Look at the statues of Buddha and Mahavira sitting in the posture of padmasan or siddhasan. These indicate other methods for the formation of such circles. When we sit putting both our feet together and our hands on our legs, the whole body begins to act as a circle. Then the body electricity cannot escape and a circuit is created. As soon as the circuit is created one becomes thoughtless. If we use the language of an electrical engineer, it could be said that the crowd of noisy thoughts within the mind exists because we have not created an inner electrical circuit. As soon as the circuit is created the inner energy becomes balanced and silent. So, creating a circle of energy with the help of the temple dome was a great process – and this was its purpose and deep significance.
At the entrance of temples we find big bells or gongs, and these serve the same purpose. When you chant “Aum,” although you may be doing so very quietly and your attention may be elsewhere, the sound of the bell will instantly bring your attention back to the circle of sound created by its vibration. It is just like when a stone is thrown into a pond, creating ripple upon ripple.
In Tibetan temples instead of a bell or gong they keep a bowl-shaped vessel made from various metals, and a wooden stick to revolve inside it. The stick is rotated within the vessel seven times, and then it is struck once on the bowl with a loud bang. The vibrations created in the bowl produce a sound like, Aum mani padme hum – the whole mantra. The bowl echoes the sound, “Aum mani padme hum” – not once but seven times. Turn the stick inside the bowl rapidly seven times, strike the bowl, take the stick out – and you will hear the echo of the mantra, “Aum mani padme hum” – seven times. Though the sound will gradually become softer and softer, it will be heard seven times.
Similarly, when you intone the mantra “Aum mani padme hum” in a domed temple, the temple will echo it. Every cell of your body will receive the vibration and return it with a deeper resonance. After a few moments neither you nor the temple will be there – only circles of energy will be left.
It should be remembered that sound is a subtle form of electricity, now even science agrees with this. In fact, everything is a form of electricity. But the Indian sages go one step further and say that electricity is a form of sound, that sound is the base, not electricity. That is why they call the supreme being shabda-brahma, God is sound.
There is now a great similarity of approach between Eastern thinkers and modern scientists, the only difference being over which of the two is primary. The scientist says that electricity is primary, whereas the sage says that it is the density of sound which produces electricity. There is every possibility that in the near future science will have to look deeper into the nature of shabda-brahma, sound, the ultimate reality.
The sage’s understanding stems from the experience of the sounds produced under the dome of a temple. When a meditator creates the intense sound of “Aum” in a temple, within a short time he will feel that neither he nor the temple is there, that only electricity remains. This conclusion has not been reached in any laboratory; the people who made such declarations had no laboratories, their temple served as their only laboratory. There they experienced that even though they would start with sound, what remained in the end was electricity.