First Word of 2020

3 Jan 2019

There are several understandings of “OM”. My favourites are “OM” is the first sound of creation and has the ability to neutralise pride,the cause of fear and jealousy.

I spent the 1st day of 2020 in relative silence while practising to write OM in the Tibetan Uchen style for the first time.

“Start writing OM,” has been on my mind the past few years but I never got round to it because I was waiting for the “perfect” timing, “perfect” video and “perfect” calligraphy book to get started.

In Nepal, the book sellers in Thamel & Boudha that I checked with didn’t seem to sell the practise book that will show me the sequence of the strokes that I needed to see before I could write the character. Did such a practise book even exist? I only started to do online searches for it after my failed attempts in Nepal.

And during the search I indulged in almonds. So over the last few days leading to this new year I developed a sore throat.

That was how Silence descended. Seclusion followed quickly as the need to rest my voice caused me to abstain from all social gatherings. Together, they created the space I needed to pursue the long awaited OM.

“Please let me just know how to write OM, everything else will be a bonus,” I thought to myself as I viewed the video of Tashi Mannox writing the mantra of Great Compassion (OM MANI PADME HUM).

I’m a slow learner. I need to see the strokes in slow-mo if possible, run them through my head & be allowed to copy stroke for stroke before I can do it on my own. Many videos were too fast for me.

But Tashi Mannox’s video did it with his calm voice and deliberately unhurried movements.

So that was how I learnt to write my first word on the first day of 2020.

Balinese Hindus celebrate their New Year called Nyepi by going into self imposed silence and seclusion, so that they can retreat, reflect and be renewed.

As I lack the cultural practice nor the lineage to create such a ritual on my own, the Universe has kindly turned a sore throat into an opportunity to start the year with an ancient and sacred word, “OM”.

So I wish for all my friends and all sentient beings the same benevolence that has been bestowed on me to create a positive outcome from a negative situation.

May you be kind. May you be auspicious. May you be full of grace.

Tashi Delek.

The strokes that made up OM had intrigued me for as long as I remember. They resemble a person dancing. While practising OM, memories of my secondary school bio lessons on bones came back. In those days I had a compulsion to study the bone samples from angles that were not required by the syllabus. I started seeing the bones as pillars, trees and balconies and drew them the way I saw them. My very unscientific renderings drove my Bio teacher insane, but I kept at it even when I knew my diagrams would be rejected and I would fail in that component. Perhaps those bone sketches were my early attempts to write OM which I didn’t know exist.

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