Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prana, the Breath of God

"The heart is the chooser, the midway Chakra that stands between upper and lower; it is the mediator, the center of feeling. The function of the heart isn't to label good or bad; it doesn't judge or reject. Out of love it blends high and low..." --The Path to Love by Deepak Chopra

Human beings, writes Chopra "are the only
creatures born with a higher and a lower nature." Here in the West, he notes, the terms higher and lower, are hued with the ideas of sacred and profane; yet we know by experience that there is one world, all things are infinite within it. There are not two worlds, good/bad, or sacred/profane. The world contains everything within herself: all good, all wicked, all holy, blessed and all corrupt. It is filled with love, indifference, intolerance and the One.

When young, we may wish, desire, crave even, for an intimate relationship with another. Chopra discusses in his book, The Path to Love that we may think that intimacy is sexualized love; later we may find through our life experiences, through being open to life challenges that life is love, sex, laughter and pain-- getting close is frightening, provoking, even. Sometimes the road seems as if it will swallow us up; we want to run, to hide. We fear abandonment or rejection along the path. "There's a spiritual issue here," says Chopra. 

Life is a process. It is forms; it's being and non being, the ways of feeling and doing. "In India it's taught that the same life force, or Prana, runs through everything. In Christian terms, it is the "Breath of God," which transforms dead, inert matter to life, says Chopra. Writing in the book, The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo, Aurobindo details a bit more in contrast to Chopra. 

Sri Aurobindo describes, "Prana, the life force in the nervous system, is indeed the one main instrument of our mental consciousness; for it is that by which the mind receives the contacts of the physical world through the organs of knowledge, sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste; it reacts by action. All these senses are dependent upon the nervous life force for their functioning."
Aurobindo goes on to detail the inner and exterior workings of Prana, the breath or life force as he describes them. He says there are five workings of the life force. The discussion is lengthy and complex. 
He concludes in part, that respiration is only one part of the life force, but one which can be suspended (in his view) without the body necessarily being destroyed. He writes that we become aware of Prana through purification of the mind and body.

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