Rosicrucian Writings Online


Aum--Om--Amen

THE REAL NATURE OF THESE MYSTIC WORDS
 
By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest April 1935]
 
 
OF ALL the mystic words found in the teachings, rituals, and symbolism of the various mystical and philosophical schools of the Orient and the Occident, the words Aum, Om, and Amen are most frequently used and most generally recognized.
 
But the average student of mysticism in the Occident knows little, indeed, about either the origin or nature of these words. In the Rosicrucian rituals and teachings several of these words are used. They are rightly applied to certain principles, and correctly associated with certain laws. Perhaps of all the various mystical bodies in the Occident, the Rosicrucians use these words more precisely in their mystical studies and principles. But from the questions that occasionally come to us from our members and from non-members who read our literature and magazines, it is apparent that there is still some unnecessary mystery surrounding these words, and I feel that it may be helpful to touch upon this subject in greater detail.
 
Very few of the Christians in the Occidental world who use the word Amen (pronounced a-men) seem to realize that they are using a very ancient mystical word, and that their use of it is more or less incorrect and most certainly misunderstood. And, strange to say, very few Christians know that Jesus Himself was called "The Amen" as revealed in a passage in the Christian Bible. This illustrates how mystical words may be attached to ritualism without a correct understanding of their use, or their nature, and how such words may be continued in use through many centuries as a mere formality. Incidentally, it may be said that in the Christian ritualism and ceremonies there are many mystical, Oriental, and even pagan elements that were adopted by the early Christians and have come down through the ages with an entirely erroneous application and with a complete elimination of the beautiful mystical power that could be derived from a correct use of them, and an understanding application of them. But that is another subject with which we may deal at some other time.
 
It may not be apparent at first to the average student of mysticism that these words Aum, Om, and Amen are identical except in spelling or linguistic nature. In each case the "m" sound is of extreme importance, and in pronouncing the words it should not only be emphasized but prolonged. The "o" and the "au" and the "a" are almost identical in sound, and in mystical ceremonies in the Orient are pronounced in the tone and pitch of the musical note A in the first octave above Middle C. The word Amen should be pronounced as though it were spelled "Amn," or really "Am," and as one syllable rather than two. If it were spelled "Ahmn" we would be able to pronounce it more correctly for the "a" should have a fairly broad sound given to it.
 
Undoubtedly hundreds of books have been written, and many hundreds of secret manuscripts prepared dealing with these three words, or with the root of them. For the root sound is more easily recognized by English-speaking people in the form of Aum. Those familiar with the Christian religion will recall the passage in the Christian Bible which states that "in the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And there are other references not only in the Christian Bible but in the sacred writings of other lands relating to the fact that this word was made flesh at one time or another in the past, and may be made a living word again. It is interesting to know also that in nearly every spoken language of the world there is a sound that is equivalent to Aum or Om.
 
It is interesting to note, also, that almost the first sound that every babe makes in its attempt to express itself or reveal its inner emotions by sound is that which is caused by the pronunciation of the letter "m." In all of the sacred chants of the East two sounds are more often repeated and used in connection with various ideas expressed in a mystical manner: these are the sounds of "au" or "ah," and the "m" sound. In our secret teachings the meaning of the "m" sound is made very plain and is significantly revealed. The sound of "ah" or the broad sound "a" is almost universally a sound of adoration or of awesome enthusiasm representing the expression of ecstasy of the soul and mind. It is used, therefore, in many chants and sacred utterances to express adoration, and in such cases is used in a prolonged tone of "ah" to the note of the keyboard mentioned a moment ago.
 
Right here the investigator might say that he would like to know why some other sounds such as "oh" often used in the English language to express surprise or confusion, or other letters of the alphabet such as "r" or "e" or "i" are not used for mystical purposes, or made to represent the word "that was in the beginning." May I say in answer to this natural question that the combination of "ah" and "m" represents in its perfect and correct pronunciation a rate of vibration that is filled with creative, Divine power that brings immediate attunement with the Cosmic forces. It should be kept in mind that man discovered these words and did not invent them. Whether we classify this discovery as a result of Divine revelation or from experiments on the part of the sincere seeker, the fact remains that man did not arbitrarily select the sounds of "ah" and "m" but found that of all the sounds he could utter these were associated definitely and positively with Divine and creative power that produced certain effects within his being and within his aura around him. The mere fact that in many different countries widely separated and out of contact with one another, the natives in ancient times independently adopted the similar sounds in their rituals and chanting, for the same purpose, most certainly proves that there is a power and a quality in these particular vowels and in their uttered sound that cannot be found in other words.
 
