Students of 21st Century Transnational Postural Yoga typically begin our study with little or no theory; practice is all. As we deepen our practice, we are introduced to what we are told is “Yoga Philosophy.” Depending on the tradition we are studying, this is usually a pat genealogy; we are told that “Yoga Philosophy” is found in the Yoga Sūtras, and that the philosophy they contain is called स़ाम्ख्य, Sāmkhya, and that it is dualistic. Because Yoga is supposedly Indian, we are also likely to be introduced to some Indian religious classics: the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gītā. In the course of this, we may be told that some of these texts expound another acceptable Indian philosophical system, that of Non-Dualism (or “Monism”). And there the matter is likely to be left.
This relationship is reflexive, too. Not only is Brahma, as our Soul in unity with all, but in identity with that Soul, I also am at unity with all. This leap of paradox is enough to send one from such a dualistic society as ours reeling. This relationship is explicitly stated by Svetaketu's father in the Chandogya Upanishad when he says "that which is the finest essence--this whole world has that as its soul. That is Reality. That is Atman. That art thou...."11 The very comprehension of this startling truth is enough to make it operative in one's life: "He who knows this become the Self of all beings. As is that divinity, so is he."12
A deeper insight into this mystic symbol reveals that it is composed of three syllables combined into one, not like a physical mixture but more like a chemical combination. Indeed in Sanskrit the vowel 'o' is constitutionally a diphthong compound of a + u; hence OM is representatively written as AUM.