Untranslatable Words – 阿吽 – ॐ – Ah-un

Ah-un (阿吽)/Japanese / n. / ɑː. ən / ah-un is a transliteration of the Sanskrit syllable Auṃ (). It means the beginning and ending of something, or all things. It is the cyclical concept that when something comes to completion, this always means the onset of something else. The word can be applied to different situations – phases in life, like graduating or finding a job, or moving, or starting a family; or to the end of life and start of death and whatever mysteries it brings or doesn’t bring; or even to the end of a day and the start of the night.

In Japanese, a-un is used figuratively un expressions such as “a-un breathing” (阿吽の呼吸a-un no kokyū) or “a-un relationship” (阿吽の仲a-un no naka), indicating an inherently harmonious relationship and non-verbal communication. It describes a relationship when two or more people’s feelings and thoughts are in sync, perhaps even across borders, and time.

It’s those friendships that stand the test of time, that when you meet again it feels like little has changed and you pick right off from where you left. Or when you and your friend end up remembering the same memories at the same time, despite not having spoken for a while. Or when someone messages you out of the blue, right when you are thinking of them. I also feel like a-un can be used to describe the reciprocity one feels when someone is just as happy for your progress and growth as you are – perhaps even more so, and knowing that this feeling extends from you to them as well.


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