As Space Blobs continue to baffle scientists and Sun Ra paints my summer mindscape with intergalactic questions and answers, my thoughts turn once again to the exploration of fundamental concepts in Eastern thought, specifically Vedic philosophy. Earlier I posted an essay attempting to articulate the concept of nondualism by creating an analogy with water drops and their relation to the original body of water. (Nondualism is the idea that all the Universe is One, and the concept of separate “things” and “egos” – even god or gods as separate from ourselves – is illusory). Read the original essay here.
If indeed the ultimate nature of reality is analogous to the water imagery proposed earlier then the question immediately becomes “What causes the splash?” i.e. “From whence does consciousness arise?” This time the inspiration comes from a BBC article entitled “Tibetan Singing Bowls Give up Their Chaotic Secrets,” describing the play of water in traditional Buddhist meditation bowls. The Mandukya Upanishad describes the sacred OM or AUM in the following way:
“AUM stands for the supreme Reality. It is a symbol for what was, what is, and what shall be. AUM represents also what lies beyond past, present and future.”
As 3 indivisible sounds (a-u-m), OM has been considered by Hindus to be the original vibration from which all consciousness arises for thousands of years. This idea is increasingly corroborated by Quantum Physics, which has concluded that atoms are actually much less “matter” than they are omnipresent waves – vibrations – forming the “material” universe we perceive as consciousness all around us. Perhaps this video from the BBC deepens the metaphor in a concrete way. At the very least notice the water droplet bouncing on the surface of the water at 49 seconds – crazy.
John Coltrane was captivated by this concept of the original vibration that creates and sustains all vibrations as well. In 1965 he recorded his epic 29-minute free jazz exploration of the OM. Legend has it that the album was recorded while all members of the band were on LSD. True or not, hang on because it’s a wild ride. So if the Tibetan Singing Bowl doesn’t do it for you, then maybe Coltrane can help. Enjoy!