Lecture delivered at the Hermetic Brotherhood Hall, San Francisco, on December 19y 1902
THE KINGDOM of Heaven is within you. How have you to realize that?
There is a very beautiful story showing how to realize this kingdom of Heaven within us. It is related that at one time the Vedas were taken by a demon and carried to the bottom of the sea.
The word ‘Veda‘ has two meanings. The original meaning is knowledge, the kingdom of Heaven. The second meaning is, the most sacred Scriptures of the Hindus.
The name of this demon, said to have carried the Vedas to the bottom of the sea, was Shankhasur which etymologically means the demon of the conch-shell or the “insect dwelling in conch.”
In order to redeem the Vedas, in order to bring back the treasures of knowledge, God incarnated as a fish, fought with the demon, destroyed it, and brought back the Vedas to the world.
Children read that story and take it literally; common people read it and take it literally, but there is a deep, hidden meaning in the story. The story was meant to illustrate a general truth.
God incarnated as a fish to bring back the Vedas from the worm living in the conch-shell. God incarnated as a fish and fought the demon or insect at the bottom of the sea, and destroyed it. W hat was the use of this? The fish is a maritime animal and the conch-shell is also inhabited by a creature of the sea. Now God, the AH, in the shape of the fish fought the insect of the sea. The insect was driven out of the shell and the waves of the sea washed the shell ashore. People picked it up. The conch-shell was blown and there came out of it the reverberating sound OM. This is Veda. In this sense was the Veda, the conch-shell, brought from the bottom of the sea.
The story teller meant to lay particular stress on the importance of the sacred man tram OM. The object is to show that this sacred syllable OM is the end of knowledge in all the world. It is all the Vedas, all the Kingdom of Heaven put in a conch-shell, condensed to its smallest compass. That was the object of this story.
The Hindus blow conch-shell on all sacred and important occasions, i.e., they chant OM at the time of death, birth, war, or worship. Happy is he who lives, moves and has his being in OM.
In order to come by these treasures within, or in order that the kingdom of Heaven may be unlocked, this is the key to be used.
The people of Europe and America do not wish to take up anything unless it appeals to their intellect. Even though we may not be able to prove the virtue of this mantram by the logic of the world, yet there is no denial of the powerful effect which this mantram, chanted in the proper way, produces on the character of a man, or of the virtue it has of unfolding inner secrets, in placing all the treasures of the world at our disposal. One object of the story-teller was to show that all the knowledge of the sacred Scriptures of the Hindus was obtained when the writers of these volumes had thrown themselves into ecstasies by the humming of this syllable. This mantram is the seed of all knowledge. The importance of this mantram will be laid before you from different stand-points. It is necessary to show the importance of this mantram in order that the people may take to it with their whole heart.
First of all, the mantram OM does not belong to any special language. Thinking it to be a Sanskrit word and not belonging to any other language, do not reject it. It is the name of God. This syllable comes to you from within, nobody teaches you this syllable. It comes to you at birth. The child’s cry resembles remarkably the sound Oom, Om, Aam, a perverted form of OM. The word OM comes from within to every child.
The true way to write OM is AUM. According to the rules of Sanskrit Grammar, A and U, when connected together coalesce into O. Even the mute can produce the sounds of A, U, and M. Thus OM in its entirety, in its parts, is brought to the world by everybody and by himself. It is the most natural word which can occur to anybody. When boys are very happy in the streets, their overflowing joy finds natural expression in the noisy sound of prolonged O, which is simply OM cut short.
This sound occurs in every language, Sanskrit, Persian, English, Japanese, all have it in a more or less perfect form. This sound O is used on occasions when people get Beyond themselves; when they are exhilarated, when they are filled with joy, this sound naturally comes to them. When people fall sick or are in trouble, when they are suffering excruciating pain, what sound finds utterance through their lips? It is Oh, Oh or Um, which is a mere corruption of OM. The Hebrew, the Arabic, the English prayers end with Amen, which most remarkably resembles OM. The last letter in the Greek alphabet is Omega giving the sound Om a prominent place.
