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by Moji Agha

ENTICING EXCERPT: WOMAN OR MAN, YOU ARE PREGNANT WITH...OOHOOM [which is]...the thing...every moment, including this one, is unavoidably and inherently "pregnant" with, as you SHALL see...The "oohoom pregnancy" can end in the birth of knowledge or "ignorance," exploration or "stagnation," hope or fear, love or hate, giving or stealing... and "good" or "evil."

ADVANCE WARNING: Please be advised that after reading this essay something profound will happen to the way you have so far related to the "oohoom" phenomenon; and this new awareness, in turn, may cause you to live differently. I'm just saying this, so you know.

Given the nature of "oohoom," what I just stated was a cold hard FACT.

Facts can be serious, funny, or both, depending on your unique perspective, of course.
Another fact is that reading this article will affect your relationship to "oohoom" in an unavoidably unique fashion, and forever, because you are inherently unique and will never happen again, and neither is this moment.
Let me repeat: YOU or THIS MOMENT will NEVER happen again. YOU or THIS MOMENT will NEVER happen again. YOU or THIS MOMENT will NEVER happen again. 

I am talking about THIS moment, the one that just became past and the ones that are marching on, right before your consciousness.

Serious? Funny? Or just FACT? In your own inherently unique organismic way, you SHALL see. TRUST me! 

Let me begin to introduce this "oohoom" thing to you, the thing every moment, including this one, is unavoidably and inherently "pregnant" with, as you SHALL see.

Unlike Omar Khayyam, Hafiz, the Greatest Sufi poet of Shiraz (Persia, Iran) is not famous for his mysterious and mathematically significant Ruba'iyaat (quatrains). You see, being a mathematician, Khayyam is much too aware that life is transitory and short. So, he writes short crisp quatrains, rather than miraculously beautiful, but somewhat long ghazals (sonnets). So, we know Hafiz more for his heavenly ghazals. Nonetheless, he has a few sweet rubaa'is too. In one of these, he comes to our aid in beginning to understand "oohoom."
Hafiz says:
Har doost keh dam zad ze vafaa, doshman shod.
Har paak rooy keh bood, tar daaman shod.
Gooyand shab aabestano, een ast adjab!
Koo mard nadid, az cheh aabestan shod?

[In this transitory, unworthy of trust world]
Any friend, who has sworn true loyalty, 
has eventually turned out to be a foe.
Any "pure-faced" lover [innocent in appearance], 
has eventually ended up with a wet lap [betraying love]. 
They say the night is "pregnant," 
and this is a perplexing mystery;
because the night has not been visited by a man.
How has she become pregnant?

Could it be that it is this "oohoom" thing which makes the night, and indeed every moment, pregnant?

What is the relationship of YOU to "oohoom?" How did YOU become pregnant with it? Did you know you are, absolutely unavoidably, pregnant with "oohoom?"


I said earlier that you have an inevitably unique relationship to "oohoom," and like everyone else, so do I.
Here is a unavoidably logical maxim: To understand anything unknown fully (or better), you need to begin by grasping or understanding--as accurately as you can--what you know about it already.
So, before sitting down to write the original draft of this essay in 2005, I did some research on the "correct" way of spelling "oohoom."
Then, I realized that if I am talking about the uniqueness of the relationship between "consciousness" and "oohoom," I should remain faithful to how I experience it.
Of course I cannot communicate to you exactly how I experience "oohoom." The best I can do is to spell it as closely as I can to the unique way that I pronounce it, in my taken-for-granted (and mostly unconscious) daily life.
I hope that after reading about my unique search, you too will begin your own wondrous "oohoom" journey.

But anyhow, if until now you have been unconscious of the unavoidably unique way that you experience and pronounce "oohoom," after reading this essay you will no longer have that luxury. 

Luxury? Is not being aware of one of the most primordial processes of life a luxury? Or is it an unbearable burden? Or both?


The cold hard fact is that "oohoom" is a jail from which you CANNOT escape, while at the same time it is a "jail" that gives you the most profound freedom that is available to us ordinary mortals in our "waking" ordinary consciousness.

Luxury or suffering? Or both? Well, you shall see.


Let me go back to my introduction of "oohoom." In my somewhat futile but rewarding research attempt, I went to the main library at the University of Arizona in Tucson. A very kind librarian was intrigued by my "oohoom" question. She may have also thought that I was a bit odd, but she was too polite to tell me.

