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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Cruel Silence"

Updated on February 24, 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, "Thy Cruel Silence"

In Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Cruel Silence," the speaker avers that even if his prayer and weeping are met with eternal silence from his Divine Creator, as a child of that Divine Belovèd, he will continue to pray and weep unceasingly for union with his Creator throughout eternity.

The great guru and spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda maintains that devotees should talk with the Ultimate Reality "in the language of their heart." The great guru asserts that the Divine Cause is close, personal, and very familiar to the individual soul, and the individual does not have to fear offending that Creator.

The children of the Divine Creator can speak to that Divine Entity as they are, not as they hope to be, which, of course, is an impossibility. Thus, the great guru’s speaker in "Thy Cruel Silence" may appear to blaspheme to those who think one must always flatter the Ultimate Divine and praise That Being even if one does not feel that praise.

The great spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda insists that only open truth with the Divine will lead one to the Eternal Presence. The Divine Belovèd does not need or want our flattery and phony praise; the Divine Belovèd seeks only the highest good for each child, and that good begins with truth.

The speaker in "Thy Cruel Silence" from Songs of the Soul affirms his desire to make his Divine Belovèd speak to him, and he thus speaks truth to power when he tells the Divine Friend that the Latter's continued silence is cruel and causes the devotee great pain. Such honesty opens the heart of the Blessed Creator.

Excerpt from "Thy Cruel Silence"

I prayed to Thee
But Thou wert mute.
At Thy door I knocked;
Thou answered not.
I gave my tears
To soft'n Thy heart;
In cruel silence
Didst Thou watch. . . .

(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

In Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Cruel Silence," the speaker insists that even if his prayer is met with eternal silence, he will continue to pray and weep for the Divine Presence unceasingly throughout eternity.

First Movement: Continued Silence

The speaker informs his Divine Creator that he has prayed and yet the Divine remained "mute." Instead of enjoying a response, the speaker continues to receive only "cruel silence" from his Divine Belovèd.

In addition to praying and offering the Divine his heartfelt words, the speaker also metaphorically "knocked" "[a]t Thy door." Yet the Divine continued to avoid him.

Second Movement: Weeping for Union

After much prayer and knocking at the door of the heart of his Divine Friend, the speaker allows himself to weep openly with flowing tears that he thinks will "soft’n Thy heart."

The speaker hopes some pity from the Belovèd might assure a response. But again Divinity "in cruel silence" simply watches while his sad child mourns.

Third Movement: Affirming Dedication

Finally, the speaker affirms that it does not matter how long the Divine Belovèd remains silent, the speaker will continue to pray and weep throughout eternity if necessary. The speaker avers that he now knows the way to "earn / Attention Thine."

The speaker has become aware that whether the Divine Reality speaks or remains silent, the two are already united. The speaker’s own "cruel silence" will meld with that of the Divine’s continued silence, as the speaker continues to pray "unceasingly."

Fourth Movement: An Eternity of Prayer and Meditation

If after an eternity of prayer and weeping for his Divine Creator, that Divine Friend does finally speak and "wish me peace," the speaker will continue the unifying acts of prayer and weeping for his Divine Belovèd that keep them together.

Even if "cruel silence" remains and the devotee’s soul is caught perennially inside that depth, he knows that giving the silence to the Ultimate Reality will allow him to realize eternally the unity his soul already experiences with the Divine Over-Soul. Such logic seems paradoxical, yet it is infallible, according all Holy Text.

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."

The Beginning of Paramahansa Yogananda's Mission

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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