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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Fountain of Smiles"

Updated on February 19, 2018
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The poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda serves to enhance the activity of meditation, ultimately leading the individual soul to Divine Reality.

Paramahansa Yogananda

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Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "Fountain of Smiles"

It was during the 1930s in the United States of America that a great economic depression raged. The great guru and spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda had come to America in 1920 and had experienced the wonderful period of individual freedom and healthy economy under the Calvin Coolidge presidency.

But with the socialist policies of the Hoover administration and the following years under Franklin Delano Roosevelt's failed policies, the country sank into a depression that engulfed the American people. Smiles were hard to come by during the administrations of FDR. Economists have now realized that the disastrous socialist policies of the FDR administration prolonged the Great Depression by at least seven years.

There was one transplanted Indian-American who knew how to smile despite the dire hard times, and he went about the land showering those smiles along with his yogic techniques for attaining a wealth far beyond the paltry baubles of earth.

Thus, in contrast to the economic poverty that so many Americans faced, the great guru coined the phrase, "Smile Millionaire." Even if one cannot be a financial millionaire, one can always become and remain a "smile millionaire."

Paramahansa Yogananda's "Fountain of Smiles" from his ground-breaking, spiritual collection of poems of faith, Songs of the Soul, offers a complete lesson in becoming and remaining a "smile millionaire." Such a lesson is valuable any time anywhere.

Excerpt from "Fountain of Smiles" - Fourth Stanza

. . . When God laughs through the soul,
And the soul beams through the hearts,
And the heart smiles through the eyes,
Then the Prince of Smiles
Is enthroned beneath the canopy
Of thy celestial brow.
Protect they Prince of Smiles in the castle of sincerity.
Let no rebel hypocrisy lurk to destroy it.
Spread the gospel of "Smile!"
Purify all homes with thy healthy smiles. . . .

(Please note: The poem in its entirety may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)

Commentary

This poem offers a complete lesson in the efficacy of proper smiles. Smiles are more than teeth and laughing eyes, but are they really so important?

First Stanza: Unproductive Smiles

The first stanza of "Fountain of Smiles" by Paramahansa Yogananda lists the kinds of smiles that are not useful and pleasant. The importance of this lesson in smiles is emphasized by the use of the command. The great yogi is not only enumerating the negative smile scenarios, but he is also commanding his listeners not to engage in such behaviors.

For example, look at the first line: "Bestow not sarcastic smiles." He is commanding his listener not to smile at someone sarcastically. Why? Because such smiles are, "Born from the dark womb of hate." And is that not true? Sarcasm is a response to some hated person or ideas. Most folks, or at least many, are now tuned in the idea that hate defiles the hater even more than it defies the object of that destructive emotion.

Second Stanza: Turn Sarcasm into Joy

Instead of from sarcasm, smiles should gush forth from a "fountain of joy." Hating people is hardly conducive to joy. The mind must become a fountain that sprays forth these joy-filled smiles. The "fine sprays of smiles" can then "spread in all directions."

Shifting the metaphor to a lake, the speaker commands the smiler to allow the big body of smiles to break "its embankment / And spread to territories of Infinitude."

Image that your smile, when sincere, can float up to the stars and "brighten their twinkles." Not only does the speaker "imagine" such, he commands his listeners to smile such; smile so that you influence even the stars. Such power, such devotion to attitude!

Third Stanza: Inundated with Laughter

The proper smile can transform itself into "laughter" that can "inundate the drought of dry minds." Do you know any "dry minds"? Think of the United States congress. Any dry minds there? Get yourself a life and laugh at it all while mending your proclivity to smile and experience joy. You need joy, not demagoguery.

The speaker then commands his listeners to spread smiles like "the dawn." Dawn engulfs everyone; it spreads the sunlight on everyone. It causes the gloom of darkness to vanish. The speaker commands you to spread smiles to everyone to "vanish the gloom of minds."

