Paramahansa Yogananda's "They Are Thine"
Introduction and Excerpt from "They Are Thine"
The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's "They Are Thine" is recognizing the fact that all creation belongs to the Creator, who created the entire cosmic universe, as well as all things and all sentient creatures within it. It addresses the Divine Belovèd as in prayer. But like most prayer, it is not supplication for some favor; it merely asserts a truth about the speaker, his soul, Creation, and the Divine Creator, Who governs them all.
Excerpt of "They Are Thine"
I have nothing to offer Thee,
For all things are Thine . . .
(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 demonstrating the power of humbleness in seeking divine realization.
First Movement: A Humble Offering
The speaker begins with the simple statement that he has nothing to offer the Great Spirit, who has created all things and who exists throughout all eternity. One such as himself, a small part of humanity, would naturally become humble in awareness of the vastness of the One, Who flings the stars, fashions the planets, causes the earth to put forth it fecundity, and then creates the physical body to encase the soul.
Thus, the speaker avers that he cannot give the One, Who has everything, anything, for the simple reason that the Great Creator already possesses everything. The logic of such a simple remark enlivens this prayer with a forceful power that stimulates the mind of each devotee to calm awareness.
Second Movement: Prayer to Deepen Divine Knowledge
The purpose of prayer is often to deepen in the devotee knowledge that he may already have but which seems to be allowed to weaken as life becomes crowded with its many duties, trials, and tribulations. But this speaker asserts his full understanding that he has nothing to offer the Blessèd Lord, and therefore he does not desire to waste time moaning and wishing the situation were different.
The speaker knows that offerings to the Lord, such as ritual or ceremonial flowers, fruit, or even the devotee's appreciation and tears of longing are merely useful tools for the devotee but cannot add one iota to the storehouse of possessions already contained in the Blessèd Divine's Creation. The speaker thus avers that nothing belongs to him, and he repeats his claim for emphasis.
Third Movement: Giving Out of Deep Love and Gratitude
The speaker, who is a devotee deeply loving and appreciating his Divine Creator, is compelled to yield unto his Belovèd Father-Creator all that he is: from his ability to speak to his very life, he bestows these possessions unto his Lord. Although he knows the Lord already possesses all of those things, his heart just simply bursts to give all he can to the One, Who has given him those things in the first place.
The speaker thus places all of his own possessions at the feet of the Divine, knowing that it is through such surrender that he becomes one with his Divine Goal. The placement of his gifts at the "feet" of the Divine symbolizes the humbleness through which the speaker functions. It is also through a humble nature that he perceives the immanent power that rests within his body, mind, and soul.
Fourth Movement: All Gifts Belong to the Divine Creator
The speaker in the final line, therefore, makes that important claim that all that he is and has already belong to the Divine Belovèd. All of this speaker's possessions, all of his abilities from walking to talking to eating to sleeping to thinking to meditating and praying—all belong to the Divine Creator, Who has created all of humankind and bestowed on all of His children all of the gifts they possess and enjoy.
Life Sketch 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.
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.
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."
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.
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
© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes