I have always been fascinated by the simplest, yet the most vital of phenomena: breath. How, and why do we breathe?
One might simply laugh at my questions, and suggest that I should read an authoritative digest on human physiology, and if I am still not satisfied, that I should meet up with an expert physician who could undoubtedly answer my questions to my satisfaction. Undoubtedly. But indeed, I am quite aware of the physiological answers to those questions, although I am not satisfied with them; they are only partial answers.
What makes us breathe? What is it in us, which kicks off with our first cry as soon as we are born, and thrusts our lungs into constant bipolar motion that constitutes inhalation and exhalation? What is it that sustains this motion for as long as it should? Every action needs a source of power. What is the source that empowers our breath? Why does it do so?
Teacher says, “Remove consciousness, and the body is as good as dead.” Without any doubt, our consciousness, our awareness, is the major symptom of our being alive. It is also our consciousness that enlivens our senses and enables us to perceive our universe. It is our breath that feeds our consciousness.
We speak of a great many things like mind, heart, intellect and emotions. We speak of people who are highly intelligent, creative, deceptive, conceited, good, evil, beautiful, ugly, honorable, notorious, sensitive, smart, stupid, skilled, learned, heartless, greedy, and so forth. The classification is almost endless. And yet, the life principle – the breath - is the same in all of us.
Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. Undoubtedly, the universe is as, and because, we perceive it. It is our awareness that makes it real. It is our intellect that enables us to identify and recognize various names and forms. What we perceive around us is filtered through our consciousness, our awareness. It is then questioned by our reason, dissected by our logic, classified and organized by our intelligence. This involves an intricate network of electro-chemical reactions in a few million neurons that float on a bed of proteins. What powers this process? Breath. What powers the breath?
Sitting quietly on the sand, looking at the immense expanse of the ocean as it breathes in and out, I am further fascinated by the relationship of breath to several other polar models. Positive and negative, good and evil, birth and death, love and apathy, acceptance and rejection, up and down, high and low, crest and trough, rise and fall... male and female... and to keep it brief, shall I say inhalation and exhalation!
Therefore, beneath all this, with or without our explicit knowledge, is the very same life principle: breath. Stop the breath, and there shall be no consciousness, no awareness, no intelligence, no perception, and no emotions. Poles are a creation of the intellect. Merge the poles - inhalation and exhalation - and there shall be no other poles. Stop the breath, and there shall be no universe. Stop the breath, and there shall be nothing.
Think if you will: How, and why do we breathe?