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Paramahansa Yogananda's "A Mirror New"

Updated on November 21, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda writing his Autobiography of a Yogi, at Self-Realization Fellowship’s Hermitage in Encinitas, California
Paramahansa Yogananda writing his Autobiography of a Yogi, at Self-Realization Fellowship’s Hermitage in Encinitas, California | Source

Introduction and Text of "A Mirror New"

Paramahansa Yogananda’s “A Mirror New” from Songs of the Soul offers a delightful little drama that metaphorically compares Kriya Yoga to a mirror, which can serve as a useful tool in the devotee’s spiritual arsenal.

A Mirror New

I bring to you
A mirror new –
A glass of introspection clear,
That illusion shows, and sooty fear
That spots thy mind.

Thou wilt also find
This mirror new
Would loyal show, all true,
The “Inner You”
That’s veiled in flesh
And never doth appear.

Each night consult afresh thy mirror-friend;
And ere the sorcerer Sleep doth call,
Make use to see thyself withal –
And clear away
Dust of that day.

Commentary

First Stanza: A New Method

I bring to you
A mirror new –
A glass of introspection clear,
That illusion shows, and sooty fear
That spots thy mind.

The speaker/guru of the poem announces that he has brought to his devotees, and those who may in future become his devotees, a new method for reaching the goal of self-realization or union of the soul with the Divine. This new mirror is a looking-“glass of introspection clear.”

When one looks into this mirror, one will see how “illusion” has caused the separation from the Divine, and that illusion is coupled with “sooty fear.”

This metaphorical mirror, similar to literal mirrors, reflects exactly; it has no ability to alter the devotee’s thoughts, for its purpose is to help the devotee correct his/her mental facility.

It is helpful to understand the nature of one’s distorted thoughts, in order to reorder them. Illusion “spots thy mind.”

The mind of the beginning yogi is clouded with the debris of long living in the world of oppositional states: life-death, good-bad, weak-strong, up-down, and all the many pairs of opposites that comprise and drive the physical and even mental levels of being.

Second Stanza: Reflecting the Inner Being

Thou wilt also find
This mirror new
Would loyal show, all true,
The “Inner You”
That’s veiled in flesh
And never doth appear.

In addition to reflecting the sooty spots in the mind, however, this mirror is capable of reflecting the “Inner You.” While a physical looking-glass reflects the physical body, this “new” mirror is able to strip away the “veil,” that is, the “flesh.”

This view “never doth appear,” because it is hidden deep within the flesh of the physical encasement. Of the three bodies possessed by each human being, only the physical outer body can be reflected in an ordinary, or old, mirror. But this new mirror “would loyal show” the “Inner You” or soul.

The mental body is also not seen by a literal mirror, and as the devotee journeys on the path to the soul, the mental body can perform as a helpful partner, or it can impede progress as a treacherous devil, if it fails to remove those sooty, fear inducing spots.

Third Stanza: Washing Away the Cares of the Day

Each night consult afresh thy mirror-friend;
And ere the sorcerer Sleep doth call,
Make use to see thyself withal –
And clear away
Dust of that day.

In the final stanza, the speaker/guru entreats the devotees to use this new mirror of meditation techniques he has given.

This new mirror becomes then “thy mirror-friend” not the treacherous foe that stifles and keeps the devotee’s attention earthbound.

The devotee is encouraged to wrap him/herself in the Divine each night before “the sorcerer Sleep doth call.” The speaker/guru offers the devotee motivation to “make use to see thyself withal.”

By refreshing the body and mind through employment of this “mirror new,” the devotee can “clear away / Dust of that day.”

Each day brings new demands in the world so full of things, people, activities that invade the devotee’s mind and heart.

Each night, with the “mirror new,” offers the devotee the opportunity to wash away the daily cares and tribulations, offers the solitude to renew his/her strength and determination to reach the Ultimate Goal.

Biographical Sketch of Paramahansa Yogananda

The great guru/poet Paramahansa Yogananda was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur, India. His name at birth was Mukunda Lal Ghosh. Always a spiritually advanced child, at age 17, he met his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, under whose guidance he flourished and became the spiritual giant and sacred engine that leads souls back to their eternal abode in the arms of the Divine Creator.

Paramahansa Yogananda came to the United States in 1920 to speak in Boston at the International Congress of Religious Liberals. His speech was so well received that he quickly gathered a following. By 1925, his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, was well established with the purpose of disseminating his teachings of yoga. He has come to be known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”

For a more thorough overview of the great guru's life, please visit Paramahansa Yogananda’s Biography. His in-depth work, Autobiography of a Yogi, has become a spiritual classic worldwide.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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