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 "The Noble New"
The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “The Noble New” from Songs of the Soul offers eight loving commands to devotees in an octet that consists of eight movements in two quatrains.
The first quatrain features two riming couplets, and second quatrain has the traditional rime scheme of an Elizabethan sonnet, ABAB. The great guru praised the United States of America as a land of opportunity and freedom. He admired the business acumen and technological spirit of America.
While loving his native land of India dearly with its emphasis on spirituality, Paramahansa Yogananda always made it clear that the spiritual East and the industrious West were both necessary for advancement on the path to self-realization or God-union. The great spiritual leader praised individuality and always cautioned against blindly following the majority which leads the seeker down the path of stagnation.
Excerpt from "The Noble New"
Sing songs that none have sung,
Think thoughts that ne’er in brain have rung,
Walk in paths that none have trod,
Weep tears as none have shed for God, . . .
(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 theme of “The Noble New” is individualism; the speaker is urging the devotee not to be dragged down by a herd-mentality when journeying toward self-realization. One sees this problem often on the spiritual path, devotees who remain needy of their fellows, despite possessing the best spiritual guidance of all time.
First Movement: Unique Songs
The speaker first instructs the devotee to sing his own unique songs to the Divine. Most people are content to listen to worldly music and learn to sing only the songs that others sing.
While in the very beginning, this kind of imitation can help develop the singer’s skill, after the devotee becomes mature in his craft and his belief system, he no longer needs the guide of imitation.
Instead of singing to fellow human beings, the devotee sings only to the Divine, and these songs grow out of the unique relationship the individual has with his Divine Beloved.
Second Movement: New Pathways of Thought
So much of humankind’s endeavors are mere repetition of what others have accomplished and so many of the thoughts that each person entertains are simply a version of what others have thought for centuries.
Most citizens of Western Civilization have relegated religion and the spiritual life to one day a week, coupled with a few holidays each year. But the devotee who craves more of the Divine than what fits into that small framework must make every effort to think of Divinity all of the time, or in the beginning as much as possible.
Thinking those thoughts to which the guru/speaker refers means thinking about the Divine Beloved all the time and very intensely at certain times—during meditation, prayer, and chanting.
Third Movement: A Road Truly Less Traveled
Again, the speaker commands the devotee regarding the path; in today’s common parlance, it might be expressed, “to walk the walk.”
The path to the Divine remains sparsely populated; it may be that no one in a devotee’s family will accompany him on the journey. But the guru/speaker lovingly commands the devotee to walk that path anyway.
Fourth Movement: Even Tears Expand the Search
Because so few fellow human beings are seeking the Divine—alas! even the seemingly devout and the ostensibly religious—few will cry for the Divine as the true devotee will.
The speaker’s command lets the devotee know that the Divine appreciates those tears that the devotee weeps.
Fifth Movement: Keeping Others in One's Purview
The speaker instructs the devotee to offer a loving word or smile of peace to those whom others ignore. Sincere charity is never wasted. And sometimes all one can give is that smile or word of kindness because it is never helpful to try to proselytize one's religions leanings.
However, as the devotee moves closer to the goal of self-awareness, she naturally feels a charity for others. That devotee wishes that everyone could feel the peace and blessedness of that exalted state.
Sixth Movement: True Individuality
The devotee must assert his possession of the Divine, despite the fact that so many of his fellows dispute the very existence of the Deity. The atheism and agnosticism of the world may strike the devotee as sad blemishes on the culture. But the sincere devotee must remain steadfast in proclaiming his stance.
While the devotee must not try to push his beliefs on others, he also must not allow himself to be disheartened by the stumbling, halting masses who will always continue to ridicule what they fail to understand.
Seventh Movement: Love With Intensity
The speaker then commands the speaker to love the Lord's created beings as one loves that Creator with the intensity that most people never feel.
As often as one hears that God is love, the notion is never repeated too often. Learning to love the Divine may be difficult in the beginning because one has become accustomed to loving only that which one can perceive with the senses.
But offering love to everyone, to every created being, prepares one heart for accepting and giving to the Creator the love that must be given in order to receive.
Eighth Movement: The Struggle for Divine Freedom
If the devotee will sing, think, walk, weep, give, claim, love, and brave all for the Divine, then she can “brave / The battle of life with strength unchained.”
In so doing, the devotee will be able to soldier on through her worldly existence undaunted and with perfect freedom and realize the Divine Beloved at last.
A song version of Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Noble New"
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes