This month one of our sangha families from Portland came for an extended visit to the Big Island, where our Hawai’i center is located. Their older son, Mikah, has been taking classes for a couple years in Portland, and got to have classes at the Hawaii center too. The first class, after a little puja with flower and food offerings, focused on Om, or more precisely, AUM.
Mikah learned that the three letters of AUM stand for our waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states:
But then we begin to dream and all those seeds start to sprout, and when we wake, they are all on the outside again.
But wait! When we draw AUM in Sanskrit, there are more than three parts to it - there are more than an upper curve (“A”) connected to a lower curve (“U”), with both connected to a tail (“M”). There is a “one-eyed smile,” the Shvara, which sits above and unconnected to the three states. This represents Turiya (like Atman) - the Fourth and all-pervading state that watches everything happening (or not happening) in the three others. This is our true Self.
Next, we made the AUM sign in Sanskrit out of dominoes. What a challenge to keep them from falling too soon! This was our experiment: to see how waking, dreaming, and deep sleep can shift, but the Shvara never does. Our true Self is unaffected by anything in the three states. Just watch!