Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amen

Amen. How familiar is this simple word. Even if we might not be someone who uses it in the context of prayer, we still might use the word as an affirmation. “Amen to that!” we say, when we wish to emphasize our agreement with something. But although it is a word in general use, it still is within the context of prayer that the word most belongs. But what does the word actually mean?

‘Amen’ is from the Hebrew, and simply means ‘faith’. As the closing word of a prayer, what we mean by ‘amen’ is that we have the faith that what we have prayed for will happen: that it will ‘come to pass’. So we can say that ‘amen’ is a way of saying ‘let it be so’. The word becomes a kind of seal affixed to the conclusion of a document: a pact of faith. But as can happen with words which have become familiar through much repetition, this simple word turns out to have hidden and unexpected depths.

In Hebrew ‘amen’ is spoken as ‘AMN’, without the extra vowel – which also is the identical same name as the principal Egyptian god Amun, which also would have been spoken as ‘AMN’. It is our own modern usage which supplies the extra letter. Think of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, who had the god’s name incorporated into his own. Now think of the name Moses, so familiar from the Torah and the Old Testament. It sounds so typically Ancient Hebrew – until we remember the name of such a pharaoh as Thutmoses. Tradition tells us that Moses was an adept of the Egyptian mystery schools during the years of Hebrew exile. Two cultures which might at first seem remote from each other would seem to have more in common than we might imagine, and in uttering ‘Amen’ at the conclusion of a prayer we might actually be invoking the blessings of an ancient god.

But ‘AMN’ has another echo. It also is very close in sound to the Sanskrit word ‘AUM’ (also written as ‘OM’ or OHM’). ‘AUM’ is not so much a word as a sound, an expression of the soul, of the Self, and apart from its use in meditation, also is affixed as a written symbol at the conclusion (and sometimes also at the beginning) of a passage of sacred text. To package up these ancient cultures, to imagine them sealed off from each other, is to ignore the flow of ideas and beliefs that travelled the trade routes of the Ancient World as much as did the spices and other material trade goods. 

When thought of as a sound, this simple word AMN/AUM would seem to be a powerful affirmation indeed: so powerful that the mere voicing of it could in some mysterious way actually help to call into being that which we wish for. And what we wish for, in the end, is simple peace of heart. We wish for something, whatever that ‘something’ happens to be, to ‘turn out right in the end’. To open our hearts to a sacred sound is in a way to enter sacred space, to open the door to possibilities provided to us when we make ourselves receptive to them. And when ‘amen’ is spoken from the heart, then what is spoken before it takes wing, and all shall be well.

Have faith. Let it be so. Amen.




4 comments:

  1. This is such an insightful research that sheds light on the possible origins of the word "Amen." It is intriguing that there is a connection between the ancient Hebrew and the Egyptian cultures. Could there be a a further connection between the ancient Egyptians and a much older culture? This possibility is intriguing. I feel the similarity between "Amen" and "Aum" cannot be brushed aside as mere coincidence. Also it is interesting to me that in English the first person of the verb to be is "am" which sounds remarkably similar to "Amen" and "Aum." The ancient vedic sages claim that "Aum" is not an artificial sound but a frequency of divine vibration that exists within nature. I don't think this sound can be translated or defined; when one tries to define it one way one ends up excluding other possibilities. Personally I find healing and solace in in the mantra "Aum" and it is my daily ritual to silently chant this. I agree wholeheartedly that it expresses the quality of faith, that even though we don't know mentally how things work or what the future may bring, that ultimately the universe is good, that life is sacred and divine, and all is well.

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    1. Thank you for supplementing what I say in my post with your own insights, Joseph. Like you, I tend to feel that this sort of knowledge could be very ancient - perhaps even more ancient than we tend to think. It speaks to us of a time when our awareness of sounds being things of divine frequencies vibrating in harmony with the cosmos was a fact that was taken for granted. Our awareness of this is kept alive, as you mention, by using the AUM in meditation. All these connections are constantly surrounding us. We only need to access them - and to have faith that all is well, and is unfolding as it should.

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  2. Hi Emma, how beautiful and always so inspiring...the wisdom you share here, I always treasure! I deeply appreciate all that you share and shine out..beautiful and divine!
    namaste my beautiful kindred sister from afar
    HUgs
    Victoria

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    1. Victoria, your appreciation - and your presence here - is always a valued pleasure to me! Thank you so much....
      Love and Blessings, always ♥

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