Re: Understanding Ik-Oankār ੴ
I really like Japji Sahib a lot. Its one of the best forms of prayer.
Though I am not comfortable with the language, I can make it out with the help of some translations etc.
Now coming to your question: what is OM is a very big question. There are upanishads written on that. I will try to present three definitions ...
1. A U M [one should not chant it as A ... U ... M. It should be chanted as OM only] ... stands for jagrat [waking], svapna [dream] and sushupti [deep sleep states]. The one Common Entity that is in and through all these three states is what the shabda leaves us with ... in other words ... you see the jagrat , waking state changes... which means you are constant with respect to those changes. Again you see the dream changes , which means you are changeless presence with respect to the dream changes. And you see deep sleep [otherwise there is no possibility of recognition that there is such a state]. So you ... the Awareness ... are the OM.
As one chants OM, one dissolves the three changes into the Self.
2. There is another meaning of OM ... its called anahta shabda ... hata means struck ... ahata means well struck ... and anahata means not at all struck. Its the sound thats not struck ... what Zen calls the sound of un-struck palms or the clap of one hand. In other words it represents the witness of Silence which is there as the background of both silence and sound.
OM, its said, has to be chanted like a dhirga ghanta ninadham... dhirga ... long ... ghanta : bell ... ninadham ... sound ... this is more or less what is practised in zen religion. They hear to the sound of bell... and as the bell sound resolves into the Presence ... they resolve into the presence. Hence its an aid to upasana that way.
3. Finally OM represents you. The awareness. As one chants OM, one has to resolve the entire jagrat and svapna jagat into Self and remain as such. This is a wonderful aid to spiritual development.
[I agree point 3 is a restatement of 1 and 2].
Come up, O Lions, and shake off the delusion that you are a sheep