The Sacred Syllable and Symbol of the Divine
In the Begining There Was Om
Though scholars have different ideas about its origin and meaning, the sacred syllable, Om (Aum or Pranava),is known to the sages of India as the oldest mantra or “sound of power”. It is thought that over many generations, the sound Omwas kept in secrecy and only spoken in ritual worship, which is why its origin may be unclear. Most spiritual authorities, however, refer to Om as the “primordial seed” sound or vibration that arose at the time of creation. According to Indian spiritual sciences, when God first created sound, it is from those vibrational frequencies that all matter followed. Om is said to be the sacred syllable that preceded the universe and is the cosmic vibration that holds together the atoms of the world and the heavens. The ancient sacred literature of the Upanishads says that Omis the Cosmic Spirit or the Source of all existence in the form of sound.
Experiencing the Sound of Om
The syllable,Om, is composed of the letters “a”, “u” and “m”. According to Sanskrit grammar, when “a” and “u” are joined together, they become “o”, and thus “a”, “u” and “m” together produce the sound Om. The combination of the sounds of “ah”, “oo”, and “mm” produces a wave of vibration from the throat to the lips and are recognized as the three basic elements of Om. The fourth and essential element occurs when the lips close, creating a nasal humming or inner vibration that flows into the crown of the head and is followed by silence. This place of silence is the experience of pure bliss when the “self” becomes one with the Supreme. Om can be considered the sound of all sounds and no sound, producing a peaceful and non-dual state.
The Symbol Om
The written Sanskrit symbol of Om varies in design according to the writer’s own expression but the symbol always consists of these five components: the three primary curves, one semicircle or crescent (the fourth curve) and a dot. The large lower curve (1) correlates with “a” and symbolizes the conscious or waking state, material world, gross senses, body, creation, masculinity, fire, truth and the past. This curve is larger than the others signifying that it is the most common state of human consciousness. The middle curve (2) is “u” and represents the dream state, which lies between waking and deep sleep, astral plane, soul, preservation, femininity, sun, courage, and the present. The upper curve (3) is “m” and denotes the dreamless sleep or the unconscious state, the unknown, spirit, dissolution, neutrality, wind, compassion and the future. These three curves representing the three states of consciousness are thought to create the complete human experience. The crescent shape (4) stands for maya the “veil of illusion” and the dot (5) represents the fourth state of consciousness, which is the highest state of bliss. Although the veil of illusion separates the highest state of consciousness from the human experience, the semicircle is open (toward the infinite) and does not touch the dot, meaning that this state of liberation can be reached by going through the veil and therefore is not affected by maya.
The Sweet Power of Om
The utterance of this rich and lovely syllable is simple to do but its power is immeasurable. Repeating Om elevates one into a higher place of harmony, peace and joy, which is our true and eternal nature. Basking in the divine vibration of Om makes one feel lighter and deeply grounded at the same time. In the sweet silence that follows Om, the “veil” is thin and one can hear the gentle hum of the universe where the individual “self” merges with the Infinite Self.
Though different interpretations of Omexist, the real understanding of this sacred syllable is obtained by all who practice it sincerely.“Aum is the one Eternal Syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, present and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the forms of time is also implied in the word Aum.” – Mandukya Upanishad