About Sound 4
Yoga System of Primal Sound
This technique consists of focusing consciousness on a succession of sounds as they emerge from, and retreat into silence. The word nada from the Sanskrit root nad, means ‘flowing’. Nada, the primal sound is, according to yoga, Anahata: ‘unstruck’. It is the original self-generating sound formulating innumerable patterns which in turn produce mental configurations.
There are 4 stages of tonal manifestation:-
1.) Vaikhari is audible sound produced by striking together of two surfaces or by the plucking of a string.
2.) Madhyama is the transition between heard-sound and its inner vibration.
3.) Pashyanti where the sound is only heard by the spiritually awakened.
4.) Para (from the Sanskrit meaning ‘transcendental’ or ‘beyond’) where the sound has passed far beyond the audible. This lies deeper than ordinary silence and is experienced as the unrealized root-sound or sound-potential. It is sound with practically with no vibration having an infinite wavelength. It is the final stage attained in deepest contemplation. The Upanishads describe the sound Om as the purest manifestation of Para. This refers not to Om as it is spoken or chanted, but to Om at the most subtle – the point where form touches formlessness.
The mantra (chanted seed sound) and the yantra (visual equivalent of the mantra), share a ‘basic sound’. Yoga art is essentially abstract expressing itself through symbols linking the part and the whole.
From ‘Yoga Art’ by Ajit Mookerjee
The Sufi Message of Abstract Sound
Abstract sound is called Saut-e Sarmad by the Sufis. All space is filled with it. The vibrations of this sound are too fine to be either audible or visible to the material ears or eyes. It was the Saut-e Sarmad, the sound of the abstract plane, which Mohammed heard in the cave of Ghar-e Hirá. The Quran refers to this sound in the words ‘Be! And all became.’
The sound of the Saut-e Sarmad is revealed from within. The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole universe and becomes free of all limitations, radiant with wisdom.
Man does not hear it as a rule as he becomes so absorbed in his experiences in the external world and the physical body. When the abstract sound is audible all other sounds become indistinct to the mystic. The sound of the abstract is called Anahad in the Vedas, meaning unlimited sound. The Sufis named it Sarmad suggesting the idea of intoxication, upliftment and freedom from earthly bondage. Some train themselves to hear the Saut-e Sarmad in the solitude on the sea shore, river banks, in the hills, forests, deserts and in caves. Horns, conches, bells and gongs awaken this inner sacred sound.
Hu is not only the most sacred of all sounds but is also the beginning and end of all sounds, be they from man, bird, beast or thing. In different languages the Supreme Being (the name of the Nameless) is known as Hu by the mystics. The word Hu is the spirit of all sounds and of all words and is hidden within them all, as is the spirit in the body. This alone is the true name of God. Every activity of life expresses this very sound. The mystery of Hu is revealed to the Sufi who journeys through the path of initiation.
It is said in the old traditions that Zoroaster was born of a Huma tree.
Hu represents spirit. Mah in Arabic means water.
In English the word ‘human’ – Hu means God. Man (Mana in Sanskrit) means mind.
Human therefore means god-conscious, god-realized or god-man.
Ahura Mazda is the name of God known to the Zoroastrians.Ahura suggests Hu.
Huwal suggests the idea of omnipresence.
Jehovah, originally Yahuva. Hu stands for God. A represents manifestation.
A / Alif / Alpha which is considered to be the first expression of Hu taking shape on the external plane.
The word Allah meaning God in Arabic,
is interpreted as ‘the One who comes from nothing’.
Ahud means God without limitation.
A in Sanskrit means without.
Hudd means limitation.
All these examples signify the origin of God
and the life of God in everything and every being.
What's in a Name?
The vibration that a name holds imbues the form with that energy which is then made conscious through that entity. Sound gives to the consciousness an 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. Each atom reveals itself by its ‘tone’. Each name reveals a rhythm, picture of a form, colour, size, quality, feeling, character and a sense of finer things.
The meaning of a name has a great influence upon its possessor and the sound, vowels, rhythm, number and nature of the letters which compose it, the symbol and planet, as well as the root from which it is derived impacts on the character and fate of a person. We generally get an idea from the sound of letters that compose a name whether it is beautiful of ugly, soft or hard, harmonious or dissonant. Names that are smooth and soft-sounding make a soft effect upon the speaker and listener. There are many instances to be found where a change of name has brought an entire change in a person’s life. In many instances when we are initiated into a spiritual path, we receive a new name that empowers us. Sacred names of God and of prophets and saints hold great power and act as magical charms.
The rhythm of a name suggests balance and beautifies the character, or its lack causes adversity and imbalance. An even or odd number of letters in a person’s name is significant and each letter also has a numerical value. Vowels have an effect according to their place in the name. Every letter either singly or grouped in a word, produces a picture.
