Is there anything wrong for a beginner to worship 'OM' as a form of God? I am a beginner. I am not interested in developing devotion towards any particular physical form of God. I am interested in Jnana Yoga rather than Bhakti Yoga. So is it alright to worship OM as a form of God by a beginner?
—Siddharth Patel, India
AUM is wonderful, the sound of the creation of the universe! But, as a beginner, you might want to approach meditation and the spiritual teachings with more of a sense of exploration. Otherwise you are determining from your beginning understanding of them what they have to offer you. It would be like coming to a professional to learn to play the game of tennis, but determining how you want to play before you even know much about it.
In the beginning of my own spiritual life and meditation practice, I also was drawn (by my mind and intellect) to a more gyana (also spelled “jnana”) type of approach. But it was so dry and abstract that I didn’t really engage seriously in the practices. It wasn’t until I found a more balanced teaching that things began to fall into place. Without this I would have given up the practices completely — yet again.
Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar, who was considered a Gyanavatar (incarnation of gyana) during his lifetime, said that you cannot take one step along the spiritual path without developing the heart’s natural love. It’s not a matter of bhakti or gyana, it’s a matter of doing what works. And it’s not a matter of what we “worship,” but of what we experience and become. So you don’t so much want to worship AUM, as to “become” AUM. It’s not enough to hear the sound of AUM. You need to eventually, through your deepening meditation practice, become one with it.
On the path of yoga, what matters most is your own direct experience in meditation. To gain this direct experience you have to commit to practicing, with devotion, the meditation techniques that will give this to you. Without having this, the ideas we have about spirituality, and how we relate to it, are only that — interesting ideas.
The meditation techniques that Ananda offers, based on Paramhansa Yogananda teachings, are very good for doing this. You might want to explore them through our Ananda Centers in India. You can find out more about this at the Ananda Sangha India website.
I hope these thoughts will be helpful for you, and I wish you many blessings in your practices.