Meditation: Aum Chanting

The meditational practice we will now describe is Aum chanting. It is possible to write an encyclopaedia on this subject, but in accordance with the electrifying brevity of the mantra Aum, we will try to reduce verbose details to a minimum. If so much can be said and inferred in the short, simple sound of Aum, then we will also try not to cause mental constipation by giving overelaborate explanations. In fact, the only thing that needs to be said is: A-A-A-A-A-A-U-U-U-U-U-U-M-M-M-M-M-M

This practice is so simple to explain yet the benefits and experience that it can bring are profound. The mantra Aum is the king of mantras. Experience of the meaning of Aum leads automatically to the fullest understanding of all other mantras, which are generally limited in that they are intended for specific purposes or for particular types of people. Aum on the other hand is totally non-specific. It can be practised by everyone.

The mantra Aum is not merely a monosyllable. It is a sound that has been realized by the ancient rishis in the highest states of meditation. It is for this reason that continuous and intense awareness of Aum can in turn take the spiritual aspirant to the same states as the ancients who realized it.

Microcosm

Macrocosm

State of Experience

Syllable ‘A’ Individual physical body Syllable V Individual mind Syllable ‘M’ Intuitive awareness at individual level Syllable AUM’ as a whole Atman (Self)

material universe cosmic mind consciousness substratum of universe Brahman

wakeful state; perception only of the external world through the senses dream state; perception of mental impressions deep sleep; experience of bliss and revelationary knowledge fourth state (turiya); beyond all conceptualization

 

 

Aum according to the Mandukya Upanishad The Mandukya Upanishad is a well-known ancient text that is concerned solely with the meaning and significance of Aum. It says that: “The syllable Aum is the universe. It is Brahman (the absolute). It is time – past, present and future. It is also that which transcends time.”

Then it continues: “This Self, which is one with Aum, has three aspects; and beyond these there is the undefinable…the Fourth.”

Then it proceeds to assign meanings to the three different parts of the Aum mantra and for Aum as an indivisible whole. These are summarized as follows, with correspondence on the microcosmic and the macrocosmic level:

It is the cosmic mantra Aum that unites the limited existence with the unlimited. It is Aum that merges the microcosm with the macrocosm, the individual with the universal. Aum acts as the bridge. The text concludes by saying: “The fourth, the Self, is Aum. It is unutterable and beyond the mind. In it, the universe is enveloped…whosoever really knows Aum, the Self, becomes the Self.”

If the reader is interested refer to this short (12 verse) Upanishad in the original. However, we emphasize that it is important not to become too attached to concepts regarding Aum, for actually the real meaning of Aum is impossible to put into words. All the numerous meanings assigned to it are superficial for they are mere words, which tend to distort the real significance. The syllables A, U, M are also said to represent Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer) and Shiva (the dissolver) as well as many other things. But actually the meaning of Aum can only be known by personal realiza-tion. And then one cannot even speak about its meaning . . . one becomes speechless. It is impossible to explain the meaning of Aum rationally. It is beyond intellectual concepts.

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