Do you know what Om means? It doesn’t have meaning as much as it has feeling. Maybe a better question is do you know how Om feels?
Over the past six months, after talking intensely with one of my friends about spirituality and the nature of reality, Carl Jung has had an increasingly significant influence on me. She was really into the psychology of Jung from a more let’s say academic perspective. My perspective on most things gets filtered through a spiritual lens: spirit creates matter after all. I never really paid psychology any attention in undergrad. Psychology as it’s taught today is pretty much dominated by Freudian analysis. Freud, I think didn’t get the whole picture because he was stuck on sex. Jung was different, not by choice but by unseen forces that changed the course of Western thought.
When I began to look at Jung’s life I became more and more interested in his spiritual life. His experiences include a Near Death Experience (NDE) during a heart attack where he found himself floating above the Earth and then approaching a temple that was guarded by a “black yogi”. During this NDE he saw his doctor in “primal form” as he put it, and correctly predicted that his doctor would die soon after. He also had dreams that predicted World War I, which led him to study the collective unconscious. His experiences were outside of the realm of acceptable phenomena at the time, and even now. Yet had he remained unaware of his own unconscious and other ways of perceiving the world, he would have remained in a state of psychological distress for his entire life. His work was healing as much as it was revealing.
I recently came across a youtube video describing a conversation between Jung and the author Joseph Campbell. Check the video out before I go further. I’m not sure what the deal is with the naked Egyptian god mock-ups but keep going.
Here, Jung in two places has a transformative experience with the sound Om, the sound nature makes when its in harmony with itself. The spontaneous Om of the scientists sounds as if they were captured by the overflowing love of the universe. As if they instantly became one with nature outside of the control of their ego, a type of instant samadhi. Om, and other sounds, are likely embedded in the fabric of the universe. A type of om field that we can all tune into either knowingly or unconsciously.
The Himalayas really are a special place. I traveled to Ladakh in northern India and stayed there for two weeks. I went to a monastery for children practicing to become the next monks and nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The love and joy that emanated from these kids was really amazing. They told us that they do prayers and meditation for all of humanity to live in peace and harmony. It’s really special for them to live with that kind of meaning, and practice such discipline at a young age.
I still remember the face of one young nun standing across from me in the temple. The lead monk had us westerners stand up and face the children. They started singing “om mani padme hum” and encouraged us to sing along. I put my hands in a prayer position and after around the third om mani padme hum I hesitatingly started to join the singing. I made eye contact with the little girl and her face lit up as she saw me join in. It was kind of hard for me to look at her as I felt a little weird saying om mani padme hum yet she just radiated infinite love. After a few minutes of singing om mani padme hum, my mood was transformed into one of openness and togetherness as all of prayed for peace and harmony in the world.
I didn’t know what om mani padme hum meant at the time, but I knew how it felt, and that made an impression in my heart chakra that lasts to this day.
If you’d like to know what om mani padme hum means, and how it can be a way to transform your mind, then watch this cool video from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.