Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.
Introduction and Excerpt from "In the Land of Dreams"
As the speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda’s "In the Land of Dreams" defines and describes the nature of "dreams," he compares ordinary earth-life existence to those nightly dreams, and after he awakes in Divine Reality, he knows he is joy itself and can then leave all ordinary dreams forever.
Excerpt from "In the Land of Dreams"
Each night, as my spirit roams
In spheres of slumber vast,
I become a hermit, renouncing
My title, body‐form, possessions, creeds
Breaking the self‐erected prison walls
Of flesh and earthly limitations. . . .
(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 is describing the nature of dreams that converge into a samadhi-like state where the physical level of being no longer hampers the soul’s bliss.
First Stanza: The Colorful Dream Experience
The speaker colorfully describes this special dreamer’s experience while sleeping and dreaming: he forgets the body along with its daytime possessions such as titles or creeds. The dreamer may glide among the heavens unfettered by earthbound chains and enclosures. The dreamer is "no longer caged in a brittle, dingy clod." The dreamer is not aware that he must breathe to remain alive; he is unencumbered by the trivialities of daily earthly living such as "social standing," and he is not bound by any earthly duties.
The dreamer becomes capable of bursting the limitations of having been created in physical form from the dust of the earth. The "dingy clod" is only the physical encasement and cannot hamper the eternal soul that inhabits that clod. The human being is not a body that possesses a soul; it is a soul that possesses a body. That distinction becomes vital for the soul-traveler on this earth plane, for knowing, at least intellectually, about the human being's composition remains a basic starting point for beginning the journey.
Second Stanza: Special Dreams
The speaker continues to catalogue the numerous qualities that may be expressed while in the waking consciousness: while dreaming this special dream, the dreamer is not aware of his nationality, religion, or whether he is "Occidental" or "Oriental." His race is irrelevant while experiencing this dream state. Instead of being bound by all the earthly constraints, in "dreamland," space converts to "limitless acres." The soul reclaims its "freedom." The spirit’s only "religion" is "freedom." The soul, as spirit, ventures about like a "gypsy." It gathers "joy from everywhere." In this dreamland, no one has conferred upon the dreamer a despotic title to rule him. Only the "Myself" rules "myself." The slave may become a god in dreamland, where "the sleeping mortal" becomes "the awakened deathless Lord!"
When attempting to speculate about a perfect existence, the human mind may begin by asking what it truly desires: how would it like to live? what experiences would it prefer to undergo? how would it prefer to feel? what does it prefer to think about? All of these questions lead to the ultimate fact that each human being desires eternal, conscious bliss. This thought leads to the ultimate awareness that the desire for eternal, conscious bliss cannot be achieved on the earthly level. But saints, sages, and seers of all religions have promised that the most basic human desires are attainable; thus, the thinking human mind is delivered to the awareness that its basic desire can be achieved only on the spiritual level. The phenomenon of dreaming serves as a useful aid to attaining the basic understanding that leads to the path to Ultimate Reality.
Third Stanza: The God in Myself
In "dreamland," the immortal soul knows itself as an "an unseen, unheard god." He drinks and breathes "gladness." He glides with "wingèd glory." Throughout the space of dreamland, the dreamer is "free from haunting fears." No accident will crush his skull. There is nothing in this beautiful land to hurt him in any way. He cannot be drowned. No poison gas can suffocate him. He cannot be destroyed by fire. Even his haunting memories cannot touch him, because he is no longer occupying "a fragile body-dream."
In this dreamland samadhi, his consciousness is spread throughout "infinite space." This dreamer is "all things." The speaker then asks, "How, then, could aught / Dare injure me?" While he is united with the "big Myself," he cannot be negatively touched in anyway. The reality of the Over-Soul has encapsulated the under-soul, rendering pain, suffering, and even death impossible. The speaker/seer continues to offer iterations that the permanent state of bliss has offered to the soul that has perfected itself by uniting itself with the Great Over-Soul. The very basic human desire for eternal, conscious bliss becomes within striking distance of the soul on the spiritual path.
Fourth Stanza: The Joy Long Sought
The nature of the dream makes it a private endeavor. It is "unknown to others, but known to Myself." During all that the dreamer does, such as waking, walking, dreaming, eating, drinking, he is always enveloped in pure "Joy." The dreamer himself remains pure "Joy." The speaker had long sought joy, only to finally discover that he himself had always been the "Joy I sought." Everyone is seeking that joy. While in the waking, ordinary consciousness, each human being seems "so little." The body and mind while under the delusion of maya seems "so finite." Yet when one wakes to the "dreamland" of Ultimate Reality, one becomes the boundless, infinite Essence.
The speaker concludes his final destination on his dream journey, "When I dreamt in my sleepy wakefulness." He has discovered that he is "boundless big am I, awake / In my sleepless wakefulness!" This special dream has become the land beyond ordinary dreams where the soul finds itself ensconced in the joy of bliss consciousness. The soul experiences a tranquil existence, unlike the earthly chaos it endured while suffering in the cage of a flesh and blood earthly body. The mind delivers its tranquil letters of peace, love, and bliss to the immortal soul, which lives eternally in the dreamland with the Divine Love of the Belovèd Creator.
"Behold, the Kingdom of God Is Within You"
© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes