Our History and Lineage
Golden Lotus, Inc., a Michigan non-profit organization which owns and operates Song of the Morning, was founded in 1970 by J. Oliver Black. Song of the Morning Ranch is the result of Mr. Black’s desire to carry out the wishes of his Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, to establish a yoga retreat where the timeless science of yoga could be taught as a full and practical way of life. Here, Yogananda’s teachings of the balanced development of body, mind and soul are developed through a retreat center, a World-Brotherhood Community, and what will eventually be a Yoga University, where pursuit of a direct, personal relationship with God will be taught side-by-side with intellectual and physical development.
Mr. Black, a man of joy and vitality, was one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s closest lay disciples, serving for more than 40 years as a Minister of Self-Realization Fellowship of Los Angeles, California. The title of “Yogacharya,” bestowed on him by Yogananda, means “Yoga Teacher.” Through his untiring efforts at the Detroit SRF Meditation Service at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and at Song of the Morning Ranch in the Pigeon River forest in northern Michigan, he attracted thousands to the science of Yoga. Yogacharya made his conscious exit into eternity in 1989, at the age of 96, while sitting up meditating. Joyful in living, as in dying, he was a true devotee of God and Guru to the end.
From 1991 to 2004, Bob Raymer, also a spiritually advanced direct disciple of Yogananda, served as the spiritual director of Golden Lotus, Inc. Mr. Raymer was a close friend of Yogacharya, and under his spiritual direction many hearts were opened to experience the path of love and devotion to the Divine. Bob Raymer left his physical body in November of 2008.
Today Song of the Morning Ranch is first and foremost a yoga retreat of excellence that serves as a place of relaxation and spiritual refreshment for “all truth thirsty souls.” Our retreat center conducts meditation services and provides members and guests with an environment in which to learn and practice timeless spiritual techniques and principles anchored in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.
The Kriya Yoga Masters
The masters’ names are reverently invoked during each regular meditation session at Song of the Morning.
"Heavenly Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved God; Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda; Saints and sages of all religions ... we bow to all of you."
Jesus Christ and Bhagavan Krishna are generally recognized in the West and East, respectively, as supreme avatars (divine incarnations). Krishna, enlightened king of ancient India, is estimated to have lived about 3000 B.C.