This song is an antidote for:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Doubt
  • Cynicism
  • Bitterness
  • Resentment
  • Negativity
  • Attachment to opinions

Listen to the song (download mp3):

Watch the session with Satyaki:

From A Tale of Songs, by Swami Kriyananda:

I wrote this song also for Derek’s album. It’s meaning is not deep, but the melody’s beauty makes it one of my favorite compositions. Think of heaven when you listen to these words.

Come hear, while I sing you of emerald hills,
of valleys and meadows so fair
that all who have seen them have carried away
memories in their hearts, friends, like the lilacs of May:
Oh, my song is the story of the lilacs of May.

My song is the story of deer on the hills,
of larks that soar, seeking the sun,
of nightingales lifting the curtain of night
as with music they bring down heaven’s blessing of light:
Oh, my song is the story of God’s blessing of light.

Come join me in singing of that emerald isle,
of flow’rs that, like jewels, besprinkle the lea,
of waterfalls eager to embrace the wide sea
as we with our Maker united would be,
as we with our Maker re-united would be.

Come hear, while I sing you of emerald hills,
of valleys and meadows so fair
that all who have seen them have carried away
memories in their hearts, friends, like the lilacs of May:
Oh, my song is the story of the lilacs of May.

The song as an antidote (Satyaki’s comments):

Although Swami Kriyananda said that “the meaning of this song isn’t deep,” he yet said, “Think of heaven when you listen to these words.” Such elevated thoughts—which is to say, concentration at the spiritual eye—provides plenty of meaning an inspiration on their own! In fact, I think it’s quite an amazing song, one that evokes a deep feeling of expansive love in the heart. It’s the perception you have when, being in love, everything seems beautiful and divine. In this sense, I think what Kriyananda meant is that the lyrics themselves aren’t intellectually deep, but the feeling of the song—its consciousness—certainly is![1]

Indeed, in the book, I’ve Passed My Life as a Stranger, Kriyananda wrote:

I endeavored, through this song, to express the inspiration of earthly beauty when the thought of it is held up to divine inspiration. This was an attitude that my Guru encouraged in us, in our relationship to the world. He taught us to see everything in God, and not to reject it as alien to absolute truth.

(See Additional Notes for the complete excerpt.)

Emerald Isle is the final track on The Mystic Harp, and the only song that is sung on the otherwise instrumental album, even though other songs were also written with lyrics. As The Mystic Harp was made to express the spirit of Ireland, the “Emerald Isle” is clearly a reference to Ireland itself, which, with images like the shamrock coming to mind, evokes thoughts of green, which is itself a soothing, calming color. Here in California, where we’re always aware of potential wildfires in the dry season, green is easily associated with calmness and security, because the fire threat is minimal when the grasses and underbrush are yet green!

The song, as arranged for The Mystic Harp, starts with one verse played instrumentally on a solo harp. With just the harp, this verse is very simple, resonating primarily with the throat chakra to give one a sense of peacefulness and calmness, as befits the idea of an emerald isle. In themselves, these qualities counter emotions like agitation and anxiety.

This first instrumental verse is followed by another that uses the song’s second melody. Slow strings join the harp, serving to open up the heart chakra so its energies can flow not outwardly in, say, attachment to the outer beauty of an emerald isle, but upwards, feeding the expansiveness of the throat chakra to help one see beauty everywhere, in the outer and inner worlds alike. These qualities begin to counter the negative emotion of cynicism.

This instrumental section of the piece ends with a few rising notes on the harp, as if to draw attention to the spiritual eye—not necessarily to bring all the energy of the heart and throat chakras there, but to listen, in effect. For it’s here that the singing begins—the voice of the Higher Self—to invite the lower self, or more specifically to the ego at the medulla, to open and allow the heart’s energy and the expansiveness of the throat to flow upwards into divine communion.

“Come here and listen,dear ones,” the voice says, addressing the ego and the mental citizens elsewhere in the spine, “and let me tell you of a far green country and emerald hills of peace and calmness.[2] Let me tell you of valleys and meadows of beauty and peace (so fair), that if you touch them within yourself (seen them), if you absorb into your being those same qualities (carry away), then you’ll be forever transformed (memories in the heart) with the realization of divine sweetness at the heart of your being (the sweet fragrance of lilacs in May, when they’re blooming).”[3] The Higher Self, in other words, offers a promise, that if you concentrate on such qualities—which is to say, practice meditation on aspects of God such as peace, calmness, and love, then you will most certainly draw those qualities into yourself and share them with others as the lilac shares its fragrance. It’s that sweetness that helps to counter both bitterness and resentment.