Why should this sound come to everybody, why should this sound come from the lips of everybody in illness, be he a European, American, Hindu, Persian, Japanese, or of any denomination? The Hindu answers. This sound is like a beautiful tree yielding a cool shade to the sick man who is being scorched by the burning sun, so naturally does this sick person seek the cool shelter of the spreading tree. Thus it is that everybody when sick or suffering naturally resorts to this syllable OM, this natural sound. It gives him a little relief. We see it naturally brings relief under all circumstances; the sick are relieved by chanting this sound. If it can bring relief even to the sick and suffering, may it not bring peace and harmony if you sing it in the right way? We call it pranava and mean by it something that pervades life or runs through prana or breath. Every animal sends forth this sound, it is associated with his breath. If you breathe forcibly so as to make respiration audible, you will see that the sound if represented by an articulate word is Soham, Soham, (breathing through the nose). This sound is in the breath of all; now in this we see S-O-H-A-M.
Sanskrit Grammar is more developed than any other in the world. It has analysed all sounds and all words perfectly. M is called a consonant but this consonant is nasal and it is proved that M is a consonant which borders on vowelhood. O and A are vowels according to all Grammars. S and H sre consonants. Throw aside the consonants and we have O, A, M, or OM.
Now, you see that the vowels are independent sounds and the consonants are dependent sounds, they cannot stand alone or by themselves. For instance, here is the consonant K; you call it Kay, in Sanskrit it is Ka; you must join a Vowel like E or A to the original sound of the consonant and then it becomes capable of being pronounced.
Consonants represent name and form in this world. All names and forms in this world are like consonants^ dependent. Can any of them stand alone without the supreme reality behind them? All phenomena consist of names and forms which cannot be pronounced without an underlying noumenon or reality, substratum, God, the Unknowable or whatever you may choose to call it. The underlying reality is proved to be the absolute being, absolute knowledge and absolute bliss, denoted respectively by A, U, and M. Thus in Soham the consonants S and II stand for the phenomenal names, form and shape, and the inherent Om represents the underlying reality.
If we have toys made of sugar but of various shapes, some in the shape of a dog, some in the shape of an ox, some in the shape of a lion, some in the shape of a man, they differ from one another, but all the difference lies in mere shapes and forms and names. Being made out of one substance all of them are the same, sugar.
Go to the ocean. There you will find a ripple here and a ripple there, a breaker here and a breaker there, differing in size and shape, but look at the reality behind them, it is the one ocean; all are the same, they are all water; the difference lies in shape and form.
Take up the diamond so brilliant, so sparkling, so dazzling, so hard that it will cut iron easily; then take charcoal so soft that it will easily leave a mark on paper, so dirty, so ugly, so worthless. Chemists tell us that there is no difference in reality between the two. Both are the same carbon, no difference whatever between the two. Then what makes the apparent difference, it is the difference in the shape and form. The condition and shape of the particles of carbon in one is different from the other, the only difference is in form.
Similarly, according to Hindu Philosophy, all separate divisions in this world are due to name and form. If you dive deep into the bottom, if you analyse the underlying reality in all names and forms, you will see that there is One unchangeable, everlasting, immutable principle behind all. That Reality stands by itself. That Reality might be compared to the vowel sounds, and the name and form might well be compared to the consonant sounds. Thus So-ham, S and H representing name and form, something dependent, being omitted, only Reality remains and we come to the syllable AUM -OM. Thus OM is the reality which runs through your breath. It is present in all breath of the world, it is the most natural name of the power which is at the back of all difference, all divisions, all separateness, the most natural name for the Reality.
Professor Max Muller and other philosophers with him have proved that all thought is related to language as the obverse and reverse of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. Could you see this object, the table, without thinking of it? Could you perceive anything else without thinking accordingly? The very word ‘perceive‘ signifies mental thought.
Again, thought and language are the same; you cannot think without language. The infant knows no language and has no thought. Let the child begin to think, it cannot until it has language. The mother breathes names into the ears of the child; the meanings of names are being breathed into the heart of the boy. The meaning is related to the words of the mother as the rider to the horse. Upon the horse of words the rider of meaning rides into the soul of the child.
We cannot think without language. Thought and language are one, and we have already seen that the world and thought are also one. Therefore language and thought being in a way identical, and also thought and the world being identical, word and the world are kin to each other. No object in this world is observed without thought. Try to see an object and do not let its conception enter your mind; it will be impossible. In fact, perceiving the blackboard means thinking of the blackboard.