The transmutation of energy into sound and the extrapolation of consciousness into words to communicate the ‘unspoken’ to the spoken, is contained in the ancient Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese and other ancient scripts. Every line, dot and curve ‘speaks’ of the energy and picture they wished to express.
The real character of a person is not only to be found in his speaking voice, but it is also the expression of his spirit. No sound can be more ‘living’ than the voice. Knowing this, the Hindus of ancient times discovered that the shortest way to attain spiritual heights is by singing. It is said that singing is the first art, playing music the second art and dancing the third art. Tansen was an Indian yogi of singing who mastered sound and played as the court-musician of Emperor Akbar. He made his voice ‘living’ and through the power of his voice he could make rain by singing. As with everything else in a person’s life, there comes also a change in the voice with every step forward in spiritual evolution.
Choosing a Name for your Child
Power of Mantras
“Man” means mind, “tra” means wave or projections. Therefore mantra is the projection of the mind through sound vibrations.
All mantras represent manifestations of shabda, sacred sound & carry a profound meaning beyond words. When one first embarks on mantric practice, it is natural to enquire about the meaning of the syllables, but don’t be too greatly concerned about meanings as the use of mantras belongs to the realm of no-thought – the ineffable.
It is said that unlike the senses of touch, smell & taste, as well as the more advanced sense of sight, hearing alone is possessed of certain peculiar properties which render it particularly suitable as a vehicle to the highest insight. The constant stream of ego-bound thoughts to which we are all prey, rarely ceases at the sight of an image, but chanting and music may arrest the flow in an instant. Our auditory nerves transmit sound vibrations immediately & directly deep down into the kernel of our brain.
Mantrayana is a synonym of Vajrayana / Tibetan Buddhism
Om Mani Peme Hung – ‘Hail Jewel of the Lotus’. Some Sanskrit mantras are so old that their original meanings have been long forgotten. Other mantras are believed to be so powerful that they are held in secret by their possessors.
A mantra is like a fractal of the entire practice.
It is the practitioner’s intention that unlocks the powerful energies.
When we recite a mantra, we are calling upon that particular Buddha, bodhisattva, deity, guru, lineage & our ultimate Buddha nature for help & for blessing e.g.
Medicine Buddha – for increase of healing powers & alleviation of sufferings
Tara – “she who saves”, for protection & fearlessness
Chenrezig – for loving kindness & compassion
Buddha Amitayus – for long life
Manjushri – for wisdom, intelligence & insight
Each of these deities has a bija-mantra of one syllable and a heart-mantra
composed of several syllables which embody the energy that the deity personifies.
Medicine Buddha = Hung (bija syllable ) =
TAYATA OM BEKANZE BEKANZE
MAHA BEKANZE RADZE SAMUT GATE SOHA (mantra)
Tara = Tam (bija syllable ) =
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA (mantra)
Guru Rinpoche = Hung (bija syllable ) =
OM AH HUNG BENZA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG (mantra)
Chenrezig = Hrih (bija syllable) =
OM MANI PEME HUNG (mantra)
They are usually chanted 108 times, but otherwise depending on the length could be 3, 7 or 21 times.When the mantra is recited, it is visualized revolving around the glowing bija-mantra in the heart. It can happen after long practice that in a flash union with the deity is experienced. Mere understanding is worthless. The experience has to unfold at a deeper level than that of the intellect when the deity invoked can be made to ‘live’.
“Mantras – Sacred Words of Power” by John Blofield
Each mantra has a mysterious correspondence with various potentialities embedded deeply in our consciousness. The energy of mantric syllables evoke corresponding movements of our consciousness. Mantras said with deep sincerity unlock creative mental powers which we are not normally aware. “Every mantra our Master utters is empowered by the vitality of his steadfast mind.”
One rarely witnesses demonstrations of mantric power due to the natural modesty that comes with spiritual attainment. The mantra derives enormous force from the cumulative power with which it has been invested by the minds of countless people during the course of centuries. Mantric syllables cannot produce their full effect upon the deepest levels of consciousness if our mind is cluttered with concepts and interpretations. Mind is King – it constitutes our source of wisdom & power. Therefore we need to know our mind, recognizing the wisdom functioning from within, is worthy of reverence. Our individual mind is no other than Infinite Mind. Mantric practice is a superb psychological means of achieving direct realization of the divinity within our minds.
Mantras derive their power from the inner attitude of the practitioner. Thus the devotion, conviction & intention of the person is the real source of mantra power.
Mantras can be regarded as spiritual songs which spring from the heart rather than a dutiful repetition of a few syllables.
