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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Talk on Prana

May 29, 2004
Private Meeting - Istanbul / Turkey

Thank you for inviting me to this group.
Every time a child is born, through the child, God is sending us a message that he still has hope on the human beings. We will try to make that hope of God live, by the groups of this nature.
We have to constantly work to see how the human beings are together. The Sanskrit word for unity is what yoga is. So yoga is a practical science of uniting and being together. The essential spiritual nature of creation is this wonderful harmony. Look at a plant. The roots are under the earth and the flowers are towards the sky. But there is a wonderful harmony between the roots and fruits. This harmony shows the health of the plant. If you look at an orange you will again see harmony between the bitter outer layer of the orange and the sweet fruit and the bitter seed inside. The seed does not disturb the fruit and the fruit does not disturb the seed. They are born together and live together in harmony within the same fruit. When there is such a harmony in a fruit, why can’t we have this in human beings? If there is any enemy of man, it is only another man or as Bhagavad-Gita says he is his own enemy. We have to bring man closer to man in harmony by yoga. There are hundreds of ways by which we can put them together. But it can only be possible if I have the harmony inside me. So the journey starts from me. A flower has a fragrance and then it gives it to all around it self. Similarly if I have harmony inside, I can spread this harmony to the world.
But look at the human being. With human beings the mind says something and the body says something else. Within the mind also one part of the mind says yes while the other part says no. Why we can’t have this harmony.
In God’s creation there is such a wonderful harmony. We have very hard teeth but in between we have a very soft tongue. Look at the wonderful harmony between the tongue and the teeth. They not only do not disturb each other but they protect and help each other. Only when we are anxious they can disturb one another. If we are peaceful, there is harmony. Therefore disharmony is the sign of anxiety.
Basically yoga is harmony and yoga is peace. It is easier said than done. Just by asking mind will not be peaceful. Now the question is about how to get to that harmony and peace. We have several different techniques to reach harmony. So many yoga masters ever since ancient times have given us various techniques according to the need of the people at that time. Five thousand years ago someone has given us Kriya Yoga. Three thousand years ago somebody gave us Ashtanga Yoga. A thousand years ago somebody gave us Siddha Yoga. Recently Mahesh yogi came and gave us transcendental meditation. Definitely hundred years later somebody will come and give us another kind of yoga. The names and the practices may be different but the goal is the same. The only single goal they have is peace, harmony and those techniques which will not give us this goal of peace and harmony they are quake systems.
Why not we have only one system and why do we have so many techniques then? It is because we have different varieties of people with different varieties of minds. That is why what may suit you, might not suit me. What technique may be useful for someone may not be useful for some one else. That is why we have so many varieties of techniques. Not everybody has to like the same thing. It does not mean that they have to fight and be against each other. This is what Swami Vivekananda said a hundred years ago in the Parliament of Religions. There are hundreds of ways to reach to God’s place- the peace of mind. But the goal is the same in all of them. We choose what is good for us and reach a peace of mind. One of the biggest disturbances is in the inner life force called Prana. When the mind is agitated, you can see the agitation in the energy of the body.
Anger, depression, schizophrenia are all mental disturbances. They percolate into the life force, Prana and make it very agitated. Yoga says, if can get my mind to peace, then my body becomes peaceful and calm. If you can set the harmony between inhale and exhale, between systolic and diastolic, then you can see the harmony in your mind. Let us see the case somebody has panicked in a traffic accident and he is disturbed. All he needs to do is calm down and take deep breaths. You can see his panic level comes down. Once his mind is calm he in not in panic any more.
We do this to a lot of children having anxieties because of exams. We make them sit down and take deep breaths before the exams. We can see that once their panic levels come down, their recollection, memories and responses are better. We have done many research studies to prove how a calming down in the prana level can bring down an absolutely wonderful performance. This prana is sometimes translated as energy. This is not like the physical energy we measure in calories. This is the life energy within us. We are all born with a storehouse of this life energy. The faster we spend this energy, the older we become. When we slow down this process, we live longer. Respiration is one of the manifestations of this inner life energy. That is the reason why the animals that have faster respiratory rates live shorter. Animals having slower respiratory rates like elephants or crocodiles live longer. We may also see the benefit this way that as the way we breathe we are exhausted at the end of the day. But if we can reduce the speed we are not exhausted at the end of the day!
Pranayama practices are about how we can slow down this inner life force. People who practice for two weeks at our center can bring down their respiration rates from 20-22/ a minute to 15-16/a minute. People with hypertension and heart sicknesses always have high respiratory rates. According to Ayurveda, a high respiratory rate is a disease all by itself. People practicing pranayama continuously for 2-3 years have around 10-12 respirations in one minute. We have seen people who regularly meditate and do pranayama have respiratory rates of 1-2 /a minute. That means our lungs do not have to work as much as 20 times per minute but 1 or 2 by the help of yoga. Once you can bring that down, then you can realize how enjoyable the life itself is. Exhaustion will not be there, we will be much more relaxed all the time and the remaining prana can be used for other activities. You can observe that such a person is peaceful in everything he does.
