Temple Fire Updates

September 21, 2023
Temple Restoration Update

Restoration Rundown: From Ashes to Artistry!

We continue to make headway on our restoration journey, and it's gratifying to share with you the progress we've made:

Building and Grounds Progress:
-  The shed, which unfortunately bore the brunt of the fire, has been entirely demolished with all burned and damaged contents removed.
-  Significant work has been done externally on the Temple: burned walls and roof areas have been taken down and rebuilt with fresh studs and plywood.
-  Our trusty old HVAC system served us well, but it was time to say goodbye, as it was beyond repair. We are evaluating a few replacement bids to ensure the best value.

Interior Magic:
-  The Temple interiors are buzzing with activity. Cleaning and painting are in full swing, and soon the walls and ceilings will shine anew, thanks to your support.
-  The Minister's area within the Temple is prepped and ready for its transformation.
-  Memories resurfaced as the dais glass window/wall with symbols was carefully cleaned by the crew who were with us during the Temple's initial renovation some years ago. Their magic touch was ever-present.

Roofing News: The roofing supplies made an impressive arrival via a conveyor belt system, which seamlessly delivered everything to the temple's top roof level. While this innovative method saved time, the restoration still has its financial demands.

Art Restoration: Our invaluable Sri Yantra and Paramahansa Yogananda paintings, have been picked up by CRDN. Renowned for their expertise in painting restoration, we are confident they're in the best hands.

With each passing day, the Temple inches closer to its former splendor. As we embark on the next stages of this journey, your unwavering support and any contributions you can make, truly make a difference. Onward we go; the best is yet to come!


September 14, 2023
Meditation Gardens and Bookstore Reopening

Roses, Reads, and Rejuvenation: The Garden's Triple R's!

As we move forward in our journey of restoration, we're thrilled to bring forth uplifting news. While the second phase of our project, dedicated to the meticulous cleaning and restoration of both the temple's interior and exterior, is making promising strides, there's something beautiful unfolding outside the temple walls.

Starting this Saturday, September 16th, the gates to our resplendent gardens will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 AM to 5 PM. Nature is painting a breathtaking canvas for us this season, and our rose garden is bursting in bloom! As you walk through, let the soothing sounds of the recently rejuvenated fountain wash over you, offering tranquility and peace.

For those seeking words of wisdom or perhaps a tranquil read, the Tree of Life Bookstore will also open its doors on these days from 11 AM to 1 PM. Whether you're searching for a spiritual tome, a meaningful gift, or simply a peaceful moment amidst the pages, come and dive into a carefully curated collection and experience the simple pleasure of reading surrounded by tranquility.

The river of generosity from our community members continues to flow, and the donations we've been receiving are both humbling and vital. They are tokens of faith, enabling us to progress steadily in our restoration efforts. It's important to emphasize that insurance coverage won't fully account for every need. Your generous contributions help bridge the gap, ensuring the thorough and heartfelt restoration of our cherished spaces.

Thank you for your unwavering support of restoration. We hope to see you soon, wandering the pathways of our vibrant garden, finding solace in nature's embrace.


September 6, 2023
Progress Update

Revitalizing Our Temple, Step by Step

With each passing day, we inch closer to seeing our beloved temple restored to its former glory. There's a flurry of activity and significant progress, so here are some high-level updates.

One of the significant undertakings has been the rejuvenation of our cherished trees. Kelly Tree Service has been hard at work trimming the burnt branches from three Acacia trees. This includes two grand Acacias on our neighbor's property (with their gracious permission) and one on our own. They also skillfully cleared branches over and close to the temple's roofline, making way for imminent roofing tasks. Furthermore, the Oak and Maple at the Yajna site have been given the same care. It's heartening to share that care was taken to not remove any green from these trees, offering them a chance at full recovery.

We also have news regarding the temple's treasured artwork. We've received the green light from our insurance to clean and restore the cherished Sri Yantra and Paramahansa Yogananda-ji paintings. CRDN, art restoration specialist in this field, will take on this delicate task.

Inside our temple, preliminary preparations for the major restoration work are underway. The interiors of the temple are being cleared out in stages, making way for the more extensive interior work that will soon follow.

Every step we take is filled with purpose, commitment, and a vision of a temple reborn. Thank you for your unwavering support and faith as we journey together through this transformative process.


August 30, 2023
Progress Update

Heartfelt Progress and the Harmony of Unity

This video captures the return of our running fountain and features a delightful scene of a hummingbird drinking and playfully splashing around. We invite you to share in this moment;
click above to view this heartwarming spectacle.

