Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Take Five 'Breaths'...

Hari OM

Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Are you breathing freely?  These are the two points of focus of the previous two AUM-day's and also for your daily saadhana. These should become so much a habit, just as the loose sitting and shallow breathing had before them, that you will automatically correct yourself throughout the day.  Over time you will find that there is a trigger formed in the background which then sends out the signal "sit up!...breathe!...loosen those shoulders…!" and so on.

So important are these two factors to healthy life, some companies are now ensuring their employees get up and stretch at intervals, that they have proper ergonomic work spaces and will even put on company-sponsored stress-management classes.  Of course, many don't!  It is therefore up to you to ensure you get the proper R&R.

Please continue the SAADHANA as set last week. It must become a natural and easy process.

To further understanding of praana, a brief exploration of the five aspects will now be undertaken. It should be understood that there is a lot more to cover in this regard, and it will be as we progress through later teachings here and on other pages. However, it is useful, as has been said before, to peek ahead at times.  As we drive on the road, if we all the time looked only at the five yards immediately before us, we are at risk of missing an important turn, or worse, meeting with an accident. We must know what is up ahead in order to steer more correctly and take appropriate action. As praana is such an important function and aids our clarity of purpose in meditational practice, we take an introductory 'glimpse'.

पञ्च प्राणाः/PANCHA PRAANA-S
The five aspects of the single term praana are divided thus;
प्राण /praana - perception
आपान/aapaana - excretion
व्यान /vyaana - digestion
समान /samaanaa - circulation
उदान /udaana - thinking of thoughts

Straight away you will have noticed the lack of something. Breath! Breathing is actually a purely physical response to stimulus.  What stimulates, is the life force within us. The five aspects are the philosophical classifications applied to that force. The English names immediately cause us to think again in the physical and at this stage that is fine. The Sanskrit terms, though, refer to the non-physical behind the physical, the causative factors if you will.

Pancha praana then, is that part of our makeup which interfaces the physical (gross) with the inner (subtle) body.  Our sense organs (sight, hearing etc.) must be in contact with the 'inner equipment', that subtle control centre in our brains.  Due to this clear experience of connection to response, many consider it to belong to the gross body alone; modern medical science for the most part is derisive of the possibility of anything beyond the physical expression of the force which allows us to interact with the external world. There can be no denying the physical expression, that is for sure, however, to eliminate any subtle contribution is to halve the whole.

Where does breath come into this then? Well, as each of the main five take up their actions, there are ten  उपप्राणाः/upapraanaH, subsidiary functions. Among these are found inhalation, exhalation and things such as yawning and sneezing.

As stated, this is a mere teaser. What has it to do with meditation? As we are attempting here to embrace the possibility of transcendentalism, we must first have a clear and positive perception of what it is we are seeking to transcend. The gross, physical existence is currently all that we know as a certainty. By researching it fully, in conjunction with learning of the things beyond the physical, we give ourselves the best hope of attaining the ultimate goal. There are a few rare individuals who may have attained this state without traversing the path of knowledge; equally there are countless seekers who have fallen into the trap of 'dry intellectualism', forgetting to put into practice the very thing which will prove (or disprove) their arguments! Balancing the practice of meditation with the pursuit of knowledge is the most likely to produce an equanimity in the transactional life. In this regard, let us finish today with a quote from Gurudev on exactly this point;

"Meditation kindles life.  It fills the personality with new vitality, strength and dash to achieve and to rebuild. Meditation rehabilitates man's broken, tired, weary inner personality and makes him a master of his destiny; an authority who commands the world of happenings around him."

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Hari OM
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