Mandukya Upanishad - 12 Verses on Om Mantra
- Excerpted from the approximately 23-page article on OM Mantra
See also Seven Practices with OM:
MANDUKYA UPANISHAD - 12 VERSES ON OM MANTRA:
The pinnacle of the wisdom of the ancient sages is contained in the
terse twelve verses of the Mandukya Upanishad, which outlines the
philosophy and practices of the OM mantra. It has been said that the
juice of the Vedas is in the Upanishads, and the juice of the
Upanishads is in the Mandukya Upanishad. OM Mantra is also suggested
as a direct route to samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. The teachings of the
Mandukya Upanishad are well worth deep study, discussion, reflection
and contemplation. By faithfully and intently engaging these twelve
verses, all of the other written and oral teachings can be explored
as expansions of the foundation principles and practices encapsulated
in this succinct summary. It is not only a most insightful writing,
but also a complete outline for sadhana, enlightenment practices. The
OM Mantra is a roadmap of the entire process of sadhana and a most
practical tool for Self-Realization.
Verses 1-2 describe the Self and the Absolute.
Verses 3-7 explain the four levels of consciousness.
Verses 8-12 outline the four aspects of AUM.
THE SELF AND THE ABSOLUTE (VERSES 1-2):
1) ALL IS OM: Hari Om. The whole universe is the syllable Om.
Following is the exposition of Om. Everything that was, is, or will
be is, in truth Om. All else which transcends time, space, and
causation is also Om.
2) ATMAN HAS FOUR ASPECTS: All of this, everywhere, is in truth
Brahman, the Absolute Reality. This very Self itself, Atman, is also
Brahman, the Absolute Reality. This Atman or Self has four aspects
through which it operates.
FOUR LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS (VERSES 3-7):
3) FIRST IS WAKING / GROSS: The first aspect of Atman is the Self in
the Waking state, Vaishvanara. In this first state, consciousness is
turned outward to the external world. Through its seven instruments
and nineteen channels, it experiences the gross objects of the
4) SECOND IS DREAMING / SUBTLE: The second aspect of Atman is the
Self in the Dreaming state, Taijasa. In this second state,
consciousness is turned towards the inner world. It also operates
through seven instruments and nineteen channels, which engage the
subtle objects of the mental realm.
5) THIRD IS DEEP SLEEP / CAUSAL: The third aspect of Atman is the
Self operating in the Deep Sleep state, Prajna. In this third state,
there is neither the desire for any gross or subtle object, nor any
dream sequences. In deep sleep, all such experiences have receded or
merged into the ground of undifferentiated consciousness. Here, one
is filled with the experience of bliss, and can also find the way to
clearer knowledge of the two preceding states.
6) FIND THE EXPERIENCER: The one who experiences all of these states
of consciousness is the omniscient, indwelling source and director of
all. This one is the womb out of which all of the other emerge. All
things originate from and dissolve back into this source.
7) THE FOURTH ASPECT IS TURIYA: The fourth aspect of Atman or Self is
Turiya, literally the fourth. In this fourth state, consciousness is
neither turned outward nor inward. Nor is it both outward and inward;
it is beyond both cognition and the absence of cognition. This fourth
state of Turiya cannot be experienced through the senses or known by
comparison, deductive reasoning or inference; it is indescribable,
incomprehensible, and unthinkable with the mind. This is Pure
Consciousness itself. This is the real Self. It is within the
cessation of all phenomena. It is serene, tranquil, filled with
bliss, and is one without second. This is the real or true Self that
is to be realized.
FOUR ASPECTS OF AUM (VERSES 8-12):
8) THOSE FOUR ARE THE SAME WITH "A-U-M" AND SILENCE: That Om, though
described as having four states, is indivisible; it is pure
Consciousness itself. That Consciousness is Om. The three sounds A-U-
M (ah, ou, mm) and the three letters A, U, M are identical with the
three states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, and these three
states are identical with the three sounds and letters. The fourth
state, Turiya is to be realized only in the silence behind or beyond
the other three.
9) THE SOUND "A" IS WAKING / GROSS: Vaishvanara is the consciousness
experienced during the waking state, and is A, the first letter of
Om. That simple sound of A is first and permeates all other sounds.
One who is aware of this first level of reality has fulfillment of
all longings and is successful.
10) THE SOUND "U" IS DREAMING / SUBTLE: Taijasa is the consciousness
experienced during the dreaming state, and is U, the second letter of
Om. This intermediate state operates between the waking and sleeping
states, reflecting some qualities of the other two. One who knows
this subtler state is superior to others. For one who knows this,
knowers of Brahman, the Absolute Reality, will be born into his
11) THE SOUND "M" IS DEEP SLEEP / CAUSAL: Prajna is the consciousness
experienced during the state of dreamless, deep sleep, and is M, the
third letter of Om. It contains the other two, and is that from which
the other two emerge, and into they recede or merge. A knower of this
more subtle state can understand all within himself.
12) SILENCE AFTER "A-U-M" IS THE TRUE SELF: The fourth aspect is the
soundless aspect of Om. It is not utterable and is not comprehended
through the senses or by the mind. With the cessation of all
phenomena, even of bliss, this soundless aspect becomes known. It is
a state of nondual (advaita) realityone without a second. This
fourth state, Turiya, is the real Self or true Self. One with direct
experience of this expands to Universal Consciousness.