Sacred Sound

Sound = the emanation of any tone, frequency, or vibration.

If an object is in motion, it is producing a frequency - a specific tone.

Audible sound ranges from 16 Hz to 20,000 Hz.


Sound is generally thought to be composed of three characteristics:  Wave, Pulse, and Form.  Gurdjieff refers to the relationship of wave, pulse and form:

"This is the "Law of Three," or the law of the three principles,
or the three forces.  It consists of the fact that every phenomena,
on whatever scale and in whatever world it may take place,
from molecular to cosmic phenomena, is the result
of the combination of the meeting of three different forces."

Wave and form are created simultaneously from pulse. 

Dr. Hans Jenny a pioneer in the field of Cymatics (study of wave phenomena) performed many of his experiments by putting substances such as sand, fluids, and powders on a metal plate. The plate was attached to an oscillator and the oscillator was controlled by a frequency generator capable of producing a broad range of vibrations.  In reference to wave, pulse and form, Dr. Jenny states: 

"The [pulse] as the fundamental field
with the two poles [form & wave] invariably appear as one.
They are inconceivable without each other.  It is quite out
 of the question to take away the one or the other;
nothing can be abstracted without the whole ceasing
to exist.  We cannot therefore, number them one, two, three;
 but can only say they are threefold in appearance and yet unitary;
 that they appear as one and yet are threefold."

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In this book, Swami Satchidananda gives this commentary in regards to OM.

There are hundred and thousands of names for God but none of them conveys the exact idea of God.  They may give a picture of one aspect of God, but not in His fullness. God is, was and always will be - without beginning or end - infinite and omnipresent.  For such a great One, there should be a name that conveys those same ideas.  And not only that, but by repeating it the very name should manifest God in you.  ...  God's name should not only denote the fullness of God and itself represent Him, it should also bring Him to you.  And such a name cannot be anything but OM.  ...  All the scriptures indicate this.  The Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  The Hindu Vedas say, "The name of Brahman is OM, and OM is Brahma Himself."

The name AUM can be split into three letters: A - U - M.  That is why it is written AUM.  The entire Mandukya Upanishad expounds the meaning of OM.  There it divides OM into four stages: A - U - M and Anahata, or the one that is beyond verbal pronunciation.  "A" is the beginning of all sounds.  Every language begins with the letter "A" or [the sound] "AH".  "A" is pronounced by simply opening the mouth and making a sound.  That sound is produced in the throat where the tongue is rooted.  So audible sound begins with "A".  Then as the sound comes forward between the tongue and the palate up to the lips "U" or "OO" is produced.  Closing the lips produces the "M".  So A - U - M includes the entire process of sound, and all other sounds are contained in it.  Thus, AUM is the origin, or seed, from which all other sounds and words come.  In other words, OM is dormant in all other words.

After the verbal sound ends there is still vibration.  That is the unspoken, or Anahata, sound which is always in you, even before saying the "A" and after finishing "M".  There is always a sound vibration in you that can never be destroyed.  You can always listen to that sound if you remain quiet.  For that reason it is also called "Ajapa", or unrepeated.  Japa means repetition, but the Ajapa is that which need not be repeated; it is always going on within.  It is heard only when all the other sounds cease.

... Even without repeating it, the basic sound is always vibrating in you.  It is the seed from which all other sounds manifest.  That is why AUM represents God in the fullest sense.  It has the power to create everything.  ...  The seed word AUM has the creative capacity to manifest the entire world.

Mandukya Upanishad

In the Mandukya Upanishad (Swami Krishnananda translation) we find:

AUM! - This Imperishable Word is the whole of this visible universe. Its explanation is as follows: What has become, what is becoming, what will become, - verily, all of this is AUM. And what is beyond these three states of the world of time, - that too, verily, is AUM.

The Imperishable is AUM, and it is 'all this'. Everything else, whatever be of the past, present or future, is like an exposition, explanation or commentary on the meaning of this great Truth, - the Imperishable AUM. Sarvam Omkara eva: Everything is AUM, indeed. This is how the Upanishad begins. Om itiyetadaksharam idam sarvam: All this, whatever is visible, whatever is cognizable, whatever can come within the purview of sense-perception, inference or verbal testimony, whatever can be comprehended under the single term, creation, - all this is AUM. 

Ganesha Upanishad

In the Ganesha Upanishad we find:

AUM is the primordial word of creation, itself signifying the absolute . . .

"All this world is the syllable AUM.  Its further explanation is this: the past, the present, the future, everything is just AUM.  And whatever transcends the three divisions of time, that too is just AUM."

Sri Ramakrishna on Aum

The sound AUM is Brahman.  The rishis and sages practiced austerity to realize that Sound-Brahman.  After attaining perfection one hears the sound of this eternal Word rising spontaneously from the navel.

