Center on the sound “aum” without any “a” or “m”.
CENTER ON THE SOUND “AUM” — A-U-M, AUM — WITHOUT ANY “A” OR “M”. Just the “U” remains. This is a difficult technique, but for some it may be suitable, particularly for those who work with sound: musicians, poets, those who have a very sensitive ear, for them this technique can be helpful. For others, those who have no sensitive ear, this is very difficult because it is very delicate.
You have to intone Aum, and you have to feel in this Aum three sounds separately: A-U-M. Intone Aum, and in the sound you have to feel three sounds — A-U-M. They are there, infused together. A very delicate ear can be aware, can hear A-U-M separately while intoning. They are separate — very close, but separate. If you cannot hear them separately, then this technique cannot be done. Your ears will have to be trained for it.
In Japan, particularly in Zen, they train the ears first. They have a method of training the ears. The wind is blowing outside — it has a sound. The master will say, “Concentrate on it. Feel all the nuances, the changes: when the sound is angry, when the sound is furious, when the sound is compassionate, when the sound is loving, when the sound is strong, when the sound is delicate. Feel the nuances of the sound. The wind is blowing through the trees — feel it. The river is running — feel the nuances.”
For months together the seeker, the meditator, will be sitting by the side of the bank of the river, listening to it. It has different sounds. Everything is changing. In the rain it will be flooded; it will be very much alive, overflowing. The sounds will be different. In the summer it will be reduced to nothingness, sounds will cease. But there will be inaudible sounds if one is listening, if you listen. All the year round the river will be changing, and one has to be aware.
In Hermann Hesse’s book SIDDHARTHA, Siddhartha lives with a boatman. And there is no one, just the river, the boatman and Siddhartha. And the boatman is a very silent man. He has lived all his life with the river. He has become silent, he rarely speaks. Whenever Siddhartha feels lonely, he tells Siddhartha to go to the river, to listen to the river. It is better than listening to human words.
And then by and by, Siddhartha is attuned to the river. Then he begins to feel its moods — the river changes moods. Sometimes it is friendly and sometimes it is not, and sometimes it is singing and sometimes it is weeping and crying, and sometimes there is laughter and sometimes there is sadness. And then he begins to feel the slight, delicate differences. His ear becomes attuned.
So in the beginning you may feel it to be difficult, but try. Intone Aum, go on intoning it, feeling A-U-M. Three sounds are combined together in it: Aum is a synthesis of three sounds. Once you start feeling them differently, then drop “A” and “M”. Then you cannot say Aum: “A” will be dropped, “M” will be dropped. Then “U” will remain. Why? What will happen? The real thing is not the mantra. It is not A-U-M or the dropping. The real thing is your sensitivity.
First you become sensitive of three sounds, which is very difficult. And when you become so sensitive that you can drop the “A” and “M” and only the middle sound remains, in this effort you will lose your mind. You will be so much engrossed in it, so deeply attentive to it, so sensitive to it, that you will forget to think. And if you think, you cannot do this.
This is just an indirect way to bring you out of your head. So many ways have been tried, and they look very simple. You wonder, “What can happen? Nothing will happen by such simple methods.” But miracles happen, because it is just indirect. Your mind is being focused on something very subtle. If you focus, you cannot go on thinking; mind will drop. Suddenly one day you will become aware, and you will wonder what has happened.
In Zen they use koans. One of the famous koans they tell to the beginner is, “Go and try to hear the sound of one hand. You can create a sound with two hands. If one hand can create a sound, hear it.”
One small boy was serving a Zen master. He would see many people coming. They would come to the master, put their head at his feet, and then they would ask the master to tell them something to meditate on. He would give them a koan. The boy was just doing some work for the master, he was serving him. He was just nine or ten years of age.
Seeing every day many people coming and going, one day he also came very seriously, put his head at the master’s feet, and then asked him, “Give me some koan, some object for meditation.” The master laughed, but the boy was very serious, so the master said, “Okay! Try to hear the sound of one hand. And when you have heard it, then come to me and tell me.”
The boy tried and tried. He couldn’t sleep the whole night. In the morning he came and he said, “I have heard. It is the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.” The master said, “But where is the hand involved in it? Go again and try.” So he would come every day. He would find some sound and then he would come, and the master would say, “This is also not it. Go on trying, go on trying!”
Then one day the boy didn’t come. The master waited and waited, and then he told his other disciples to go and find out what had happened — it seemed the boy had heard. So they went around. He was sitting under a tree, absorbed — just a newborn buddha. They came back and they said, “But we are afraid to disturb the boy. He is looking just like a newborn buddha. It seems he has heard the sound.” So the master came, put his head at the boy’s feet and asked him, “Have you heard? It seems you have heard.” The boy said, “Yes, but it is soundlessness.”
How did this boy develop? His sensitivity developed. He tried every sound, he listened attentively. Attention developed. He would not sleep. The whole night he would listen for what is the sound of one hand. He was not so intellectual as you are, so he never thought that there cannot be any sound of one hand. If the koan is given to you, you are not going to try. You will say, “What nonsense! There cannot be any sound with one hand.”
But the boy tried. The master had said there must be something in it, so he tried. He was a simple boy, so whenever he would hear something, whenever he would feel this was something new, he would come again. But by this process his sensitivity developed. He became attentive, alert, aware. He became one-pointed. He was in search, and the mind dropped because the master said, “If you go on thinking you may miss. Sometimes there is the sound which is of one hand. Be so alert that you do not miss it.”
He tried and tried. There is no sound of one hand, but that was just an indirect method to create sensitivity, awareness. And one day, suddenly, everything disappeared. He was so attentive that only attention was there, so sensitive that only sensitivity was there, so aware — not aware of something, but simply aware! And then he said, “I have heard it, but it is soundlessness. It is soundlessness!” But you have to be trained to be attentive, to be alert.
This is just a method to make you very delicately aware of the subtle nuances of sound. Just doing this, you will forget Aum. Not only will “A” drop, not only will “M” drop, but one day suddenly you will also drop, and there will be soundlessness, and you will be a newborn buddha sitting under a tree.
Next Introduction to Meditation Technique No. 45, 46 & 47