Could you explain a line from Yogananda’s poem “Samadhi”?


In Paramhansa Yogananda's poem, "Samadhi", there is a line that I've never really been able to grasp: "...glaciers of silent x-rays." The rest of the poem is such an increasingly amazing aid to my meditations but whenever I go through this particular line, I am like, "huh?" What do you think? Jai Guruji!

—tyler, usa


Dear Tyler,

What an interesting question! Surely there is no deeper or more spiritually profound poem ever written than this one. Each line is filled with dazzling images of Self-realization and God-perception. (You can read the poem in its entirety in Autobiography of a Yogi)

The poem “Samadhi” is unique. A great, God-realized Master has beautifully described samadhi, a state of cosmic consciousness which most masters have said is indescribable.

To my knowledge no one else has ever done this. Ramakrishna was often asked to describe what the state of samadhi was like. He’d try, but almost instantly go into samadhi and be unable to speak of it, much less write it down.

My suggestion to you is not to try too hard to analyze any particular line or section of this poem on an intellectual basis. It is meant to go beyond mental perceptions, straight into the heart and soul.

Yes, the images are amazing and often quite “visual,” but still, he is trying to put into words things which are quite beyond our present capacity to grasp. Only by actually BEING in samadhi could one fully comprehend the poem “Samadhi.”

But still, we can have little touches of it even now. Yogananda suggested that we all memorize this poem and repeat it often, thereby living in the constant consciousness of samadhi. I have done this, personally, and find that it is true!

Having said all that, I will humbly offer a small personal take on that line. A glacier brings to mind a large, slowly moving mass of ice. An x-ray is a penetrating, invisible ray of energy. The universe is made up of all sorts of vibrations and rays of cosmic energy, some known to us, some visible, audible, or tangible, but most not. To one in samadhi, all these rays are perceived easily, but how to describe the most subtle of these vibrations in mere words? I think it is a poetic image and not meant to be scientific phenomena.

But one of the wonderful things about this poem is how it can offer so many different things to so many people. Short of being able to ask Yogananda exactly what he meant by this or any other line (I hope to do that someday), the door is open for our own intuitive interpretations. What joy!