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Om

OmOm

Om is both a visual and an oral symbol in many traditions, and it is the most venerable Hindu symbol of spiritual knowledge. It is considered to be the highest name of God, synonymous with both the Supreme Godhead and the Personal God, and as such it represents the concept that the Divine and individual consciousnesses are essentially the same.

Tradition considers the syllable itself to be the root sound of Creation, the expression through which all things were formed and which continues to permeate everything. The sound of Om is sometimes referred to as the Pranava: that which permeates Prana or unites all life.

In the written form of Om, the long, lower curve represents the waking state and the material world, with the upper curve following on from it representing deep, dreamless sleep and the unconscious. Between the two, a third curve denotes dreaming and the thought world. Beyond these three states is the state of liberation, represented by the semicircle and the dot. The incompleteness of the semicircle signifies infinity, that finite thinking cannot reach the point in any meaningful way.

Repetition of the syllable Om as a mantra and meditation on the Om symbol are powerful methods of awakening and balancing spiritual centers in the individual. They are considered to be preeminent ways of realizing the Divine.