|Waking State||Vaishvanara or Vishva
='A' of AUM
='U' of AUM
='M' of AUM
=First Cause or God
|Turiya||The transcendental state which permeates
all others. Basis of self-consciousness.
|Sum total of the lower three states
and therefore both the fourth quarter
and the whole
=OM as a soundless, single syllable.
Our waking consciousness, the level of awareness in which we spend most of our time, is known as Vaishvanara. You will understand that the first state of consciousness corresponds to the physical condition and the 'A' in AUM, when it is composed of three distinct letters or sounds.
In Devanagari (the written form of Sanskrit), Om is a single letter consisting of three distinct parts, A, U and M. This is reminiscent of the threefold divine nature of the Trimurti, of Brahma, Visnu and Siva and so one. Each of these three vibrations correspond to a particular state of consciousness. When these three are united in Turiya, they become the single letter or sound vibration Om.
As consciousness passes through the lower states of awareness it remains in saguna, the manifest universe of duality. When consciousness transcends these states however, it merges with the universal consciousness of Turiya in nirguna, in the state Unity. This is the transcendental state which permeates all other conditions. This is the basis of self-consciousness. It is the sum total of the lower three states and is therefore both the fourth quarter and the Whole simultaneously, (as in netti-netti or en-Soph for the Jews). It is that state where the Buddha says yin and yang become one in Tao. In the state of Turiya one is freed from all material limitations and becomes one with nirguna brahman or absorbed in absolute Oneness.
There is much debate about the nature of this state of consciousness. For instance does one maintain individual existence/awareness as Sri Ramanuja and Sri Caitanya suggests or is one so utterly merged with the Cosmic Wholeness that no individualization is possible, as Sri Shankara and the Mayavadi contend. I will not go into this here, except to submit that for one who is so absorbed in this state of absolute bliss, known as Sat-chit-ananda, or eternity, knowledge and bliss, the question is surely moot.
There are many methods of meditation which utilize the Omkara. I would now like to offer one of them for your consideration.
Before I do however, I would like to mention something about the tradition from which the mantra comes down to us. The Bharata or Indian seers used the term "Sanatana Dharma" to describe their over all belief system. The name 'Hinduism' is a late product of Muslim origin. By referring to the teachings as the Sanatana Dharma or Universal Truth, the sages confirmed that the sacred mantras are not the possession of any nation, people or religion. They are for all the world, no, for the universes! As one practices the mantra therefore one should feel free to customize it in personal ways. For instance in India the Omkara is often joined to Sacred Names. When it is, it is known as nam-japa or recitation of the Holy Names. This is done by adding the
mantra as a prefix or suffix, such as in "Om Namah Shivaya," "Om Namah Vasudevaya" etc. The mantra can be utilized to fit individual needs and practice. In the same way Christians could chant "Om Y'shua Y'shua Om" and so forth with no fear of causing offense. As is said, "Truth is One, the sages merely call it by different names." The method I offer now,
therefore, is merely an example.
Sit in a comfortable way with your back basically straight and free from obstructions. Use a chair, a cushion, whatever works for you.
Now take a moment to look back up at the illustration. Don't worry about the Sanskrit terminology, simply get a feel for how the sound Om rolls off you tongue and through your mind.
As you begin take a comfortably deep breath, shake your arms and legs so as to allow yourself to relax completely. Your eyes may be open or closed. Don't force either extreme. Again, be comfortable. Don't concern yourself with established forms right now.
Now, gently focus your gaze on the tip of your nose (don't go cross-eyed!), just let your attention gently rest there. Don't force anything.
Now, softly, gently, begin to repeat the mantra, AUM... Ah Uu Mm... Ah Uu Mm... Just allow the sound flow through you, upwards from your inwards parts, rising, let it gently arise and escape through you mouth. Your throat can feel it it flowing through, it is warm, soothing.
As you allow the mantra to flow from within, you begin to experience a peace, a sense of balance. Be aware of your surroundings, your Vaishvanara state of mind. In time you enter into the state of Virat on your way to universal harmony with the totality of being. Take your time.
As you continue to chant, the mantra flows serenely, effortlessly through you.
Allow your consciousness to float freely, harmoniously with the Omkara. As you experience your body becoming enlivened by the sacred flow, all pain and discomfort washes away, all dis-ease departs and you know with an inward certainty that all is well. Even now you realize yourself existing in a state of balance and inward harmony.
As the Omkara continues to flow through you, the sacred sound naturally, of it own accord, transforms into a more unified sound, as "Om" rather than "AUM". As it does you slip quietly, calmly into the state of Taijasa where you flow with transcendent awareness.
As the various mental images begin to subside and your consciousness is quieted, your meditation becomes automatic. Outer and inner sounds fade calmly away. You lose all sense of having a material body. You realize yourself to be a spirit entity enraptured in the sacred tone. That sense of peace is Ishvara, the presence of God. As you continue to drift on this sea of bliss nothing remains except the mantra, which now chants itself without conscious effort or thought. Om simply is.
In time, as you return to waking consciousness do so gently, easily. The four states must not be forced. Flow gently from one state of consciousness to the next, knowing that the warmth you feel is the arms of the eternal Beloved.
~From a class taught by Jagannatha Prakasa in Nov. 1988