The finite and the infinite
When you breathe in and out your breathing goes on automatically. It has nothing to do with your own volition. In the same way universes emerge and merge back into the absolute ground of existence just as you breathe in and out. There are so many planets. There are so many solar systems. There are all the inter-planetary energies and these interactions shape the different qualities of life and consciousness. It is an amazing dance. This planet and the life on it is just a drop in the ocean.
The human being asks, “Why has the infinite produced the finite?” There is no why. The human being wants to grasp and comprehend it but he can’t. In truth there is neither finite nor infinite. But when the human being can’t measure or define something he calls it infinite. When time can’t be measured, the human being calls it eternity. But infinite and finite are just words. Life is neither finite nor infinite. It is just isness or suchness. The intelligence contained in the human body emerges and then it merges back one day into the space from which it emerged. It was never born and so it never dies. Intelligence cannot die.
So what I am trying to point out to you is that the framework of logic which is only interested in the how and why of things is not applicable to life. The emergence and merging back of the play of life is without motivation. It is a reason-fee and cause-free movement just as love and joy are without purpose or motive.
To relate to the wholeness of the cosmos is difficult for the human being. That is why the human mind has created god and gods and the whole paraphernalia of heavens and hells and rewards and punishments. You see the human mind is obsessed with motives and purposes. So the human being has created all its petty organised religions because the human being cannot reconcile itself to the idea of a cosmos that is spontaneously arisen and free of the petty motives and purposes of the human mind. So the gods are created and you worship them and you feel some sort of emotional satisfaction. There is the fulfilment of the psychological need to feel secure. The human being finds it too difficult to be comfortable with the infinite and the timeless. So there are all the temples and all the rituals and prayers. So, go ahead and worship them for as long as you need them.
The real is indicated by the symbol OM. According to the ancient rishis of India, the reality emerged from the akasha and from that emerged the movement of breath as energy. OM is the sound of the energy of the vital breath or prana permeating the cosmos. It is the quintessence of all essences. OM is how the rishis expressed the primordial sound of the cosmos. OM is the cosmic sound existing because of the movement of the primordial energy of life. OM is the sound of wholeness, homogeneous, self-generated and self-luminous. The Sufis refer to it as HU. It is the soundless sound that is without friction. It is the primordial light or awareness which is effortlessly there. It is not born of duality. It is the substance of being. When the emptiness or isness explodes and emerges into the form of the universe, there is this sound. This sound and light are inseparable. Sound and light go together. So the emergence of light is this OM.
In the human body, there is space within its molecular structure. In that space there is the sound energy. Space contains sound. Sound is of the substance of silence. It permeates silence. When it permeates it, it is whole. When it becomes manifest the wholeness is disturbed. OM is the sound of wholeness that permeates the body and the cosmos. It is the sound of life. It is the self-generated eloquence of existence. Where there is life, there is OM. Wherever there is life there is sound. Wherever there is life there is sound and light. The body whilst it is alive is the container for this light and sound. So the Upanishads tell us that the OM is the sound of wholeness. It is the quintessence of life.
The ancient Indian rishis say that in the human being, the supreme reality lives in the lotus of the heart (hrdayam). This is not the biological heart but metaphorically it is described as the centre of the body in the chest area. They explain that it is the seat of intelligence where the sound-light principle of the reality resides. In the heart there is the self-luminous flame of life. So the vital breath of life referred to as prana [the life-force] has its source in the heart [the middle or centre].
There are different types of prana. There is prana, apana and vyana. Prana is that which goes out of the mouth. Apana is the breath that comes in. Then there is vyana. Vyana is subtler than prana and apana. It’s the energy that’s there even when you are neither breathing in nor breathing out. It is the energy that you cannot see but which sustains you. It is the subtle energy or the life force that permeates the entire body and animates you. It is the energy of life.
Between prana and apana there is vyana. So we could say that the divinity or the real is found in the in-between. It’s found in the interval between the incoming and the outgoing breath. It is found in the space between two thoughts. It’s found in the stillness between two movements. It is found in the middle. That’s where OM lives.