The outpouring of such love and sweetness, too, means that you really have nothing to worry about. This is the very idea expressed in Day 17 of Secrets of Emotional Healing to which Kriyananda assigned this song:

The secret of overcoming doubt is to concentrate on your reasons for gratitude to life, and not to focus on all those things which seem to you imperfect. Love other people. Love truth. Love! Fill your heart with generous sentiments, and doubts will flee like shadows before the sunrise.[4]

The voice now begins the second verse, one that’s a little more energetic: the first two measures of this verse use a few higher notes than the first verse,[5] which serves to encourage the energy in the medulla to rise a little more. “My song is the story,” as the verse begins, suggests that the story is told not in words so much as in vibration, that is, in consciousness. “Of deer on the hills” suggests again a state of quietude and calmness—if you’ve been around deer, which are very present at Ananda Village and often walk right outside our windows!, you know that they’re very quiet and typically move slowly and gently (even if they do like to munch your garden!). The story is also one of “larks that soar seeking the sun,” which refers to energies that rise to seek the sun of the spiritual eye, inviting again the energy of the heart and throat chakras to join with that of the medulla in meditation.

The vibration of peace also sings “Of nightingales lifting the curtain of night.” This phrase hearkens to Song of the Nightingale, serving also as an antidote for negativity, or the curtain of darkness of negative moods. The nightingales, singing—“as with music”—the songs of higher consciousness, “bring down Heaven’s blessing of light” from the spiritual eye, from the divine, to overcome the carping spirit and allow that higher consciousness to flow into all parts of life. All this says that once you release attachment to opinions, along with negativity (the carping spirit) and also cynicism (the idea that nothing is beautiful or worthwhile), you start to see everything in a new light (as energy flows to the spiritual eye), seeing purpose in all things and relaxing into a complete acceptance of the divine plan. “Oh my song (my vibration, my consciousness) is the story of God’s blessing of light, and lightness.”

The third verse now focuses the energy at the spiritual eye, with the voice of the Higher Self inviting all the energy in the spine upwards. “Come join me in singing,” it says to all the mental citizens, “of that emerald isle.” The high notes on that phrase focus the energy, saying “Come and meditate on that divine calmness.” Come and enjoy God’s smiles of love and joy (“of flowers”) that descend to bless the landscape, so to speak, of the entire spine (“that like jewels besprinkle the lea”). Come and enjoy also, it says, the waterfalls—implying a rush of energy, like the sound of AUM—“eager to embrace the wide sea,” which is to say, flowing toward expansion in God, “as we with our Maker,” making the meaning of the song now explicit, “united would be.” Indeed, the song makes a small correction to that thought, remembering that we, in fact, originally came from God: “As we without Maker, reunited would be.” God has forever been with us, we’ve forever been a part of God; we need only to remember that divine truth.

The voice now concludes by singing the first verse over again, allowing us to meditate even more deeply on that inner peace and its transforming power. The harp, too, is played in soft strums to help still the mind. In this arrangement, too, the harp then repeats the “Come join me in singing” verse once more, giving us the opportunity to meditate again on those words, indeed, on the consciousness behind them as, with this instrumental verse, we’re no longer needing to ponder the lyrics. And to close the song, the harp plays a series of slow, rising notes, and ends with “sparkles” of sorts as the piece fades into silence—allowing us to meditate inwardly for as long as we like.

In this state of inner calmness, of beauty, love, and sweetness, all the “friends” in the spine—all the chakras and mental citizens—have turned away from negativity and cynicism.

As a whole, then, Emerald Isle invites these “friends”—the heart chakra, the throat chakra, and the medulla—to flow upwards and turn away from negativity and cynicism, and to relax into one’s true nature. It’s thus amusing, almost that Kriyananda suggests merely “thinking” of heaven while listening to this song, because the song effectively takes you into a state of heavenly consciousness!

Additional Notes

From I’ve Passed My Life as a Stranger, by Swami Kriyananda:

Once again I endeavored, through this song, to express the inspiration of earthly beauty when the thought of it is held up to divine inspiration. This was an attitude that my Guru encouraged in us, in our relationship to the world. He taught us to see everything in God, and not to reject it as alien to absolute truth.

