Om, sometimes spelled ohm or aum, is generally believed to be the primordial sound. Om is the universal frequency, the sound which gave birth to the Universe in its current manifestation. Thus, om is an all-encompassing frequency intertwined with everything that has been created, both material and immaterial.
The om sound itself is often used during meditations and rituals to help ground the body, gain the attention of spirits and guardians, or to close a ceremony. It is said that by chanting the sacred om, one is able to match the frequency of their body with the frequency of the Universe, bringing about a natural harmony.
Om is also known for being symbolized by a curving image that looks a bit like a 3 with some add-ons. In this article, we’ll talk mostly about what the om symbol means.
Aspects of the Om Symbol
There are three main aspects of the om symbol: curves, a crescent, and a dot.
The om is alleged to represent four separate states of consciousness that are forever interrelated, as well as the barrier that separates humanity from our highest natural state of being.
The four states are:
- The regular, everyday waking state, characterized by the bottom curve
- The dream state, characterized by the middle curve on the right side of the symbol
- The state of deep sleep or unconsciousness, characterized by the uppermost curve
- The absolute, non-dual state signified by eternal bliss and non-judgment is characterized by the dot at the very top of the image.
Each of these states of being come with their own benefits and obstacles, all of which are necessary to understand for the aspirant hoping to achieve union with the divine.
The crescent, which is located above the top curve and below the dot, is said to symbolize the great Illusion and barrier which keeps humanity apart from our natural state of absolute bliss.
The Regular Waking State
Our normal waking state is the everyday experience for most people. This state is characterized by looking outward, and perceiving the physical world through the use of our five senses. The regular waking state is necessary for navigating the material realm, however becoming attached to or identified with this state creates great obstacles on the path towards the Absolute.
The Dream State
During the dream state, we perceive inwards. We recognize that great worlds and realities lie within our own minds, and we begin to explore these concepts, ideas, and landscapes.
The Unconscious / Deep Sleep State
During the state of deep sleep, the conscious mind is generally shut off. During this state, there are no dreams, no desires, and no thoughts. Some may experience the unconscious state while they are awake, though the majority of individuals experience it only when they have been asleep for several hours.
The Absolute State
The absolute state of consciousness is that which yogis, meditators, spiritual and religious aspirants aim to achieve throughout years of practice.
In the absolute state, there is no duality: one looks neither inwards, nor outwards, and yet perceives both. One judges nothing as either good nor bad. Yin and yang have been merged, and a state of blissful equanimity is the result.
The Om Symbol and Ganesha
It is also said that the Om symbol represents the elephant form of the great Hindu god, Ganesha.
The two curves on the left side of the Om are said to signify his head and his abdomen. The right-hand curve is said to be his trunk.
This is fitting, as Ganesha is said to be the deity most involved in helping people remove obstacles from their path. This represents the need to overcome the dualized or ineffective states of consciousness that function as barriers between ourselves and the Absolute.
The Om symbol has been used for thousands of years in Hinduism, and has become increasingly popular across the world in the last century. The symbol represents a great many concepts and ideas, providing a rough, symbolic framework regarding how one can overcome spiritual obstacles.