I’ve written on the pranava or cosmic sound before. Pra means cosmic or primary. Nava has a few meanings including the number nine and more pertinently, new or fresh. It is the sound of our universe becoming.
We can certainly point to evidence of an historical starting point for our current universe. Yet as physics recognizes, the world around us and our body-minds are being recreated in every moment. Creation is ongoing as is the sound of the pranava.
Change is constant, but usually gradual. The sustaining force is stronger. Forms are sustained by expressing through patterns and geometry, structured by the inherent intelligence.
We can experience this directly as a flavour of sustained becoming. There are many more complex experiences of vibration that are not pranava. But pranava itself can be experienced various ways. Here are several that are most common:
– Experienced bodily as vibration. Like our entire body is moving on a fine level, constantly.
– Heard as a constant high tone, almost like a whistle.
– Heard as a deep, sustained rumble. This is as above but from a distinct vantage point.
– Heard as an Auuum sound, as if spoken by someone with a deep voice.
– Seen as a vibrating ocean with primary colours (gunas).
– Seen in the body as a constant becoming.
Our understanding of the pranava has gotten a little garbled though. The high-pitched whistle is often confused with tinnitus (ear damage). Here it’s refined perception. It comes from development, not damage.
For some, it can be quite loud for a time. Once related channels are clear, that resolves itself.
We often call the pranava “Om.” Om is a mantra for Shiva and may be used to start Vedic chanting out of respect for Shiva. This relates to an old story where he was left out of a yagya, so Daksha threw herself into the ceremonial fire to complete it.
Om is widely presented in a stylized Hindi letter, adorning many t-shirts, posters, etc. But Om is not the pranava, Aum is. They may seem similar, but their qualities are quite distinct. Just consider a detached observer vs a constant becoming. Or the difference between To and Tau.
If we (can) sustain our attention on the sound of becoming, then shift up slightly, we move to a more differentiated level.
Some describe hearing the pranava shift into words, like the sound of the Vedas. Agnim Ile Purohitam….
Others describe it as shifting into letters. A U M becomes A I U Ri Lri E O Am, the short vowels that begin Sanskrit. Then it may step into consonants or words.
It may also be experienced as shifting directly into world appearance, as if we passed through to the screen of a movie theatre.
Another experience is as progressive spirals as each element (or kosha) spirals into being in increasing density.
Every form in the world has a corresponding sound or “true name” and a prototype structure of its ideal. There are many variations on these themes that may arise.
Don’t try too hard to figure out what some experience is. That’s just mind wanting to feel in control. With regular spiritual practice and a decent lifestyle, perception will refine and more and more clarity will emerge. Gradually, the intelligence within experience will become conscious. With that, experiences will become more self-explanatory.
We’ll also go through cycles of greater and lesser clarity. Nothing is lost but development can be overshadowed for a time. And then one day, we emerge out the other side and see the development that’s been processing and integrating.
Patience is a virtue, especially on a spiritual journey.