The Divine Romance

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by Mary Kretzmann)

I had never met Swamiji or read any of his books, but I had read Autobiography of a Yogi, and it had awakened within me a burning soul question: “Is Paramhansa Yogananda my guru?” I felt profoundly drawn to Yogananda, but I wanted to be absolutely sure. I thought if I could be with Swamiji, someone who actually knew him, the answer would be clear.

When I found out that Swamiji was going to give a program in Chicago, Illinois, there was no question that I would make the 1000-mile round-trip from my home in Arkansas to see him. When I arrived at the lecture hall, everyone else was sitting in chairs, but I sat cross-legged on the floor right in front of him.

Swamiji gave a talk on yoga, meditation, and the spiritual life. When he finished, I thought, “That was an excellent talk,” and I was grateful to have heard it. I hadn’t, however, received an answer to my question. Naively, I thought I had given God every opportunity to answer me. Perhaps I just had to accept, “Maybe Yogananda is not my guru.”

After the lecture, there was going to be a musical program by the Ananda Singers who were traveling with Swamiji. Before they started, however, there was some whispered conversation between Swamiji and one of the women from Ananda. Apparently he wanted something that had been left in the motorhome, which was parked several blocks away. Finally, Swamiji said in an insistent whisper, “Please go get it,” and she quickly left the room.

While we waited for her to return, the singers filled in, clearly stretching their program beyond the usual. Finally she came back with a milk crate full of sheet music that Swamiji leafed through until he found what he was looking for. There was a baby grand piano in the room. Swamiji sat down and began to play a sonata he had written called The Divine Romance.

What I had not been able to understand through words, I now effortlessly understood through music. The vibration was anciently familiar and I was bathed in wave after wave of devotional bliss. With it came the certainty: “Yogananda is my guru—past, present, and for all time to come.”

In the years since then I have seen how sensitively Swamiji responds to the inner, intuitive promptings he receives from Master. Many times in the course of a lecture, for example, I have seen that Swamiji is answering the unspoken questions that I, or others in the audience, have. It is not that he “scans” the audience looking for questions. Rather, he feels our needs as a flow of grace being drawn out of him. He has learned to follow that grace without having to know more.

Maybe that evening in Chicago I was not the only one who needed to hear him play The Divine Romance. All I can say is that it set the direction for the rest of my life.

After I moved to Ananda Village, I found out that Swamiji had also written lyrics for the sonata that perfectly expressed what I felt in my heart that night when I first heard it played.

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness,
Of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love,
Your true home.
Long your heart has played the dancer.
Long you’ve toyed with merest shadows
Of the treasures left behind you,
Deep in your soul.
Long you’ve plumbed the dark for answers.
Long you’ve begged from beggars’ empty hands
Gifts of life they too were seeking:
Gifts none could share.
Friend, how long will you wander?
Friend, as long will you seek your home
In a land where all are strangers,
Love locks her door.
Leave to the weak his craven life!
To the coward leave his dreaming!
Oh my saint, wake-up!
Reclaim the light.
Seek the truth behind all seeming.
Turn, turn, turn within:
In silence of soul, in cave of love
Find My abode.
Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter,
Hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness,
Of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love,
Your true home.

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