Every day brings moments showcasing our collective spirit. Our joy was palpable when, after 52 silent days, the soothing sound of our fountain returned, a gentle echo of hope and persistence in beauty amidst challenges.

And speaking of beauty, what an evening we had at the "Love’s Fire" benefit concert! Gathering in the Meditation Garden amidst refreshments and beaming smiles, we came together under a canopy of the magnificent Oak tree, stars, and melodies. The night was so much more than just music; it was a testament to our unity, our shared memories, and our aspirations for the future.

The rhythm of progress hums through the Center, and we're thrilled to announce the successful completion of the restoration project’s first stage. As we gear up for Stage Two, focused on the heart of the temple — its interiors, scaffolding signals the start of the next phase this September. A team of professionals is ready to rejuvenate everything inside, from furnishings to cherished art and electronics. We're also streamlining equipment setup and navigating structural rebuilding plans and insurance details.

Above all, the heartbeat of this effort is our community's unwavering love and support. Every restoration step reflects our collective spirit. It's more than just mending walls; it's about intertwining heartbeats.

Thank you for being the pulse of this journey.


August 23, 2023
Progress Update

Unfolding Progress: Our Temple Restoration Continues

We're making strides in our mission to restore and rejuvenate our beloved temple.

Exciting news at the forefront: We're delighted to announce that Havens Construction has graciously agreed to serve as CSE's General Contractor. This is truly a blessing for our community. Alongside this, we have successfully restored some electricity to the temple which is a step closer to making the fountain operational again.

We are actively collaborating with Greenspan on insurance claims, reviewing comprehensive documents, and anticipating a detailed inventory following a productive site visit.

Our dedication extends to every detail, from ensuring the restoration of prized artworks to meticulous financial discussions that chart our way forward. We've liaised with several vendors, received quotes, and streamlined operations, all aimed at a comprehensive restoration.

As we prepare for the Love’s Fire Benefit Concert, preparations like outdoor lighting installations are underway to ensure an unforgettable evening. We hope to see you there, illuminating the night with your presence.

Your continued support and understanding during these times are invaluable. Every step we take is a testament to our community's collective resilience and shared vision. Thank you for being a pivotal part of this journey.


August 17, 2023
Special Invitation

Join Us for LOVE'S FIRE: An Evening of Unity & Restoration

We are thrilled to invite you to a soulful evening of music, unity, and purpose!


Saturday, August 26, 2023
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM  Refreshments in the Temple Garden
7:00 PM - 9:30 PM  Concert Under the Majestic Oak Tree

In the wise words of Rumi:
"The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire. Your essence is gold hidden in dust."

As preparations swing into full gear, we're thrilled by the magic that is shaping up for this special night. Let us gather in the enchanting Temple Garden, and let our spirits be lifted by melodies and rhythms that resonate with our collective desire to heal, rebuild, and rejoice.

An illustrious lineup awaits you: * Swami Nirvanananda * David Rhodes * Elaine Kreston * John Malkin * Sharon Henderson * Lee Henderson * Chris Lanier * Mukti Devi Lanier * Michael Amarnath Scott * Steven Walters * Yogacharya O'Brian *

They are all generously offering their artistry and heart for the evening, transforming the garden into a sanctuary of sound and spirit.

Each note played, every voice raised, strengthens our commitment and ability to restore our cherished temple. Your presence will not only contribute to the restoration efforts but also to the collective energy of love and resilience.

Be part of this harmonious journey! Let's come together, celebrate the spirit of community, and embrace the transformative power of music.

Looking forward to seeing you beneath the oak, where melodies will dance and hearts will connect.



August 9, 2023
Community Update

Rebuilding and Renewing

Dear Community,

As the restoration planning of our beloved temple advances, here is a detailed overview of the last week’s progress and developments.

We have received a comprehensive Claim Inventory from our adjuster, Greenspan. It meticulously catalogs all items affected by the fire, both inside and outside the temple. The Center staff is diligently working to ensure that everything is captured correctly for the insurance claim. We are targeting to complete this process very soon.

Meetings have been held with potential general contractors to discuss the rebuilding and restoration plans.

We have created outdoor signs with updates on the Temple Fire and placed them around the property. We have also prepared flyers for the upcoming Love's Fire Benefit Concert. Your presence will make this event all the more special.

