Hamsa means swan in Sanskrit. It also means, I am one with the Divine. 'Aham' (I am) 'So' (the Divine). Vedic literature declares that this two-syllable mantra is the subtle sound of breathing out and breathing in.
As we exhale, we pour 'I Am' into the ocean of Divine Love. As we inhale, we allow Divine Love to replenish us, to recreate each sparkling photon of this body. But lost in the sensory stupor of worldly distraction, we are not usually conscious of this subtle process. We have forfeited our birthright for a bowl of soup (Gen 25:31).
All we need to do is bring our awareness back to the dynamic meditation that is always already happening in each breath.
Just as striking two stones together generates a spark, so the gentle friction of in-breath and out-breath generates Shakti, the energy of divine love, divine healing, divine wisdom.
And just as a swan settles softly upon a lake, the Hamsa swan comes to repose in the heart's silence, unruffled by a single thought.
At the still-point where out-breath and in-breath kiss, the silence between 'Ham' and 'So,' there is a dimensionless space that seems so brief; yet this is the space where worlds are born. Suns and galaxies arise from the infinitesimal 'bindhu' in the heart. It is the same dot of infinity that the Jewish mystics called 'Ayin Soph Or,' the radiant spark of no-thing. Thus an ancient Yoga text, Vijnana Bhairava, declares:
'The supreme Goddess, whose nature is to create, constantly expresses herself as exhalation and inhalation. By resting awareness in the space of the heart, between the descending and ascending breaths, one experiences Bhairava, the source of creation.'
In Yogic tradition, the name of this heart space is 'Anahata,' meaning un-struck sound. The silence of the heart vibrates with the eternal music of the Vedas. And the mathematical resonance of this mantric music formulates the laws of physics that create the universe.
'Hamsa' is the inner dynamic of all meditation mantras. 'Mantra' indicates a vehicle that carries awareness back to its home. The word derives from 'mannas,' meaning mind, and 'tra,' meaning vehicle: whence the suffix 'tron,' as in electron, a vehicle for electricity. Thus a mantra is a vehicle for the mind.
Where is the mind going? What location is it seeking? The mind is ever restless till it finds its home, which is the silent radiance of the heart.
When the Guru gives the precious gift of mantra to the devotee, the mantra effortlessly transports the swan of awareness on wings of grace to the quiet lake of the heart. All true mantras settle into waves of Hamsa-Soham, dissolving in the silent pulse of Absolute Being, where breath becomes still.
In this communion, meditation fulfills the Biblical injunction to 'be still and know that I Am God' (Psalm 46:10). This is neither a belief nor a theology, but a direct experience, the living silence where we pass beyond thought into Gnosis and 'know that I Am God: Aham So.'
Deeper than mind is the thundering ocean of the un-created light of silence. This is the light that shines from divine darkness. This is the silence that was here before God said, 'Let there be light.' Simply to witness this light shining from the depths of our own heart sends beams of beauty and waves of healing throughout the cosmos.
We meditate not for ourselves alone, but to re-create the world.