Many years ago I met an ancient sadhu outside the town of Puri, in Orissa. He was a vairagi—a sage of renunciation and dispassion. When I met him, he had attained the age of 132 years, and looked quite as old. The paths to God are many. I honor them all. I do not, however—nor could anyone—follow all of them. This sage told me I must not enjoy anything in this world. “Not even a beautiful sunset?” I inquired, surprised that anyone would seriously counsel such a dry attitude. “Nothing,” he replied. “All is maya.” I didn’t challenge him further.

How much more attractive do I myself find my Guru’s way, however, which teaches us to look for God’s sweetness in everything, rather than spurning all His manifestations! Can God be pleased, I wonder, by scorn for His handiwork? Man’s relationship with Nature must be based on reciprocity, beginning with oneself. From ourselves, because we are His more conscious expressions, must first come any joy, love, or sense of beauty that we project onto what we see, or otherwise experience. Consciousness is ever latent in Nature herself. She responds in ways that to us are often inexplicable. I am aware that these thoughts take me beyond the border of rigid logic. I cannot explain how these responses happen. I can only state that, in my experience, they do.

In the 15,000 color slides that I have taken, I’ve noted a certain reciprocity between what I’ve photographed and my consciousness while I took the pictures. Whatever the case in reality, when I compare these photos to those taken by people for whom photography was a merely mechanical act, mine seem to reveal a response of love and joy, especially in Nature. In contrast to them, those of many others seem lifeless. Years ago, after a showing of color slides I’d taken in Hawaii, a woman came up to me and remarked, “It seemed to me again and again that the flowers in your photographs were responding to your love for them.”

An artist should, I feel, try consciously to make his art an act of communion. This thought reminds me of the lyrics to the song in this booklet, “One Day when I Was Roaming”: “for Life . . . Peace . . . Joy . . . [all these] he gave not first to them, and [these] he’s never known.” I am reminded here also of words that the great woman saint Ananda Moyi Ma addressed to me on one occasion when, with a loving smile, she gave me a box of sweets: “Shabsomay mishti kao: Always eat sweetness!”

Footnotes

[1] Underscoring this idea is the experience I once had listening to Kriyananda merely attempt, unsuccessfully, to sing the song. It was May, 2000, and I was part of a choir group that was traveling around Italy to perform Kriyananda’s oratorio, Christ Lives! While we were staying at Ananda’s retreat near Assisi, Italy, the retreat members wanted to treat the choir to a concert performance of their own. During that concert, Kriyananda stood to sing Emerald Isle, but a few phrases into the song he wasn’t able to remember the lyrics. He then started over, and reached the same point of forgetfulness. A third time he tried, and yet couldn’t make it through the first verse. He then decided to let the concert continue. By outward measures, then, he “failed” to perform the song, and yet, even in the few phrases he did sing, the feeling of expansive love was so powerful that I could have just meditated on that feeling for several hours! [Return]

[2] I use the words “a far green country” here to hearken to the words spoken by the wizard Gandalf in one of my favorite scenes in the film rendition of Tolkien’s The Return of the King (the third book of The Lord of the Rings triology). In the scene, Gandalf and the young hobbit, Pippen, are facing what appears to be certain death as a giant troll and hundreds of invading orcs are about to break through a nearby door in the city of Minas Tirith, behind which they and a handful of soldiers are the only defenders. Pippen, trying to accept his doom, says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.” To this Gandalf replies, as the background sounds of battle give way to slow orchestral strings, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we must all make.” With a contended smile, Gandalf continues, “The gray rain curtain of the world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass.” As the music slowly swells in deeper harmonies, he continues. “And then you see it.” He pauses, looking joyfully into the distances of time and space. “What, Gandalf?” asks Pippen, perplexed. “See what?” “White shores,” Gandalf replies, as the music begins a slow melody of joyful peace, “and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.” Gandalf draws a deep breath, releasing it with a gentle sigh. Pippen, now smiling, replies, “Well, that isn’t so bad!” “No,” Gandalf says, as warmly as the music, “No, it isn’t.” (And they do survive, thanks to the arrival of last-minute reinforcements.) [Return]

[3] I cherish the memory of a time when my wife and I, while she was pregnant with our son, visited a beautiful lilac garden near Woodland, Washington. [Return]

[4] The song Jenny Will Love Me is also assigned to doubt, but for a different saying. In the case of that song, the doubt is more that of being loved (that is, loved by God), than the more outwardly-directed doubt that’s akin to cynicism, another quality addressed by Emerald Isle. [Return]

[5] Compare the phrase in the first verse on “Come hear, while I sing you of” with the second verse on, “My song is the story of”. [Return]