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    The Breath...

      ... Many Breaths, yet all One Breath

Breathing exercises are a part of virtually every mystical society from the Sufis to the Yogis to the ancient Mystery Schools. For example, see:

The Sufi Message, Volume XIII, Pasi Anfas: Breath

The Sufi Message, Volume VII, the Mystery of Breath

Yet the breathing exercises of one group are often vastly different from those of another group. How can there be so many different types of breathing exercises? And what is the ultimate goal of these exercises?

Unfortunately, many people believe that there is only one "right" way to do something, and therefore that every other way must be "wrong". But, alas, that is not the way that the spiritual life works. For mankind, the understanding of spiritual matters must proceed step-by-step from diversity towards unity. That is, in our spiritual endeavors we begin in a world of diversity, full of variety and differences, and we proceed gradually, rising step-by-step above the differences and distinctions of the world, to achieve an understanding of the Divine Unity.

The esoteric study of breath is really not about inhaling air; it is about understanding Life. Certainly it is true that there is considerable usefulness in studying and experiencing the different aspects of breathing, but the ultimate goal is the discovery of the One from whom all breath originates.

In the Semitic languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, there is a delightful word which means breath, breeze, spirit or Holy Spirit... showing how our ancient predecessors saw and understood the intimate connections of these different aspects of breath.

In his book Hebraic Tongue Restored, Fabre D'Olivet says that the ancient Semitic root of the Hebrew ruach, and Arabic ruh is:

Every idea of expansion and aerial dilation: wind, breath, soul, spirit: that which moves, stirs, animates, inspires or transports.

Isn't that delightful?? Oh what a magnificent description! There is One Source which "moves, stirs, animates, inspires" us in every moment, yet most people are not awake and are therefore unaware of the wonder and glory that we are immersed in.

Jalaluddin Rumi wrote:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
        Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
        Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
         where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
        Don't go back to sleep.

Essential Rumi, pg 36, tr by Coleman Barks

And that too is the breath.....

Learning about the breath is sort of like following a trail of evidence which leads back to the Ultimate Source. In studying the breath, one begins by paying attention to the physical breath, and gradually, step by step discovers the glorious Divine Breath which permeates our being.

There are many paths... yet they all lead to the same One. The breath is just one more way to "seek ye first the Kingdom of God"... which is really the goal of every mystical teaching.


Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,


posted July 11, 2005