This week, we are hosting the Kriya Yoga Meditation teacher training at CSE. It has been a time of immense joy and profound spiritual energy, as dedicated practitioners from different walks of life gather here to deepen their practice and knowledge. The ashram is filled with the beautiful energy of those who are devoted to their spiritual path of Kriya Yoga. We feel blessed to have this sacred gathering, even amidst the ongoing restoration efforts.

Thank you for your continued support, patience, and love during this challenging time. Together, we are rebuilding not only a physical structure but a sanctuary for peace, love, and spiritual connection. Your ongoing contributions to this cause are deeply cherished.


August 3, 2023
Community Update

Progress and Perseverance

Dear Community,

We hope this message finds you well. As the restoration and renewal of our beloved temple continues, we wanted to keep you informed of the significant progress being made.

Communication and coordination have been at the forefront of our efforts over the past week. Questions and concerns related to a proposal for dealing with fire and smoke damage were actively communicated. More details are forthcoming, and the collaboration with our insurance partners on various open items is ongoing.

The assessment of the damage continues to be a priority, including evaluating the smoke damage, investigating the status of electrical and AV equipment, and examining other areas within the temple such as the floor, ceiling, etched glass, and HVAC systems.

In the outdoor area, several developments are underway. The planning and proposal process for the security fence installation is moving forward, and efforts are being made to restore the fountain to its original glory.

After a challenging month, we are pleased to announce that gas has been restored to the Compassion building, and that means hot showers and cooking in the kitchen! This comes just in time for the upcoming Kriya Yoga Meditation Teacher Training, with participants staying on-site for a whole week. All these updates are reflective of our collective practice of patience, perseverance, and commitment to the restoration project.

Your continued support and prayers during this period of restoration are deeply appreciated. Together, we are creating something beautiful and enduring, honoring our spiritual home and the community that it serves.

See you at the Temple Restoration Benefit Concert!


July 26, 2023
Video Update from Yogacharya O'Bria

Progress Amidst Challenges

We are now 26 days into the aftermath of the devastating fire that struck our beloved temple. We understand the emotional toll this has taken on many of you, as this place is not just a structure, but a spiritual home and sanctuary for peace.

As we've begun to comprehend the extent of the damage, we want to share with you an update on the situation. The fire, instigated by arson, caused extensive structural damage to the temple, from the ground up through the roof, impacting critical systems like HVAC and electrical. Numerous fires were intentionally set, affecting not only the temple itself but also our outdoor areas, including a storage shed and surrounding shrubbery.

The act of arson that burned our temple was one of several fires set in the larger community. It was not someone we knew, or personal against CSE.

Despite the heartbreaking sight of the damage, we count our blessings. The fire response was swift, the tree canopy was spared, and the fire didn't infiltrate the interior of the temple. However, there is significant smoke and chemical damage inside, which will require remediation.

On the brighter side, we are witnessing new life emerging amidst the ruins, an encouraging reminder of the divine protection we are under. Steps towards restoration have already begun, albeit less visible ones. We have met with insurance adjusters and initiated necessary replacements, such as a new gas line. As soon as we install safety fences around the temple, we plan to reopen the meditation garden to the public.

Despite these challenges, our spiritual community's heartbeat continues. We are holding programs in the Oak Tree Garden area, and next week, we look forward to welcoming students for Kriya Yoga Meditation Teacher Training.

We are grateful for your involvement, prayers, and support. Please remember to look beyond the visible damage, for it's the divine force of spirit that is currently guiding our path to restoration - of the temple and our hearts.

Thank you for standing with us in this period of renewal. We send love, prayers, and look forward to seeing you soon.

Witness the Temple Fire Damage and Our Road to Recovery



We warmly invite you to join us for "Love’s Fire: A Benefit Concert for Restoring the Temple" on the evening of Saturday, August 26, 2023, 6 PM - 9:30 PM. Come and experience a night filled with soul-stirring music and spiritual fellowship in the beauty of our garden, all dedicated towards restoring our beloved temple.

All tickets and donations from this event will directly benefit the Temple Restoration Fund. Join us in letting music bring us together to restore our temple after the fire.



July 12, 2023
Letter from Yogacharya O'Brian

Uniting in Resilience and Restoration

Our deepest resilience is grounded in remembrance of God.

In the aftermath of the temple fire, each day brings renewed strength and healing as we move forward, inspired by our collective remembrance of the Divine.

It is with a full heart that we acknowledge the prayers, well wishes, and generous offers of support that we have received from spiritual friends near and far, the dedicated service of our staff and volunteers, and the continual outpouring of divine grace that is lighting our way forward.

