The Word That Is God
Writing about Ishwara, the Lord, Patanjali says: “His spoken form [vachaka] is Om.” (Yoga Sutras 1:27) Swami Vivekananda translates it: “His manifesting word is Om.”
In Chapter One it is said, “To enable the spirits to enter into this process, God breathes forth His own Self as the Power from which is manifested all the realms of relative existence, from the most subtle worlds of nearly-perfected beings to the most objective worlds of atomic matter.” Om is both the Consciousness and the Power that is God. It is His manifesting Word because It makes God manifest to us and is Itself the Power by which God manifests His will–especially through His creation.
“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.” (John 1:1-4) The first “act” of God is the projection of Himself as Cosmic Vibration: Om. He “speaks” Himself and becomes all things. Then we enter Om Itself to come into manifestation. The bodies which we take on are all formed of variations on the fundamental energy or keynote that is Om. We come into relative existence through Om, we evolve within relative existence through Om, and we transcend relative existence and return to God’s perfect Being through Om. It is no wonder, then, that Om is also called the Pranava, the Word of Life, the Living Word.
“I am Om, the Word that is God.” (Bhagavad Gita 7:8) So declared the infinite Satchidananda through the lips of the avatar Krishna. Also: “I am Om.” (Bhagavad Gita 9:17) And: “Among words I am the sacred syllable Om.” (Bhagavad Gita 10:25) Long, long before that the Vedic Seers had declared: “In the beginning was Prajapati [God the Creator], with Him was the Word, and the Word was truly the Supreme Brahman.” (Prajapati vai idam agra asit. Tasya vak dvitiya asit. Vag vai paramam Brahman. Krishna Yajurveda, Kathaka Samhita, 12.5, 27.1; Krishna Yajurveda, Kathakapisthala Samhita, 42.1; Jaiminiya Brahmana II, Samaveda, 2244)
How can a Word be God? How can God be a Word?
All things–the entire cosmos itself–are formed of vibrating energy.
This cosmic energy possesses the dual nature of light and sound, both of which are essentially consciousness. The totality of that Consciousness is contained and summed up in the Divine Word, Om, known as the Shabda Brahman, the Sound God. Om is spoken, yet It is beyond speech in Its essence because It is the source of speech. Its spoken form is the final step or state in the objectification of the primal creative stream arising from the inmost depths of Being Itself, that “point of light within the mind of God” from which has issued all manifested being, all that IS. It is the original movement outward from the Omnipresent Center which took place when the Supreme Consciousness willed, “I am One; let Me become Many.” (Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:3; Taittiriya Upanishad 2:6)
The Word that is God
The Upanishads tells us that Om is Brahman:
“Om is Brahman, the Primeval Being. Through It one knows what is to be known.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1)
“I will tell you briefly of that Goal which all the Vedas with one voice propound, which all the austerities speak of, and wishing for Which people practice discipline: It is Om.” (Katha Upanishad 1. 2.15-17)
“Om is the Supreme Brahman.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 1:7)
“The real nature of Brahman is identical with the Pranava.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 2:8)
“God is the Syllable Om.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:17)
“Om is Brahman. Om is all this. [That is, Om is the Absolute and Om is the Relative that is the manifestation of the Absolute.] He who utters Om with the intention ‘I shall attain Brahman’ does verily attain Brahman.” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.8.1)
The Word that is me!
They also tell us that Om is our own self, as well:
“The self [atman] is of the nature of the Syllable Om. Thus the Syllable Om is the very self. He who knows It thus enters the Self [Supreme Spirit] with his self [individual spirit].” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.8.12)
“Meditate on Om as the self.” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3)
Om the mantra
“In the Yoga tradition, Om is the supreme mantra, the most sacred of holy words”
Om is the original Word of Power, a mantra. A mantra is a series of verbal sounds whose effect lies not in an assigned intellectual meaning, but in an inherent sound-power that can produce a particular effect, physically or psychologically. The word mantra itself comes from the Sanskrit expression manat trayate which means “a transforming thought;” literally, “that which when thought carries across”–which produces an objective, perceptible change. It also literally means “a liberating thought.”
In the Yoga tradition, Om is the supreme mantra, the most sacred of holy words. Although it is first found in the spiritual writings of Hinduism, Om is used by Buddhists and Jains in their rituals and meditation. Tibetan Buddhism particularly emphasizes the power and value of Om. In Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, Amida Buddha is invoked by saying “Omitofo” [Amida Buddha]. One time when I was participating in a Name Recitation (Nienfo) session, during the dharma talk at the close the leader, the Venerable Manpu, explained that in the depths of meditation–and especially at the time of leaving the body–the practitioner passes from “Omitofo” to “Omito” [Amida] and thence to “Om” which is the essence of “Omitofo” and is the force that carries the cultivator into the consciousness that is the Pure Land (Sukhavati). Pure Land Buddhists also bless water by drawing an Om symbol in it.
