Occasionally, something will grab hold of my mind and won’t let go. Does that happen to you too? A few weeks ago I was watching an Ananda video on YouTube. As internet sites do, they suggest things they think might interest you. In my case, there was a link to the song “Shenandoah.” Perhaps foolishly, I played it, and then its hauntingly lovely melody wouldn’t leave my mind.
The words, however, are not particularly uplifting. It’s an old American folk song, sung by voyagers as they set out into the unknown. The lyrics start,
I long to see you,
And hear your rolling river.
I long to see you,
Way, we’re bound away
Across the wide Missouri.
The Missouri River represented the dividing line into the unknown territory of the time. Then, subsequent verses tell of the singer’s love for the daughter of Shenandoah, who was a famous Native American chief. As I said, the words aren’t particularly negative, just not uplifting, so I decided to spiritualize them. If the melody was going to haunt me, I thought that I might as well be haunted by Divine Mother. So I rewrote the lyrics as:
O Divine Mother, I long to know You.
Fade away, O world of maya.
Divine Mother, I long to know You.
Away, I’m bound away into the deep sushumna.
O Divine Mother, I long to see You.
Fade away, O gaudy maya.
Divine Mother, I long to see You.
Away, I’m bound away through the bright Kutastha.
O Divine Mother, I long to hear You.
Fade away, O noise of maya.
Divine Mother, I long to hear You.
Away, I’m bound away to merge into the bliss of AUM.
I chose these three “destinations” quite purposely, as they represent the essence of our yogic path. First we must interiorize our life-force, bring it into the deep astral spine, and then lift it up and through the spiritual eye. Once we do that, the ego can melt away as our true Self merges with all that is.
Sometimes it isn’t possible to stop a thought or a desire, but it is always possible to spiritualize it—a strategy we can use in many contexts. Yogananda said, “I don’t ask you to overcome temptation, just to resist it.” When something is nagging at you, find a way to turn it toward the light.
This world has many more tentacles that pull on us than just a song or melody. But we can always find a way to spiritualize them. Swami Kriyananda suggested, for example, that if you have a strong desire to buy something, go ahead and get it. But then give it away.
Once he and I spent two days at Disney World in Florida, which has areas representing various countries. In the Japanese “village,” there was an exquisite tea service that caught Swamiji’s eye. Finally, after three visits to look at it, he decided to buy it. Imagine our surprise when, a couple of weeks later, Devi and I received it as a present. We still use it to serve tea to our guests, always remembering Swami’s kindness when we do so. His ability to “spiritualize” a desire is still a blessing forty years later.
When the world pulls at you, turn its call toward God, and you will get an instant blessing.
In the arms of Divine Mother,
P.S. If you want to hear a recording of Shenandoah, search for: Sissel Kyrkjebø – Shenandoah – 2001.