Good morning, Meditators!... of course, you are keeping your mediating attitude right here on the computer, right?
Last time we spoke of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and focused some on the final three limbs, Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption).
Patanjali, when speaking of meditating, gives a notable place to "OM" (also spelled "AUM"). He explains that OM is a perfect object of meditation. He also gives several other good options to choose amongst, and then says we can choose anything at all to focus upon as long as we find it uplifting. His listed suggestions are quite inspiring and worthy of consideration.
You can find this in the first "book" of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Samadhi Pada (The Portion on Contemplation), verses 27 through 41. Of course, reading the verses before and after is the best. What an amazing text!
He starts by explaining that OM is the word that actually expresses God. "Ishvara" is the term he uses for God. Before mentioning OM and then saying that focusing on it and repeating it is an aid, Patanjali spends some time explaining that Samadhi takes us to a state where we are one with God, and he tries to give us a sense of what that is like encourages us toward that, and be able to recognize it when we get there.
Patanjali says that repeating OM while reflecting upon it will make all of the obstacles disappear and at the same time knowledge of the Inner Self will dawn in us. ...seems like a good thing to do. Yes, OM is quite wonderful to consider, and focus upon, and be repeating often. Let's consider what that is.
You may be aware that physicists have come to agree with the mystics and yogis that everything is made up of waves. They tell us we can either view things from a particle perspective or a wave perspective. Once we look at things as waves, then everything is made up of waves... the ground, the air, our bodies, even our thoughts - everything. Sound is waves. So, everything is made up of sound. This is what the sages have explained, too.
There is a primal sound, one that is ever present, unchanging, eternal. One of the names for that is "Anahata," which means "unstruck." The primal sound is ever resonating. Other sounds are generated. They take form for a while. This is how our world and beings are viewed from a mystic perspective.
Once you consider that there is a primal sound, OM, and that everything is a formulation of that OM, you start to view things differently. Instead of everything being separate from yourself, you begin to consider that your body and your thoughts are part of that OM, as is everyone and everything else. Instead of viewing things from a seat of separation you shift into recognizing the yoga, or union, of all. This is a good experience, and a healthy way to be.
It is a good idea to repeat OM. Master Sivananda and other sages have told us that gazing upon the written OM is also a perfect object for our meditation - still, as Patanjali says, with consideration for what OM is. Scriptures that speak of OM explain that the letters of OM each have a significance, but those scriptures spell it like this: A U M. There can be broad meaning to each of the three letters. Briefly, the "A" is the start, the creative element, the coming into being, the opening, etc.; the "U" is the continuation, the blossoming, the full expression, the steadiness, etc.; the "M" is the completion, the closing, the dissolution, the ending, the resolution, etc. Brahma, Vishnu, Siva - if you'd like. But then the scriptures say that it is the forth letter of AUM that is the most important. What do you think that is?
It is written and actually sounded with 3 letters, A U M. So what is meant by saying that the fourth letter is the most important. Here is one way to view this. When we recognize that OM is the divine essence of all, the eternal truth of being, God, then it seems a little silly to think that we could express That with a word, a sound. Still we are encouraged to do exactly that, and told that it will take us to that experience where we are free of the obstacles and aware of the Truth. The A U M clearly show how the Om is formulated as we express it, but the fourth letter is where we settle after expressing it - that state of consciousness where we are living in awareness of the unity, free from separation. So, when you repeat OM, at the end simply sit for a bit in that awareness, the fourth letter, and let that become your perspective. Live like that.
Next week we will explore the other objects of mediation that Patanjali suggests.
Feel free to share this with anyone, and, if you find it useful, please use it.
Blessings and love,