Lama Govinda says: “The subtle vibrations of mantras are intensified by mental associations which crystallize around them through tradition built by countless yogins over the centuries or individual experience. Subtle sound when conjoined with mental power evokes dormant forces in the practitioner’s mind.”
Mantras have many uses:-
- They help by making our mind stay still
- There is a vast repertoire of mantras and incantations to avoid or cure diseases; to appease spirits; bring about good fortune; clear obstacles & to seek rebirth in the Pure Land.
- Healing mantras can be performed with any type of medicine or even food. Tibetan herbal pills that have been consecrated & empowered by lamas reciting mantras over this medicine for several days.
- There is a mantra practice that enables lamas to create inner body heat known as tumo, enabling them to withstand subzero temperatures.
- Sometimes Great Lamas bless you by blowing mantras onto your face or head – asif clearing deep unconscious perhaps karmic recesses.
- Before going to sleep put a powerful mantra that you have been taught above your head.
- Flags are inscribed with mantras and when they are blown by the wind, they release their blessings to all the spaces of the world. Mantras are also affixed to prayer wheels, computers & even the bottoms of shoes, which allow them to be recited continuously.
- Although they may accomplish a variety of ends, the true significance of mantras & their highest purpose is to assist the practitioner to come face to face with his own divinity & to reach liberation, salvation, enlightenment.
Shabda Brahma (mantra) or the nada (the vibration) has profound effects on the psyche as well as one’s physical self. Mantra sound combinations affect our subtle “power centres” by awakening and blessing us with energies which otherwise lie dormant.
The mantra may be chanted out aloud or repeated silently, or resonated in the mind and should be recited from the base of the stomach. When a Mantra is repeated, the sound waves transform into electrical energy, and if coupled with great devotion, love and compassion it is even more powerful. These vibrations move with great speed through the ether towards the Deity of that Mantra. When it reaches its Deity, it combines with the power of that Deity before bouncing back to re-enter the person chanting the Mantra.
The more the mantra is repeated the more one is ‘charged’ with Divinity. The signs of this charged Mantra re-entering the person chanting it, is evident by the emotion that can move her/him to tears, by uplifting one’s spirits, by recalling beautiful memories, stirring one into bliss or even rousing goose bumps.
On the physical level, the movement of the tongue while pronouncing the Mantra stimulates 84 meridian points located on the roof of the mouth. The movement in turn stimulates the hypothalamus, which releases chemicals throughout the brain and body. Simultaneously, these Mantra sounds are also received by the ear where they are turned into electrical signals which move along the 2 acoustic nerves charging the brain and all parts of the body. Our bodies are excellent conductors of sound vibrations together with the fact that it is made up of 70% water which is a natural conductor.
Listen to this 1.5minute very beautiful sound bite of The Gyatri Mantra.
In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says to Arjuna – “Among all the mantras, I am the Gayatri”.
“The science of mantra is based on the knowledge that Sound is a form of energy having structure, power, and a definite predictable effect on the chakras and the human psyche.” -Yogi Bhajan
“Meditation is the art of hearing the soundless sound, the art of hearing the music of silence — what the Zen people call the sound of one hand clapping. When you are utterly silent, not a single thought passes your mind, there is not even a ripple of any feeling in your heart. Then you start hearing silence.
The Gayatri Mantra the foremost mantra in Hinduism inspires wisdom. Its meaning is that “We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.’ Om (Brahma) is joined to it at the beginning and the end.” Freely translated by Swami Vivekananda.
“Silence has a music of its own. It is not dead, it is very much alive, it is tremendously alive. In fact, nothing is more alive than silence.” –Osho
It is addressed to God as the divine life-giver, symbolized by Savitr (the sun) and is most often recited at sunrise and sunset. In a loose translation that cannot possibly do justice to the original it implores:
OM, O Lord! You are the all pervading Source of Light, Sustainer, Protector and Bestower of Happiness. Kindle, enlighten and inspire our intelligence to possess eternal qualities.
The Gayatri Mantra was traditionally given from the Guru Master to the disciple while standing mid-stream.The disciple would visualize the sun rising out of the darkness and offer water to the sun. During the last two centuries the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra is no longer limited to Brahmins and it also has been freed from caste and gender restrictions. Today it is not only sacred to the Hindus but is widely used for spiritual upliftment and unfolding of consciousness by people throughout the world. The words not only convey meaning but also create great power through being spoken.
The maximum benefit of chanting the mantra is said to be obtained by chanting it 108 times (or even 3, 9, or 18 times if pressed for time). The more one contemplates and meditates upon the Gayatri, the more is revealed. The syllables of the mantra are said to positively affect all the energy centres in the human body. Chanting this Mantra removes all obstacles and increases wisdom, spiritual growth and development.
