Alpha Omega Aum
Could Jesus have made it any clearer? In Revelations 22:13, he says, "I am Alpha and Omega."
Alpha and Omega are the sounds, "Ah" and "Ou", the sounds in the mantra "Aum." Chanting Aum, the "m" represents the bindu, the eternal silence at the source of language and creation.* The "m" is not pronounced.
The verse in Revelations 22 is a remnant of the instructions that Jesus gives to Christian Gnostics in the Nag Hammadi scrolls, especially the Pistes Sophia, where he initiates his disciples into the mantra. This scroll presents the mantra as a long series of vowels, "Aaaaaaooooouuuuu," to express the inner sound of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton: the sacred four-letter name of God. This name, YHWH, is usually mispronounced "Yahweh" or "Jehovah," but it is actually the Hebrew form of Aum.
The Talmud indicates that this mantra is not pronounced aloud but inwardly, in silence. The Tetragrammaton was most likely cognized in breathing, for the vowels in YHWH resemble the sounds of inbreath and outbreath, "Yaaah" and "Huuuh." This meditation practice links the sounds of "Yaohuh" (synonymous with the Sanskrit "Aohum") to the breath.
The Bible makes it very clear that breath and Spirit are organically related. In Hebrew, the word for Spirit is precisely the same as the word for Breath, "Ruach." This is also true in New Testament Greek, where the word "Pneuma" means both Spirit and Breath.
The Jewish Talmud preserves priestly oral traditions from ancient times. The Talmud states that the High Priest initiated his Levitical disciples into this "secret pronunciation of the divine name once every seven years" (Kiddushan 71a). Initiation enlivened the inner sound of YHWH, the essential vibration of their own consciousness. Here "secret" means "inside, in silence." Jesus used this concept of "secret" sound when he gave his own disciples the Lord's Prayer.
"Hallowed be thy name," the keynote of the Lord's Prayer, describes meditation on the mantra: the divine name. Jesus tells us not to pray aloud, "on the street corner as the hypocrites do." But rather, "go into your secret chamber and pray in secret." To hallow the divine name, we enter the space of the heart and hear it inwardly.
Whether I write the divine name as "Aum" or "YHWH," these are just external letters. They only approximate the resonance of living silence at the center of my soul. Here, silence is the supreme creative power, generating the Word "in the beginning." Genesis does not take place in time, but in the timeless depth of my own consciousness. The Word of God is a single infinite sound-wave, beyond physical hearing. Out of its silent singularity this wave vibrates the cosmic symphony: waves of waves of waves from one eternal hum. This vibrant silence is nothing more or less than the space of my own awareness. I Am.
In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus declares: "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Could he have made it any clearer?
"I Am" the divine spark at the center of the soul. "I Am," at the center of my soul, the supreme Truth and source of Life. There is only one Way to experience God: by awakening and enlivening "I Am" at the center of my soul. No one can come to God except through this "I Am".
That is why Jesus said, "the kingdom of heaven is not over there, or up there, for the kingdom of heaven is within you." God is not external to consciousness. "I" may be a wayward ego: but my "Am" is God.
Following the mantra deep into the chamber of my heart, I hear the thundering silence I Am. I discover my true nature: Christ within. Only when I awaken Christ in me can I hope to see Christ in the face of another.
How could Jesus have made this any clearer? There is absolutely no difference between the Vedic science of meditation and the teaching of Christ.
* The Vedas declare, "In the beginning, God first manifested as sound." The Mandukya Upanishad states that, "The sound of Aum is the eternal Godhead, manifesting the whole universe. Everything that was, is and ever shall be, is created through the sound of Aum." The prologue to the Fourth Gospel echoes these Vedic teachings: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... Through him all things were created."
The entire cosmos, with all its subnuclear particles, emerges as vibration from the silence of the vacuum. Similarly, the whole alphabet, with all its permutations of sound, emerges from the syllables "Ah" and "Ou," which are the first and last letters in Greek. Jesus says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." But he is not just speaking about letters.
In every language, these sounds contain the complete range of vowels. Consonants are just stops placed at various intervals between these two bookends of human speech. To make "Ah," lips open wide with resonance in the back of the throat. To make "Oum," lips close with resonance in the front of the mouth. In the ancient science of mantra, these sounds are not only letters, but containers for the laws of creation in their subtlest form: sound.
When Jesus utters this teaching about the Alpha and Omega, he is not giving us theology, but practice.