Shangri-La is a mythical, almost inaccessible Utopia where almost everyone is happy, healthy, and content. But did you know that for over seventy years there has been a real Shangri-La in California? In 1943, Dr. Robert Stelle wrote:
Our own Shangri-La is closer than you imagine. Those who work here can tell you how hard it is, in Gateway’s peaceful quiet, to realize that feverish war activities are only 40 miles away. Except for occasional war planes high overhead, we wouldn’t know great encampments and barracks lie just beyond our protecting mountains.
James Hilton’s Lost Horizon caught a generation’s imagination, inspired two films, and put “Shangri-La” in the dictionary. This haunting story touches deep longings in human hearts. A certain magic confers many blessings including greatly extended life, as we learn the youthful guide is 97, and the High Lama over 200!
Yet, some who had lived in this paradise for many years eventually grew discontent. They could leave, but at their mortal peril. The gift of extra years didn’t travel. This was dramatically shown by the apparently young woman who fled the hidden retreat with the hero, only to age rapidly and die a short time later.
The truths in Lost Horizon help it endure. Its inhabitants expressed great patience, a virtue so rare today that may have been a key to their paradise, for as the Kauri of West Africa say, “At the bottom of patience one finds heaven.” And they had a sense of humor, expressed in their saying, “Everything in moderation – even moderation.” Any who found Shangri-La were free to stay or to leave. Those who stayed had a sort of grace period during which they purged themselves of compelling outside attachments and influences. After several years they could join the community, and their physical aging began to slow.
There are parallels with Shangri-La in California – the real enclave of Lemurians earnestly pursuing enlightenment today, known as Gateway. The positive atmosphere generated by a group sincerely working to create a better life is indeed conducive to physical and mental wellbeing, and many devoting their lives to this endeavor earn the health and energy to work well beyond retirement age. A feeling of peace visitors often notice pervades the grounds. No one is expected to fit in without a period of preparation. Only after carefully guided training in the Lemurian Philosophy is anyone ready to really appreciate and try to harmonize with what they find at Gateway. And one is always free to leave, but just as in Shangri-La, something vital is lost when this opportunity is relinquished.
But there are distinct differences between Shangri-La and Gateway. People don’t stumble into the home of the Lemurian Order accidentally. Contact with the Lemurian Work comes after a conscious search for something missing in our lives. It takes unusual personal effort to earn the longer, more fulfilling lives the Masters experience and we aspire to, and these lives are not without challenge. How else could we grow stronger and nobler? They are exciting, rewarding lives as we learn to harmonize and overcome differences and obstacles that have brought down every civilization since the original Shangri-La, commonly known as Lemuria. Our goals are not a secluded life free of problems, or even greatly extended life, but the chance to work with others who understand and live by universal laws to overcome the human problems common to all, and build together toward a more perfect civilization.
Copyright © 2016 Lemurian Fellowship