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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Friendship"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction and Excerpt From "Friendship"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poem "Friendship" from Songs of the Soul features nine movements of varying lengths. It sprawls across the page in a Whitmanesque manner, which is so befitting the subject of the discourse.

The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's poem, "Friendship," offers an uplifting dramatization focusing on the unique relationship that exists between friends. He also explains that friendship serves a special rôle in bringing about soul progress.

Excerpt From "Friendship"

Is friendship the weaving of the red strings of two hearts?
Is it the blending of two minds into a spacious one‐mind?
Is it the spouting of love founts together
To strengthen the rush of love on droughty souls?
Is it the one rose grown 'twixt twin mind‐branchlets
Of one compassionate stem?
Is it the one thinking in two bodies? . . .

(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

The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's poem, "Friendship," explores and dramatizes the unique bond that exists between friends and reveals its rôle in serving soul progress.

First Movement: What Is Friendship?

The speaker begins by posing five rhetorical questions in the opening movement—each question heralds an answer in the affirmative. Thus he is, in fact, stating that friendship is the "weaving of the red strings of two hearts." Friendship is also a "melding of two minds." The love between two friends pours forth like water from fountains, and that friendship resembles a rose growing between two "mind-branchlets." Best of all, the speaker avers that friendships is "the one thinking in two bodies." And that one, of course, is the Divine.

Second Movement: Rhetorical Possibilities

Continuing with the rhetorical questions that dramatically state a definition of friendship, the speaker contends that friendship resembles two strong stallions, "Pulling the chariot of life together / To that one Goal." The speaker uses the entire stanza to dramatize the chariot metaphor.

Third Movement: As the Deluded Mind Engages

The speaker then offers some unpleasant possibilities regarding the nature of friendship, ones that deluded humankind often engages instead of the noble ones. Sometimes so-called friendship exists between two people wherein one merely takes advantage of the other. Other times, people not of good will unite and blindly follow a warped ideology and both end up "falling at last into pits of disillusionment."

Fourth Movement: Difference and Harmony

The speaker now offers his descriptions of what friendship really is—it "is noble, fruitful, holy." And although the two "march in difference," they yet do so "in harmony." They are able to agree and disagree, while "improving diversely."

Fifth Movement: True Friendship

In true friendship, one does not seek his comfort at the cost of the other. Each looks out for the other, and "in that garden of selflessness, / Fragrant friendship perfectly flowers." Continuing the garden metaphor, the speaker asserts, "[f]or friendship is a hybrid, born of two souls."

Sixth Movement: Hidden Influence of Friendship

Continuing his positive assertions, the speaker avers that friendship comes from a place that is hidden and inexplicable, but it is also the fountain of true feelings. And just as gardens need both rain and sunshine to thrive, friendships grow in both likeness and difference.

However, familiarity and lust kill friendship, as does crass egotism, while friendship will shoot up "tall and sturdy" as the friends learn to recognize their unity on the three levels of being: physical, mental, and spiritual.

Seventh Movement: Anathemas to Friendship

The speaker then catalogues the qualities that are anathema to friendship: "[d]emands, deception, sordid sense of possession / Courtesy's lack, narrow self-love, suspicion / Thoughtless, sharp-pointed, piercing words." All of these things are "cankers" that destroy friendship.

Eight Movement: The Flowering of Friendship

The speaker then returns to the pleasant aspects of friendship and again likens it to a "flowering, heaven-born plant!" The growth of a friendship takes place at the soul level "in the soil of measureless love." When the two friends are seeking their own "soul progress," they can make even faster progress together. Each friend will water and nurture the growth of the other.

Ninth Movement: The Friend of All Friends

Through the friendship of human beings, the blessed Lord comes as on an altar whereon the flowers of the friendship are offered to that "Friend of all friends."

A spiritual classic

A spiritual classic

The Beginning of Paramahansa Yogananda's Mission

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes