Ancient Hindu sages refer to it as shabda or nada; modern practitioners of yoga know it as the eternal sound current that underlies and vibrates throughout creation, Most of the great religious and metaphysical traditions refer to it, albeit through different names, as one of the many paths to God. It is unlimited, omniscient and omnipresent. That sound-the Aum sound-is a bridge between spirit and matter.
Wabster's defines sound as the sensation perceived by the sense of hearing; a particular auditory impression. Impression is an important word in the context of this discussion because, as the 20th century Indian Vedantist Swami Vivekananda put it, "The sum total of impressions live in the mind (samskaras)...Atomic vibration never ceases. When this universe is destroyed, all the massive vibrations disappear; the sun, moon, stars, and earth melt down; but the vibrations remain in the atoms." Vivekananda taught his followers to keep holy company in their minds through repetition of and meditation on the word Aum. In this way they were building holy samskaras in their minds which would then propel them onward toward spiritual realization.
In 1894, in his book The Holy Science, Swami Yukteswar Giri expounded upon the meaning of the ancient Vedic sutra that states meditation on the divine sound of Aum is the only way to Brahman (Spirit). He explained that Brahmanidhana (practice of meditation on Aum) is merging of the Self in the stream of the Holy Sound and is the only way man can return to his divinity.
The word Aum, like the word God, has many connotations. The seeker or practitioner in his/her contemplation, must go beyond word and meaning to vibration. In that way, the seeker then aligns himself with the ancient sacred lineage of all those who have ever chanted the mantra. As man meditates upon the sound, his consciousness shifts from gross to finer and more subtle auditory impressions. In time, he becomes absorbed in the holy stream of the shabda, nada or divine sound. If he concentrates thus on the sound, ever-gazing at the light manifest at the Third Eye (ajna) chakra, he will experience the divine marriage between sound and light.
All matter is vibrating and vibrations produce sounds. The sounds of cosmic vibration may be heard through the flesh ears (to some degree) or through intuition. By attuning the mind's attention to it, one is thereby contacting God.
Sound is also important to the Tibetan Buddhist discipline. They divide the human being into three parts: the body, mind and voice. One meditation technique that illustrates the Tibetan Buddhist process of engaging the body, mind and voice in spiritual harmony is to assume a posture (body), concentrate on a mental image (mind) and repeat a mantra (sound). They use a multi-pronged instrument (dogra) which is held near the mouth while one chants a mantra. The prongs deflect the sound vibration back into the body of the person chanting, thus creating a sound current the whole being is absorbed into.
The awareness of the sound current of creation may come suddenly or gradually over years of meditation and practice. But no matter when or how it appears, it should be welcomed with joy and looked upon as a divine blessing. The knowledge of God is hidden in the soul, but through contact with the cosmic sound, one may find his way back to truth and the source of his being.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.