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Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Cruel Silence"

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

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda writing his Autobiography of a Yogi, at Self-Realization Fellowship’s Hermitage in Encinitas, California

Paramahansa Yogananda writing his Autobiography of a Yogi, at Self-Realization Fellowship’s Hermitage in Encinitas, California

Introduction and Excerpt from "Thy Cruel Silence"

In Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thy Cruel Silence," the speaker is assuring the Divine Beloved Lord of his sincere, intense devotion. The speaker will never cease his prayers to the Beloved until they are most gloriously answered. He will continue to pursue his goal of divine union until he has reached it. The great guru and spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda maintains that devotees should talk with the Ultimate Reality "in the language of their heart." The great guru asserts that the Divine Cause is close, personal, and very familiar to the individual soul, and the individual does not have to fear offending that Creator.

The children of the Divine Creator can speak to that Divine Entity as they are, not as they hope to be, which, of course, is an impossibility. Thus, the great guru’s speaker in "Thy Cruel Silence" may appear to blaspheme to those who think one must always flatter the Ultimate Divine and praise That Being even if one does not feel that praise. The great spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda insists that only open truth with the Divine will lead one to the Eternal Presence. The Divine Belovèd does not need or want our flattery and phony praise; the Divine Belovèd seeks only the highest good for each child, and that good begins with truth.

The speaker in "Thy Cruel Silence" from Songs of the Soul affirms his desire to make his Divine Belovèd speak to him, and he thus speaks truth to power when he tells the Divine Friend that the Latter's continued silence is cruel and causes the devotee great pain. Such honesty opens the heart of the Blessèd Creator.

Excerpt from "Thy Cruel Silence"

I prayed to Thee
But Thou wert mute.
At Thy door I knocked;
Thou answered not.
I gave my tears
To soft'n Thy heart;
In cruel silence
Didst Thou watch. . . .

(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 insists that even if his prayer is met with continued silence, he will continue to pray and weep for the Divine Presence unceasingly throughout eternity. He is showing his deep love and devotion to his Eternal Creator.

First Movement: Continued Silence

The speaker informs his Divine Creator that he has prayed and yet the Divine remained "mute." Instead of enjoying a response, the speaker continues to receive only "cruel silence" from his Divine Belovèd. In addition to praying and offering the Divine his heartfelt words, the speaker also metaphorically "knocked" "[a]t Thy door." Yet the Divine continued to avoid him.

The great ones tell their followers that God is close, closer than any human relative, and his children need not wish for Him; all they have to do is realize that Eternal Lord's presence with the soul. Each soul is a spark of the Divine Fire, a wavelet of the Divine Ocean, a drop of the Eternal Sky—any metaphor that works is the metaphor each individual must embrace on his/her spiritual journey.

Second Movement: Weeping for Union

After much prayer and knocking at the door of the heart of his Divine Friend, the speaker allows himself to weep openly with flowing tears that he thinks will "soft’n Thy heart." The speaker hopes some pity from the Belovèd might assure a response. But again Divinity "in cruel silence" simply watches while his sad child mourns.

The great guru has made it clear that to experience unity with the Divine requires patience and much effort. Becoming calm and steady, after countless incarnations of restless searching, striving, and living for sense pleasures have instilled in the individual a jittery nature, can be a painstaking engagement. But the encouraging words that each soul is already united with the Soul can erase many of those jiggery incarnations, and that fact helps the meditating devotee relax and begin the healing process.

Third Movement: Affirming Dedication

Finally, the speaker affirms that it does not matter how long the Divine Belovèd remains silent, the speaker will continue to pray and weep throughout eternity if necessary. The speaker avers that he now knows the way to "earn / Attention Thine." The speaker has become aware that whether the Divine Reality speaks or remains silent, the two are already united. The speaker’s own "cruel silence" will meld with that of the Divine’s continued silence, as the speaker continues to pray "unceasingly."

Knowing the way to "earn" that Divine attention also helps the devotee relax which facilitates the meditation process. That knowing gives the devotee the confidence that the seemingly permanent silence of the Divine Beloved will at some point be lifted, and the devotee will then know with finality that s/he has reached the goal of self-realization or God-union.

Fourth Movement: An Eternity of Prayer and Meditation

If after an eternity of prayer and weeping for his Divine Creator, that Divine Friend does finally speak and "wish me peace," the speaker will continue the unifying acts of prayer and weeping for his Divine Belovèd that keep them together. Even if "cruel silence" remains and the devotee’s soul is caught perennially inside that depth, he knows that giving the silence to the Ultimate Reality will allow him to realize eternally the unity his soul already experiences with the Divine Over-Soul. Such logic seems paradoxical, yet it is infallible, according the teachings of every major religion.

A devotee may wonder what comes next, after God-union has been attained. Or more likely, the devotee may fret that God-union may never be attained or that it may take many more incarnations. Again, the scriptural instruction of all great religions offers the healing for such painful pondering: embracing tight to the bosom that knowledge of one's already united status as a child fo the Great Spirit. And after on has achieved that divine state, one need no fret what to do, for the soul will be guided directly and infallibly by that Divine Over-Soul.

Dr. Lewis: Spiritual Experiences with Paramahansa Yogananda

© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes

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