When I Am Only a Dream

Photo of Paramahansa Yogananda, courtesy of Self-Realization Fellowship

Inherent in a guru-disciple relationship is an eternal bond and a solemn promise. The guru vows to guide and guard his devoted disciples until they reach the supreme goal of unity with God. This relationship is not dependent on whether or not the guru is in his physical body; in fact, it is understood that leaving the earthly plane frees the guru to be of even greater help to the devotee because he is no longer confined to a limiting physical form.

Just before his mahasamadhi (conscious leaving of the physical body), Paramahansa Yogananda said to Sri Daya Mata, who would become his spiritual and organizational successor, “When I am gone, only love can take my place. Be so drunk with the love of God, night and day, that you won’t know anything but God; and give that love to all.” He also promised his devotees, “To those who think me near, I will be near.”

Yogananda conveyed the same comfort and solace in this hauntingly beautiful poem he wrote in 1940 at his hermitage in Encinitas as a few of his devotees sat at his feet, reading the lines as he wrote and handed them to them.


I come to tell you all of Him,
And the way to encase Him in your bosom,
And of the discipline that brings His grace.
Those of you who have asked me
To guide you to my Beloved’s presence —
I warn you though my silently talking mind,
Or speak to you through a gentle significant glance,
Or whisper to you through my love,
Or loudly dissuade you when you stray away from Him.

But when I shall become only a memory or a mental image, or silently speaking voice,
When no earthly call will ever reveal
My whereabouts in unplumbed space
When no shallow entreaty or stern stentorian command will bring from me an answer —
I will smile in your mind when you are right,
And when you are wrong I will weep through my eyes,
Dimly peering at you in the dark,
And weep through your eyes, perchance;
And I will whisper to you through your conscience,
And I will reason with you through your reason,
And I will love a  through your love.
When you are able no longer to talk to me,
Read my Whispers of Eternity;
Eternally through it I will talk to you.
Unknown I will walk by your side
And guard you with invisible arms.
And as soon as you know my Beloved
And hear His voice in silence,
You will know me again more tangibly than you knew me in this earth plane.
And yet when I am only a dream to you
I will come to remind you that you too are naught
But a dream of my Heavenly Beloved,
And when you know you are a dream, as I know now,
We will be ever awake in Him.

From Songs of the Soul by Paramahansa Yogananda. Reprinted with permission from Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California.

In the CD, My Spirit Shall Live On: The Final Days of Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Daya Mata recalls that cherished night in Encinitas when her Guru penned this epic poem:

It was here in this very Hermitage one evening, many, many years ago, back in 1940, that Master sat at his desk and a few of us sat at his feet, and he began to write this poem, “When I Am Only A Dream.” He wrote a few lines, then he paused and read it to us. We sat quietly with eyes closed, and meditated upon what he said. Then he wrote a little bit more, paused, and read it to us again, and so on. Far into the night he sat, writing this beautiful poem. It isn’t a poem, it is a divine experience. I remember as he read it to us the tears coursed down my own face and I remember the fierce, fierce resolution I made that night back in 1940, when he said, “When I am only a dream.” And inwardly I vowed to God and to my Guru that he would never, never be only a dream to me. Through his great blessing, through his great love, that vow has been all these years a reality to me, because I don’t permit him to be only a dream.

Click here to view all my posts about Paramahansa Yogananda and Self-Realization Fellowship.

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