Readings: Aum / Om

Hari Om. The entire universe is the syllable Om.
Everything in the past, present, and future is verily Om.
That which is beyond time, space, and causation is also Om.

—Mandukya Upanishad (mantra 1)

Name of Absolute Reality, Not Subject to Change

The mystic symbol Om, or AUM, represents pure consciousness, the original source of all that which is manifested in the world—all forms, speech, thoughts, desires—as well as all that which remains unmanifested. This primordial sound is the name of Absolute Reality, which is not subject to change. Whatever has happened in the past, or is happening in the present, or will happen in the future has no effect on it, for it is beyond the confines of time, space, and causation. – Irene (Aradhana) Petryszak

More on Turiya

The fourth state described in the Mandukya Upanishad is Turiya, which we know as Transcendental Consciousness, Atman, the soundless aspect of AUM, or the “gap” between thoughts.  Turiya is represented by “AUM.” Though it is indivisible, it is the combination of three sounds. The Mandukya tells us that AUM is the very Self, beyond birth and death, the symbol of everlasting Joy. He who knows it as such, enters the Self with his self. Those who know the Truth become the Truth. – Roger Gabriel

Sacred Threes

“It’s big. Om is nebulous, and it’s vague. It can mean almost anything,” says Yoganand Michael Carroll, dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga. For starters, it’s all about sacred threes… Experts say these syllables can represent a slew of trios, including: the heavens, earth, and the underworld; the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (aka creator god, sustainer god, and destroyer god); and the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states. – Valerie Reiss

More on its Threefold Nature

The symbol’s threefold nature is central to its meaning. It represent several important triads: The three worlds – earth, atmosphere, and heaven. The three major Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. The three sacred Vedic scriptures – Rg, Yajur, and Sama. Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe. – Religion Facts

Feel the Energy of the Sound

When each syllable is pronounced fully, you should feel the energy of the sound lifting from your pelvic floor all the way up through the crown of your head. The droning sound of the Om is said to unblock the throat chakra, which can lead to more attuned communication with others. – Yelena Moroz Alpert

Through States of Ordinary Consciousness to Om

By contemplating the meaning of each of these letters as we chant them, we are led through the three states of our ordinary consciousness to the mantra’s fourth part, the anusvara (after-sound): om. The vibration slowly dissolves into silence, symbolic of the transcendent state of consciousness, equated with Brahman (the Absolute). This silence is the crown of the mantra; it is described in the Maitri Upanishad as “tranquil, soundless, fearless, sorrowless, blissful, satisfied, steadfast, immovable, immortal, unshaken, enduring. – Richard Rosen

Multi-Purpose Mantra

The OM is a Bija (or “seed”) mantra and may be utilized to resonate the third eye. However, it may also be chanted as a 3 syllable word “AUM” (and pronounced as “AH – OH – MMM”) to resonate the heart, the throat and the crown chakras. In fact, the OM can, through our intent, become a multi-purpose mantra with capabilities of resonating and aligning all the chakras—of cleansing imbalanced energies and purifying self. Sung with sincerity and devotion, vocalization of the OM can put the chanter in touch with the source of all creation, providing a bridge between the spiritual and physical dimensions and opening the way for inspirational contact with higher realms and beings. – Jonathan Goldman

Physical and Mental Effects + Shanti

Physically, chanting om creates a pranava or humming sound, as Patanjali describes, which stimulates the body into a meditational state, increases relaxation, and is said to stimulate the body to remove toxins and increase our capacity for self-healing. Mentally, speaking om allows us to focus, shifting our attention outwards, away from internal struggles and helping us tune in to that which can provide us harmony in mind, body, and soul. It’s common to hear the word “shanti” included after a final expression of om. Shanti means “peace” in Sanskrit and is intended as a parting wish for peace and happiness within the universe at large and within everything around us. – Jenni Ni RuiSeil

The Sound From Which All Possibilities Arise

Om is the epitome of possibility. It is from this sound that all possibilities arise. – Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij

The Paradox of Om

This word [Om] indicates the coexistence of the articulate and the inarticulate sounds – of the heard and unheard melodies – of the sound that is struck and the sound that is unstruck, the Anahata Nada. Sound may be described by its three-fold nature – the Audible sound, the Inaudible sound, and the Imperishable sound. The audible sound is the one which the human ear can hear. The inaudible sound is one which belongs to such octaves as either too high or too low for the human ear to respond to. But there is a third category of sound which is imperishable.

Sound obviously consists of vibrations, and all vibrations have a beginning and an end. But if there could be a sound which is unstruck – the Anahata Nada – then surely there could be no end to it as there is no beginning to it. To talk of a vibration-less sound is indeed to indulge in a paradox. In the sacred word Om, there is such a paradox. It is both heard and unheard, struck as well as unstruck. It is both perishable and imperishable. – Rohit Mehta

Lord Ganesha’s Form

The physical form of Lord Ganesha is said to be that of OM.  The upper curve, of OM, is identified with the head or the face of Ganesh. The Lower curve his belly. The twisted curve, on the right side of OM is the trunk. – Melanie Levine