The OM that can be defined…

Ask ten different yoga teachers to define OM and you will get ten different answers. As it says in the Tao Te Ching, “The Name that can be named is not the eternal Name.” True, OM is a syllable, but it is also something we experience from our unique vantage point. Our conception of OM is not necessarily static, either. It can shift and change throughout our life. When we share our understanding of OM with others, we get a more complete glimpse at what the syllable actually entails.

OM: sound in silence.

One of the truest things we can say about OM is that we cannot define it. However, we can describe it. We can also place it in a linguistical, historical context. OM is a syllable that formed by three distinct sounds: ah, ooo, and mmm. Ah is the initiatory sound. It refers to Brahma, the Creator. Ooo continues the sound. Appropriately, it represents Vishnu, the Sustainer. Mmm actually references Shiva Maheshwara, the Destroyer.

Three distinct sounds come together to form the single syllable OM. However, there is one last significant yet often forgotten element of OM. The silence. Mahadevi is the Great Goddess. She is the void through which all things are birthed and all things return. She is the space where Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains, and Shiva destroys. Mahadevi existed before creation and will continue after it. Without space, there would be no OM. Without silence, there would be nothing to hear.

My understanding of OM in 2020.

Speaking of listening…. There are many expressions of what OM means. We can feel it when we dance, see it in the sunrise or night sky, and hear it in music. I’d like to share with you this video which in essence is how I’m understanding OM these days. I’d love to know what OM means to you! Please let me know in the comments below this post!

“One” by Birdtalker.

Friendly caution: There is some PG language for sensitive ears and younger listeners.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash