In the Yoga Sutra’s of Patajali, Aum (OM) is spoken of as the symbol of Ishwara or God[1A]. Chanting, meditating, and listening to OM is considered contact with God by billions of followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and New Spiritualities. The Amen of the Christians and Amin of the Muslims are said to share the same word origins as Aum (OM).
In my previous post, The Sound of OM, a reader suggested that the OM sound meditators claimed to be experiencing during yoga meditation might actually be “tinnitus”— a medical condition of “hearing” imaginary noises.
Over the last week I searched for more opinions of the sound of OM.
Seemingly contrary to the tinnitus explanations, yogis (practitioners of Yoga) speculate that these sounds may be heard through intuitive perception of atoms rumbling in the Cosmos or the hearing of chakras in the astral spine.
Interestingly, the descriptions of these sounds between both groups — physicians and yogis — are similar. Listen to a simulation of tinnitus sounds (below) by American Tinnitus Association. And compare physicians explanations in the next paragraph, to how a famous Yogi explains the sounds of OM.
Yogic Explanation of OM (Aum) Sound
The OM sound emanates from the chakras of the deeply meditating yogi, says famous Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda. These chakras or six spinal centers are said to be located in the medulla oblongata, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal region of the astral spine spoken of in some Modern Yoga treatises. Apparently, each chakra emits a particular sound that may be heard by the deeply meditating yogi. “When the eyes become calm and quiet, you should be able to see a light, but it is more important that you hear the astral sounds of the cerebrospinal centers, or the Om sound. First you may hear the buzzing of a bee, then a flute, then a harp seemingly playing beautifully far off in the distance. This is the harp of heavenly astral music. Then you may hear a sound as of a huge gong-bell; and finally will follow the great rolling sound of Om like a bursting sea–like the sound of many waters”, wrote Paramahansa Yogananda in his Lesson for teaching his OM Technique of Meditation.
Sometimes Yogi’s claim to hear wonderful sounds. But, there is similarity between yogic explanations of the “quality” of sounds which overlaps with medical descriptions of imaginary sounds from tinnitus. As I have illustrated here:
Tinnitus vs Om: Medical Explanation of Phantom Sounds
Alternatively, we can find that the OM and the yogic chakra sounds have a medical explanation. Tinnitus is a medical condition of hearing phantom noises in your ears. According to American Tinnitus Association, 1-in-5 people have tinnitus and experience noises to various degrees of intensity, volume, pulse, and tone. Yogi’s descriptions of the OM and the chakra sounds are very similar to the imaginary noises heard by persons with tinnitus. Hearing imaginary buzzing, hissing, roaring, ocean noises, and even music in your ears are all the symptoms of tinnitus as described by medical doctors. Someone with tinnitus, say physicians, has his or her own individualized sound fingerprints which varies from person-to-person. Ironically, the phantom noises caused by tinnitus resemble sounds yogis claim to come from the OM or to emanate from the chakras or six spinal centers.
Science has yet to find evidence of chakras or of astral spinal centers in the human body. Yoga theories and doctrines — from ancient Vedas, Upanishads, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and Modern Yoga texts — each have different, if not contradictory, descriptions of the yoga chakras. So we find little consensus, or no unified theory, of chakras among the yogic literature. I’m not saying chakras or the OM sound definitely don’t exist. No one knows for sure. For the present, let’s leave our chakra discussion for a future post. The chakras are important only in our above discussion to compare the sounds of OM, explained by meditating yogis, to the symptoms of tinnitus, explained by physicians.
Questions for readers: Do you experience any of these sounds? What do you think causes these sounds: Spirit or Tinnitus?
1A God Talks With Arjuna — The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization, p 615. Self-Realization Fellowship.
1 Mayo Clinic. Tinnitus Symptoms. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/basics/symptoms/con-20021487
2 Yogananda, P. SRF Lesson 30, Purpose of Hearing the OM Sound. Self-Realization Fellowship.
3 American Tinnitus Association, Sounds of Tinnitus. http://www.ata.org/sounds-of-tinnitus