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 "Thou and I Are One"
Paramahansa Yogananda's "Thou and I Are One," from Songs of the Soul, offers a dramatic elucidation of the unity of the individual human soul and the Over-Soul. As Ralph Waldo Emerson understood, "that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man's particular being is contained and made one with all other," is none other than that "Cosmic Life," or God, described so lovingly and beautifully in these spiritual, poetic offerings from the "Father of Yoga in the West."
Excerpt from "Thou and I Are One"
Thy Cosmic Life and I are one.
Thou art the Spirit, and I am all nature;
We are one.
Thou art the Ocean, and I am the wave;
We are one.
Thou are the Ocean, and I am the drop;
We are one.
Thou art the Flame, and I am the spark;
We are one.
Thou art the Flower, and I am the fragrance.
We are one.
Thou are the Song, and I am the music;
We are one . . .
(Please note: This poem appears in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)
Addressing the Divine Reality or God, the "Cosmic Life," the speaker is elucidating a catalogue of the many ways the seemingly separate entities are, in reality, united as one.
First Movement: Glowing with Cosmic Life
The divinely inspired speaker avers that the "Cosmic Life" is the same life that glows in the speaker. The speaker then goes through each element/sense and notes how this heavenly claim works.
As liquid, the speaker is united with Divine Liquid. Using the ocean as the metaphor, the speaker claims two qualities to symbolize the fact that each human being is made of mostly liquid, that is, water. So the speaker asserts that the ocean and the speaker are one because the Divine is the ocean and the speaker is the "wave." Also the speaker is a "drop" of water from the ocean while the Divine is the entire ocean.
The speaker is only the "fragrance" of the flower. The Divine Essence is the entire flower. This poem, however, conflates the elements with the senses. The elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. There are also five senses: seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing—listed in the order that they cease during the process of dying—that is, the soul leaving the body. Thus the speaker becomes only the fragrance, the sense of smell, of the entire flower, which represents the earth element. The Divine is the entire "Song," while the speaker represents merely the music accompanying the song.
Second Movement: I and My Father Are One
The second movement focuses on relationships. Relationships are so important to earthly creatures. Sometimes they live and die because of them. So the speaker avers that the Divine Essence is the father, and he is merely the child. Radical feminism notwithstanding, the father has been the epitome of the clan/tribe for many centuries in all earth cultures. Thus the speaker begins with the "Father," then proceeds to the "Mother"—the speaker is the "child" of the "Father" and the "son" of the "Mother." The point is that the speaker is united with the top dog of the clan, whether one wishes to identify it as male or female. Can earthlings ever achieve equanimity regarding the details of body consciousness?
The speaker then avers, "Thou art my Friend, and I am Thy friend." So simple—"Friend" and "friend." No gender issues, no hierarchy! Just upper case and lower case letters. Thankfully, the speaker is also united as, "Belovèd" with lover." Again, no societal male, female, king, subject baggage to interfere. Thus the speaker avers that he is united as belovèd with "Lover"—removing the sexual connotation from the term, "lover."
The speaker then claims that the Master and servant are one. Note that this does not imply that the servant is mistreated in order to enrich the Master; the spiritual level of existence is open to everyone. The master is the whole; the servant is the part. Both socialist and capitalist can groove with this arrangement, if they realize the nature of description vs prescription.
Then concluding this movement, the speaker avers that he is the disciple and "Thou art my Guru." "Guru" is the "dispeller of darkness." The disciple is the poor fool who still does not know how to unite with spirit, but who is under the instruction of one who has. There are no earthly delusions here, just Guru and disciple, or chela if you prefer the Hindu term.
Third Movement: The Laughter and the Smile Are One
The speaker then moves into the ethereal realm, where the spiritual have their home. The speaker labels God, that is, the Divine Creator, as the "Laughter" while the speaker is merely the "smile." The speaker is the "atom" while the Divine Creator is the "Light."
The speaker is merely a "thought," while the Divine Creator is "Consciousness." The speaker is merely "strength," while the Divine Creator is "Eternal Power." Recognizing oneself in relationship to the Divine Creator creates a path for uniting oneself with that Creator. The world’s five great religions all were founded by those who recognized that relationship.
Fourth Movement: The Soul and Peace
Who on God’s green earth does not prize peace, joy, wisdom, and love? Even atheists can approve of peace, joy, wisdom, and love, even though they may likely bristle at any religious or spiritual method for attaining those qualities. The speaker, however, makes the bold claim that each of these qualities and he are one. Thus, the speaker is claiming that the Divine Belovèd is all of these qualities.
Not sexual gratification, not ego inflation, not a catalogue of trivial facts, not financial wizardry—not anything that makes an individual look good in the eyes of others. Others are not looking at others; they are looking at themselves! Only the spiritual matters! While a handful of political hacks are touting the notion that only "Black lives matter," and others are supporting the notion that, "All lives matter," the Divine Creator is trying to make them all see that only their relationship with their Divine Belovèd matters. Why?
Fifth Movement: United Through a Divine Creator
Because all human beings are related to their Divine Creator for their entire, eternal existence. If they think their entire existence is "four score and ten years," or less because they have family members who died before they reached 70, they need to rethink the issue! Upon the earth at this present time there are people who are in their 80s or 90s or 100s! What if one lives way past that?
What if every one of one’s relatives, friends, or acquaintances is dead? Are they then related to anyone? Such thoughts can buffet one about without an Anchor. But for this inspired speaker/guru and the many who follow his line of thought, "Thou and I will be one evermore," offers the solution to the issue of existence and non-existence. The sacred unity that exists between the Creator and creation remains the most expansive, the most powerful idea for comprehending the nature of reality. Each human mind and heart desires material and spiritual comfort while enduring the vicissitudes of earth life; that comfort can be attained by realizing one’s eternal unity with the Divine Creator.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson. "The Over-Soul." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882). Accessed February 22, 2021.
- Editors. "Elements." The Royal Path of Yoga. Accessed February 22, 2021.
- Linda Sue Grimes. "Brief Sketches of the Five Major World Religions." Discover. Updated: May 3, 2020.
- Heather Mac Donald. "The Danger of the 'Black Lives Matter' Movement." Imprinis. April 2016.
- Blog posts for the movement, ALL LIVES MATTER. Accessed February 22, 2021
Opening to God's Love in Meditation - Part 1
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes
Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on February 12, 2020:
Thank you, Audrey Hunt, for the kind words. The inspirational poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda offers blessings to all who engage with it. Devotees especially find encouragement with these poems, but anyone can enjoy these poems for their beauty and truth.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on February 11, 2020:
This is exquisite! Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. I've learned so much!