Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Cosmic Sound
With serenity and fearlessness, with steadfastness in brahmacharya, with the mind controlled, with the thoughts centered on Me, the yogi should sit, meditating on Me as the Final Goal.
— The Bhagavad Gita VI:14
God manifests in creation as the Cosmic Vibration, which expresses itself as Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light. The Cosmic Sound or Aum is the synthesis of all the sounds of the highly vibrating life forces (lifetrons), electrons, protons, and atoms. By listening to Aum, the yogi becomes a true brahmachari or one who is attuned to Brahman. By deep concentration the devotee can hear Aum at any time and in any place.
The Cosmic Sound is spoken of in the Christian Bible as follows: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[John 1:1] The Word or Aum came from God; He manifests as the Cosmic Vibration in creation. The Bible also refers to the Word as the Holy Ghost or intelligent ghostlike unseen vibration that is the creator of all forms of matter. It is called Holy Ghost because this Invisible Force is guided by the Christ Intelligence that exists in creation as the reflection or "sole begotten Son" of the transcendental God the Father. Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Ghost or the great Comforter would come to his disciples after his bodily departure from the earth. [John 1:1; John 14:26] Kriya Yoga is a fulfillment of that blessed promise of Christ, as it gives the peoples of the world a scientific technique for contacting the Holy Sound.
St. John spoke of the Cosmic Sound. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet"; i.e., "I was in spiritual ecstasy with the Lord and heard behind my conscious, subconscious, and superconscious minds a voice like that of a great trumpet, the great commingled Cosmic Sound coming out of the 'thrum’ of lifetrons, protons, electrons, and atoms." [Revelation 1:10]
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Aum (Om) is spoken of as the symbol of Ishvara or God. This great authority on yoga refers to Aum as a Cosmic Sound continuously flowing in the ether, unutterable by any human voice, and fully known only to the illuminated. Further, Patanjali says that deep concentration on Aum is a means of liberation. Many people who do not understand the inward meaning of the scriptures think that by softly or loudly chanting Aum they can reach the superconsciousness. The Hindu scriptures, however, point out that one whose mind is identified with the kaya or body cannot possibly perceive the true Aum sound. (…) In point of fact, none can escape a constant communion with Aum, for it pervades the consciousness and every fiber and atom of every being. Those who become consciously attuned to the omnipresent Cosmic Vibration receive untold blessings.
The scriptures classify ordinary chanting as
(1) repeated loud utterance of the word Aum,
(2) repetitions of Aum in whispers, and
(3) continuous chanting of Aum in one's mind, listening to it mentally.
Superconscious chanting, however, is that in which the mind is deeply directed to the repetition of, and the actual profound listening to, the Cosmic Sound as it vibrates in the ether. This is the true way of contacting God as He is expressed in creation.
The cosmic Aum sound is
the combined vibration of the three phases of Nature:
operative in the physical, astral, and causal universes.
The vocal chanting of Aum should be intoned first in a high pitch, representing creation; then in a lower pitch, representing preservation; then in a still lower tone that gradually fades away, representing dissolution. The chanting should be first loudly, then softly, and then gently until it is inaudible, or mental only.
The real, or superconscious, chanting of Aum, however, consists not in an imitative vocalization of Aum, but in actually hearing the Holy Sound. All physical sounds are transmitted through the medium of ether; but although Aum vibrates in the ether—which is the background of all manifested activity—the Aum sound vibrates independently of the etheric medium. It is thus referred to as anahata-nada (a sound produced otherwise than by being beaten or struck—that is, without detonation) because it manifests in the yogi's intuition without striking his eardrum through the medium of ether—as with physical sounds. Aum, being a spiritual vibration, is not heard physically, but felt spiritually Patanjali meant that only that yogi can attain God whose mind is superconsciously fixed on the Cosmic Sound, the external Divine Manifestation. Such a yogi is an accomplished brahmachari. His heart is overflowing with the sacred joy that follows perception of Aum. When a devotee experiences the bliss of God (the comfort of the Holy Ghost) behind the Cosmic Sound, his heart becomes serene; he loses all fear of ever being diverted from his exalted state or of becoming entangled in material sensations. A yogi who has united his soul with the Cosmic Sound and thereby experiences its ineffable bliss is spoken of as united to the Lord. His heart, filled with divine joy, is no longer subject to likes and dislikes, as is the ordinary person's heart during the contacts with matter and its essential oppositional states.
An avowed man of renunciation, fearlessly, with serene heart and controlled mind, can think of God as his Supreme Goal. But in a higher state the yogi becomes one with God; having found the Lord through Aum and Its pratipadya (the cosmic bliss that follows after the perception of the Cosmic Sound or Holy Ghost), he achieves complete liberation.
The Holy Ghost is spoken of by the Hindus as Aum, by the Muslims as Amin, and by the Christians as Amen or the Word. In Revelation 3:14 we find this definition: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." This Amen is the Cosmic Sound which, as a divine witness, faithfully accompanies all vibratory creation from its beginning—even as sound accompanies or declares the running of a motor. In other 'words, Amen or Aum is an "ear-witness" that declares, as accessible to Kali devotees, the tangible presence in all creation of the Creator.
The Hindu Bible (Bhagavad Gita), the Christian Bible, and the greatest book on yoga (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) unanimously declare the Cosmic Sound to be the outward manifestation or witness of the Lord in creation. Krishna, Jesus, and Patanjali all taught that man must receive the Holy Ghost (the Comforter) in order to reach the Christ Intelligence within it and God the Father existing beyond it (beyond Aum or vibratory creation). All souls have descended into matter from God the Father beyond creation, God the Son or Christ Intelligence, and God the Holy Ghost. Every soul has therefore to ascend to the Spirit (Unmanifested Absolute) through the stages of Its triune manifestation— Holy Ghost, Son, and Father (Aum-Tat-Sat of the Hindu scriptures). (pages 614-617)