P1. Om meaning the whole world, the very essence of life, the union of Brahman and Atman, and all worthwhile Self-knowledge is actually a sound built out of the letters A+U+M.
The pronunciation starts at the front of the mouth and goes through all the vowel sounds to arrive at it’s closure. Then finally there is a 4th “letter” at the ends of the word which is the silence from which it comes and to which it goes.
According to the Mandukya Upanishad…
“A” represents the first part of Om meaning waking consciousness and is what we call reality. It is the world of our daily lives where individuals roam the earth. It is where logical thought makes sense and science is the accepted way of going about things.
It is also the place of emotions and being influenced by our personal unconscious, where we experience love, hate, anger, compassion, guilt, responsibility, etc (see just below for the first 3 Chakras)
But at times there are also flashes of inspiration that take us out of ourselves and into the present moment. This is often referred to as experiencing our sacred center.
In the allegorical story contained in the Tarot cards, this area of human endeavor is represented in the “pip” cards and court cards of the Minor Arcana. We are dealing here with normal life where the psychologist Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” takes precedence (except for the “eye of providence”, as represented on a US dollar bill, at the very top of the pyramid)
In Kundalini Yoga, the first 3 Chakras representing survival and security, sexual and other pleasures, and finally, personal power, are all traits of waking consciousness too.
In the story of the Quest for the Grail, this is the early life of Parzival.
The observation I have about waking consciousness is that it tends to dominate our lives. It is the realm where we have desires and hunger and pain and it is unavoidable. But still, it is not everything. The worlds of art and music and dance, etc don’t originate in the world of waking consciousness, but bubble up from below. That is why they move us emotionally.
“U” represents the second part of Om meaning dream consciousness and is any of the dreaming states we experience, including being lucid. What is special to dream is that it is not “real” in the worldly sense. There are no consequences of dream that impact us directly.
All objects in our dreams are, in a sense, part of us. There are no individuals since we created everything. Also the objects of dream do not need illumination as objects require in the real world.
We may encounter our personal nightmares, hells or heavens in our dreams, but they are all within us and they are not outside in the real world.
The Romantic philosopher Novalis said:
“The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet.”
This is where dream starts. It is also the 4th Chakra, and associated with the heart, and is described as being where one can reach up to the feet of the gods.
In the Quest for the Grail, this is Parzival’s encounter with the Red Knight, after which he sets off on the quest.
It also stretches to the 5th Chakra where yogis perfect their lucid dreaming. This in the Tarot starts with the Wheel of Fortune, and in the Quest for the Grail is this is where the second part of the adventure begins with Parzival’s decision to return to see his mother.
In the Tarot, it starts off the Major Arcana and is associated with the Magician or High Priestess cards and then stretches all the way to card 16, the Tower. The dream state is a very rich and varied area in many philosophies.
Also rational thought has no place in dream consciousness. Different rules apply in this world. So if I want to know what my dream means, I don’t use science or rationality to probe my dream.
The trick about dream is also that it has the capacity to awaken us in our everyday lives.
“M” represents the third part of Om meaning deep sleep and this is where we are unconscious in sleep or possibly aware, but aware of no thing. It is an image free sleep.
In the Kundalini Yoga this is represented as the 6th Chakra. It is heaven and where one has a vision of the gods.
In the Tarot it is in the Major Arcana starting at card number 17, the Star. In the Grail Quest it is the lead up to the success of Parzival encountering the Grail, which is actually the Judgment card, number 20, of the Tarot.
Incidentally, one of the goals of yoga is to take our consciousness, and then to go into our deep, dreamless sleep, awake. This is where we really start to understand life and accept it as it is with all it’s suffering, but also all it’s wondrous experiences that inspire our will to live.
The final part of Om, being Silence, represents pure eternal consciousness and this is the void or the consciousness that surrounds and goes beyond all things. This is eternity, out of which the world comes and into which the world will eventually go again. It s the ground of being and is the promise of euphoria.
This is the 7th Chakra where everything dissolves.
In the Tarot this is the transformation of the World (card number 21) into the metaphorical Fool, out of which the Major Arcana starts and also that which it ends. Everything is possible but as yet, only potential as it is still in the future.
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