The ancient sacred Hindu text, the Mandukya Upanishad reveals that the symbol OM is a representation of Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence.
It says, “Whatsoever has existed, whatsoever exists, and whatsoever shall exist hereafter, is OM. And whatsoever transcends past, present, and future, that also is OM.”
It is considered to be the root mantra from which all other mantras emerge. The vibrations caused by intoning the word can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one’s being, the atman or soul.
There is a custom in Hindu tradition where after a baby is born the sacred symbol is written on the baby’s tongue with honey after ritual cleansing. Therefore the holy sign is initiated into the life of a Hindu right at birth and remains with him or her throughout as a symbol of piety.
The sound of OM consists of 4 parts. The first 3 are vocal sounds followed by a final sound of silence. These 4 parts align with the 4 states of consciousness.
The “A” sound refers to the waking state; the subjective consciousness of the outer world.
The “U” sound refers to the dreaming state; the consciousness of our inner world of thoughts, dreams, memories etc.
The “M” sound refers to the dreamless state of deep sleep; the experience of ultimate unity.
The Silence after refers to the witness consciousness that is observer of the other three states of consciousness. When one really “listens” to this silent sound with expansive awareness, one comes to stillness and into a transcendental state of consciousness equated with Brahman (the Absolute).
The ancient sage Vyasa noted that through chanting OM, “the supreme soul is revealed”, thus chanting OM may be a good way to touch the Divine within our very selves.
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