As the global emergency of COVID recedes and we are once again able to gather at the Center, this summer is a time for rebuilding. Not just our temple, but our community too. Despite the task at hand, we remain unwavering in our mission: to serve as an oasis of peace for seeking souls, a sanctuary where one can find spiritual sustenance and life-transforming teachings and practices.

As we continue the temple restoration work, we invite you to join us for satsang in the garden, accompanied by birdsong, as a testament to the enduring power of community and faith. Every day, we are living and sharing the message: no matter how great your trials, always remember that God's power for healing is greater.

Our Path to Restoration in Four Phases

We have an update to share with you on the journey towards restoration of our beloved temple. Our staff is united in this endeavor, with everyone playing a crucial role in this all-hands-on-deck enterprise. This work is in addition to their regular duties, a testament to their dedication and service.

To support our efforts, we have engaged the services of Greenspan Co., a reputable public adjusting firm, to assist us in the process of rebuilding. We had a comprehensive meeting with their representative where we identified a potential four-phase process to restore the temple and its surrounding areas affected by the fire. This, of course, is subject to ongoing investigation of the extent of the damage. Our intention is to reopen the gardens first, then allow occupancy of the temple, and finally, to complete the external structural rebuild and restoration project.
The restoration is a process that is going to take time. It will take months, even possibly a year or more, depending on the findings and the safety measures we need to implement. We want to ensure transparency and manage expectations, clarifying that this is not a simple cleanup operation; it is a meticulous rebuild of our sacred space.

Based on current information we have, the restoration journey is likely to involve four stages:

1. **Stage One: Safety Measures & Garden Reopening**  The immediate plan is to fence off the temple area to ensure safety. Our priority is to reopen the meditation gardens to the public in the next couple of weeks as well as providing property access for upcoming retreat participants. This means repairing the fountain pump damaged by the fire and ensuring all is well for our community and visitors.

2. **Stage Two: Temple Interior Remediation**  The second phase involves the remediation of the temple interiors. We will bring in a restoration company to test and professionally clean and restore the interior including all contents of the temple, such as carpets, chairs, paintings, electronics, and more. Even though the fire did not spread to the interior, smoke remediation is necessary, as well as repair of electrical, gas lines, and HVAC ducts.

3. **Stage Three: Structural Rebuild**  The third stage will focus on the construction and rebuilding of the structural damage to the temple exterior.

4. **Stage Four: Landscape, Fence and Pervious Surface Restoration**  The fourth and final stage includes cleanup & restoration of the outdoor yajna ceremony site, pervious patio surfaces and walkways, fences, and landscape areas behind the temple.

We will keep you informed about our progress every step of the way. We will send out updates regularly via email and post project updates and photos on this dedicated page, giving you a glimpse of our restoration efforts.

Thank you for your continued support, patience, and prayers during this time. May God's grace guide us all on this journey of restoration and renew our spirits as we rebuild our beloved temple.

With infinite love and blessings,


July 2, 2023
Storyline and Photos

The Temple Fire and a Healing Community

For safety reasons, it is necessary to close off access to the temple area. Because this is your spiritual home, we want you to know what has happened and be part of the healing process that has begun. We hope this narrative and the photos will be a good beginning.

Thursday, June 30th, 2023, five fires were started by an arsonist in the back of the temple. Rev. Darshini Hitchcock arrived from Los Osos to check in for her retreat. When she walked into the garden, she saw massive flames shooting from behind the temple. She called 911, and firefighters responded within minutes.

Several fire trucks were needed with ladders and extensive hoses to reach the burning buildings (the temple, shed, and racks of chairs that were awaiting set up for the Guru Purnima celebration).

Rev. Darshini called Yogacharya, who was nearby and arrived within a few minutes to answer the fire captain’s questions about the buildings, security cameras, power sources, and items stored in the outdoor shed. Yogacharya was joined by Oskar Kalbali, who heard about the fire on the local news and came to offer his support. Oskar is a community member whose construction company has done many of the essential repairs and upgrades for our buildings. His grounded presence and ability to assess the damage were invaluable.

Soon Acharya Sundari, Matthew, Rajendra, Sanjay, and Sumati from our staff arrived and offered their logistical support as firefighters continued to battle the flames.

News reporters arrived from 3 stations and asked for statements. They were all so compassionate and respectful. Yogacharya asked them all to refrain from filming inside the temple, and they readily compiled and offered their condolences for the desecration of our holy space.

After the fire was extinguished, one fire crew remained to monitor any residual embers. Acharya Sundari called them back to the shed to put out a bag of burning cement!

