Apr 11 2014

Paramahansa Yogananda – Prayer for the Great Enlightenment

Published by at 9:27 am under Poetry

Prayer for the Great Enlightenment
by Paramahansa Yogananda

O August God, Beloved Father, Oversoul of the Universe, Spirit of Spirits, Friend of Friends! unravel for me the mystery of my existence. Teach me to worship Thee in breathlessness, in sleeplessness, in deathlessness.

In the stillness of my soul, possess me; may I be conscious of Thine immortal presence in and around me. I yearn to know Thee, O secondless, O True Unique!

— from Whispers from Eternity, by Paramahansa Yogananda

Something for us today by the great 20th century ambassador or Indian spirituality, Paramahansa Yogananda.

unravel for me the mystery of my existence

As I reread this one line, it occurs to me that this is the heart of every prayer. This is the essential plea of every soul, whether one is religious or not. We all fundamentally feel this deep urge to discover who and what we are, what gives our lives meaning and purpose.

We humans are meaning-seeking creatures and, most importantly, we need to know how we ourselves fit within the landscape of meaning.

But we often don’t recognize how important meaning is to us. Meaning is more important than life and death. We all naturally and instinctively shy from death. But what is the most terrible form of death? Meaningless death. When we feel death has meaning, as the completion of a life that has had meaning, then death loses its sting. This might suggest to us that we should strive not so much to avoid death or loss, but we should live our lives passionately seeking meaning and the mystery of our existence, for then everything we experience, easy and difficult, serves a purpose and satisfies the hunger of the soul.

So, whether in prayer or in action or in attitude, we should be constantly calling out to the universe: “unravel for me the mystery of my existence.”

Teach me to worship Thee in breathlessness, in sleeplessness, in deathlessness.

Breathlessness, sleeplessness, deathlessness… Yogananda is here referring to common attributes of yogic samadhi. Samadhi is the yogic term for the ultimate union between the individual self and the Supreme Self. In this deepest meditative communion, the individual is often infused with a profoundly subtle air that renders the external breath less necessary. The breath may become so shallow that it completely stops or very nearly stops, and the body rests in a profound stillness.

As to sleeplessness, some yogis actually do not sleep. But, more broadly, this might be understood as the profound, continuing wakefulness of enlightened consciousness. The new awareness that one experiences in samadhi is like awakening from a lifelong sleep. To remain in this awakened awareness is to be “sleepless.”

And to be deathless… While there are certainly stories of deathless spiritual adepts in all traditions, spiritual deathlessness is not really describing someone whose body does not eventually die. With the profound awakening of samadhi, one is flooded with an utterly new sense of life. It is a state of being reborn or born anew. And though the body may yet experience illnesses, injuries, and eventually death, in this deepest communion you know yourself as beyond those experiences. Even when death claims the body in due course, you know well that it has no part of you. The body has its beginning and its ending, but you, in yourself, are simply as you are, without beginning or end. In the mystery of your existence, you dwell in an eternal state of being watching the phenomenal experiences pass through your awareness.

This is what we yearn to remember. Sincerely seeking this is true worship.

Paramahansa Yogananda, Paramahansa Yogananda poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Paramahansa Yogananda

India (1893 – 1952) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

More poetry by Paramahansa Yogananda

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Paramahansa Yogananda – Prayer for the Great Enlightenment”

  1. Jimon 11 Apr 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I like it a lot. Only problem is, in some societies there are evil forces busy at work. They take young girls and guys … brainwash them and:

    you have the human martyr / w/ bomb vest on

    Only through education in such poorly developed countries will this get corrected (a little but never completely). Thanks for your many thought provoking materials …. jim

  2. ebrahimon 12 Apr 2014 at 12:59 am

    Excellently articulated. Without meaning the human is a mere animal. Without the sensory he is no more than a thought – of being. Put a real soul in a real body and you have magic – wonder! Is it not a miracle how the contraries actually work together. how they compliment despite being adversarial.

    Meaning is water, and every living thing has been created from water. Though it is left to be seen whether we are sharks or dolphins, or merely just shrimps. just as the sensory is not absent, neither is the meaning. Meaning is knowledge and god is only reached by knowledge. it is said, “your reaching him is your reaching knowledge of him”.

    The phenomena that passes through ones existence is ones existence itself.

  3. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 12 Apr 2014 at 5:20 am

    “May I be conscious Of Thine immortal presence in
    and around me. . .”
    This prayer will stay with me all day as I join
    hundreds for a conference.
    Thank you, Ivan.

  4. Joyce Stahmannon 12 Apr 2014 at 9:43 am

    Beautiful commentary, Ivan! Thanks so much!

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