As I am preparing this article my radio is tuned to a soft musical program which is suddenly interrupted by the spiritual singing of some negroes who are emphasizing some of their old-time songs known as "spirituals." Without the least analytical effort I notice the constant repetition of the "ah" and "m" sound in their songs, and the very noticeable prolonged humming sound of the "m," often drawn out to great length by a few of the voices while the others emphasize the "ah" sound. It is generally recognized in the Occident that the negro spiritual songs contain a spiritual element and quality that at times appears to be uncanny, and certainly mystical. Many persons think that this is something that is native to the American negroes, whereas in fact it is an inheritance from their African forebears, and this in turn is a part of the universal, Oriental, eastern ritualism that is so widespread among foreign nations and peoples. In these sounds of Aum--Om--Amen we have vibrations of the highest quality of Cosmic power and consciousness.
 
In many other mystical names and words we have some of this quality hidden or concealed. I refer to such words, for instance, as Rama, Padme, Omar, and similar words.
 
In attempting to pronounce these words you will notice that little physical effort is required, and that a very peaceful and relaxed attitude of the body and mind can be maintained while using them, and that this relaxed condition enables the entire body to be benefited by the sound vibrations which set up a condition of attunement with the Cosmic almost immediately. In the Sanskrit grammar we learn much about these sounds, and it should be kept in mind that the Sanskrit language was probably the first one in which the mystical words were first associated with ideas in a definite manner, and regulated in their application. In the Sanskrit language the combination of "a" and "u" is equivalent to a dipthong pronounced as the "o" is pronounced in other languages, and this "o" has the same sound as "ah" or "auh." The correct pronunciation of the sound has an immediate effect through the sound channels of the mouth and head upon the pituitary and pineal glands, and even the thyroid. These effects are transferred psychically through the sympathetic nervous system to all of the psychic centers and plexuses of the human body.
 
It is for this reason that the mystic in private, relaxed meditation often begins his period of Cosmic attunement by the repetition of this mystical word either as "aum" or "om," repeating it slowly ten or twelve times, and always trying to strike the correct musical pitch. In this connection it is well for those who wish to experiment more extensively with the word to secure a little pitchpipe at some music store, securing one which will give the "a" sound, or a tuning fork that will do so. If there is a musical instrument in the house it will be a valuable help to practice this word with the correct note on the instrument for a number of days until one becomes trained in correctly determining the right pitch and tone.
 
Analyzing the word "aum" as the more correct of the three syllables, we find that each of the three letters composing it has a power and mystical importance of its own. The "a" sound is associated with the basic powers of the psychic nature, and of the physical body and physical world. For this reason we find the "a" is often associated in mystical ritualism with the following expressions or ideas: Brahma, Father, Harmony, Omnipresence. The "u" sound comes from the center of the psychic body and is very closely related to the pituitary and pineal glands. It has a very definite effect upon them. But this is not true if the "u" is pronounced alone and separately as in the English language where we pronounce it like the word you. When associated with the letter "a" as "ah" the "u" should be very soft and in the form of "oo," as in the English word mood. This gives you the double sound of "ahoo" with the accent on the "ah," and the "ah" sound drawn out slightly and ending with the sound of "oo." The letter "u" in this tone and manner of application is associated in ancient rituals with the words Vishnu, mind, light, son, and omnipotence. When we add the sound of "m" we are drawing upon the vibrations from the tip of the tongue, so to speak, and bringing the other two to outer expression. By prolonging the "m" into a long humming sound at the end of a word, we are adding the significance of "m" which has always been associated in ancient literature with the Holy Ghost, with spirit, love, the psychic body, Siva, the dream state, passivity, and omniscience.
 
Analyzing all of these facts we see at once that the word is, after all, another and a very universal name for God, or the Almighty. This is why in the early Christian literature Jesus was referred to as "The Amen." Instantly we realize that the use of the word "Amen" in the Protestant Christian churches at the end of prayers or glorious expressions to mean "so mote it be" is erroneous.
 
These mystical words of Aum, Om, and Amen should always be used very reverently as though one were handling or touching one of the most sacred symbols of Divinity. They are not magic words (as some other words used in Oriental, mystical literature to bring a sense of protection and guardianship in times of emergency) nor are they curative or therapeutic words to be used in pain and suffering; but purely Divine words to bring about Cosmic attunement, and at-onement with God in the highest spiritual sense, and only for a Holy purpose should they be used.
   

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