Joe Byrne, our IT Manager, arrived to assess how we would continue to operate Wi-Fi for other buildings. He and Matthew, our Staff Executive Administrator, began moving the temple computer used for our streaming into Matthew’s office to be ready for Sunday satsang.

The SJ Fire Department Arson Investigator took statements from staff and neighbors and was able to view footage from our security cameras to aid their investigation.

Rajendra, our Facilities Manager, began investigating how to run new wiring (that was located in the temple) to keep the fountain and irrigation systems running throughout the garden. With 95-degree weather, we (and all the plants) are especially grateful for that.

When the firefighters stopped to take a break, the oak tree garden was the place of peace and cool shade. The conversation turned to the peace and beauty that pervades this place.

At the end of the day, the staff gathered alone at the oak and offered prayers for peace. Peace in our hearts and our minds, peace in this place, peace for all.



July 1, 2023
Letter from Yogacharya O'Brian

Temple Fire and Services Update

Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. 
Ramana Maharshi

The Center will be open for programs tomorrow and Monday.

Tomorrow morning when you arrive at the Center for satsang at 10 am—either onsite or online—we will be here to welcome you. Satsang will take place outdoors in the shelter of the magnificent oak. I will be present with you to share a little about recent events.

While the center grounds remain closed to the public due to the temple fire, we will open for satsang tomorrow and for Guru Purnima on Monday. Except for the temple and storage shed, all buildings are operating now as usual. By tomorrow, they will be filled with retreat participants joyously preparing for the Guru Purnima celebration.

Viewing the destruction from yesterday's temple fire is painful, and looking ahead to what will be required to repair, restore, and reopen it can be daunting. But such challenges all fade in the light of the gratitude we feel for the amazing firefighters who saved the temple structure and interior, and the awesome, dedicated staff and volunteers who are working tirelessly so our services and programs can continue uninterrupted. We recognize that we are carried in the generous current of divine love, grace, and power.

I'm grateful to so many of you who have reached out with your condolences, love, support, and offers to assist. You can reply to this email with any offer of support. Yesterday we met with the fire department arson investigator, connected with our insurance adjuster, and began our planning for the days ahead. We will know more soon about the damages, and what will be needed to restore the temple.

For now, it is quiet in there —entrances are blocked off for safety, smoke still lingers in the air, electrical power is out, and there is no wifi for streaming. The painting, and pervasive divine presence of Paramahansa Yogananda and the altars with the gurus, stand watch over the space as the healing begins.

I look forward to being with you tomorrow and Monday. The yajna ceremony during Guru Purnima is an ancient ritual for healing and blessing, opening ourselves to divine insight and alignment. Let’s do it!

With infinite love,


June 30, 2023
Letter from Yogacharya O'Brian

Important Center Update

May there be peace in our hearts and peace in our minds.
May there be peace in this place,
Peace, peace, always peace.

Beloved Community,

We were saddened and shocked this afternoon to witness damage to our temple from a fire on the outside back wall. No one was in the temple or the vicinity at the time; thankfully no one was harmed. While there is extensive exterior damage, the temple interior was saved. The temple tree, all the altars, paintings, chairs—everything is OK. There is smoke and water damage inside, but everything remains intact. An arson investigation is currently underway.

While this is a challenge for us, and difficult news to share with you, I also want you to know about the abundance of divine grace that poured forth. In times like this when we step back and take a moment to breathe, we can see how seemingly random events are stitched together in a beautiful tapestry of divine support.

Our minister from Los Osos Awakening Center, Darshini Hitchcock, arrived for her retreat this afternoon, walked into the garden, and saw the flames. She called 911 and several fire engines arrived within minutes. Had she not arrived at that moment and made that call, and had the firefighters not been so responsive, our beautiful temple would have burned to the ground. The garden shed and back fence were completely burned, as well as the back exterior wall of the temple.

When I arrived, the firefighters were still at work making sure there were no residual embers. One by one they came to sit with me under the oak tree, marveling at the peace and beauty they experienced. Acharya Sundari, Oscar Kalbali, Matthew, Rajendra, Sanjay, and Sumati quickly moved into action to secure the property, take care of one another, and plan our next steps.

The gardens will remain closed to the public until we can secure the temple area. However, we do plan to carry on with services this Sunday and with Guru Purnima celebration on Monday.

Thankfully, we can hold our services outdoors in the beautiful oak tree garden temple. And we will.
Please come.

Let us bring our energy together and grow strong.

With abiding love and gratitude,


Join the Temple Restoration Effort

Thank you for your generosity!