People like it when you smile at them. So go out and smile at them. But make sure you are not smiling like a crazed serial killer: smile like a joyous soul. If you don’t know how, then learn. Everyone is capable of finding the Source of Joy. Look within. The speaker then commands his listener to "Paint thy golden smiles on every dark spot / Brightening cloudy days" and to "Command they smiles to resurrect life / In the walking dead."

How, you wonder, can you determine who is the "walking dead"? You can assume everyone is such: the priest of the orthodox church in America, the leader of the free world, the news anchor, the imam, the doctor, the lawyer, the stay-at-home-mom, the stay-at-home-dad, the teacher, the student, the highway construction worker, the sales clerk, the government worker, the gay couple, the transgender activist, the traditional couple, the beatnik, the hippie, the whatever revolutionary—you will not go wrong assuming that everyone you meet is the walking dead. And if you are wrong, the joyous who have transcended those labels will appreciate your smile with hearty acceptance anyway. You can’t lose.

You can even smile "for the dead." What, pray tell, does the dead have to do with anything? They have gained "victory over pain." Can you boast as much? Your smiles can "pulverize to atoms the rocks of sorrow"; it can water the "desert-souls" and the "oasis-hearts alike." Your "fearless smiles" can "sweep though all minds and every place" and "drown[ ]" and "wash[ ] away / All barriers for miles and miles."

Fourth Stanza: God Laughing Through the Soul

The powerful fourth stanza bears repeating:

When God laughs through the soul,
And the soul beams through the hearts,
And the heart smiles through the eyes,
Then the Prince of Smiles
Is enthroned beneath the canopy
Of thy celestial brow.
Protect they Prince of Smiles in the castle of sincerity.
Let no rebel hypocrisy lurk to destroy it.
Spread the gospel of "Smile!"
Purify all homes with thy healthy smiles.

Smiles spread from God through the soul, from the soul to the heart, from the heart to the eyes, if each human will but allow it. The great guru is imploring all listeners to spread this healing smile everywhere. It is so important, so necessary to help lift humankind from its self-induced, egotistical stupor.

Fifth Stanza: Becoming and Remaining a "Smile Millionaire"

Finally, the speaker commands his listeners to "Let loose the wildfire of thy smiles." This wildfire will "blaze the thickets of melancholia." Shifting to a perfume metaphor, he commands the listener to open up his bottle of fragrant smiles "to waft in all directions." It does no good to focus your smiles only on those you already love. You must include those who need such smiles. Then shifting to the wine-spirit metaphor, he commands his listeners to, "Intoxicate all with the wine of thy smiles."

He also commands his listeners to take the sincere smiles of others and "from the Mine of all true mirth," which is God. In all directions "north, south, east, west, where’er thou goest" spread those sincere smiles.

"Thou smile millionaire," he commands, "Scatter thy golden smiles / Freely, freely, everywhere." The smile millionaire is the true millionaire for s/he can spread happiness and joy with the simple gesture of a smile.

Life Sketch and Publications 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 (SRF), was well established with the purpose of disseminating and maintaining the purity of his teachings of yoga. He has come to be known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Paramahansa Yogananda’s biography on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site:

In the hundred years since the birth of Paramahansa Yogananda, this beloved world teacher has come to be recognized as one of the greatest emissaries to the West of India’s ancient wisdom. His life and teachings continue to be a source of light and inspiration to people of all races, cultures and creeds.

Publications of Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda's in-depth work, Autobiography of a Yogi, has become a spiritual classic worldwide. Many devotees have been drawn to the teachings of this yogi through that autobiography, and many of their stories about how they came to find that work include some of the most inspiring "miracles" of modern American culture.

Such world-renowned figures as Dennis Weaver, Steve Jobs, George Harrison, and Elvis Presley were influenced by the Autobiography of a Yogi and the teachings of the great guru. Weaver even became a lay minister and spoke often at many of the SRF temples in California.

