You have probably heard the sacred syllable aum, (it) is the sound that is not made by two things striking together.

When one pronounces aum, the sound starts in the back of the mouth (“a”) and then it fills the mouth cavity (“u”) and then it closes at the lips (“m”).  If this is pronounced correctly – and it’s not an easy thing to do – the notion is that you have pronounced all the open sounds that a human mouth can form.  MoL 33

   Aum is God.  Aum is God as sounds.  We usually think of the divine as a form, as an image that we can visualize, but this is the sound aspect of the form that we are going to find when we meet God.  It is the sound of God, the sound of the Lord of the World, out of whose thoughts, out of whose being, out of whose energy substance the world is a precipitation.  Aum is the word of words, that original Logos that we find in the Gospel According to John: “In the beginning was the word, … and the word was God.”  MoL 33

Since aum is the Lord of the World, everything in the world and all the aspects of the world must be somehow understood to be included in aum.   MoL 33

To understand it this way, we have to say some things in an allegorical way. 

Becoming aware of the wonder of this mystery and of its fascination, like that of the sound of a seashell held to the ear, we are hearing, so to say, the sound anahata, “not hit,” which in the Indian tradition is described as OM.  When pronounced, of course, the sound OM is made by two things striking together.  However, its pronunciation supplies a directional clue for the inner ear, toward the sound to be secretly heard.  And there is an allegorical extrapolation of the import of OM for the guidance of the mind, which has been provided in a brief but substantial piece of Scripture known as the Mandukya Upanisad. 

So pronounced, (OM) is known as the four-element sound: A-U-M and a fourth, the fourth being the Silence out of which the sound emerges, back into which it will go, and which supports it throughout as a ground against which the A, U, and M are heard. 

A,” that fine open sound, is associated with waking consciousness, the way we experience things when we are awake.  Now, when we are awake the objects that we see are not ourselves, that is to say subject of knowledge and object of knowledge are different from each other.  In waking consciousness, Aristotelian logic prevails, a is not b, I am not what I see.  Also, the objects that we see are what are considered to be made of gross matter; they are made of heavy substance.  They are not self-luminous; rather, they must be illuminated from without. 

So that in this sphere, although Subject and Object appear to be different they are the same.  TMD 212


   U,” is associated with dream consciousness; now this is quite a different realm of awareness altogether.  In dream, you are the subject of knowledge – you see the dream – but you are also the object of knowledge; it is your substance that embodies the dream.  Though subject and object seem to be different from each other on this stage, they’re not.  At this point Aristotelian logic does not work: the subject and object are the same.  Furthermore, the objects are subtle objects; they can change form rapidly and effortlessly.  Also, they are self-luminous: you don’t have to turn a light on to see the objects in your dream. 

   Now comes the big point: the deities of vision are of this sphere and of the same luminous stuff as dream.  Accordingly the vision and the visionary, though apparently separate, are one; and all the heavens, all the hells, all the gods and demons, all the figures of the mythic worlds, are within us as portions of ourselves – portions, that is to say, that are of our deepest, primary nature, and thus of our share in nature.  They are out there as well as in here, yet, in this field of consciousness, without separation.  Our personal dreams are our personal guides, therefore, to the ranges of myth and of the gods.  Dreams are our personal myths: myths, the general dream.  By heeding, interpreting and following dreams we are led to the large, transpersonal fields of archetypal vision – provided, of course, that rational interpretations are not binding us back continually to our own cakras one, two, and three.  As the Hindus say, “To worship a god, one must become a god”; that is, one must find that part within that is the deity’s equivalent.  This is why (in mythological language) God the Son, Knower of the Father, has to become in each of us ghostly born before we can know, as He does, the Father, and say with Him, in knowledge and in truth, “I an my Father are One”  (John 10:30); or with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).   TMD 212


   The “m” is associated with dreamless, deep sleep.  This is the realm of mystery.  Consciousness is there, as potential, because the person asleep is conscious but unconscious.   

