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In wikipedia i read:

The Chandogya Upanishad is ... one of the oldest Upanishads of Hinduism.

[It] opens with the recommendation that "let a man meditate on Om". It calls the syllable Om as udgitha (उद्गीथ, song, chant), and asserts that the significance of the syllable is thus: the essence of all beings is earth, the essence of earth is water, the essence of water are the plants, the essence of plants is man, the essence of man is speech, the essence of speech is the Rig Veda, the essence of the Rig Veda is the Sama Veda, and the essence of Sama Veda is the udgitha (song, Om).

Its date is given as "8th to 6th century BCE" i.e. at least 100 years before Gautama.

Now "Om" is also used in Buddhism.

Is its use the same as in Hinduism? If you recite the OM, do you (or not) think it is connected to a Super Consciousness as described in the Vedanta?

Is it difficult to describe the philosophical basis, if the practice is somehow derived from concepts and knowledge from a text whose date is from before Gautama?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Jul 9 at 12:27
  • i downvoted cos it' a bit of a daft question... why do buddhists use language? – user2512 Jul 11 at 3:11
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Since the Chandogya Upanishad was written a few hundred years before Gautama Buddha, there's no doubt that OM is older than the Buddha. It doesn't matter whether it's a hundred years older or a thousand years older.

As far as I know, OM does not appear anywhere in the Pali suttas or the other Early Buddhist Texts. Also, Gautama Buddha himself had never used or mentioned OM, to the best of my knowledge.

In the Theravada tradition, phrases of homage to the Buddha like "namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa" do not start with OM.

So, where is OM used in Buddhism?

It appears to be used mainly in Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism - the most famous one being "OM Mani Padme Hum". There are others like "OM Tare Tuttare Ture Soha".

So, where does "OM Mani Padme Hum" come from?

The wikipedia page on "Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra" states:

The Karandavyuha Sutra is a Mantrayāna sutra that was compiled at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century CE. According to the Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra, the sun and moon are said to be born from Avalokiteśvara's eyes, Shiva from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet and the sky from his stomach.

The sutra introduces the Buddhist mantra, Om Manipadme Hum, which it states can lead to liberation (moksha) and eventual Buddhahood. A. Studholme sees this famous mantra as being a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning 'I in the jewel-lotus', with the jewel-lotus being a reference to birth in the lotus made of jewels in the Buddhist Paradise, Sukhavati, of Buddha Amitabha. The mantra is the very heart of Avalokitesvara (the supreme Buddha of Compassion) and can usher in Awakening.

So, "OM Mani Padme Hum" appeared in Buddhism, through the Karandavyuha Sutra, which was compiled almost a thousand years after the passing of Gautama Buddha.

And, it's a mantra for the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, from whom emanates the sun, the moon, Shiva, Brahma, Narayana, Sarasvati, winds, earth and sky.

Now, let's just make it clear that the Early Buddhist Texts and Gautama Buddha himself have never mentioned Avalokiteśvara, OM, Shiva, Narayana or Sarasvati. This is to the best of my knowledge.

What does OM mean in Buddhism?

The 14th Dalai Lama gave a lecture on the meaning of: OM MANI PADME HUM. He said:

It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast. The first, OM, is composed of three pure letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner's impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha.

The OP asked:

OP: Is its use the same as in Hinduism? If you recite the OM, do you (or not) think it is connected to a Super Consciousness as described in the Vedanta?

So, the answer is that OM in Buddhism has nothing to do with Super Consciousness or Vedanta. Rather, this is what it means in (Vajrayana or Tibetan) Buddhism: "These symbolize the practitioner's impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha."

OP: Is it difficult to describe the philosophical basis, if the practice is somehow derived from concepts and knowledge from a text whose date is from before Gautama?

Mmm... not really. The Dalai Lama has explained the philosophical basis above.

