The Ah Mantra
The perfected Buddhas rise from A (AH).
This A is the most sublime of all the letters.
The A can conquer all samsaric and nirvanic states.
The A is like the mother giving birth to everything.
The A is like the father all-creating; magical.
The A is tantras of the Ati Yoga.
The A is the tantras of the Chitri Yoga.
Arising from within, the A is non-arising.
The A is ultimate of every utterance.
Self-existing, A transcends arising.
Knowing one, the A can liberate in everything.
Everything without exception is perfected in the A.
Nothing in itself, the self-existing A appears in every way. Samsara, nirvana, and the path are all mastered in the A.
~ From Equalizing of Buddahood (Sangye Nyamjor
a terma treasure revealed by Guru Chöwang
[From Wellsprings of the Great Perfection: Lives and Insights of the Early Dzogchen Masters]
The mantra “Ah!” is the “mother of all,” the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, and the seed-syllable of Mahavairocana-Dainichi, from whom evolve all other mantras, languages, poetry, and thought, according to Kiikai’s writings. (Hakeda, p. 249.) Hence the name of Kiikai’s Buddhism: Shingon, which means “True Word.” “Ah!” is true, according to Kiikai, not only because it stands for Dainichi, the Body of Truth, but also because when spoken its vibrations so spiritualize the body, if prepared in proper ritual and meditation, that the sound is revealed to be no less than the body of Dharma, Dainichi (Vairocana) himself.
The children of “Ah!”
having departed from their home-town return to their home-town of “Ah!”
The ultimate meaning of a is that it is the first sound and therefore represents relative being; it is non-arising and therefore empty (śunya); a is also uncreated and therefore is the source of all things. A is the first sound because it begins the alphabet, it is the first sound that comes when you breath out, and it is said to be present in all letters – consonants have an implicit accompanying a vowel.Because of ha the 1st cause is unobtainable we should know that predications of all things are our mind only and that the real feature of our mind is all-inclusive wisdom.
The a bīja symbolizes the Dharmakāya; it is neither being nor non-being, nor both, nor neither, being beyond such dualities; a is the negative prefix in Sanskrit which forms a negative to any word when added to the beginning; this is the truth tha all Buddhists teachings are pointing to so a summarises them all.
In the Mahavairocana Sutra which is central to Shingon Buddhism it says: Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a miraculous force resides in the mantras, so that by pronouncing them one acquires merit without limits”. [in Conze, p. 183]
Dzogchen Sky Breath mantra “AH.”
Although this is traditionally practiced first thing in the morning, you can also take any moment in the day to wake yourself up and to awaken to the world, or simply to refresh and energize yourself. I find that stopping in the midst of a busy trip to simply take a deep breath and exhale with a great releasing “AH” can perforate the solidity and claustrophobia of an intense day, letting the fresh air of spirit and awareness blow through.
To chant the “AH” mantra, take a deep breath and on your exhalation open your eyes and mouth wide, raise your gaze, and chant a resounding, relieving “Ahhhhh” as far as you can go. Be aware of your out-breath as you chant the mantra and continue and to repeat the mantra from one to three times. You can try to chant at different volumes and in different tones, emptying yourself totally and dissolving with out-breath. As you do this, be aware of how your mind unites and mingle with space and how that space itself mingles with your awareness. Let everything else — thoughts, emotions, feelings, plans, distractions, noises, expectations — dissolve into vast, open space. Simply rest in the view, at ease with everything, including yourself, precisely as you are.
At the end of your exhalation, let the sound of the mantra “AH” resound into nothingness, both within and without, and rest in the utter silence and simplicity of the natural state of just being. When thoughts arise into this state of natural meditation, chant a few lengthy “AHs,” following the out-breath. Try to become aware of dissolving a little more with each “AH” repetition. Then, once again, rest in the spacious openness and clarity of natural meditation. You can continue to alternate this dissolving and resting at your own pace, in your own natural way.
— Lama Surya Das in Natural Radiance