The pulsation of cosmic intelligence
The word Ishvara has been translated as god. But the word god does not convey the sense of what is intended. The word Ishvara is derived from the root Ishate which means to permeate. So that which permeates everything is Ishvara. It is referring to the principle of supreme intelligence that permeates all of life and the cosmos. In modern language this might be described as the energy of intelligence which is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Another way of expressing it would be to call it the unlimited and inexhaustible creativity of potentiality. This energy of inexhaustible creativity permeates all of life.
The cosmic dance
The phrase Ishvara Pranidhan has been translated as surrender to god. This is a gross misinterpretation. We already understand that Ishvara means the permeation of creative intelligence in all manifest life. The word pranidhan has been translated as surrender. This is not correct. Pranidhan means to feel. So the phrase means to feel or intuit the presence of the creative intelligence which surrounds and permeates through you. In order to feel this you need to have the quality of sensitivity. Where there is openness and sensitivity this can be felt. This openness and sensitivity can only be there where there is humility. So in this sense perhaps we can say that surrender has relevance in terms of the relinquishment of the insensitivity of the ideational and conceptual “me” centre. Through the sensitivity of your being you may feel the presence of this creative intelligence both within and without you. This is the divinity. Divinity refers to this unqualified creative intelligence. So to be aware is to feel the presence of the divinity as the energy of the creative intelligence of life. If we recognize Ishvara then we feel and become attuned to the cosmic dance of life.
The secret of music
The sound OM is the expression of harmony. Dedication to the real is only to be found in one’s awareness of it. It is expressed through the body, through the speech, through words and actions which express the wholeness. And so wholeness, joy and happiness are expressed outwardly as the radiation of one’s relationship with and awareness of the real.
It is explained metaphorically that the reality is realized by the person who understands the secret of music. The one who understands how to play and sing to the accompaniment of the gatra veena (Indian musical instrument). The veena is the metaphor for the human body. So the human body is compared with a musical instrument. The veena is the musical instrument and swara is the sound it produces. Prana is its vitality or the liveliness with which it is played. When you play a musical instrument you do so gently and with sensitivity. If you are rough with it, it doesn’t make a nice sound. So you play the veena with the liveliness of prana and it produces the energy of harmonious sound. This is a figurative way of looking at life and how to live.
The whole cosmos is chanting OM
In the Chandogya Upanishad the rishis say that the whole cosmos is chanting OM. The sun is moving around and chanting OM. All the things living and growing on the planet earth are the expression of the living energy that is OM. The whole earth is singing OM. Each and every blade of grass is singing OM. The flowers are singing OM. So when you sing OM you are not alone. The whole universe is chanting OM along with you. OM is that one syllable sound that represents wholeness or harmony. Life is like a song and the whole cosmos is singing.
This is metaphorical language. The rishis are referring to that self-generated sound which is the substance of life. This sound as the pure vibration of the energy of life is in all things. We can’t hear the sound of the stone but the rocks too contain this sound. All things are vibrating with this energy of life. There is sound energy moving in the earth. There is the same energy in water.
The circle of life
The presence of the atmosphere around the earth allows for the formation of clouds. Because of the relationship between the heat of the sun and the oceans there is evaporation. Clouds are formed and the rain falls and showers the earth. The rain brings forth the crops. And that food provides the prana or vital energy for man. And that enables man to sing OM. It is all the manifestation of the love of the cosmos for itself.
The cosmos is a circular movement. It has no angles or divisions. It is a holistic movement. Birth, growth, deterioration and disaggregation is a cycle. It is a circular movement. Nowhere is there destruction. There is only change in the form of the dissolution of one form and the formation of another.
The sound of existence
When you listen to the sound of OM there is the sound of existence. It is the sound of no sound. When you close your eyes there is still the light of perception that is within. The self-generated sound of existence is the proof of the reality that is brahman. The whole cosmos is chanting OM.