Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thou and I Are One"
Introduction and Excerpt from "Thou and I Are One"
The beautiful, spiritual poem, "Thou and I Are One," from Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, offers a gently dramatic elucidation of the unity between the individual human soul and the Over-Soul. This union offers unceasing blessings for each individual, calming the mind and inspiriting the heart.
Excerpt from Poem, "Thou and I Are One"
Thy Cosmic Life and I are one.
Thou art the Spirit, and I am all nature;
We are one.
Thou art the Ocean, and I am the wave;
We are one.
Thou are the Ocean, and I am the drop;
We are one.
Thou art the Flame, and I am the spark;
We are one.
Thou art the Flower, and I am the fragrance.
We are one.
Thou are the Song, and I am the music;
We are one. . . .
(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/devotee addresses the Divine Essence, offering a catalogue of all the ways the seemingly separate entities are in fact united as one.
First Movement: Glowing with Cosmic Life
The divinely inspired speaker avers that the cosmic life is the same life that glows in the speaker. The speaker then goes through each element/sense and notes how this heavenly claim works.
As liquid, the speaker is united with Divine Liquid. Using the ocean as the metaphor, the speaker claims two qualities to symbolize the fact that each human being is made of mostly liquid, that is, water.
So the speaker asserts that the ocean and the speaker are one because the Divine is the ocean and the speaker is the "wave." Also the speaker is a "drop" of water from the ocean while the Divine is the entire ocean.
The speaker is only the "fragrance" of the flower. The Divine Essence is the entire flower. This poem, however, conflates the elements with the senses. The elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. There are also five senses: seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing—listed in the order that they cease during the process of dying—that is, the soul leaving the body.
Thus the speaker becomes only the fragrance, the sense of smell, of the entire flower, which represents the earth element. The Divine then is the entire "Song," while the speaker represents merely the music accompanying the song.
Second Movement: I and My Father Are One
The second movement focuses on relationships. Relationships are so important to earthly creatures. Sometimes they live and die because of them. So the speaker avers that the Divine Essence is the father, and he is merely the child.
Radical feminism notwithstanding, the father has been the epitome of the clan/tribe for many centuries in all earthly cultures. Thus the speaker begins with the "Father," then proceeds to the "Mother"—the speaker is the "child" of the "Father" and the "son" of the "Mother."
The point is that the speaker is united with the top dog of the clan, whether one wishes to identify it as male or female. Can we ever get over the details of body consciousness? The speaker then avers, "Thou art my Friend, and I am Thy friend." So simple— "Friend" and "friend."
No gender issues, no hierarchy! Just upper case and lower case letters. Thankfully, the speaker is also united as, "Belovèd" with lover." Again, no societal male, female, king, subject baggage to interfere. Thus the speaker avers that he is united as belovèd with "Lover" — removing the sexual connotation of "lover."
The speaker then claims that the Master and servant are one. Note that this does not imply that the servant is mistreated in order to enrich the Master; the spiritual level of existence is open to everyone. The master is the whole; the servant is the part. Both socialist and capitalist can groove with this arrangement, if they really understand it.
Then concluding this movement, the speaker avers that he is the disciple and "Thou art my Guru." "Guru" is the "dispeller of darkness." The disciple is the poor fool who still does not know how to unite with spirit, but who is under the instruction of one who has. There are no earthly delusions here, just Guru and disciple, or chela if you prefer.
Third Movement: The Laughter and the Smile Are One
The speaker then moves into the ethereal realm, where the spiritual have their home. The speaker labels God, that is, the Divine Creator, as the Laugher while he is merely the "smile." The speaker is the "atom" while the Divine Creator is the "Light."
The speaker is merely a "thought," while the Divine Creator is "Consciousness." The speaker is merely "strength," while the Divine Creator is "Eternal Power." Recognizing oneself in relationship to the Divine Creator creates a path for uniting oneself with that Creator. The world’s five great religions all were founded by those who recognized that relationship.
Fourth Movement: The Soul and Peace
Who on God’s green earth does not prize peace, joy, wisdom, and love? Even atheists can approve of peace, joy, wisdom, and love, even though they may likely bristle at any religious or spiritual method for attaining those qualities. The speaker, however, makes the bold claim that each of these qualities and he are one.
Thus the speaker is claiming that the Divine Belovèd is all of these qualities. Not sexual gratification, not ego inflation, not a catalogue of trivial facts, not financial wizardry — not anything that makes an individual look good in the eyes of others. Others are not looking at others; they are looking at themselves!
Only the spiritual matters! While one individual is trying to support the notion that, "Black lives matter," and others are supporting the notion that, "All lives matter," the Divine Creator is trying to make them all see that only their relationship with Him matters.
Fifth Movement: United Through a Divine Creator
Why? Because all human beings are related to their Divine Creator for their entire, eternal existence. If they think their entire existence is "four score and ten years," or less because they have family members who died before they reached 70, they need to rethink the issue! Upon the earth at this present time there are people who are in their 80s or 90s or 100s! What if one lives way past that?
What if everyone one knows is dead? Are they then related to anyone? Such thoughts can buffet one about without an Anchor. But for this inspired and inspiring speaker/guru and many others who follow his line of thought: "Thou and I will be one evermore." The most expansive, the most powerful, the ever existing! Such comfort can be attained by realizing that eternal unity with the Divine Creator.
*elements (five). The Cosmic Vibration, or Aum, structures all physical creation, including man’s physical body, through the manifestation of five tattvas (elements): earth, water, fire, air, and ether (q.v.). These are structural forces, intelligent and vibratory in nature. Without the earth element there would be no state of solid matter; without the water element, no liquid state; without the air element, no gaseous state; without the fire element, no heat; without the ether element, no background on which to produce the cosmic motion-picture show. In the body, prana (cosmic vibratory energy) enters the medulla and is then divided into the five elemental currents by the action of the five lower chakras (q.v.), or centers: the coccygeal (earth), sacral (water), lumbar (fire), dorsal (air), and cervical (ether). The Sanskrit terminology for these elements is prithivi, ap, tej, prana, and akasha.
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.
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© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes