Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Some Treasure of My Own”
The great Guru Paramahansa Yogananda’s” Some Treasure of My Own” from Songs of the Soul, his masterful and inspiring book of spiritual poetry, features a speaker who addresses the Divine Beloved with the purpose of assuring himself and the Beloved that he understands what he must do in order to return the love that has been divinely given him.
Excerpt from “Some Treasure of My Own”
Whatever I sought to Give You
I found was Yours.
So took away the flowers from the altar,
And snuffed out the candles in the temple,
For I would offer You some treasure of my own . . .
(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 in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Some Treasure of My Own” elucidates his understanding regarding the importance of loving the Giver more than the gifts.
First Stanza: To Find the Unique Gift
The speaker reveals that he is unable to give the Divine Beloved anything. He avers that the usual offerings of flowers and burning candles are not sufficient, because these things already belong to the Lord.
The speaker intuits that giving the Giver those things which He has given is a futile act. Thus, the speaker removes the flower offerings and the burning candles and determines that he will find something that is uniquely his own to offer to the Beloved,” [f]or I would offer You some treasure of my own.”
Second Stanza: Searching the Heart
The speaker searches his heart and discovers “rare perennial plants,” and these metaphorical plants demonstrate their “craving for [the Divine Beloved].” The speaker realizes that as plants turn to the sunlight, his desire, his “craving,” causes him to turn to the Lord.
Thus, the act of desire for the Lord is the only possible gift that the speaker can bestow upon the Giver of all gifts. With elation, he cries, “You are mine — what joy! / And ‘tis my free choice to love You as mine.”
Third Stanza: Seeming Contradictions Explained
The speaker then explains the nuance of difference that arises from a seeming contradiction: Doesn’t love also come from the Lord? So how is returning His love to him really a personally unique treasure from the devotee?
Once God gives the devotee that gift of love, it no longer belongs to Him. The speaker avers that now that he has that love that has become his own, he” want[s] to love” God. So ultimately, it is the desire and the willingness to love and turn to God that is the gift that the devotee can bestow upon the Lord.
Fourth Stanza: Command vs Willingness
The speaker continues to elucidate the difference between loving God by command and loving God through the willingness of heart. He thus avers that the love from the Divine Beloved is not accompanied by the” command to love [Him] only.”
The speaker knows that he could have continued his life just loving God’s gifts, or he could even worship those gifts only, or he was also free to” become saturated with the desires / Of a material life.”
Along with the love, the Infinite Father has given each devotee free will to choose—to love Him or ignore Him. The Divine Creator does not choose for his children whether they will love him or not. He simply gives the love and the ability to love; then He waits to see if it will be returned.
Fifth Stanza: God Craving
The speaker thus concludes that he will give the Divine Beloved only those “flowers of love / From those undying plants of [his] soul-craving.”
The speaker’s cravings for God have been” [b]looming amidst the garden of incarnations”; for many returning incarnations, the speaker has sought the Divine Creator, and now he finally understands how to reach the Divine Beloved. He, henceforth, will lay the flowers of his devotion “in the temple of Your heart; / For these alone are mine.”
Sixth Stanza: Preferring the Giver to the Gifts
Thus, most importantly, the speaker has determined to love God “[o]f my own accord.” He chooses willingly to love God; he is not forced to love God, for nothing and no one, not even God, can exert such force.
The speaker chooses to “prefer You to Your gifts.” By employing his own ability to exert free will, the speaker can thus give God what is uniquely his. And he knows that God must accept this gift, “the love I freely give, / Sole treasure of my own.”
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.”