Om has also passed over into the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religions in the form of Amin (Amen), which is intoned at the end of all prayers, and in Christianity is even a title of Christ. (“These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” Revelation 3:14)
Om is also called: Pranava, Omkara, and Ekakshara. Pranava means both life-giver (infuser of prana) and controller of life force (prana). “That which causes all the pranas to prostrate themselves before and get merged in the Paramatman, so as to attain identity with Him, is for that reason known as the Pranava.” (Atharvashikha Upanishad 1:10a) Omkara means “the Om” or even “the Om thing” just as ahankara means “I-ness” or “the principle of ‘I.’” Ekakshara means “one letter,” but its usual meaning is “one syllable” or “the one-syllable Word.” It also means “the Only Imperishable,” indicating its identity with God, and always refers to Om.
This sacred syllable is spelled out either as Om or Aum, but It is usually written in the ideogrammatic forms:
It is most important in repeating Om to pronounce the O correctly. It should be pronounced like the long o in the Italian or common American manner–as in home and lone. In England, Canada, and parts of the American South, the long o is sometimes pronounced as a diphthong, like two vowels jammed together: either like “ay-oh” or “eh-oh.” This is not the correct manner of pronouncing the O, which should be a single, pure vowel sound.
Om is also considered to be formed of the three letters a, u, and m, which represent the three states of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep respectively, as well as the physical, astral, and causal levels of existence. In Sanskrit, when a and u are combined they produce the sound of o. However, this only applies to verbal speech. In mental “speaking” we make the pure sound of o, not a and u together. So inwardly Om is only two letters, not three.
Om is more effective if it is mentally intoned–that is, mentally “sung” on a single note (the pitch does not matter–whatever is spontaneous and natural). This both makes the repetition stronger and of deeper effect, because intoning Om unifies the mind and naturally concentrates it.
Om should be intoned giving full value to both the O and the M. That is, Om should be intoned with equal time on both letters: Oooommmm. Not Oommmmmm or Oooooomm. You need not be overexacting about this, but approximately so.
The way to receive the benefit of a mantra is japa, the continual repetition-intonation of the mantra. In this way the invoker is constantly imbued with the power and consciousness inherent in the mantra.
Om in man the microcosm
“The Pranava is both the atman and Brahman; they are united to each other.” (Narasingha Tapini Upanishad) Whenever we intone the Pranava in Its most objectified form as the syllable Om we align and link our consciousness with Its Source. In the microcosm of the human being resides all the powers and processes of the macrocosm of the universe, and in the human being the highest faculty is that of speech. Speech is the projecting of the inner consciousness of the speaker. How much more so when the speaker wields the Power of The Word.
The vibrating column of air within the body from which speech is produced–represented by the flute of Krishna–is the objective embodiment of the essential creative power of the human being and is imbued with both the individual and universal characteristics of the consciousness that wields it. The essence of this power is Om, for It encompasses the beginning and end of the sounds that can be verbally produced. The first sound is that which is produced deepest within the chest, at the bottom of the column of air, the sound of long O. The final sound is the resonation made by the closed lips at the very end of that vibrating column, the sound of M. Put together the O and M form the Pranava: Om.
What do we do?
What do we do with this sacred word, Om? Krishna tells us: “Engaged in the practice of concentration, uttering the monosyllable Om [that is] Brahman,…[the yogi] attains to the supreme goal.” (Bhagavad Gita 8:12-14) Shankara says: “Just as the bow is the cause of the arrow’s hitting the target, so Om is the bow that brings about the soul’s entry into the Immutable. For the soul when purified by the repetition of Om gets fixed in Brahman with the help of Om without any hindrance, just as an arrow shot from a bow gets transfixed in the target.” (Shankara, Commentary on the Mundaka Upanishad) And commenting on Patanjali’s statement that “His [God’s] spoken form is Om,” Shankara says: “This sutra explains the form in which the devotee contemplates on Him.”
An anonymous commentator on a writing of Shankara says this: “The sound Om is the Name and Symbol of Brahman. One realizes Brahman by meditation on this Om. When Om is uttered with concentration there arises the consciousness of Brahman in the mind. [For] Om is the matrix of all sounds. Brahman is the substratum of the whole universe and Om, too, is the substratum of all sounds. Sounds and phenomena are non-different, so the substratum alone remains. Hence Brahman is Om.”
Sound and consciousness are, practically speaking, the same. And the master yogis of India have through the ages said that God and Om are one, that the infinite Consciousness of God is inherent in the Syllable Om. Since the individual spirit and God are essentially one (though not the same), we can tentatively conclude that Om, repeated within the mind in japa and meditation, will both produce the consciousness of God and the restoration of our union with God.
Some great yogis and Om
It has been common knowledge in India throughout the centuries that Om is the mantra specially commended to sannyasis (monastics), and the majority of them–especially those in the Swami Order of Shankara–have generally employed It as the heart of their sadhana (spiritual practice).