"What will you gain by merely hearing this sound?"  You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance.  By following the roar you can reach the ocean.  As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean.  By following the trail of AUM you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol.

The yogi, by following the trail of the sound AUM, gradually merges himself in the Supreme Brahman.

AUM In Other Cultures

If we study the root of words by their sound, we find the AUM present in several other countries and languages.  A good example of this is the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.  In Tibetan the same mantra is pronounced Om Mani Peme Hung.

AUM in Egypt

AMUN - Early, a god of air and wind. Later, a fertility god. The Creator of all things. During the New Kingdom he became "The king of the gods". He was said to be able to assume any form he wished, with each of the other gods being one of these forms.

Self created at the beginning of time.

Other Names: Amon, Amen, Amen Ra, Amon Re

AUM in Buddhism

In Buddhism, AUM the first word used in several mantras.  For example, the mantra for Chenrezig, the Buddha of love and compassion, is Om Mani Padme Hum, and the Heart Sutra mantra is Om, Gate, gate, paragate, parasumgate, bodhi, Swaha.

AUM in Judean-Christian Tradition

In the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, we find "And God said" no less than eight times in relation to the creation of the universe; and in the New Testament we find at John 1:1:  "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God."

The "word" is a Greek translation of "Logos" which means in classical Greek and Neo-platonic philosophy, the cosmic reason giving order, purpose, and intelligibility to the word.

St. John did not reveal the "word" who was in the beginning, who was with God and who was God until his final revelation in Revelations 3:14:  "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: "These things say the Amen, the faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God."

AUM in Islam

In each of the twenty-nine chapters of the Koran every chapter starts with a certain letter or letters of the alphabet which is believed to conceal several profound mysteries passed between God and the prophet.  The first verse of the second chapter begins with these letters.  A.L.M.  It is claimed by the Islamic scholars that nobody knows the meaning of it except Allah or the prophet.

In A.L.M. the mysterious letters of the Koran, "A" and "M" are the same as the Sanskrit.  The "L" is used for the Sanskrit "U".  The Arabic "L" has sometimes a sound of "U" when preceded by "A".

In the introduction of Sale's translation of the Koran, he refers to the pronunciation of A.L.M., which seems no different from the pronunciation of A.U.M.  That as the Letter A belongs to the lower part of the throat, the first of the organs of speech; L to the palate, the middle organ; and M to the lips, which is the last organ; so these letters signify that God is the beginning, middle and end or ought to be praised in the beginning, middle and end of all our words and actions.

SUFISM - Hazrat Inayat Kahn

"Creation begins with the activity of consciousness, which may be called vibration, and every vibration starting from its original source is the same, differing only in its tone and rhythm caused by a greater or lesser degree of force behind it. On the plane of sound, vibration causes diversity of tone, and in the world of atoms, diversity of color. It is by massing together that the vibrations become audible, but at each step towards the surface they multiply, and as they advance they materialize. Sound gives to the consciousness as evidence of its existence, although it is in fact the active part of consciousness itself which turns into sound. The knower so to speak becomes known to himself, in other words the consciousness bears witness to its own voice. It is thus that sound appeals to man. All things being derived from and formed of vibrations have sound hidden within them, as fire is hidden in flint; and each atom of the universe confesses by its tone, 'My sole origin is sound.' If any solid or hollow sonorous body is struck it will answer back, 'I am sound.'"

Vibrations pass through five distinct phases while changing from the fine to the gross; and the elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth each has a savor, color , and form peculiar to itself. Thus the elements form a wheel which brings them all in time to the surface. At each step in their activity they vary and become distinct from each other; and it is the grouping of these vibrations which causes variety in the objective world. Man calls the law which causes them to disperse destruction.

Vibrations turn to atoms and atoms generate what we call life; thus it happens that their grouping, by the power of nature's affinity, forms a living entity; and as the breath manifests through the form so the body becomes conscious.


In Japan, there is a philosophy called the Kototama Principle.  The Kototama consists of "50 life rhythms - the mother sounds (A, I, E, O, U) and father rhythms (T, K, M, H, L, N, Y, S, W) to produce life."

The correct definition of Kototama is "spirit sound."  It's not the language of the gods or spirits, but rather the belief that every sound has a spirit, and corresponding influence on reality.  That is, there is belief that by uttering certain sounds they can manifest in the material world.

Mayan Creation Story

In the Popol-Vuh of the Maya we find:  "Thus let it be done! Let the emptiness be filled! Let the water recede and make a void, let the earth appear and  become solid; let it be done!  Thus they spake … the earth was created by them. So it was, in truth, that they created the earth.  Earth! They said, and instantly it was made.

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