Not many people know that there is a longer version of the Gayatri Mantra which not used for chanting and is only used for breathing exercises/pranayam. All versions which are used for different purposes, appear in a 5000 year old text the Rig Veda.
“Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha”
“Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Completely Gone Beyond, Enlightenment, So be it”
This is the mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom – the clearest mantra, the mantra of deep insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the highest mantra, the mantra that removes all suffering for there is no deception.
The Heart Sūtra Mantra by Deva Premal
“Silence has a music of its own. It is not dead, it is very much alive, it is tremendously alive. In fact, nothing is more alive than silence.” –Osho
Buddha – “The Manifestation of Silence”
When Buddha was enlightened on that full moon in May, he was silent for a week. He said: “Those who know, they know even without my saying, and those who do not know, they will not know by my words.” So the angels asked Buddha to please say something for those who are on the borderline…a few words will give them a push. Please say something for their sake.
The purpose of words is to create silence. If words create more noise, then they have not reached their goal. The words of Buddha would definitely create silence because Buddha is the manifestation of Silence. His silence came from saturation, not from lack. Lack creates complaints and noise. Saturation brings silence. Noise is about something. Silence is about nothing. Silence is the basis. Noise is the surface. By recognizing the Silence manifesting in your life, you cross the ocean of Samsara (the ocean of suffering).
Words cannot capture existence – but silence can. Space & silence are synonymous.
Desire brings noise. Silence is the cure because in silence you come back to the source, and that creates joy. When a mind is filled with its own noise, it is unable to perceive the music of existence. Silence is the secret of this existence.
The source of the mind is silence. That is why Buddha said: “No mind.”
A question is looking for an answer, while wonder is a question that is not looking for an answer. The astonishment of wonder does not seek an answer. It brings you home to silence. Become hollow and empty….become nobody.
by H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Silence in Different Faiths
According to cultural norms, silence can be interpreted as positive or negative. For example, in a Christian Methodist faith organization silence and reflection during the sermons might be appreciated by the congregation, while in a Southern Baptist church, silence might mean disagreement or perhaps disconnectedness from the congregation. In Christianity, there is the silence of contemplative prayer and meditation; in Islam, the Sufis assert the importance of finding silence within; in Buddhism, allowing the mind to become silent is implicit to experiencing our essential nature; in Hinduism and the many paths of yoga, silence is essential for inner growth. A silent mind, freed from the onslaught of thoughts and thought patterns, is an important step in spiritual development. Such “inner silence” is not about the absence of sound, instead, it brings one in contact with the divine, the ultimate reality or with one’s true self.
Environment experts have predicted that in the 21st century we will bear a shortage of water and silence.
Noise is unwanted sound. People and animals need areas where silence is respected. Silence centres have become very popular and big companies have their own Silence centres for employees who want to retreat for a while.
Office Noise Solutions / Acoustic control in workspaces
Silence in Meditation.
As long as we remain unconscious, we cannot make skilful choices to change our patterns that create karmic effects. Meditation gives wisdom an opportunity to be expressed through us. Paying attention to the moment makes the whole of life a meditation.
The repetition of mantras or sacred words can deflect compulsive thoughts and invoke powerful meditations. Empowered mantras by one’s teacher gives added charge to the power of both the words and their sounds, slotting one into the mindstream of centuries of enlightened masters of that particular lineage.
Sound is a skillful meditation tool because it is inherently not graspable and is empty. In order to tune-in, we need to slow down – be still, relax and surrender to the allure of wild thoughts which eventually dissolve into silence. In this stillness we can experience a meditation state called ‘shamata’. When we slow right down it seems asif we experience ourselves becoming contemplated, with insight ‘walking in’.
We know that it is moments of silence that can give a piece of music a sense of timelessness. So too, we can bring this into our lives as it is in the relationship of Sound and of Silence that we can experience timelessness and be lifted out of our limitations. Timelessness can be spontaneously realized in a moment. It is a state of being.
The maturing mind is an ongoing process of integration and synthesis. We endeavour to cultivate inner stability so that we are sturdy and robust enough to allow our vulnerability to teach us about the wonders and potentialities of the “I don’t know spaces”, the in-between spaces, the unspeakable and the unknown unpredictable arisings that fire us to the core. These are the places where the wrathful warrior moves with unswaying intent beyond his subjectivity and faithfully plays his part as best as he can – doing what needs to be done without glamour. This is our responsibility and pleasure of living Life ‘awake’. We need Silence to be able to open to wisdom, to act with impeccability and with commitment to the world. This is obeying the Law of our being. This is being inside the heart of creation and briefly quenching our longing.