The Meaning of OM

Om is described as the indicator of Ishwara, a word translatable as God, Ruler, Vishnu, Shabda-Brahman, Avalokiteshwara, etc. Om is not a name, not even a word with a conventional meaning, but an indicator. And Ishwara is the supreme teacher in all of us, touching us not via mineral, plant, animal or human substance or form but, beyond these, within.

I must explain. Each one of us is living in a large world of life. There is the mineral kingdom which is necessary to me. With it I live, not interfering with the functioning of its life. If, as a thinker using my combinative and constructive faculty, I move my stone paperweight from the writing pad to the book, the stone-consciousness still acts according to its own nature. I have not troubled it. We live with the vegetable and animal kingdoms also; without them there would be no bodily life for us.

The same is true in our human relations, from the beginnings of the body derived from parents to the provision throughout life of nourishment to both body and mind. Life is all one, in which mineral, vegetable, animal and human are only phases, somewhat similar to the stages of childhood, youth, etc., in the body. It is only one step now to say that we are to the liberated men much as the lower kingdoms are to us, but their action, whatever it may be (not merely a glorified replica of our own constructiveness), is of a nature that does not interfere with our following our own nature. They do not work with us via mineral, vegetable or animal forms, but beyond our mind-operativeness in another mode of consciousness to which we will open ourselves in due course. What other meaning could there be to their realization that the same self is equally dwelling in all, or what the Hindu and Buddhist teachers meant by non-separate-ness and “the universe grows I”, or Christ by “one in the Father?”
And when it comes to Ishwara, he is ruler in his own life, not in ours — perhaps we should not use the word “his” with its limited implications. We must at last let go even that idol — like a child’s doll — and enter into the meditation and contemplation for which the idol-thought was only a means of preliminary concentration, a process of “Thou art That”, in which the realization of That sanctifies and sublimes the Thou.

I have not departed from consideration of the indicator Om. Om means “I am That” and “Thou art That”, and in that mood must I begin my meditation with the mantra to Shri Krishna already explained.

That Om should be the indicator that is provided for in its structure. It is a unique word, in that, being composed of ‘a’ plus ‘u’ plus ‘m,’ it begins with ‘a’, the first articulation we can make in the back of the mouth, goes through the middle sound ‘u,’ and ends with the last sound we can make, ‘m,’ closing the mouth. ‘A’ followed rapidly by ‘u’ forms ‘o,’ and thus we have ‘om,’ which sounds like the English word “home” with the ‘h’ removed, and the ‘m’ a little prolonged. Thus Om goes from the beginning to the end of all articulate sounds, and includes all meanings and unity as well.