Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Samadhi" - Owlcation - Education
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Paramahansa Yogananda’s "Samadhi"

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

Paramahansa Yogananda

"The Last Smile"  - March 7, 1952, Los Angeles, CA

"The Last Smile" - March 7, 1952, Los Angeles, CA

Introduction and Excerpt from "Samadhi"

Paramahansa Yogananda has left more than one version of his poem, "Samadhi." The two versions most familiar to devotees may be found in the Autobiography of a Yogi and Songs of the Soul.

The version in Songs of the Soul features 76 lines, while the version in the autobiography contains 53 lines. The great guru recommended that devotees memorize the poem; therefore, it is likely that he shortened it and simplified some of the imagery in order to facilitate the memorization process. For example, the first movement of the longer version features the following lines:

Departed, these false shadows on the screen of duality.
Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, whirlpools of melancholy,
Melting in the vast sea of bliss.
Bestilled is the storm of maya
By the magic wand of intuition deep.

The guru simplified the version provided in Autobiography of a Yogi to the following lines:

Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.

This astute simplification includes the elimination of an allusion to the mythological character, "Scylla," which likely would have to be researched by the devotee in order to understand the allusion's significance. "Bestilled is the storm of maya" becomes "The storm of maya stilled." He also leaves out unneeded articles like "the." And he has continued this simplification process throughout the shorter version, making it clearer and thus easier for the devotee to memorize.

For this commentary, I have relied on the version found in the Autobiography of a Yogi. Because the ultimate description and meaning of the poem remain untouched by the great guru's skillful simplification process, the commentary will hold true for either version that a reader might encounter.

The following is an excerpt from the poem, "Samadhi":

Samadhi

Vanished the veils of light and shade,
Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy,
Gone the dim sensory mirage.
Love, hate, health, disease, life, death:
Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.
Present, past, future, no more for me,
But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere. . . .

(Please note: The poem's shorter version (53 lines) may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, and the longer version (76 lines) is featured in Songs of the Soul (1983 and 2014 printings). Both books are published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA.

Commentary

Paramahansa Yogananda's poem, "Samadhi," describes the state of consciousness, to which the great guru's teachings lead those who follow those teachings.

First Movement: The Veil of Maya

The great guru often compares metaphorically fallen humankind's delusion to wearing a veil. The pairs of opposites that keep the world enmeshed in that delusion are responsible for hanging that a veil over the eyes of every unselfrealized being. Upon attaining the cherished goal of "samadhi," or union with the Creator, that veil is "lifted."

With the lifting of that veil, sorrows vanish and all the delusive images gathered by the senses are understood for what they are. Compared to lucid comprehension of true reality those sensory impressions all equal a "dim . . . mirage."

After the "storm of maya" is quieted, all of the pairs of opposites, including "Love, hate, health, disease, life, death," fall away like "false shadows." The attainment of this state of being is brought on by the profound intuition of the soul, which seems like some "magic" quality when compared to physical, material level phenomena.

Second Movement: All Time and All Things

Not only are the supposedly concrete features of ordinary life stilled, but the notion of time and its divisions into "present, past, future" no longer exist for the enlightened. Only the eternal now, the "ever-present" exists. The ego-bound "I" then can feel itself in every speck of creation, "everywhere / Planets, stars, stardust, earth." From where creation burst forth to all earthly things like "every blade of grass, myself, mankind," the new soul inducted into samadhi experiences the same omnipresence and omnipotence that belong to the Divine Belovèd.

That blessed state reveals to the enlightened one all thoughts of all people who have ever existed. It is as if the newly inducted devotee has "swalllowed" and then transformed everything in his/her path into a "vast ocean of blood of [his/her] own one Being."

Third Movement: Joy

The great guru always reminds his devotees of the role played by the emotion of joy in the journey to and especially including the attainment of this magnificent goal of samadhi. In this poem he calls that joy, "smoldering joy." That joy that had been only slightly perceived in meditation now becomes almost overwhelming as it "blind[s]" the devotees "tearful eyes," and as it "bursts into immortal flames of bliss." This joy that has become bliss then gobbles up those "tears," as well as the devotee's "frame." Everything about the devotee melts into this sacred bliss.

The guru then announces the great truth: "Thou art I, I am Thou." He then elucidates the great truth that in this state the "Knower," the "Known," and the process of "Knowing" all become "One." In this tranquil state, thrill upon thrill is experienced as one realizes his/her "eternally living, ever new peace." The imagination can never be capable of expecting such bliss as acquired in the act of attaining this "magic" state of "samadhi bliss."

With further elucidation, the great guru describes this state of being as not an unconscious place brought on by stultification of the mind as during hypnosis. Instead this state enhances and extends the realm of the mind. The mind through its own agent moves outside of its "mortal frame." It is capable of extending itself to the "farthest boundary of eternity." The individual is like an ocean of cosmic consciousness that can observe itself, the "little ego," as it seems to be "floating in Me."

Fourth Movement: The Ocean of Mirth

This fascinating description then imparts the information that the devotee can hear the sound of atoms that seem to whisper as earthly features such a mountains and seas transform into "vapors of nebulae." The blessed sound of "om" behaves like a breeze that blows open the veils that have hidden the reality of their essence to the fallen eyesight of humankind. The very electrons that make up the ocean waters are detected by the samadhi entranced soul. Finally, the "cosmic drum" brings about the melting of the "grosser lights" as they disappear into "eternal rays / Of all-pervading bliss."

As devotees experiences all of these sights and sounds with their astral senses, they come to realize at last that their beings are, in fact, nothing other than joy. They realize that they originate from joy and that they melt into that sacred joy again. The mind like a great ocean absorbs all of "creation's waves." The four veils of "solid, liquid, vapor, and light" are all lifted from the eyes of those experiencing this blessed state.

The speaker then reveals that the little ego, called "I," now enters the "Great Myself." All of those shadows that blighted the life of the earthly dweller under delusion are gone. They were merely the shadows of "mortal memory." The screen of consciousness or "mental sky" of the devotee is now "spotless" on all sides. The devotee is fully aware that s/he is united with the eternal; s/he and Eternity are hence forth "one united ray."

The final two lines of the poem also feature a metaphor often employed by the great guru to compare God and creation: God is the ocean and creation is the wave. The wave remains a part of the ocean, even as it retains an individual form. It is the goal of the human being to become united with its Creator as the wave unites with the ocean; thus in samadhi, the devotee is a "tiny bubble of laughter," who has "become the Sea of Mirth Itself."

Brain Mapping Meditation

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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