I sat alone on a block of stone
On the banks of the Ganges or Bhagirathi.
Mother Ganges blessed me.
I meditated on OM and its meaning–
The Word that is the symbol of Brahman.
The little personality was lost.
The mortal limit of the self was loosened.
But there was infinite extension.
I entered into the Nameless beyond;
I realized the quintessential unity of bliss.
No words can describe the thrill of joy,
The magnanimous mystic experiences,
The supremest and divinest height of felicity!
The little “I” fused into the incandescent brilliance.
Two become one now,
It was all Tejomaya Ananda–
One Mass of transcendental light Bliss. -Swamiji
God is guru in the form of Om
Immediately after telling us that God “is Guru even of the Ancients,” Patanjali says: “His spoken form is Om.” In a hymn of the poet-saint Kabir, an Indian mystic of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there are two important statements: “That Word is the Guru; I have heard it, and become the disciple.…That Word reveals all.” Beautiful as the thought of God being the guru may be, is it true? If so, how is God the guru?
In the depths of God’s Being, Om is eternally present, is eternally flowing or rising, and the same is true of each individual spirit. The heart-core of God and the core of the individual spirit are the same in non-dual unity. Om is flowing from the single point where the spirit and the Spirit are absolutely one.
God is eternally stimulating or “teaching” the spirit to emanate Om as the agent of its evolution and perfection. In this way God is the guru of each one of us. One finite spirit may reveal to another finite spirit the way to realize its oneness with God, and thereby momentarily become a spiritual teacher for that spirit; but God alone will be the Sat (true and eternal) Guru.
Om is the ultimate guru, the infallible teacher and guide from within. Yet, according to Vyasa there is another teacher: our yoga practice itself. He says: “It is yoga that is the teacher. How so? It has been said: ‘Yoga is to be known by yoga. Yoga goes forward from yoga alone. He who is not careless [neglectful] in his yoga for a long time, rejoices in the yoga.’”
Shankara, commenting on these words of Vyasa, discusses the reaction that the awakening person has upon learning about the possibility of liberation from his present state of bondage: “Meditation on his own being, which is the cause that should lead to liberation, begins of itself, caused by karma of a previous life or else by steadfastness in renunciation in this present one. And it goes on of itself, without instruction from a teacher.”
“The mind is itself guru and disciple: it smiles on itself, and is the cause of its own well-being or ruin,” wrote Tukaram (Tukaram’s Teachings, p. 19). “The mind will eventually turn into your guru,” said Sri Sarada Devi. (The Gospel of the Holy Mother, p. 340). Swami Brahmananda, the “spiritual son” of Sri Ramakrishna, in speaking about the role of an external guru said: “Know this! There is no greater guru than your own mind. When the mind has been purified by prayer and contemplation it will direct you from within. Even in your daily duties, this inner guru will guide you and will continue to help you until the goal is reached.” (The Eternal Companion, p. 120)
“The experience gained from yoga practice itself teaches us the reality and value of yoga.”
The experience gained from yoga practice itself teaches us the reality and value of yoga. But even more, it opens our intuition and enables us to comprehend the inner workings of the subtle levels of our being and its mastery. Yoga truly becomes our teacher, revealing to us that which is far beyond the wisdom of books and verbal instructions. Moreover, it is practice of yoga that enables us to understand the basis and rationale of its methods and their application. The why and wherefore of yoga become known to us by direct insight.
In his commentary on Yoga Sutra 2:28 Vyasa says: “From practicing yoga, illusion [ignorance] is destroyed and perishes. When it is destroyed, there is manifestation of right vision. In proportion to the practice done, illusion is dispelled. In proportion to its destruction, the light of [spiritual] knowledge increases correspondingly. This increase is an experience of increasing refinement up to the realization of the true nature of the purusha [spirit].”
It is commonly believed that an aspiring yogi must be empowered for yoga practice through some kind of initiation or transference of power. There are many exaggerated statements made about how it is impossible to make any progress, much less attain enlightenment, without initiation. But they have no relevance to the practice of Om Yoga, which requires no initiation because it is based squarely on the eternal nature and unity of the jivatman and the Paramatman–what to speak of the nature of Om Itself. The japa and meditation of Om are themselves expressions of the eternal nature of God and man. The eternal spirits need no external input to return to their Source.
It is when the individual perpetually experiences the eternal point where Om is common to both itself and God that it can know its oneness with God, and separation from God is impossible for it. Yet it is still itself, still distinct, though its consciousness is totally absorbed in God and it sees only the One, and can say, “God alone exists. There is no other but God.”
All we need is God Himself in the form of Om.
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|Comment posted by Satyajit Roy( ), 01/13/2009 at 9:13am (UTC):|
Swami Vivekananda said- If you can know "OM TAT SAT"...will be able to know everything about ALMIGHTY-Soral Rajyoga.