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Healing Power of the Cosmic Chants
By Mary Kretzmann, Director of the Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry

I wrote this article to help devotees gain insight in how apply the healing “recipes” in When To Use These Songs, by Paramhansa Yogananda.  For many of the chants, Paramhansa Yogananda’s comments suffice, especially when you read the words of the chant with that understanding fresh in your mind.

I’ve added a few insights when it may be helpful or clarifying to the reader, and these are normally included when teaching the class, “The Healing Power of the Cosmic Chants”. Reading the meanings helps us to understand when a certain chant may be suitable. For instance, some chants may be too austere when played for certain occasions.

At Ananda, in addition to chanting before our own personal meditations, we chant for many spiritual gatherings whether that may be group meditations, a baby blessing, a blessing before marriage, or a bedside vigil for a friend who has a terminal illness. We try to choose chants that not only “make sense” for the occasion, but also for chants that simply feel right. This ability to choose the right chants is especially important when we gather for friends who are very seriously ill or perhaps even dying. We, the healthy chanters, may feel a deep sense of inspiration in “letting go” but the person in the bed may actually need to feel encouraged and loved at that time.  Perhaps they may have some underlying fear or loneliness as they approach death. For instance, sometimes at these vigils I have cringed when someone began to sing “Polestar of my Life” or “Where is There Love?” These songs do have a meaning, at first glance, that seems appropriate for a deathbed, but on closer examination they are often much too austere, and have even brought some individuals to anguished tears. More love and peace are needed at such times, for the event itself is already very austere.

For clarification, read below the meaning for these two chants:

Polestar of My Life— Sing when experiencing failure in business or failure in trying to contact God
Where Is There Love?—Sing when feeling forsaken or disillusioned by earthly love

However, there are some chants that might be expansive and comforting at the same time, while offering a little taste of that sense of letting go, and these could be very helpful in a sick bed setting:

Deliver Us From Delusion—For invoking the Guru’s help for freedom from ignorance, sickness or failure
In the Land Beyond My Dreams—For consciously ascending to God
I Will Never Forget Thee (Listen, Listen, Listen)—Sing when feeling far away from God, to strengthen the inner tie with Him
Deliver Us From Delusion—For invoking the Guru’s help for freedom from ignorance, sickness or failure
Thou Art My Life—To sweeten a sour disposition
Hymn to Brahma—Use to invoke the help of the Masters or Guru

Those are just a few ideas. The main  point is to uplift and encourage the person. For this reason you can also sing chants that accentuate love or joy, simply to increase that vibration in the room, such as Ever-New Joy—(Sing when trying to meditate on God and to feel Him as the cosmic endless Joy). If the mood calls for songs that are a bit more austere in the sense of addressing the need to let go and cut ties, try to find those that not only cut ties, but also direct the mind to the higher goal, such as these chants:

When My Dream’s Dream Is Done—For overcoming the fear of death and achieving ascension to God
In the Land Beyond My Dreams—For consciously ascending to God
Come Out of the Silent Sky—To be mentally chanted during deep meditation or chanted aloud after meditation. Concentrate on the sky, mountains and soul when uttering those lines
No Birth, No Death—For overcoming religious, racial or social prejudice, and for achieving non-attachment to all human ties

When a person is healthy, it can be very invigorating and clarifying to sing a very austere chant because we understand that the reasons we are doing so is that we want to ascend in the Light. The point I am admittedly belaboring here is that when  person is very ill, they don’t necessarily have that same emotional and spiritual vigor to make that leap. It is much better if the chant itself encapsulates not only the austerity, but also the transcendence. In some chants the ascendance is only assumed, but it is not actually stated in the chant. My personal prejudice, in cases of singing at a bedside vigil, is that it is best to choose chants  that somehow emphasize upliftment directly in the chant.

It is helpful to learn as many chants as possible, for we can find meaning in them at any time. Then we are familiar with the chants if we ever need a particular one to help us through a spiritual test. In such a time, try to chant with spiritual depth so as to grasp the potential of the chant. Some chants are meant to help us create a new sense of joy of love, while other chants help us take the negative state and transmute it into something higher.

One of my favorite chants is Ever-New Joy. The words are simply, “Joy, joy, joy — ever new Joy!”  Chant it with joy and let it begin to grow. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote this chant after coming out of ecstasy. Imagine what it would be lie to be in such a state that simply singing “Joy, joy, joy – ever new Joy!”  expressed the deepest feelings of your being! Chant in that way – imagine that joy and begin to let it become a part of you. Another way to look at it is like the waves of the ocean breaking on the beach. Imagine you are at the seashore watching the big waves crashing on the beach… You know another wave is coming and yet each wave is “ever new”. The experience does not grow stale. Likewise, think of the words of this chant as waves of God’s ocean of joy washing over you again and again. Chant it with joy so that the joy can grow. This chant can even be used, by strong devotees, to affirm joy in even the most discouraging circumstances. One woman used this immediately after receiving some very disappointing news;  she chanted “Joy! Joy! Joy!” for 45 minutes to affirm that divine joy as her ultimate reality.

I will dissect one more chant to show how if we work backwards from the stated meaning given by Paramhansa Yogananda, we can find much greater spiritual meaning in the chant.

Door of My Heart

Chant when feeling intense need for the instantaneous divine Presence. Sing this chant immediately upon awakening in the morning.

Door of my heart
Open wide I keep for Thee
Door of my heart
Open wide I keep for Thee

Mary Kretzmann: These lines are obvious — we must decide to open our heart center to God’s Presence.

Wilt Thou come, With Thou come
If for once Come to me
Wilt Thou come, With Thou come
If for once Come to me

Mary Kretzmann:  And we must invoke the Presence of God to come into us. It is already there — but it is often dormant of overshadowed by our egoic presence. So we need to set the ego aside and invite it in.

Will my days fly away
Without seeing Thee my Lord

Mary Kretzmann: In English, we might read this as: “Will my life fly away…” but that wouldn’t jive with the instantaneous aspect of this chant. Instead chant it with this sense, “Will I let this day fly away (and the next and the next) without seeing Thee?”  This places the immediate responsibility on how we handle this day – for all we really have is Now.

Night and day
Night and day
I look for Thee night and day

Mary Kretzmann: These last lines give us the secret of using this chant to feel the instantaneous awareness of The Divine Presence. We need to take the responsibility to look for God in everything, all the time. Why? Because God never got lost! God never went away — but we have forgotten to notice God’s ever-Presence!  When we look for God every day, it is not in the sense of looking for something we might never find, but rather it is with the sense of finally opening our eyes and seeing what was always there.

For instance, the eyes are the window of the soul — and we are surrounded by the magic of God’s Presence in every being – but do we notice and rejoice? God is in every flower and tree — but do we notice? So, the short meaning of this chant is that when we make the effort to consciously open our hearts to God, we will be blessed with awareness of the Divine Presence. It is also important to note that Paramhansa Yogananda reminds us to: “Sing this chant immediately upon awakening in the morning” So, we can see he considered this an important chant, and it also suggests that this ability to feel God’s Presence through this chant will deepen over time and with daily practice which will gradually transform our consciousness.

May the article When to Use These Songs, by Paramhansa Yogananda help you explore the deeper healing power of the Cosmic Chants. Most of the meanings given by Paramhansa Yogananda are kept brief and leave much room for individual interpretation.