In addition to the autobiography, the great guru has published many collections of his talks, in both written and oral forms. His audio collector's series of ten of his informal talks includes the following titles:

1. Beholding the One in All
2. Awake in the Cosmic Dream
3. Be a Smile Millionaire
4. The Great Light of God
5. To Make Heaven on Earth
6. One Life Versus Reincarnation
7. Removing All Sorrow and Suffering
8. In the Glory of the Spirit
9. Follow the Path of Christ, Krishna, and the Masters
10. Self-Realization: The Inner and the Outer Path

These inspirational talks reveal much information about the great guru that appeals to his devoted followers. Just listening to a God-realized voice offers an uplifting spiritual experience.

The Poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda

For my commentaries on the poems of the great guru, I rely on his marvelous collection titled, Songs of the Soul, the version published in 1983 with its most current printing 2014. Two additional collections of his poems are extant, Whispers From Eternity and Metaphysical Meditations.

Because the "poems" of this great guru function on levels that ordinary poems do not, they are often used in devotional services held by groups of devotees of the SRF teachings throughout the world in the Readings Services as well as their Special Commemorative Services.

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems are more akin to prayers than to the poetry of ordinary poets, whose subject matter often dramatizes only human emotion in its relationship with creation and other human beings, instead of with the Creator; the great guru's poems always invoke the Creator's presence whether directly or indirectly.

Other Publications

The great guru's organization, SRF, also continues to publish collections of his works. Many of his talks have appeared in the series of essays that include Man's Eternal Quest, The Divine Romance, and Journey to Self-realization.

Corrective Translations

The guru has also bestowed on the literary world three important translations of extant perennial works that have been grossly misunderstood in some cases for centuries. His new translations along with his explanatory commentaries are correcting that misunderstanding.

In Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam — A Spiritual Interpretation, he shows how that poet's God-realized effusions put on display a man in love with his Creator and not the wine sopped Epicurean that has been misapplied to the work.

In the guru's in-depth translation and commentaries on the ancient Bhagavad Gita, titled God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita — A New Translation and Commentary, the great spiritual leader offers not only the poetic translation of the work but also the relevance for humankind of the psychological and spiritual instruction offered in the ancient poem.

Most importantly for Western culture, Paramahansa Yogananda has offered a full explanation of the phenomenon known as the "Second Coming." Titled The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You — A revelatory commentary on the original teachings of Jesus, the work explains the true meaning of many of Jesus' words long misunderstood and mischaracterized, such as "The Kingdom of God is within you" and "I and my Father are one."

The Lessons

Of all the publications offered by SRF and the great guru, it is the Lessons that remain most vital. One could dispense with all of the other books, audio tapes, poetry, and other commentaries if one possesses those lessons.

The Lessons begin by offering physical exercises that prepare the physical encasement to sit quietly and still while performing the more advanced exercises that lead to Kriya Yoga practice.

The Lessons contains six steps that can be completed in three years, but each student is free to progress at his/her own pace. The Lessons include instruction in the following techniques: 1. Energization Exercises. 2. Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration, and 3. Aum Technique of Meditation.

After completing the first two steps, the devotee may apply for the Kriya Yoga technique.

Kriya Yoga Initiations

The Kriya Yoga technique features four initiations for a total of twenty lessons. The First Initiation, featuring lessons K1-9, includes the technique of Kriya proper, on which all of the other initiations are based. The Second Initiation contains four lessons, K10-14, and the Third and Fourth include the remaining lessons K15-20.

All of the Lessons, including the Kriya Yoga Initiations, include many explanations based of science, as well as on the life experience of Paramahansa Yogananda. These marvelous works are presented in such way to hold the student-devotees' interest with little stories, poems, affirmations, and prayers that enhance the purpose of each lesson.

Complete Works

In addition to all of the works mentioned above, Paramahansa Yogananda has published many others, including his Cosmic Chants, which offers musical notations as well as the lyric for each chant.

An annotated list of the works of the great guru is offered on the Self-Realization Fellowship Web site under the title, "The Complete Works of Paramahansa Yogananda."

Be a Smile Millionaire

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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