All objects of this world are the counterpart of the corresponding idea. Nothing is perceived in this world without thought; and there can be no thought without language. The world is related to language as the obverse and reverse of the same coin. This tells you the real truth or the real significance of “In the beginning there was the word, the word was with God and the word was God.”
Now, we want to have a single word or sound which will represent the whole world. We want some word which will represent the power, the energy, the force, the governing substance, the thing in itself which upholds the universe.
In all the languages we have some sounds which come from the throat, others which come from the lips, others back in the mouth near the palate. There is not a single sound in any language which springs from a region of the vocal organs below the throat. The throat is the boundary, or rather one boundary of the range of the vocal organs, the lips are the other boundary. None comes from outside the lips.
Here we have A, U, M; the sound A is guttural. This corner from one boundary of the vocal organs.
U (oo) proceeds exactly from the middle of the range of sounds, middle of the vocal regions near the palate.
M is labial and nasal sound at the end or extremity of the vocal organs or regions. Thus A represents the beginning of the range of sound; U represents the middle, and M represents the end. It covers the whole field. OM, OM is the most natural name. It represents all language and consequently all world. Here arises a question. There are many other sounds which are located in the throat like A. Similarly IT and M have many kindred sounds. Why should not any other guttural chosen arbitrarily and joined with any other sound akin to U and also to any other kindred labial of form, a word to represent all languages?
Similarly, out of all the other sounds which proceed from the same region as U (oo), U is the only sound which may be called the lord, the chief, the monarch of them all. It is a vowel, a sound brought out by every child. A mute has it with him, it was not taught by others, it came of itself, and is consequently the best representative of its kind. M is the best representation of all the labials. There is another peculiarity about it. It is nasal and covers up all the field of the nose which is the seat of the breath. Thus we see that if there could be any perfect name, it is OM. This is the All the Vedanta, nay, all the philosophy of the Hindus is simply an exposition of this syllable OM. OM covers the whole universe. There is not a law, not a force in the whole world, not an object in all the world which is not comprised by the syllable OM. One by one you will see that all the planes of being, all the worlds, all phases of existence are covered by this syllable AUM, OM. This is the representative of all languages. It is the representative of all thought. It is the representative of the whole world.
Sounds are of two kinds, articulate and inarticulate. We call them Dhyanatmik and Varnatmik. These Sanskrit names are full of meaning. Varnatmik means literally “sounds capable of being put in black and white”, Dhyanatmik means “Sounds which cannot be put in writing. All ordinary language is Varnatmik. The language of feeling is Dhyanatmik; it cannot be expressed by characters or written in words.
A man laughs. Could you express that in any written language? Could you represent that on paper? A man weeps. That you cannot put on paper. These are Dhyanatmik. We see that the articulate sounds, or the artificial language Dhyanatmik, have a purpose which cannot be served by Varnatmik. Suppose some of you go to a foreign country, or a foreigner comes to your country, he cannot speak or understand your language. He requires something, perhaps, he wants to purchase something. You do not understand him. Perhaps the man is hungry, requires something to eat; not understanding his language you do not attend to his needs. The man begins to cry and to weep. You then understand, then you see. This language of feeling is understood everywhere, but the Varrnatmik or artificial language is understood by those only who have learned it. The natural language is understood everywhere.
You begin to laugh, all understand that something funny or pleasing has occurred to you or is within you. Here is a man who plays on a musical instrument, say, the violin; you know the harmony. The language of music is Dhyanatmik and understood by everybody.
In the Merchant of Venice we read therefore the
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods Since naught so stockish, hard and full of rage But music for the time doth change his nature.”
The language of music is not of the same kind as the language of our thought. It has a particular use, there is a charm about it. Science may or may not be able to prove how and why music produces such a charming influence upon you, but it remains a fact. If Science cannot prove it, then it is to blame for that Siinilarly, OM, OM has a charm about it, an efficiency, a virtue in it which directly brings the mind of one who chants it under control, which directly brings ail feeling and all thought in a state of harmony; brings peace and rest to the soul and puts the mind in a state where it is one with God. Science may not be able to explain this, but this is a fact which can be verified by experiment. Woe unto Science if it goes against the truth connected with the efficacy of the sacred syllable OM.