Chapter 14 of Autobiography of a Yogi, is called “An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness.” Yogananda describes how, through the grace of his guru Sri Yukteswar, “his heart’s desire was fulfilled.” Later in the same chapter, Yogananda says, “I wrote, in my later years, the following poem, ‘Samadhi,’ endeavoring to convey the glory of this cosmic state.”
In The Path, Swami Kriyananda shares more about the writing of the poem. “No environment was wholly mundane to him [Yogananda]. Everywhere he saw God. ‘Do you know where I wrote my poem Samadhi?’ he asked us one day. ‘It was on the New York subway! As I was writing I rode back and forth from one end of the line to the other. No one asked for my ticket. In fact,’ he added with a twinkle, ‘no one saw me!’“
Through the limited medium of words, Yogananda describes the ineffable state of Cosmic Consciousness. The words are not only descriptive, they also possess a special vibrational power to influence the consciousness of one who repeats them. Yogananda made this request of his disciples, as Kriyananda reports in The Path:
“Memorize my poem Samadhi,” he once told us. “Repeat it daily. Visualize yourselves in that infinite state; identify yourselves with it. For that alone is what you really are!”
Those wishing to follow the guru’s advice should be aware that later editions of Autobiography of a Yogi omit certain lines, which are indicated in boldface here. This is the poem as Yogananda wrote it and as it appeared in the first edition of his autobiography:
Vanished the veils of light and shade,
Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy,
Gone the dim sensory mirage.
Love, hate, health, disease, life, death,
Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, melancholic whirlpools,
Melting in the vast sea of bliss.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.
The universe, forgotten dream, subconsciously lurks,
Ready to invade my newly-wakened memory divine.
I live without the cosmic shadow,
But it is not, bereft of me;
As the sea exists without the waves,
But they breathe not without the sea.
Dreams, wakings, states of deep turia sleep,
Present, past, future, no more for me,
But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere.
Planets, stars, stardust, earth,
Volcanic bursts of doomsday cataclysms,
Creation’s molding furnace,
Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods,
Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come,
Every blade of grass, myself, mankind,
Each particle of universal dust,
Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being!
Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation
Blinding my tearful eyes,
Burst into immortal flames of bliss,
Consumed my tears, my frame, my all.
Thou art I, I am Thou,
Knowing, Knower, Known, as One!
Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever-new peace!
Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!
Not an unconscious state
Or mental chloroform without wilful return,
Samadhi but extends my conscious realm
Beyond limits of the mortal frame
To farthest boundary of eternity
Where I, the Cosmic Sea,
Watch the little ego floating in Me.
The sparrow, each grain of sand, fall not without My sight.
All space floats like an iceberg in My mental sea.
Colossal Container, I, of all things made.
By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation
Comes this celestial samadhi.
Mobile murmurs of atoms are heard,
The dark earth, mountains, vales, lo! molten liquid!
Flowing seas change into vapors of nebulae!
Aum blows upon vapors, opening wondrously their veils,
Oceans stand revealed, shining electrons,
Till, at last sound of the cosmic drum,
Vanish the grosser lights into eternal rays
Of all-pervading bliss.
From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.
Ocean of mind, I drink all creation’s waves.
Four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light,
Myself, in everything, enters the Great Myself.
Gone forever, fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory.
Spotless is my mental sky, below, ahead, and high above.
Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.