Eternally Living, Ever New Peace
In my early years at Ananda, at the end of group meditation every morning, we would repeat together Master’s poem Samadhi [samadhi is a Sanskrit word meaning “cosmic consciousness”]. It was an effortless way to follow Master’s suggestion to memorize that poem and say it every day.
“Samadhi is unique in all spiritual literature,” Swamiji says, “No other Master has put into words the experience of cosmic consciousness the way Master does in this poem.”
Of course, other Masters have experienced the same state of cosmic consciousness, but Paramhansa Yogananda was also given the special dispensation to describe that state in words, perhaps because now we are coming into a global age of expanding spiritual awareness.
To make it even more remarkable, Master says he wrote Samadhi while riding on the New York subway! We can only presume he chose that surprising location to assure us that God can be experienced everywhere.
Master said he traveled back and forth from one end of the subway line to the other, in a state of cosmic consciousness, writing down his experience.
“No one ever asked for my ticket,” he said. “In fact, no one even saw me.”
Was his vibration so refined, so different from the consciousness of those around him that they couldn’t even see his physical body? Master didn’t explain, so we can only speculate.
Words as a Conduit for Consciousness
“Scripture” is a unique kind of literature. An intelligent person can put subtle thoughts into words. An artistic person can make those words beautiful. What makes scripture different from ordinary writing is not only the truth and beauty of it, but the consciousness it conveys.
Immediately after reading Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1948, when he was 22 years old, Swami Kriyananda traveled from New York City to Southern California to meet Master and become his disciple.
At that first meeting, Master asked Swamiji, “How did you like my book?” meaning the Autobiography. Swamiji said it was so powerful that one reading completely changed the course of his life.
“That’s because it has my vibrations,” Master explained.
At the time, Swamiji says he had never thought of a book as having “vibrations.” In 1948, the word usually referred to something that was shaking. But word choice didn’t matter. Swamiji had experienced the book as a living consciousness.
That is the nature of Scripture. A person can read the Bible or the Bhagavad-Gita, for example, every day for years, the same passages over and over again, and the inspiration is ever-new.
According to the Depth of Intuition and Feeling
The poem Samadhi was published in Master’s Whispers from Eternity (subtitled, A Book of Answered Prayers). In the introduction to Whispers, Master says,
“The flame of inspiration is hidden behind the lines of each prayer and demand in this book. Since, however, they must be saturated even so with the polluting waters of printer’s ink, paper, and the individual’s own intellectual associations, it is necessary to rise above all these distractions in order to bring forth the flame of wisdom out of each prayer-demand...
“The vast ocean of truth can be measured only according to the capacity of one’s own cup of intelligence and perception. So will the inspiration behind these prayers and demands be felt according to the depth of one’s own intuition and feeling.”
Master goes on to suggest that the way to benefit as deeply as possible from the “God-warmth” contained within his words, is to
“...mentally picture the meaning: visualize the imagery of the figures of speech—and then meditate deeply on what is perceived, until the fiery meaning, free from all word limitations, emerges.”
Having the words in memory, so that at any time during the day, and in the silence of meditation especially, they are waiting within you, is the ideal.
“Vanished the Veils of Light and Shade”
Some of the images in Samadhi speak directly to the longing of the heart:
“Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy...”
Beauty and poetry abound:
“From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.”
“Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!”
Realities are described beyond our present experience:
“Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods,
Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come...”
But because Master is telling us what he sees, something of his experience comes into our consciousness, too. Just as he promises, the “flame of inspiration” breaks free of word-limitation and we gain at least a glimpse of what Master is seeing.
The Kingdom of God Is Within
In asking us to memorize this poem, and say it everyday, Master is reminding us, that samadhi is our destiny. It may seem distant, but it is not.
When Swamiji was a young monk living with Master, he was asked to play the role of Jesus in a tableau put on by a local Masonic Lodge—presumably, Swamiji says, because he was one of the few men at the time who wore a beard, and that gave him the necessary Biblical look.
Afterwards, Master asked Swamiji how it went. Somewhat facetiously, Swamiji replied, “I would rather be like Christ than merely look like him!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, in an almost matter-of-fact way, Master said, “That will come, that will come.”
The Masters see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Samadhi is our inevitable destiny. All we have to do, as Master puts it, is “improve our knowing.”
Memorizing, and inwardly reciting Master’s poem Samadhi is one way of drawing that destiny to us.
To Make It Easier
Samadhi is a long poem, and because the images are unfamiliar, at first it may seem hard to learn. If memorizing the entire poem seems beyond you, begin with those phrases that come easily.
In our Temple, you see ten beautiful phrases from Samadhi illuminated in blue light around the sanctuary (and the large poster of the poem framed on the wall). If you come often, you can probably already recite at least some of these lines.
Who could fail to remember Master’s blissful closing words?
“A tiny bubble of laughter,
I am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.”
Begin with what is easy for you. Contemplate those images until the “fiery meaning, freed from all word limitations, emerges.” Build line-by-line, until you have the whole poem.
To make it easier for you, you’ll find included here along with a printable copy of Samadhi two different ways of dividing the poem into accessible pieces, with hints for memorization. One is line-by-line, the other section-by-section. [Note: these use the most familar version of the poem fromWhispers from Eternity . The poster uses the version from Autobiography of a Yogi, which has a few differences in wording & phrasing.]
This is a new year, a time for new resolutions. The future is always uncertain, perhaps now more than usual. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a state of “Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever new peace!” where “Myself, in everything enters the Great Myself” ?
Such a world awaits us within.
Blessings for the New Year from David and me.
Samadhi Glossary: What do scylla, maya, turiya & Aum mean?
Printable copy of Asha's Letter