Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice"

Updated on February 3, 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

Source

Introduction and Excerpt from Poem, "Methought I Heard a Voice"

A stroll through nature allows the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" from Songs from the Soul to demonstrate the mental muscle of a yogic seer, whose keen auditory capabilities and power of sight allow him to perceive the Divine in natural phenomena.

Seers, prophets, saints, and sages of all religions have testified that God is everything, God is everywhere, and God exists in every inch and cell of His creation. This pantheistic view comforts the heart and mind of an erring humanity that so often behaves in such Godless ways.

The poetry of the great guru from the East, Paramahansa Yogananda, places the Divine Reality or God at the center of each and every poem. The great spiritual leader has the ability to show that God is present in everything the poet sees, hears, and in all things that come before his musing mind and heart.

It is easiest to intuit the nature of God in nature, over which He broods like a mother bird. Paramahansa Yogananda offers brief glimpses of that brooding in imagery that appeals to the five senses, as well as to the sixth sense. The great guru helps his devotees understand that the Divine Consciousness of the omnipresent Spirit exists in all.

Excerpt from "Methought I Heard a Voice"

While singing by the rill
My voice did softly thrill
With echoes of my thought
By fancies brought. . . .

(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 this simple observation of nature, the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" demonstrates his awareness of the divinity suffused throughout the scene.

In this simple observation of nature, the speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Methought I Heard a Voice" demonstrates his awareness of the divinity suffused throughout the scene.

First Stanza: Voice Reflecting Thoughts

After pausing from a trek through a beautiful landscape, the speaker reports that he was "singing by the rill," where his voice took on a quality that he describes as a soft thrill. His voice reacted to his thoughts, which were seemingly encased in a dreamy, happy fantasy.

The speaker’s opening stanza reveals a state of mind that is at once captivated by his outward surroundings in nature and influenced by an inner joy that cannot help but escape as it affects his singing voice.

The result of the speaker's voice "softly thrill[ing]" contributes to the speaker’s upliftment as his emphasis on the divine creates in him a blissful repose.

Second Stanza: Hearing a Voice!

The speaker continues his jaunt, describing his walk as "wander[ing] in my play." He considers himself to be in the act of playing, as an innocent child would do. He alights in a "faerie field," where he "stop[s] to muse" and "rejoice."

It is at this juncture of place and time that he feels as if he "heard a Voice!" The profundity of his hearing this "Voice" is communicated by the capitalization of the "v" and the exclamation mark ending the sentence. The speaker is emphatically implying that he knows it is God’s voice—the voice of the Divine becomes audible to this joyful, innocent, aware speaker.

Third Stanza: Flowers of a Mystical Nature

The speaker then reports on the beauty of the flowers that were growing in that field. Not only did they possess "wondrous hues," they were "perfumed" with a fragrance that seemed to warm and lighten the heart, and they "did yield / Delicious joys undreamed."

These flowers possess a mystical nature because the speaker’s inner vision is capable of seeing their inner nature as well as their outer beauty. This speaker’s vision can penetrate to the divine essence that these flowers embody.

Fourth Stanza: Blissful Observance of Nature

The beauty of the flowers parallels the beauty of the soul. Their outward luster, which is covered with a "thin bright veiling," corresponds to the soul’s "blossom-scented feelings." The speaker’s soul awareness allows him to see deeply into the mystery of creation. He understands the relationship between his own soul and the souls of flowers, trees, and all other divinely created phenomena.

In the speaker's moment of utter blissful observance of nature, coupled with the earlier "Voice!" that he heard, he experiences "a fitful flash," which he calls "Some Glistening Presence." Earlier, he heard the Divine voice, and now he sees the Divine’s glowing being.

Fifth Stanza: State of Grace

Finally, the speaker reports that in this state of grace, he stood upon his "tiptoe"—and simply went on "listening, watching." He poured out his heart in prayer and again continued, "listening, watching."

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."

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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