What Is The Om?

What Is The Om?

February 19, 2019

Reclaiming Zen 

Combining ancient wisdom with modern mind, body spirit science to help you live a healthy zen lifestyle..

Where does Om come from?

Lets face it, this symbol is everywhere, it can often be seen in jewellery, clothing, tapestries and even tattoos. So many of us are aware that is it a powerful spiritual syllable but do you know where it came from? Or why it is used with such conviction and dedication during spiritual practices.

Knowing the origins and messages behind a symbol makes it that much more powerful and meaningful to us. So lets begin with some simply information about this popular spiritual syllable. 

This sacred syllable originates from Hinduism but it can also be seen within Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and the Bön faith. The first mention of this syllable was in the Mandukya Upishad, which is a sacred Hindu text that is dedicated to the different theories of the Om. 

This spiritual sound refers to all that is and is thought of as one of the most powerful syllables in the universe. It is thought of as one syllable that encompasses all that is, the past, the present and the future (birth, life and death). Within the  Mandukya Upishad it is mentioned that the Om is in each of these states of time but also transcends time itself.

This syllable is rooted in ancient teachings and in daily life today. It can be found at the beginning and end of chapters in the Vedas and other Hindu texts, on important documents, on clothing and pendants. This powerful syllable is often chanted and spoken before recitations of spiritual texts, daily prayers, spiritual practices and ceremonies. 

Being all that is it comes as no surprise that many believe that the Christian "Amen" and Islmaic "Amin" both derive from Om itself. With such a powerful meaning this symbol can be used to reach enlightenment, search within and truly understand your place within the Universe and how we all work together as one. 

Do not get confused this syllable is also referred to as onkara, pranava. and  omkara.

Is it Aum or Om

So is it Om, Ohm or Aum? 

Well the answer is simple, it is both, the difference between Om, Ohm and Aum is one of transliteration. Whilst Om and Ohm usually refer to the spelling and Aum refers to the actual sound of the word. 

 In Sanskrit the sound "O" is a diphthong (the blending of two vowel sounds) spelt "AU". So, using Om, Ohm and Aum are all fine to use. 

What Does It Mean?

Om encompasses all that is within the universe, it encompasses every aspect that is. When chanted the sound of Om encompasses all words and all sounds within the human language.

Aum represents 3 different divisions of time. 

A - is the waking state,

U - is the dream state,  

M -  is the sleep state, 

Pause - Silence which represents the state Turiya, which is infinite consciousness.

Holy Trinity & Om -  The three  phonetic parts of Aum also represent the rule of three. Many faiths are often built around a holy trinity and similarly Aum is seen to represents all of these trios. 

With this powerful syllable representing all that is this trio can be linked to many other aspects of life. This syllable is also linked to: creation (Brahma), sustaining (Vishnu) and destruction (Shiva); Consciousness, unconsciousness and subconsciousness; Heaven, Earth and The Underworld; Start, Middle and End; Dawn, Afternoon and Dusk;  Rg, Yajur, and Sama.

This powerful symbol is also associated with oneness, silence, creation, manifestation, sustaining, evolution, expression, the divine, the trinity, destruction, truth, totality, ultimate. 

The Symbol Itself

The visual symbol representing Om consists of three curves, one semicircle and a dot. 

1. The large bottom curve symbolises A (the waking state)

2. The middle curve symbolises U (the dream state)

3. The upper curve symbolises M (the deep state)

4. The dot signifies Turiya (the fourth state of infinite consciousness - silence)

5. The semicircle at the top separate the dot from the other 3 curves and represents Maya, which is the illusions and obstacles that keep us from ultimate realisation in the highest way. 

Om and Ganesh

You may not know this but the physical form of Lord Ganesh is actually thought to be the Om. When looking at the symbol you may see that the upper curve is seen as the face, the lower curve is the belly and the twisted curve on the right is actually seen as the trunk.


Using Om in daily living

As we have established the Om syllable can be seen in sacred scriptures and texts, however, it is also commonly used in many other spiritual practices. 

Chanting - Om is often chanted during meditation, prayer, spiritual practices and yoga. Simply chanting this syllable is believed to relax the mind, release stress levels, help with concentration and let go of negativity, leaving refreshing feelings. Chanting can be incorporated with mindfulness practice and affirmations to help align the body and allow us all to connect with our higher selves. Between chants there is silence which is seen as the forth state of consciousness (Turiya), similarly in mindfulness practice it is important to focus on the silence in between the sounds as a point of being and connecting with all that is.

Om, Brahma and Chanting - Brahma is the first God in the Hindu triumvirate (the three gods who are responsible for the creation, sustaining and destruction of the world). There is a belief within Hinduism that Brahma's thoughts started a vibration that turned into the sound Om and lead to the creation of the world. So as we chant Om it is believed that the vibrations we create can also be linked back to the vibrations that created the world. So next time you find yourself chanting this powerful syllable think about this powerful connection you have with all that is.

Yoga - Chanting different mantras is a popular aspect of some types of yoga (particularly kundalini or anusara yoga). It is used to help with spiritual awakening, calming the mind and rejuvenating our energies. A common mantra that you may be familiar with is "Om mani padme hum".

As a symbol - The Om can be worn and put up around the home as a point of inspiration and a reminder of your spiritual practice. Wearing jewellery with this symbol is a great way to carry a reminder with you all day long. Your jewellery can be used as a reminder to pause, live mindfully and approach every situation with compassion and understanding of all that is.  If you haven't already check out our blog about using items and association on your path to enlightenment here. 

Comment below and let us know any ways that you encourage spiritual practice into your life!

Have a wonderful day and stay zen :-)

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