Ideal Worship vs. Idol Worship


Babaji and all the saints seem to discourage worshiping them, yet most will lay at their feet and try. I love the examples of God realized masters. God is the doer. What is proper respect to God and the saints?

—jeff wells, alaska


Dear Jeff,

That is a great question!

I think the point is to learn to recognize God as the Doer in everything and in everyone, so that our worship and reverence IS to the Divine.

You may have heard the story of the orchestra that played for Yogananda. Technically, they played perfectly, but when he was asked how he liked it, he slightly rebuked them for playing for him as a person, rather than with devotion to God.

Even those highly evolved on the spiritual path personify God into human terms in some fashion; the Masters endorse this practice. It is how we behave towards that personification that matters most.

We can’t get stuck in the form because God, ultimately, is formless as well as being in everyone and everything at all times.

Swami Kriyananda talks about how the Hindu religion has been incorrectly recognized as worshiping idols because of their many gods. He points out that these gods are representatives of the many attributes of the one God. It is therefore “ideal worship” rather than “idol worship.”

So, my answer would be that we should offer devotion to God in all forms. There is a beautiful story in Autobiography of a Yogi that describes it perfectly. Please read Chapter 13: The Sleepless Saint.

Love & Blessings,