   The third order then is mmm, which is deep, dreamless sleep.  Consciousness is there.  The heart is ticking.  The body will respond to heat and cold.  Bud waking consciousness, the aham consciousness, the ego-consciousness, is not in touch with pure consciousness.  It is wiped out by darkness.  The goal of yoga is to bring your waking consciousness into that field of mmm, awake.  Then what it will experience is undifferentiated consciousness, not the consciousness of any thing, but that primary consciousness to which we are trying to “yoga,” to link, our waking consciousness.  That’s what we’re talking about.  TMTT 163

   Passing on to M: the reference here is to the condition of Deep Dreamless Sleep: no dreams, just darkness.  There is consciousness, however, beneath the darkness, hidden, of no specific thing or things, whether of waking or of dream; undifferentiated; whole; sheer light.  The ultimate goal of yoga is to enter that field awake; coming there to full union with that light.  The experience is effable, beyond words, since words refer to objects and their relationships, whether of waking or of dream.  Hence – Silence, the fourth part of the syllable AUM.   TMD 213

Om is discussed in a very interesting two-page Upanishad, Mandukya, in terms of its four elements, the four stages.  A is associated with waking consciousness, the gross bodies of the forms in which we dwell, and of which we are one.  Here, I am not you, you are not I, and a duality prevails, an Aristotelian logic.  A is not Not-A.  Aristotle’s logic is the logic of waking consciousness carried right through, and he’s not letting anything else break in there.  Gross bodies are not self-luminous.  They have to be illuminated from without.  Oo is of dream.  When you dream, you are surprised by your dream, and yet the dream is you.  You as subject are surprised by yourself as object.  You seem to be two, you and your dream, but you are one.  So subject and object, though they seem to be two, are the same.  I and you are the same.  This is the breakthrough of the metaphysical realization that the two that seem to be separate are really one.  This is the midway point to transcendence, realizing the relationship as identity.  The objects of dream are subtle objects, self-radiant, changing form rapidly – dream, vision, god.  The gods and heavens and hells are what might be called the cosmic aspect of dream.  The dream is the personal aspect of myth.  Dream and myth are of the same order.  They are of the order of oo, dream consciousness.  You and your god are one, just as you and your dream are.  But your god isn’t my god, so don’t try to push it on me.  Everyone has his own being and consciousness. 

   Now om can be written in Roman letters either as o-m or a-u-m; o in Sanskrit is analyzed into a and u.  It is the four-element syllable: a, oo, mm, and the silence out of which om comes and back into which it goes.  The Indians will always recognize that ground in silence, in the infinite, in transcendent, in the void.  Om, pronounced, starts in the back of the mouth, a then fills the mouth cavity, ooo, then closes the lips, mmm.   When properly pronounced, you have made all the noises, and so all words are simply fragments of om.  Just as all the images of the broken forms of the world fragments of the form of forms, so all words are fragments of om.  Om is the sound of the radiance of God. 

   But now, just one more word about AUM and the states of consciousness to which its elements are referred.  As the Upanisad points out: the objects known to Waking Consciousness are of the past; having already become, they are apprehended an instant later (or, if very far away, like stars, it will be light-years before they are perceived).  Consequently, our sciences and statistical analyses, dealing as they must with what is past, are telling us only of what has already occurred, projecting perhaps into the future, but on the basis only of a known past.  No real novelty, no really new thing or even can be thus foreknown to science.  But the forms beheld in Dream are of the present.  Apprehended immediately in the moment of their life, our life, they are of our own becoming, right now, and of the powers that are moving us.  Our effective myth, that is to say, is what is moving us as dream.  However, this effective myth may not be the same as that which, in our waking state, we think we believe in, and to which we pay our worship on Sundays(…).  TMD 213

   The hearing of the syllable AUM occurs as the rising kundalini reaches the level of the heart and wakens the lotus, anahata, of cakra four, and it marks the beginning of our life as truly Man, aware of the mystery dimension of things.  At this Moment our relationship to things changes.  They are no longer simply objects of our lust or aggression, but vehicles of the syllable AUM.  We hear it everywhere, out there, in here.  We are no longer desirous but in bliss, and the Indian Tantric saying, iti iti, “It is here! It is here!” is the Good News of our life.  “The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth.”   TMD 213

   However, a new zeal, a new yearning, may now arise in us, to know and to hear that sound directly, not through things, but unmediated – the zeal, that is to say, of the religious quest.  And to this end one may abandon the world, as hermits do, and as Jesus did in his retreat to the desert, from which he returned only to teach.  “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22).  “Sell what you possess and give to the poor, and come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21).  TMD 213