ॐ ... Aum ... Om ... is sung with the whole range of the voice from the throat to the lips. It is therefore used in India to mean THAT which is all-inclusive ... the universal and eternal Self or Ground of the universe. This is the Brahman, the Godhead from which, and in which, everything happens, in much the same way that all sounds heard on the radio and phonograph are vibrations of the diaphragm in the speaker. ॐ (Aum) represents, then, the basic vibration or energy which assumes the myriad forms and disguises of stars and planets, mountains and oceans, plants and fish, animals and men, and is also understood as the central Self, or Atman, in all beings. The sound OM is chanted, or sung silently in the head, as a focal point for deep concentration, by means of which the individual finds out that the life energy which he calls himself is One and the same as the eternal energy of the Cosmos. The Individual is thereby set free from anxiety as it recognizes the self as the infinite sea of divine consciousness manifest in all it's infinite multitude of form spread throughout the cosmos.
The Hindus do not, however, define the supreme Self, or God, as the personal governor and king of the universe. They would say, rather, that the Brahman acts or manifests the world without calculation, much as we grow our hair, circulate our blood, and form our brains and nerves. The world is not made, like an artifact, but performed, like a play -- and the one basic Actor plays all the parts.
Transcript of "OM: The Sound of Hinduism", recorded by Alan Watts ...
((( ॐ))) Listen ... Listen ... Down ... Down with that sound! What is it? A current of air? Vibrating vocal cords? Your own ear drums? Something running in your head? It’s all of these. But goes so deep. This sound is you vibrating. And who are you? Don't give me your name, address and occupation ... you know that's just a mask ... a front ... a big act. Who puts it on? Who puts it on ? Your body? Huh! What an act that is! And who puts that on? Your father and mother? Did they put you on? Come off it. You know very well who you are, but you won't admit it. Deep in there in the middle, middle of your heart, you know it. You've always been around and always will be. And the You in you is the same as the You in me. You're not some sort of tourist just visiting in this world for a short time. You belong here, like the apple on the tree. And as the apple is the energy of the tree, you, yes You, are the energy of the world. You don't know who You are do you? You can't really get at yourself, just as the fingertip can't touch itself and the teeth can't bite themselves. And that's because You ... the far in you ... is what we call Brahman, the Self of the Universe. The Which of which there is no whicher. The Heart and Foundation of all that's going on. You think you're going to die someday. Yes! That's because every now and then you have to go off so that you can know you're on. You can't have an up without a down ... or a back without a front ... or a light day without a dark night. The whole thing is pulse.
So what are you doing Brahman? You're playing on and off with yourself, hide and seek with yourself. You're just passing eternal time with adventure. You forget who you are really. Every now and then You make like you're just a John Doe or a Mary Smith, or a butterfly, or a worm, or a star and that you're lost in the middle of a big, big, outside world that isn't you, that you don't understand and that you don't control. Of course! There has to be something else ... something other ... to bring out the feeling that You are you. And so that You can feel really you, that outside world has to feel really strange, different, weird. You old trickster ... deep down in, You know the whole bit. And therefore, what you want is a surprise. So you have to let things get out of control. You have to feel lost and lonely to know You is you. You play the thing out by inventing lusts and loves, fears and terrors, gnawing anxieties and screaming meemees. Also, you can imagine, "It's not really me ... it's IT that runs the show. But our secret is ... as we say ... Tat Tvam Asi ... You Are IT. You are running the show, by not letting your right hand know what your left is doing. By making life as a whopping great split between what You do and what happens to you. And this is what we call Maya, the great illusion ... and Lila, the play, the big act. And You don't just play your game with such simple elements as on and off, black and white, or life and death. To seem as real as real can be, this world that You are playing must be so complicated that you can't figure IT out ... especially if you are using figures to figure IT. So between black and white, there is a whole range of colors, between thunder and silence, the whole scale of tones, and between something and nothing, between a smashing fist on the face, and trying to touch air, there are all the textures of feeling; burning, throbbing, pushing, hugging, fondling, tickling, kissing, brushing, and light wind on the skin. Your world is all these elements of light and sound; of tastes, smell and touch, woven together in many dimensions on the fabulous loom of your brain. Your brain ... the most complicated thing in the world, which you ... Yourself ... grew ... without even thinking about it.
You have always been around. For You, I, the Self, is simply what there is ... and all that there is. All of us are rays from One center, teats on One sow, sounds on One flute, forever and ever. But it doesn't get monotonous, boring, because we keep forgetting IT. We keep the ons on by putting offs between them. How big is IT ... and how long is on and how long off? Don't take these figures literally for their purpose is just to give an idea of vastness. We say that man, human life, is a dance that lasts for 4,320,000 years. And, of course, there are all sorts of other dances going on at the same time with their own rhythms. Star dances, rock dances, fish dances, insect dances, plant dances; and strange animal scenes, like crocodile dances, elephant dances ... The human dance runs for 4,320,000 years, a span of time that we call a Kalpa. Before it begins and after it ends, there is always another Kalpa, or off period of rest during which the Self is simply the Self and doesn't pretend to be this me or that you. We call this rest period the Pralaya ... peace, uninvolvement, pure bliss. When 4,320,000 years of rest draw to a close, the Lila dance begins again; though it always seems like the first time. Every day is today. And then through many centuries, through many pulses of waking and sleeping, life and death, you stretch your world out through a span of time that varies in mood like the rainbow; running from purple to red, from royal delight to destruction and fire. For as there is no purple without red, there is no pleasure without pain. There are thus four great divisions of the Kalpa. We call each one a Yuga and name them after the four throws in the Hindu game of dice; Krita, the perfect throw of four; Treta, the slightly imperfect throw of three; Dvapara, the throw of two; and Kali, the worst throw of one. And so the first period, the Krita Yuga ... runs for 1,728,000 years, during which the whole world is as perfect as a fresh flower and as unblemished as the skin of a young girl. The second period, the Treta Yuga ... is a little shorter. It runs for 1,296,000 years, during which a small element of evil and decay comes into life and the tips of the petals are very slightly browned. The third period is the Dvapara Yuga ... running for 864,000 years. The syllable Dva in Dvapara means two, double or dual, so that in this age, the powers of good and evil are equally balanced.
