The Human Mind

Image:  Paramahansa Yogananda – Writing at Encinitas
17.  “The Human Mind”

The speaker in “The Human Mind” possesses the wisdom to choose pleasant, uplifting thoughts, while leaving the disagreeable and depressing ones behind.  Pursuing the spiritual path demands attitude readjustments to help the aspirant focus on the positive while transcending the negative.

Introduction and Excerpt of “The Human Mind”

Paramahansa Yogananda’s “The Human Mind” dramatizes the mental struggle that engages every spiritual aspirant who seeks soul-realization.  The speaker in this poem speaks from the position of one who has gained the essential wisdom that imparts to him the marvelous ability always to prefer and choose pleasant, uplifting thoughts, as he leaves the “vile-born, unkind” ones behind.  

In five variously rimed quatrains, the poem describes a metaphorical journey that the mind takes on it path to bliss consciousness.  Although moods and other negative attitudes can blight the spiritual journey, the power of each human being’s mind can offer the metaphorical, metaphysical path the leads away from all negativity and toward the goal of God-realization.

The speaker’s observations demonstrate that each human mind along with its physical encasement has the ability to exercise its will to achieve all spiritual goals.  The speaker is revealing the strength and variable abilities of the human mind that make it a vital tool for living the life of a spiritual aspirant.

Excerpt from “The Human Mind”

I love to roam alone, unseen,
In cities of the human mind.
I prize the streets untrod by crooked thoughts —
Vile-born, unkind.

Incognito I wish to wander —
To living lanes my thoughts surrender —
With simple wish to know and learn
Each straight and righteous path and danger-turn . . . 


The speaker in “The Human Mind” is capable of transcending the crooked and the narrow and therefore sustains the ability to inform others who wish to learn the nature of plain living and high thinking. 

First Quatrain:  Metaphorical Cities of the Mind

Metaphorically, the speaker is referring to cities of the mind and asserts his pleasure at wandering through those places. This metaphor indicates that the mind is a private place, where the individual is able to retire and reflect without interference from the outside world.  The mind is also a place, where each individual human being is able to create his own original thoughts, whether they be for entertainment purposes, educational endeavors, or for ultimate enlightenment.  

The mind’s unique quality of privacy guarantees this benefit to all living beings, and each human being upon conception comes equipped with this most remarkable tool.  The speaker avers that he is especially fond of treading the streets where “crooked thoughts” do not abide.  Such crooked thoughts are merely “vile-born, unkind” intrusions on life.  The speaker avoids the unholy places where evil lurks, choosing instead the soul-stimulating places that remind him of uplifting and inspiring deeds.

Second Quatrain:  Following the Pathways of Good

The speaker reminds the reader/devotee that within one’s own mind, one is always “incognito.”  And the speaker desires to wander there undetected by others, as he allows his thoughts to stroll down “living lanes.”  The speaker wishes to discover “[e]ach straight and righteous path and danger-turn.”  As he follows the paths of good, he wants to be able to detect where the evil exists, so he can avoid it.

Third Quatrain:  Soul-Rousing Urges

The speaker then reveals that he wishes to ramble down the many lanes that present themselves like mazes with some thoughts that are  dark and others that remain bright.  Also at the same time, the speaker will give “love to all” while injuring no one.  He will bring only useful, soul-rousing urges to the lanes down which he travels.

The speaker wishes to retain his cheerful attitude as he continues to think deeply about life’s problems, joys, and situations.  He makes clear the fact that choice is involved in his venture.  He is always choosing what he considers to be the better path, the brighter path, the path that leads to success and happiness.

Fourth Quatrain:  Straightening the Crooked 

This wise speaker desires to take the “selfish, twisted thought[s]” he might encounter and transform them into better, more useful, more encouraging thoughts; thus, he will 

continue to pursue a wider territory through which to roam.  He wishes to inform his listener/devotees that “soul’s wisdom” always enhances the journey and attitude of the mind, while evil thoughts and actions diminish the individual who continues to entertain them.

Fifth Quatrain:  Transcending Evil

Finally, the speaker yearns to rise above those cities and then soar as if in a balloon, so that he may be able to see the entire panorama of both the narrow and wide alleys and roads that stretch themselves through the mind.

In such soaring, the speaker will transcend all of the negativity that bad moods can bring and that bind him to earthly endeavors.  The speaker demonstrates the desirability of escaping the mental plane and transcending to the spiritual level where the heaven of bliss abides.


A published collection of these commentaries is available at 
Commentaries on Paramahansa Yogananda’s Songs of the Soul.

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