In our search for the "correct" way of spelling "oohoom" we looked at many dictionaries and reference books, in linguistics, phonology, and related disciplines. The kind librarian, with her wire frame thick glasses, was kind enough to even ask some other "experts."

Four persons responded to the kind librarian's inquiry as to the proper way of spelling "oohoom."

1- An anonymous expert said in a short e-mail: "I believe the convention is "mmm-hmm."

2- A long-winded but kind expert from the English Department (where else?) said that such "non-verbalism was [probably] imported by slaves from Africa. [So] there may be some African languages that use it [as a word, not a 'protoword'], but I've never heard it anywhere else, except in English-influenced areas...but if one were striving for more phonetic accuracy, while still using familiar spelling conventions, "mm-hmm" is more accurate...It could even be "m-hm", although visually this does not look so good, and is not conventional, so it would probably confuse readers."
By the way, a "protoword" could be analogized to a virus, if a complete word could be understood as a bacteria or germ.

3- A "cognitive scientist" said that the answer differed based on the person's language and dialect, but that "mhm" is the spelling way "usually transcription practice" [at least in "white" American English--my words].

4- An "East Asian" expert, who is most likely from Japan, said that the Japanese equivalent of "oohoom" in Romanized English letters is spelled "mm" with "a falling intonation, not the fall-rise of the English expression."  While not sure, this same East Asian expert "vaguely" recalled seeing "mm-hmm," but was quite certain that "oohoom" is "typically written" as "uh-huh" in English.
5- The Persian "expert" that doubtless I claim to be, I say (perhaps with deeply ignorant arrogance), that in Persian (Farsi) my "oohoom" would probably be "aaha" or "aahaan" or "oohoon."
I am sure, however, that this cruel yet compassionate "protoword" appears in all kinds of ways in all kinds of languages, dialects, and individual expressions. Although at the end of the day, every single human being, who is jailed, yet liberated, by this cruel, yet giving, protoword experiences and pronounces it uniquely.
In the same way that no two moments or beings are identical, no two persons pronounce "oohoom" or "mhm" or "m-hm" or "mmhmm" or "mmm-hmm" or "uh-huh" or "aaha" or "aahaan" or "oohoon" in an identical manner.
And in the same way that I am a unique manifestation of a human being, the same way that this moment is a unique manifestation (in one's unique experience) of a moment in time, "oohoom" is the unique manifestation of THE PROCESS OF INTEGRATION in MY unique experience.
Dutifully therefore, I will spell "oohoom" as oohoom in this essay. So, you agree that this primordial jailer and liberator, namely MY "oohoom" is the unique manifestation of integration in MY world. You pronounce your jailer/liberator in your unique way.


I am almost sure that by now you are saying: "I don't get it."

I say, quite FACTually: In this instance (or stage) of integration, your unique "oohoom" moment, with regard to understanding what oohoom is, and how it works, has not manifested, yet. So you are not yet aware that you are pregnant. Please be patient and let us dig deeper, some more.

Regardless of who you are, if it is up to you when someone comes to your door, you first find out who has come and then you decide to let him or her into your house. 
UNIVERSAL RULE: Without recognition integration does not happen, period.

Let us say you are a cell. A molecule of oxygen is delivered to you by your blood. Any undergraduate in biology knows that first you recognize this friendly molecule, as friendly, and then you absorb it.

Now, you are the same cell. A deadly microbe has appeared at your "door." You first recognize this germ as an enemy, then you "integrate" it into your world, this time by killing it.

Since earlier we talked about the Sufi poet Hafiz (Hafez), now imagine being a moth -- parvaaneh in Persian. First you recognize the object of your attraction as a source of light, then you start rotating around it. You, the moth, first see something shiny and as soon as you recognize that it is in fact a candle or a light bulb, you say: "OOHOOM; a delicious source of light! I am going to rotate around it, in pure self-sacrificing love, until I become one with Truth." You see, as a moth you have no choice in this. The same candle that "forces" you to go toward it, liberates you to fulfill your deepest desire to become pure Love.


Now imagine being a pregnant woman. At the moment of birth both you and your baby have no choice but to go through the birthing process, yet ironically you are both liberated. A new being is born, integrated into the "world," of the mother, the family or clan, the country or tribe, the Earth, and the cosmos. At the moment of conception, your egg "chooses" the sperm by saying: "oohoom, good sperm" and then the cellular integration happens.
ABSOLUTE FACT: Every moment is pregnant with a potential "oohoom" which then gets actualized in experienced integration.

