Paramahansa Yogananda's "Paupack’s Peak"
Introduction and Excerpt from "Paupack’s Peak"
From his spiritually uplifting collection of faith poems titled Songs of the Soul, Paramahansa Yogananda's “Paupack’s Peak” demonstrates the power and grace with which the great poet and spiritual leader has imbued his poems/epistles to the Divine.
The great poet and spiritual leader reveals the heart and soul of beauty as he describes a journey he undertook through a forest on Paupack’s Peak.
Excerpt from "Paupack’s Peak"
O Paupack's Peak,
'Mid rustic scenes and trees
I found thee; and did seek
In thee the Hidden Beauty. . . .
(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.)
The speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda's poem seeks, observes, and captures the heart of beauty as he describes a journey through a forest on Paupack’s Peak.
First Stanza: Seeking Hidden Beauty
Addressing the peak, the speaker declares that after becoming aware of this majestic place, he sought its “Hidden Beauty” as well as its outward physical beauty.
The speaker, as an accomplished mystic, takes his listeners/readers to the soul depths of spiritual realization that he expertly mines from the natural beauty of forest and peak, lake and leaf, shade and sun.
Finding beauty without, this mystic/speaker is able to hie within to soul awareness where individual soul meets its Divine Origin/Creator.
Second Stanza: Addressing the Divine Reality
The speaker, in addition to addressing the peak, is addressing the Divine Beloved as well. He demonstrates that every atom of creation bares the Maker's mark.
The speaker shows his full awareness of the omnipresent nature of the Creator, in statements like the following, “Thy palace I approached by woodsy road; / Where on both sides there stood / Thy columned trees.”
This speaker exhibits a reverence for the Divine and thus he bestows that same revenue upon the peak and the forest which he is describing so lovingly.
The trees resemble “leafy swords outstretched / To render bowered welcome.” The Blessed Creator is welcoming a devotee, as the forest is welcoming a nature lover.
Third Stanza: Unveiling Secrets of the Scene
The beauty arouses in the speaker the motivation to unveil further secrets of the peak’s beauty. He anticipates the glories he will find, as he proclaims, “tempted was I / Thy secrets to pry.”
Fourth Stanza: Facing Beauty
The speaker intimates that he is propelled rapidly “through secret hilly ways” to places that strike him as marvelous in their luscious beauty and exotic in their grace.
The speaker thus finds himself standing “face to face” with “beauteous scene / Where liquid silver spray” adorns the “breast of caves.”
The water cascading down the faces of the caves goes “sparkling through rays of sun,” “ornament[ing] crude stones and logs,” encircling them with “eddying necklaces” and “pearly bubbled wreaths.”
Fifth Stanza: Motivated by Beauty
Roused by astounding beauty, the speaker “tore through veil of trees” and suddenly gazes upon “Thy peaceful Paupack.”
At this point, the amazed speaker also encounters a lake, which he describes as “tears close-gathered” which resemble a “mirror still.” This sight quenches his spiritual thirst as clear, cool water would quench the palate.
Sixth Stanza: Transcending to Heaven
Into the speaker’s sight, “gliding like peaceful swans / At farewell hour of the sun,” appear two canoes. Out of the “snow-white mist,” they seem to resemble “mystic barks” carrying “singing angels / Sailing across the sky.”
In the speaker’s mind’s eye, the lake and the canoers transcend to the heavens on wings of sheer joy and expectation.
Seventh Stanza: What Wealth Cannot Afford
The speaker then continues his hike, taking himself up a pathway where “velvet moss / And sunshine-checkered leafy cushion” offer a “silken form” that the tree leaves have furnished “for all to tread.”
The speaker then interjects a rhetorical question: could even the richest man afford such luxury as the gracious Lord has offered here?
Of course, no man could ever create “such bowered garland, never fading, for a lake” or these “countless rhododendrons, white and pink, / Whose flowers are each summer born / The woodland darkness to adorn.”
Eighth Stanza: Stillness in a Silent Temple
The speaker then passes through another clump of trees, walking “a garland path,” finding his footsteps had become noisy.
Thus the speaker commands his feet to be still, while “in sweetest reverence” he bows “to the Spirit in this temple of silence.”
Ninth Stanza: Engrossed in Prayer
As the speaker stands engrossed in prayer, his natural meditative state takes him deep within where his soul communes personally and peacefully with the Divine Reality that is “within, without.”
The speaker intuits that “leaves and stones, my body, sky and earth and light” are all one in the One. And “Where’re I looked, whate’er I saw, / Thy tender Peeping Eye / My soul did draw.”
As beautiful and pleasurable as the physical body of nature is, the Creator of all this beauty mightily exceeds that beauty, when the devotee contacts that Creator within the depths of his own soul.
God! Christ! Gurus!
Life 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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes