Prāṇa and Spirit

Subtle breath (prāṇa) and Spirit

Swan

“Thus by focusing on the breath and its natural recitation, haṁsa, there is an increasing sense of enrichment and empowerment, giving and receiving every fullness in heaven and on earth. This is the divine state, a state of intense joy and value.”

Every living creature breathes. For humans the first inhalation is taken at the moment of birth and continues at the rate of approximately 21,000 times each day until the dying breath. This quite spontaneous cycle of respiration is called ‘a recitation without words (ajapa-japa), the natural (sahaja) recitation proper to all living beings. Breath is thus the natural symbol of life.

Since humans are made in the image of the divine, the meditators by focusing on the inhalation and exhalation find themselves transported into a divine state.

The inward breath is considered to sound like ‘ha’; and the outward breath like ‘sa’ so that breath is said to sound like ‘haṁsa’ which in Sanskrit means ‘the swan’ (literally ‘Siberian goose’) that floats on the tranquil surface of the lake and plunges its head into the water to feed.

In this way the meditator acquires the attributes of “being in the world but not of it” (cf. Jn 17.11, 16), raised to heaven while still living in time (Col 3.3), both externalised and internalised. It is thus a moment of balance (samāna) where the outer and inner attain an equilibrium, like the arms of a beam balance coming to rest. At this point, at the moment of equableness (samāna), both of reserve and involvement, of giving and receiving, of exhalation (prāṇa) and inhalation (apāna): at this point a rush of energy (kuṇḍalinī) takes place in the very centre (madhya) of the body, rising upwards (udāna) and filling not only the person but the whole universe, permeating (vyāna) all things. It is a moment of empowerment and great tranquillity, an effortless exercise of blessing.

The conscious act of inhaling and exhaling air deepens and expands so that the meditator discovers a great pleasure and satisfaction in this life-giving act. Indeed, going further the practitioner acquires the sense of taking in the whole energy of the universe and taking in every good. This act of breathing expands even further so that the meditator feels like the first man lying on the face of the earth and receiving the very breath of God or like the disciples on Easter Day who receive into their lungs the Holy Spirit whom Jesus breathes from out his mouth, giving them every authority to retain or loose from sin. Indeed, the meditator feels that same authority, breathing out blessing on the universe, to confirm it and bring it to fullness.

Thus by focusing on the breath and its natural recitation, haṁsa, there is an increasing sense of enrichment and empowerment, giving and receiving every fullness in heaven and on earth. This is the divine state, a state of intense joy and value.

About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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