Let us say on your way to the market you are lost. You stop to ask someone for directions. The person says you need to go down Avenue X. As soon as you recognize which direction Avenue X is, almost unconsciously, you say "oohoom." This is the moment in which "you get it."

Your moment of "oohoom" is the moment in which your new knowledge is integrated into your existing knowledge.

Prior to this integration, you have not "got it" and therefore you cannot go further. As soon as you "get it," you have no choice but to somehow silently, or not, say oohoom, as you go forward in your learning, your absorbing, your unavoidable journey through integration toward completion.

This is one sweet jail from which you CANNOT escape.

Even if you could escape from it, you would not want to, because your liberating integrating movement forward (in time/consciousness) is made possible through the same oohoom experience.

2 TIMES 2 IS 4

Now imagine you are in an elementary school math class. The teacher is explaining how you get 16 from multiplying 4 by 4. If you had not successfully integrated the knowledge of 2 times 2 makes 4, you would not be able to integrate this new knowledge. The teacher asks if you understood why 4 X 4 = 16. In one way or another, you say "oohoom," only if you have understood it. Once you understand (learn/integrate) how this 16 has come about, you have no choice but to integrate it into your bag of previous oohooms. Yet, understanding this 16 liberates you to be able to understand 8 X 8 = 64, to say oohoom at the moment you integrate that understanding of the nature of 64 into the individual cosmos of your unique experience of math.

But what if you "decide" that 16 is as far as you want to go? What if you cannot imagine (or are fearful of) going beyond 16? Then you say "oohoom, the world (i.e., your world) is composed of 2s and 4s only. And in this way, you would not go beyond 16 in your mathematical learning. 


This is how the "oohoom pregnancy" can end in the birth of knowledge or "ignorance," exploration or "stagnation," hope or fear, love or hate, giving or stealing... and "good" or "evil."
And of course oohoom teaches us that these "states of consciousness" are truly subjective, while paradoxically, in an astonishing manner, also objective, exact, and cruelly factual.
Anyhow, ALL beings (living or not) "say" oohoom. All sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, cells, and complex organisms that ever exist in the universe "say" oohoom, as they travel on their integration journey of inevitable change.

As "self-conscious" beings, we have the awesome potential, the awesome capacity, and the awesome responsibility to say oohoom, but with awareness--with relative choice.
The more aware I become of the tallness of the walls of my "oohoom" jail, the more profoundly I appreciate the oohoom's liberation. The more I learn, the more I become aware of the things I am yet to learn.
In the same way that after integrating even one new molecule of water our cells are re-freshed, re-born, and renewed, we are re-born, becoming new beings (both individually and collectively) every moment that we integrate something to who or what we have been so far. 


When I learn a new word and say the inevitable "oohoom," I have then become a different person, my family has become a different family, my country has become a different country, my culture has become a different culture, my spiritual community has become a different community--and in short, the universe has changed.

Are you starting to see now? I told you at the beginning of this essay that after reading it, you would never be the same. Can you see that yet? Have you said your oohoom to understanding oohoom yet?

If you can see what I mean, from now on you will be unavoidably more aware of the protoword called "oohoom," and how it influences your every moment, your world, whichever way you pronounce it--or hear it as others pronounce or mumble it. 

Finally, you may be saying at this point: "WOW! So at every single moment I am pregnant -- or actually giving birth, or both, paradoxically. OMG! What an incredibly brilliant awesome essay!"
Or, who knows, the world being as cruel and thankless it often is, you may be saying: "What an absolutely useless piece of knowledge I have been exposed to! Damn! What an incredibly giant waste of my extremely precious time! Hasn't this "brother Moji" dude got nothing better to do, than uttering such cheesy pseudo-spiritual philosophical words or protowords--of utter blah blah nonsense?"

Regardless, at this exact and awesome ever unrepeatable moment in the history of the universe, I am sure (as sure as "sure" can ever be) that YOU ARE, in fact, smiling, even if you are deeply depressed. Aren't you? It  easy. Read your own lips -- in the library of an honest mirror!


For a mini-bio of Moji Agha see this page:  *** E-mail: moji.agha [at]

Book: Shattered Sighs