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  • Nice “political” answer. It’s curious that when talking about OM everybody seems to drop Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions as almost “non Buddhist” when it’s time to face some history. This creates dramatic fractures in the Buddhist logic, if provoked. So if someone born let’s say ...in the 1200 BC had no chances to exit Samsara. Oh no wait, probably he had the OM. But that’s was not enough. So i should create a new question : How was possible to exit from Samsara before Gautama? Make sense? – Doubtful Monk Jul 9 at 20:00
  • Dhammasangani-Book3-Part1 – Doubtful Monk Jul 9 at 20:24
  • 1004] What is 'perplexity'? To doubt, to be perplexed about, (1) the Master, to doubt, to be perplexed about, (2) the Doctrine, to doubt, to be perplexed about, (3) the Order, about (4) the Discipline, about (5) the past, the future, about both the past and the future, (6) as to whether there be an assignable cause[35] of states causally determined – Doubtful Monk Jul 9 at 20:25
  • — it is this kind of doubt, this working of doubt, this dubiety, puzzlement, perplexity, distraction, standing at cross-roads; collapse, uncertainty of grasp; evasion, hesitation, incapacity of grasping thoroughly, stiffness of mind, mental scarifying, that is called perplexity.[36] – Doubtful Monk Jul 9 at 20:25
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    @DoubtfulMonk How to exit Samsara before Gautama? - is a good question you can ask on Buddhism.SE. – ruben2020 Jul 9 at 23:58
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ॐ is from संस्कृतम् Sanskrit, which was likely written in some form from c.1500BC & earlier; it was used, or whats sometimes called a preVedic form, before The Mahabharata & RigVeda, c. 800BC or so. There were & are various styles of it and its the basis in more & lesser part for many languages in the world. Some scholars would consider some languages to be Varieties of Sanskrit cf entirely separate languages. Sanskrit has lots of verb forms etc & is very excellent for reading Buddhist literature, in part because thats how much of the literature was originally spoken & written(or Sanskrit 'Variants' etc), and texts have various meters & sounds, & there are terms very excellent for nuances of existential meanings and a few characters fairly specific for Buddhism Texts.

The sounds are very significant aspects of spoken Sanskrit Language:

ॐ is The Universal Sound. This concept predates The Vedas as well as the time of Buddha Gautama! There are hundreds of Branches of Hinduisms & Branches of Buddhisms, and there are various Doctrines etc. Some, eg, say The Sound while in contemplation.

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    Thank You again! someone corrected my answer while i was saying that OM was used THOUSAND of years before Gautama. What’s wrong with that? (now i will correct again). So seems like people that took a Bodhisattva’s vote don’t like some historical facts or getting deeper in discussions. This js so, sad. I remember the good old times of Kashmir when at Sharada Peeth Buddhists and Saivites were meeting to discover the Truth using knowledge, even at Ellora were probably doing the same. This dogmatism is something that is really killing the Buddhism. – Doubtful Monk Jul 9 at 16:37
  • Hi! Do you have any evidence to support this claim: "There were & are various styles of it and its the basis in more & lesser part for many languages in the world.". Are you saying that we can find traces of the roots of OM in many languages? – Brian Díaz Flores Jul 9 at 17:01
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    @DoubtfulMonk When I wrote Its date is given as "8th to 6th century BCE" I was quoting Wikipedia's dating of the Upanishad. The Rigveda is older (as MH has written in this answer) but it was the Chandogya Upanishad that you were quoting. I didn't think that's important, the important point being that it's previous to Gautama. – ChrisW Jul 9 at 17:08
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Its date is given as "8th to 6th century BCE" i.e. at least 100 years before Gautama.

Now "Om" is also used in Buddhism.

Is its use the same as in Hinduism?

No, we use this context for Catudhatu insight meditation.

If you recite the OM, do you (or not) think it is connected to a Super Consciousness as described in the Vedanta?

In Tipitaka, we realize there still be Sekkha (Stream-Enterer, etc) who still rebirth maximum at 7 times. And AnagamiBrahma in SuddhavasaArupabrahma is included in these 3 sekkha, too.

In LakkhanaSutta's commentary wrote that there are some AnnagamiBrahma from KassapaSambuddha time still alive. This Brahma tell Isi in Arayanta country about 32 characteristics of the Buddha to let Isi can notice when they meet the Buddha. So Isi from this country call themselves Brahmana (Brahma's son). And that's why the Buddha taught about AriyaSacca (the truth teaching by Ariya) in DhammajakkappavattanaSutta.

However, the commentary also commented that what brahma learned from AnagamiBrahma was already blurred when the time gone by to the Buddha time.

Another, we trust in truth (origins&effects) and there are some supernatural can be truth as well.

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