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Paramahansa Yogananda's "I am Here"

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 "I am Here"

Because the Creator of all Creation does not remain and perform solely through a simple physical body, as a human being does, That Divine Presence can be experienced only through soul awareness. The speaker in "I am Here" creates a little drama of his search that begins with a childlike attempt to "find" the Ultimate Reality, the Creator of All Things and Existence, in that Creator's creations—first the ocean, then a tree, then the sky.

The speaker's surprising growth into the unity that he craved implies that his soul grew through and despite the pain and anguish he suffered as his soul search led him through the valley of darkness.

Excerpt From "I am Here"

Alone I roamed by the ocean's shore,
And watched
The wrestling waves in brawling roar —
Alive with Thine own restless life,
Thine angry mood in ripply quiver —
Until Thy wrathful vastness made me shiver
And turn away from nature's heated strife. . . . .

(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

Childlike, the speaker searches for the Divine One in his Creations, but after many failed attempts learns a valuable lesson about his Blessèd Creator.

First Movement: On the Seashore

The devotee-speaker first finds himself by the sea where he is observing the violent crash of waves against the land. He is speaking to his Divine Belovèd, and he associates the "angry mood" of the sea with the Divine's "own restless life." He colorfully describes the wave activity as "wrestling waves in brawling roar," anyone who has stood by the sea as this devotee is doing will identify with that accurate description.

The speaker then reports that he stood looking at the rapid, noise-filled water action as long as he could, and then suddenly all that "wrathful vastness" caused him to "shiver." Thus he turns from the "nature's heated strife" to an entity with less movement and noise.

Second Movement: Observing a Tree

The speaker has turned away from the shiver-inducing, violent roaring ocean to a "kindly, spreading sentinel tree." The tree's "friendly" waving arms seem to give comfort to the speaker. He thus is offered empathy and a place to rest his mind to gain equanimity.

Again, the speaker colorfully describes this divinely created entity that has a "gentler look sublime." It seems to comfort him with tender rimes from a lullaby. The "swaying leaves" of the tree sing to the speaker, sending him a gentle message from the Divine Belovèd.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Third Movement: Observing the Sky

The speaker now turns to the sky—the "mystic sky." With all the impatience and eagerness of a child, he tries to tug at the heartstring of the Divine; the childlike devotee wishes to engage the Divine Father to lift him from this "valley dim." But alas, he determines that his search is in vain as he seeks the "body" of the Divine Reality.

The speaker then colorfully describes the body of the Divine as "cloud-robed, foam sprayed, and leaf-garlanded"—all of the natural features through which he had been seeking the Lord. But he must admit that he is learning that the Divine Creator is "too rare" for physical eyes to see or physical hears to hear.

However, the speaker also has learned that the Blessèd Creator is "always near." He understands and reports that the Blessèd One is simply playing "hide-and-seek" with his children. As the devotee-speaker has "almost touched" the Divine One, He seems to pull back. Yet the searching devotee continues to seek Him through all obstacles, though they be "the maddening fold / Of ignorance dark."

Fourth Movement: Halting the Search

The speaker then asserts that he finally stops his search though he remained in "dim despair." Though he had searched everywhere for the "Royal Sly Eluder," who it seems exists "everywhere" and "seeming nowhere." The Divine Belovèd seemed to remain "lost in unplumbed space." And the face of the Divine cannot be viewed by His children, nor can He be touched by any physical means.

As the speaker quickly ended his search, he attempted to run away from the Divine. And yet he still found no response from the "wrathful sea," or from the "friendly tree," neither from the "limitless blue sky." In the valleys and in the mountains, all remained in silence, or "cruel silence" as the speaker as earlier called it.

Again like a child, hurt by the absence of his mother, in pain "within the depths of me," as he emphasizes those "depths," the speaker hides himself and "sulk[s]" as he is "no longer seeking" his Divine Friend.

Fifth Movement: Reaching the Goal

Then to the speaker's utter amazement, his hopeless state of mind is plucked away from him. The "all-black band" which has kept him blinded to his Belovèd Divine Friend is lifted and his energy returns. He is "no longer weary," but instead finds himself full of "strength."

The speaker then finds himself standing and observing those physical creations again, but now instead of exuding negative qualities, they show only positive ones: the sea is "laughing" instead of giving off "wrathful roars. The whole world now becomes a "gay, glad" one, whose doors remain "mystically opened."

Between himself and his Divine Creator he finds only "mists of dreams." He senses the infallible presence of "Someone" standing beside him. And although this Presence remains unseen, the Presence "whisper[s] to [him], cool and clear: / 'Hello, playmate! I am here!'"

A spiritual classic

A spiritual classic

Paramahansa Yogananda

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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