The fourth period is Kali Yuga ... running for only 432,000 years in which the power of evil and destruction takes over. At the end, your eternal Self takes the form of Shiva, the Lord of renewal through death; blue bodied and ten armed with a necklace of skulls. But with one hand in the gesture called "fear not" as a reminder that all this is in illusion and play. And then Shiva dances the Tandava dance, the dance of fire in which the material world is destroyed and the Self returns to the state of Pralaya ... of peace, uninvolvement, and pure bliss. All this goes on forever, through Kalpa after Kalpa after Kalpa ... and not only in this visible world that we call the universe, for this universe that we know is only a speck of dust in another universe. And all the specks of dust in this universe that we know contain minute universes without measure; boundless inward in the atom, boundless outward in the whole. However vast, however incomprehensible, however terrifying this entire display may seem to be, all of it is at root, your own inmost Self; the Self which you cannot touch, or see, or pin down or control because IT’s too close, too new, right in the middle of everything. Because IT’s you ... ((( ॐ ))) This Word is the whole universe. It is explained that everything past, present, and future is the sound OM. And whatever else is beyond these three divisions of time, that also, indeed, is OM. In the beginning there was only the Self ... like a person alone. Looking around, IT saw nothing other than Itself. IT first said "I AM". And so there came the Name, I. Thus, to this day, when one is asked, "Who is there?", he replies: "IT is I", and then gives what other name he may have. The Self was afraid as one who is alone is afraid. But IT thought, "Since there is nothing beside Myself, of what am I afraid ?" Where at the fear vanished. For what could IT have feared? Fear can come only from something other ... But the Self had no delight as one alone has no delight. IT desired another. IT expanded to the form of male and female in tight embrace and then fell into two parts. Thus IT is that everybody is one half ... like one of the halves of a split pea. And the missing half is filled by a spouse. Then He coupled with Her and produced all human beings. She thought, "How can He have intercourse with me, having produced me from Himself? I will hide". She became a cow. But He became a bull and coupling with Her produced all cattle. And in turn, She became a mare and He a stallion; She a female donkey and He a male donkey; She a she-goat and He a he-goat; She a yew and He a ram. And thus were born from their union, all beings that exist in pairs down to the very ants. He knew. I am in fact this universe, for I have produced it all. In this way, He became the universe. By whose direction is the mind aware of objects? By whose command does life first move? By whose will is this speaking uttered? And what god empowers the eye and the ear? IT is the Hearing of the ear, the Awareness of the mind, the very Sound of speech, the Life of the breath and the Sight of the eye. Therefore, the wise surrendering themselves, go beyond this world and are immortal. But IT is beyond the reach of sight and speech and thought and we neither know nor understand how IT can be taught. IT is other than the known, and beyond the unknown. Thus we have heard from the wise. IT is that which cannot be spoken, but by which we speak. IT is that which cannot be thought, but by which we think. IT is that which cannot be seen, but by which we see. IT is that which cannot be heard, but by which we hear. IT is the breath which cannot be held, but by which we breathe. IT is known to those who do not know IT. To those who know IT … IT is unknown. IT is not understood by those who understand IT. Those who understand ... understand IT not. There was never a time when I was not, nor you, nor these others. Nor will there ever be a time to come when we shall cease. As one passes in this body through childhood, youth and old age, even so is the taking on of other bodies. This does not trouble the wise. Of the nonexistent, there is no coming to be. Of the existent, there is no ceasing to be. That by which all this is pervaded cannot be destroyed. As one casts off worn out clothes, and puts on others that are new, even so, the Self casts off worn out bodies, and assumes others that are new. Weapons cannot cut this Self. Fire cannot burn IT. Water does not make IT wet, nor the wind dry. IT is eternal, all pervading, changeless, and unmoved. IT is the same forever. IT is said to be unmanifest, inconceivable and without change. Knowing IT thus you should not grieve ... The Knower, the Central Self, is not born and does not die. IT is not produced from anything, and produces nothing apart from ITSELF. IT is unborn, eternal, enduring, primordial. IT is not slain when the body is slain ... If the slayer thinks he slays or if the slain thinks he is slain, neither understand. IT neither slays nor can be slain. Smaller than the small, greater than the great, IT is the Self in the heart of all beings ... "Bring here a fruit from that fig tree." "Here it is, Sir." "Break it." "Sir, it is broken." "What do you see inside?" "There are, Sir, these minute seeds." "Break one of them." "It is broken, Sir." "What do you see there?" "Sir, I see nothing at all." "My son, that subtle essence which you do not see is the Self of this whole universe, That is the Real, That is the Self, and you are IT."
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