Cosmic Chants (1938): Prelude
by Paramhansa Yogananda
This Cosmic Chants section contains three articles (see other links below).
Cosmic Chants — Spiritualized Songs
Songs or chants are usually inspired through sentiment or passing interests. But a song which is born out of the depth of true devotion to God and which is continuously chanted, audibly or mentally, with ever-increasing deep devotion until response is consciously received from Him in the form of communion, ecstasy and boundless joy, is a spiritualized song.
Such songs like live marches produce the fire of God-contact whenever they are struck on the foundation-stone of devotion. Ordinary songs are like wet matches which do not produce any spark of God-contact.
Each of the Cosmic Chants in this book has been spiritualized, that is, each song has been sung aloud and mentally until it has found actual response from God. It is hoped that each reader will take these chants, not as ordinary music to please the ear or the emotions, but as soul-saturated chants to be used to produce the divine contact.
Sound Is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe
Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe, and music is a divine art, to be used not for pleasure but as a path to God-realization. Vibrations resulting from devotional singing lead to the contact of the Cosmic Vibration or the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”—John 1:1. God is the Word or the Cosmic Vibration.
Singers of these songs who want the best results should chant them alone or with true devotees of God, with ever-increasing devotion and fervor. After the notes are leaned, one’s undivided attention should be given to repeating them with deeper and deeper devotion, striving to fully understand the meaning of the words in the chant, until one is immersed in the joy of singing. This joyous feeling is the first perception of God.
Words that are saturated with sincerity, conviction, faith and intuition are like highly explosive vibration bombs which have power to explode the rocks of difficulties and create the change desired.
The five states in chanting are conscious chanting aloud—whisper chanting—mental chanting—subconscious chanting—superconscious chanting. Subconscious chanting becomes automatic, with internal consciousness only, when the mind automatically repeats a chant in the background of thought and activity.
Superconscious Chanting Leads to Contact of AUM
Superconscious chanting is when the deep internal chanting vibrations are converted into realization and are established in the superconscious, subconscious, and conscious minds. Holding the attention unbrokenly on the real Cosmic Vibration, AUM, not on any imaginary sound, is the beginning of real superconscious chanting.
One of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Whenever one repeats a chant or prayer absentmindedly, without complete attention on the Lord, one has taken the divine name in vain, that is, without result, without utilizing the omnipresent power of that name and without receiving God-contact.
To repeat the name of God while thinking of other things is vain, for He does not answer such parrot-prayers. To repeat a prayer or chant with ever-increasing understanding and devotion is taking the name of God not in vain, but effectively. The mechanical or thoughtless repetition of God’s name is what the prophets warned us against. To sing sacred songs or to pray mechanically or absentmindedly in church or anywhere is taking the name of God in vain.
One who repeats these Spiritualized Songs or Cosmic Chants with ever-increasing devotion will find a more direct way to contact God than by the repetition of songs which are the outcome of blind sentiment and not of God-communion. These chants properly repeated will bring God-communion and ecstatic joy, and through these the healing of body, mind and soul.
Joy is the Proof that God Has Answered the Devotee
Each of these chants should be sung not once but many times, utilizing the cumulative power of repetition, until the singer feels a great joy break through the radio of his heart. When this joy is felt it is proof that God has answered the devotee, and that his devotion has been properly tuned and the broadcasting of his ardor in chants has been true and deep.
When these chants are repeated in solitude or in congregational singing, with great devotion, it will be found that the songs subconsciously repeat themselves in the background of the mind bringing great joy even when one is in the thick of the battle of activity.
Gradually the subconscious repetition will change into superconscious realization, bringing the actual perception of God. One must chant deeper and deeper until all chanting changes into subconscious and then superconscious chanting which brings one into the divine Presence.
Each devotee should set aside a regular time for singing these songs. Chant first aloud, then whisperingly, then mentally. A group, gathered together in the name of God, can take one of these chants, singing it together loudly, with piano or organ accompaniment, then more slowly, then singing in a whisper without any accompaniment, and finally mentally only. In this way deep God-perception can be reached singly or together.
Americans Audiences Understand These Soul-Chants
Music which is saturated with soul-force is the real universal music, understandable by all hearts. I have had many demonstrations of this truth during years of lecturing before American audiences. I was giving a series of lectures at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1926, and at that time I first suggested to some musical friends the idea of my singing one of these chants, asking the whole audience to join in, without previous rehearsal. My friends thought the chants would be so alien to American understanding that they warned me to expect overripe tomatoes as a possible commentary on my innovation.
I protested that music is the universal language of the soul’s devotion to God and that all soulful people, whether familiar or not with Eastern or Western music, would understand the divine yearning of my heart during chanting.
The next evening, while my friends sat behind me on the platform, fearing for my safety, I started to chant “O God Beautiful,” and asked the audience, who had never before heard the song, to join me in chanting it. For one hour and twenty-five minutes, the thousands of voices of the entire audience chanted, without discord, “O God Beautiful,” in a divine atmosphere of joyous praise. Even when I left the stage, the audience sat on, chanting the song. The next day, many men and women testified to the God-perception and healings of body, mind and soul which had taken place during the sacred chanting, and numerous requests came in to repeat the song at other services.
This experience, which occurred in Carnegie Hall, the musical temple of America and scene of the triumphs of many great singers and artists, was a spontaneous tribute to the universal nature of soul-music and to the untutored understanding of East and West regarding spiritual aspirations.
Since that first evening, I have used these chants thousands of times with large American audiences and have seen infinite divine benefits showered on the sincere devotees who chant the Lord’s name with love.
[signed] Paramhansa Yogananda
Los Angeles, California
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