The Vedic sound of Om, also known as Aum and Pranava, is considered to be the most powerful and significant of all mantras. It is The Sound Of The Universe, The Holy Spirit of vibration holding the entire creation together. It is pronounced in the same way as the “om” in “from”. Even though it is a single syllable, it has what I can only describe as three sub-syllables; A – U – M. It is for this reason that Om is sometimes incorrectly chanted as “orm” or “awm”. The letters A – U – M are, in fact, highly sacred and symbolic in that they represent the three “states” of being for humans encased in flesh, having a physical experience; namely waking state, dream state and deep-sleep state.
“A” represents waking state; because it is considered in the Vedas to be the first state of consciousness. “U” represents dream state because the “U” is next to the “A” in the order of sounds and dream state is considered to be the second state of consciousness; lying in between being “awake” and “asleep”. “M” represents deep-sleep state because it is the closing sound of the Om and deep-sleep is said to represent the final stage of the mind in rest. When chanting the Om there will inevitably be a slight pause between each single chant, and it is this brief period of silence, known as the “turiya”, that completes the cycle and does itself have a highly sacred and symbolic meaning.
Om represents the “Self”; encompassing the Self as a whole. The A, U and M represent the realm of the relative, the world of form or the illusion, whilst the turiya represents the formless, The Universal Absolute or God. Because all is God anyway, the Om as a whole represents the totality, the Oneness and the simple truth that “All and Everything is God”. Sound only exists because of silence, so the Om emerges from the silence, moves through the sub-syllables to the M where it reaches its peak. It then subsides into the silence; the state of perfect bliss; thus symbolising the world of form merging once again with the formless.
Since ancient times the Om has been used as an aid to meditation and medium with which to connect the spiritual aspirant to God. It is also called ‘Pranava’, meaning, that it is something that pervades life, or runs through prana or breath. There is a passage in the Vedas that states “In the beginning was the word and the word was Om (Aum)”, thousands of years later this ended up in the Christian Bible as “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God”. Om (Aum) is also the origin of the Christian “Amen”.