Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Ever New"
Introduction and Excerpt from "The Ever New"
Each morning, as we awake to a new day, we soon begin to wonder, what will this new day hold for us? What will we do, see, feel? The first few moments after we wake up, we don’t think of this. We just shuffle off to the bathroom to refresh ourselves, and then go out to meet whatever the day holds for us.
If we are devotees of Something-Larger-Then-We-Are, we sit and meditate, offering our love and devotion to that Divine Being. We are truly thankful that we woke up and are now capable of doing something—eating, drinking, moving, getting tired, accomplishing something we love.
Excerpt from "The Ever New"
Newer joys adorn the day;
Brighter burn, through livelong night ,
The stars with purer light;
Wiser thoughts do brace my voice,
Unused words await my choice —
With heart of the new I'll sing my lay. . . .
(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.)
Each day offers the opportunity to experience bliss. One must take care in defining "bliss," to be sure of a proper understanding of the nature of the term.
First Movement: A Startling Claim
This speaker of "The Ever New" from Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul makes a startling claim—everyday, every moment can be filled with a new experience. We have come to expect pretty much the same old grind, but we do it anyway because we must. But now we have a speaker who promises something new.
And what is that new? "Newer joys" will be part of that day. The stars that lit the night during which we slept will "brighter burn." Those stars will burn with "purer light." We will speak and our voice will emit "wiser thoughts." We will say things we never thought we could utter. Our song will be resplendent "with heart of the new."
We already do all this—partially to some extent. No day is exactly the same as the one before or after. Even as it seems to be so. Think of the alternative. Of course, no one ever thinks of the alternative. Oh, maybe when they attend a funeral. But how often is that?
Second Movement: Racing Thoughts
Thoughts race through the human brain at all times, even in sleep, when they are sifted through the subconsciousness. Unfortunately, so many of us do not realize that those thoughts are racing to their Origin. Even a thought of lust and murder posts guidelines that lead to the Divine Creator. Lust and murder result in such utter misery that the only way out of them is to return to the Creator with whatever method one happens to comprehend.
What makes the human see how his inborn depravities keep him from uniting with and even understanding that he is depraved? Religion, spirituality, devotion to the Creative Force. However, the five major religions should make you wonder why are there five major religions and not just one. Since the message of each religion is the same—yoking each soul back to the Oversoul—why need we five? That’s easy: Why are there approximately 6,500 languages in the world, since the purpose of language is the same for each language: to communicate.
Because this planet is so big. Religion is vital, just as language is vital. So there are only 5 major ones—with numerous off-shoots. But humanity is so varied that it would be idiotic to expect this varied bunch of humans to come up with one major religion—just as idiotic to expect one language, which no one ever does. Yet many will dismiss religion because there are 5 major ones with varying misunderstandings that represent the only acquaintance they have.
Third Movement: No Two Things Alike
Each day is different. All human beings "chant their songs"— each different because no two thoughts are the same. No two things in the entire creation are the same. We categorize, we compare/contrast the things, but ultimately learn that nothing repeats itself in Creation.
The guilty humans who repeat criminal, perverse actions think otherwise, but they are only justifying their own perversions. Justifying our perversions is not what we are here for, we are here to lose those perversions. Unfortunately, so many are not even aware that they are continuing and sanctioning perversions. Thus the drama plays on!
And the newness of the Great One spirits on! If only we can tune in to it.
Fourth Movement: Drunk with Joy
Humans love to begin new friendships. The speaker metaphorically refers to such, calling it the "bubbling joy / Of a little boy." And then likening such friendship to an intoxicating beverage. But the Divine "steal[s]" such intoxication and will fill them with his own "ageless cup of heart."
Drunk with desire for unity, the human tries many human hearts until he finds that no such heart exists. Only the Divine Heart is capable of assuaging that misery that we are born to experience.
Fifth Movement: Songs Are Myriad
Notice that the speaker has mentioned again and again "his lay"—or song. Songs are myriad in their subject matter. Songs focus on heartbreak, hate, love, passion, death, rain, sunshine, ghosts, flowers, noise, animals, people, children, etc: anything the human mind has focused on can be found in a "song." But this lay is the utmost spiritual, this lay focuses only on the divine: "The voices same do choir their praise / In temple, church, and fane." Even in such spiritually, religiously devoted "lays" one might encounter sadness.
So the speaker vows, "My fountain springs afresh today— / With tears ne’er shed before will flow my lay." His song will transcend all the sadness that permeates other songs. The day is new; his song will be new. New year’s resolutions are meant to change such situations. The year will be new; we will be new. We will focus on what makes us different and better than the year before.
Sixth Movement: Embracing Differences
However, we will remain in the same body that we were in the day before, but our behavior, our activities will be different, if we decide to make them different. If we decide we will take a different path.
We will not smoke that cigarette. We will not eat that donut. We will not castigate our mother because she does not believe as we believe. We will embrace differences even as we claim we do.
Seventh Movement: New Day, New Opportunity
The last movement is a call to see each new day as an opportunity to do what we know we should—something new: "The bell will ring a new Sunday." And each devotee is "bathèd in Thy beaming ray." And each devotee will thus, "with newer thoughts," sing a different song, a better song, a beautiful song that leads to beauty, peace, love, —"bliss."
Note: A Brief Publishing History of Songs of the Soul
The first published version of Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul appeared in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, the great spiritual leader revised many of the poems.
The final revisions authorized by the great guru appear in the 1983 printing of the text, which, along with the revisions, restored many lines that had been omitted from the original version.
I use the 1983 printing for my commentaries. The current printing year is 2014. No further revisions or additions have been made since 1983.
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."
Brief Publishing History of Songs of the Soul
The first published version of Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul appeared in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, the great spiritual leader revised many of the poems. The final revisions of the poems authorized by the great guru appear in the 1983 printing of the text, which along with the revisions restored many lines that had been omitted from the original version.
I use the 1983 printing for my commentaries. The current printing year is 2014. No further revisions or additions have been made since the 1983 printing. The 1923 versions of the many of the poems may be read at Full Text of Songs of the Soul.
Paramahansa Yogananda: Awake in the Cosmic Dream
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes