Our Sunday service readings begin the year by quoting one of the most mystical passages in the Bible, the first verses of the Gospel of St. John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
This is in perfect alignment with the Vedas, which teach that God manifests creation through the vibrations of AUM. Poetically, we might say that God sings creation into existence just as we might sing a song to express our thoughts and feelings.
In this passage St. John speaks of both light and sound, which are basically the same thing: vibrations in wavelike pattern. They are, however so different in scale that we need two different senses—hearing and sight—to perceive them.
Here is a fascinating observation: The note of A above middle C (which is generally used to tune an orchestra) vibrates at 440 cycles per second, creating a wave of around thirty inches long. If you make that wave a billion billion times shorter, we perceive it as the color red. Sound and light are simply vibrations of different frequencies.
Our senses receive an endless variety of sound and color and transmit it into our brain through nerves. Imagine walking down a busy city street, being bombarded by innumerable sights and sounds. In order to deal with this sensory tumult, our brain must be highly selective. We don’t see reality itself, but rather a sort of highly edited, emotionally skewed message about what’s happening. And yet, this sensory stimulation has a mesmerizing and addictive effect. We become so hypnotized by the show and our reactions to its great variety that it takes us countless lifetimes even to want to wake up.
Another problem is the false teachings we are given by society. If parents were to train their child to believe that “green” is the name of the frequency that everyone else calls red, the child would be out of sync with the rest of society. This would be inconvenient but not necessarily critical. But if those same parents teach their child that happiness comes from the accumulation of more and more money, that child will end up out of harmony with the laws of the universe.
Once we become ready to see the truth beneath the surface of creation, we must trace the play of light and sound back to their source in God. The sound of AUM and the inner light form a kind of bridge between the physical universe and God’s consciousness that creates it. Although these inner vibrations are too subtle to be perceived by the senses, they can be apprehended through intuition. The techniques of our path help us awaken the soul’s power of intuition by withdrawing prana from its normal outward direction, thus stilling the senses and restless mind. By returning to the source of AUM or the light of the spiritual eye, we finally reunite with the consciousness that manifests the endless variety in creation.
This year the first Sunday also happened to be January 5, the birthday of Yogananda. Being a master, Yogananda lived in the AUM vibration and the inner lights even as a young child. He incarnated in order to lead us back to God, and, for those who open their hearts to him, he is the manifested word of God.
But a great master does more than teach. He is a powerful channel of God’s love and joy, embracing us just as a parent does a cherished child. He not only supports and guides our spiritual efforts, but also takes on some of our karma. There is no greater gift in all the world.
P.S. Here is a recording of Nayaswami Jyotish expanding on this topic this past Sunday Service.