Sunday, April 16, 2006


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?


Yashita said...

wow!! wonderful post!! hehee..Icould actually feel myself breathing while raeding this post:) something I never do!!...sometimes we just forget that we "breathe" I mean it's so taken for granted!!isn't it?

Navin S said...

hello pradeep

i am back after some time!

Breathing is a miracle, from my humble opinion if you ask me.No one could possibly explain the marvel behind it. Be it from an atheist point of view or a spiritual guru who feeds who with some explaination.Human must just learn to accept things as its accordance. Religion for example is an artificial intelligence created by men....But they never trully understood the correct mechanism of breathing,haha

By the way, i was talking to my mate about the co-existence of faith and knowledge. As a science person, i could not agree on mosto his points though, as i classified humans into two sub groups( or subgenres) :

I) people who seek knowledge
ii) people who seek faith

i'd love to hear your honest opinion pertaining this issue

i know that APJ Abdul kalam being a great scientist he is, he trully believes he shares a spiritual bondage with the creator( adapted from his book entitled Wings of Fire)

Thank you, My friend

Navin s,m'sia

passerby55 said...

this post reminded me of that song Breathless! by javed aktar and sang by shankar mahadevan. SOme say that he sang in one breath, and many say it was an incredible effort.

Being left breathless for a moment makes one aware what breathing is!

why do we breathe?
A person neither hears, sees, smells,Tastes, touches, speaks, nor enjoys, we say he sleeps. But then he/she is breathing that is enough for one to know that one is connected to the outer universe.

how he breathes....
for a commoner like me it is through the stomach....

I just realised we all need only stomach full of breath.....

Jewel Rays said...

interesting thought and beautiful expression.

To me Breath comes from God
And why we breath is to live.

if that makes sense to any..


Keshi said...

Very interesting write-up Pradeep! I was amazed at how u compared the breath to some other aspects of the world...was very beautifully done!

**And yet, the life principle – the breath - is the same in all of us.

Thats so true! ppl can differ in thoughts, words and actions but not the breath...we all do that exactly the same and no one can live w.o. that.

**Think if you will: How, and why do we breathe?

Im not an expert in this but I agree with Amy...we were given this miracle by God...therefore we do...and we must do so to live. It's a mechanism provided for Life.

Would love to hear what u have to say Pradeep.


PRADEEP K. said...

Wow Yash!
You got straight to the heart of the post, did you not? :)

Yes, we usually take our breath for granted. So much so that most of us, as we grow up, even forget the right way to breathe.

Please read my response to Passerby for a few more thoughts.

Dear Navin,
Welcome back, friend. Breathing is indeed a miracle. In my opinion, it is the greatest of all miracles.

And yes, breath cannot be explained. But it can surely be understood. If only they breathe mindfully, there is a very good chance that they may discover unknown strengths and truths within themselves.

With regards to faith and knowledge, there is much that could be said about both.

I understand perfectly when you refer to "People who seek knowledge." But I must admit that I do not udnerstand what you mean by "People who SEEK faith".

You have asked for my opinion on this. In this context, I would like to admit my contention that we are all connected by a single life force.

"All is one, and nothing matters".

I shall certainly present my detailed thoughts on this subject in my future posts. Please do keep reading.

Thank you, my friend. :)

Dear Passerby,
If you observe how a newborn baby breathes, you will realize the truth of this matter. The breathing technique of infants is called "Belly Breathing". As we grow, we begin taking our breath for granted, and forget the technique.

Several books have been written on the subject of right breathing techniques, but reading them is of absolutely no use, unless one realizes the truth within oneself.

By the way, it is not the stomach that is involved, but it is the diaphragm.

Dear Amy,
It makes a lot of sense. Cheers, girl!

Dear Keshi,
I did not compare breath with the other aspects in the universe. I simply mentioned the obvious connection that I observe around me. :)

We are all connected in a way, and our breath holds the key to that connection.

More thoughts about this in my future posts. Cheers! :)

Diana said...

interesting post.
I would only say that if u once u stop breathing, then only perhaps u realise what a breath means in life

Princess said...

Hi Pradeep,

I have breathed a few concious breaths after reading this. I have lots of work and will chat later.

Have a pleasant day,

PRADEEP K. said...

Hey Diana! :)

Are you crazy? Please don't stop breathing! LOLz... Just kidding.

Well, more seriously, the gaps between inhalation and exhalation tell a very lovely tale. Wonder if anyone is listening. :)


Hi, Aizwa
Thank you for taking the time to visit.

God bless!