive in is breathtaking, as the Chapel is built high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.

The Chapel Interior is built mostly of glass, and also stone, wood, and foliage.

Outside are gardens and panoramic views of the ocean. For $1 you can buy a guide to a self-guided tour of the property: the Front lawn, Reflection Pool, the Tower, the Rose Garden, Meditation Garden, Visitors Center, and Gift Shop.

Be sure and stop for all the vistas along the way.

The Wayfarers Chapel was built as a memorial for Emanuel Swedenborg, the 18th-century theologian, and mystic. The religion and church he founded, the Swedenborg Church, has about 3,000 adherents worldwide. Some of the major tenets of the faith are the interconnection of all of life, the further awareness of the new age in which we live, respect for all viewpoints, and the view that God is infinitely loving.

5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

Self-Realization Fellowship – Encinitas Temple

Paramahansa Yogananda, Eastern guru and the author of Steve Jobs’ favorite book Autobiography of a Yogi,   built an empire whose reach spread down the Southland as far as Encinitas.

You’re welcome to stroll the meditation gardens with panoramic views of the Pacific, attend service in the temple, and visit the gift shop.

Definitely, worth the drive, this place never fails to put one in the state in which all is right with the world.

939 2nd St, Encinitas, CA 92024

Swami’s Café

When you visit the SRF Temple, it is almost a requirement that you eat at Swami’s, located just across PCH. Although it appears to be a hippie hangout, they serve a full menu. Be sure not to miss the mural of a surfing Yogananda on the kitchen wall.

1163 S. Coast Hwy, Encinitas, CA, United States

Puvunga: The birthplace of the prophet, Chingishmish.
Puvunga: The birthplace of the prophet, Chingishmish.


A place sacred to the indigenous Tongva people is Puvunga, believed to be the “place of emergence” where the world began. It is the birthplace of the prophet, Chingishmish, who taught the people how to feed themselves.

Puvunga is also the site of burial grounds and a formerly thriving village.

If you walk behind the Earl Miller Japanese Garden on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, you’ll come to a clearing by a spring surrounded by grassy fields. There you’ll find totem poles and medicine wheels.

The day we visited Native people were meeting, and we spoke briefly with Anna who was quite welcoming. A little boy named Goyo was listening to us, and at one point he announced,” We are warriors for Mother Earth.”

As warriors, the Tongva have repeatedly had to go to war for this land to be recognized as a holy site. Developers have tried to build a strip mall at the location, and the University has attempted to nullify their designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the archaeological sites spread all over the campus have been destroyed.

puvunga stone

From the parking lot, if you walk in the direction of a lone pine tree and cross the road you drove in on, you’ll find a circle of stones with the word Puvunga on them.

When the remains of an Indian burial were found here, the body was dug up and put into a drawer in the archaeology department.

When people found out about there was a protest, and the sacred bones were buried then at the circle.

The spot is not marked and is not easy to find unless you look for it.

Although there may not be a lot to see at Puvunga, it is beautiful to make the trip to honor this sacred land.

To stop and breathe in its rich history while standing in the midst of quiet nature, who knows? Maybe this is where the world began.

1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840

© 2021 Catherine Auman

Above is an excerpt from Catherine Auman’s book Guide to Spiritual L.A.: The Irreverent, the Awake, and the True, available at https://catherineauman.com or on Amazon.

Catherine AumanCatherine Auman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in private practice and the Founder and Director of The Transpersonal Counseling Center. Catherine appears frequently on podcasts, radio, and TV, and she is a popular speaker and workshop leader.

Her writings have been published online and in journals, magazines, and books in the U.S. and Europe.

Catherine lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Greg Lawrence, with whom she teaches tantra and relationship enhancement.

Visit her online at catherineauman.com

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