Yoga says that if you have established in peace, people coming close to you can also feel that peace. Naturally this is something one has to experience. This is not something that can be taught but it is a feeling of that peaceful nature. How slow can we go with that prana? There is a story that comes in ‘Ramayana’. There is a person searching for a saint. He realizes that within a couple of miles to that saint the flowers are always fresh and the grass is always green. He can see liveliness all around.
He goes to the saint and humbly says “you must be really great because I see your influence”. “What kind of a meditation do you do to become such a saint?”
He answers “I am not very educated to do types of meditation. I am a very simple person. People say the best way of meditation is to slow down the respiration. That is pranayama.”
The man asks” what do you mean by slowing the breath?”. “It means slowly inhale and slowly exhale”. The man asks “how slow do you do that?” He answers “with one inhale and one exhale, one generation passes”. The man says” you never die”, and the saint says “I saw many people passing away in front of me”. The issue is not about dying or not but if the breath can be so slow, how blessed the life can be.
We spend so much prana that at the end of the day we are very tired. If we can slow down the breath and the whole inner activity, at the end of the day you will be as fresh as you were in the morning. That freshness is our health.
That harmony is the spiritual health. A person who is peaceful inside and has harmony can only spread harmony to the world. We have a few techniques to see how our mind is there on the respiration. At the beginning we will see how we can slow down the breath. After that, we will leave that technique aside but we will continue to have slow breath. Once we identify the gap between inhalation and exhalation, we can go to superior levels of our consciousness. You can see that there are huge subconscious levels of us hiding behind very little conscious levels outside. The world is so busy with shallow conscious levels that we do not know the depth levels of subconscious that we have. A person who can go to his subconscious levels can not develop anger any more. This is how Pranayama leads us to meditation.
Question and Answer Session
What is the difference between Atman and Brahman?
Prana is the energy what is behind our activities. When it becomes softer and softer, it has greater degrees of freedom. That itself is called Atman. Why do we worry about something indescribable as Brahma? The important thing is it is indescribable but it is something that can be experienced. It is such a wonderful experience that it is god who would make us experience this. How can we share other than words and words are very inadequate tool to share this expereince?
Could you describe the word “aum”? What is the effect of “aum” on human beings?
Basically these are the two letters that are active in our mental activity. Mind mostly functions in the form of dialogues. It is all like the way we talk outside we will be talking inside too. This talking in the language we are familiar with. What ever language we talk it all has these essential features. At one end which is the beginning of all our dialogues it is “a”. Every language has therefore the first letter as ‘a’. ‘A’ is the sound we produce with the mouth fully open and we can not do any thing below. And the other end is “m”. ‘M’ is the sound we produce with mouth fully closed and we can not do any thing beyond that! A is the beginning. Below “a” there is no sound we make. It is the sound you make with your mouth full open. The first sound that a child makes is “a”. The last sound that makes sense is “m”. The sound “m” is made by the mouth fully closed. You can not make any more sound beyond that. All the words, the sounds, the anger, the feelings, and everything else you speak are in between “a” and “m”. If I draw two lines graphically with one of them being “a” and the other “m”, all the dialogues will be within these two lines. When you join this ‘a’ and ‘m’ together, then it envelopes all the other things. ‘A’ and ‘M’ joining together represents the whole creation. That is why we have “amen” and “aum”. The sound which is produced by joining them therefore represents creation.
Let me tell you the benefits of this in practice. The world that matters to us is the dialogues that are going down inside us. Whatever the dialogue is that is going on inside, the moment you say “aum” or “amen” it envelopes all the dialogues that have been inside. There can be no dialogue inside you that can escape from “aum” or “amen”. Whenever we say “aum” it envelopes all the sounds of the mind. The moment we stop saying “aum”, Aum itself dissolves. When it dissolves, you go into a “no-mind” state. Aum is important because of that silence. Every time we pronounce “aum” we reach that profound state of silence. Saying it repeatedly, slowly we can reach that “no-mind” state. That is basically the reason why “aum” is added to almost every spiritual sound. It is that state where you are awake but your mind is resting. We normally have an experience of body resting but mind not. The body rests, the prana rests, and even the mind rests after “aum”. It is after that silence that all the creation takes place. One can experience how creation comes out of this silence. That is why we are in touch with Brahman and Atman. It is still unexplainable because the words become silence in this, and the explanation we will give will not satisfy the actual Brahman. Aum is bigger than all the words. That is the reason why they say that is the state that can not be explained but it can be experienced.
Is it possible to increase the life energy inside us? I do not mean using it properly; I mean can we increase it?
What we do is not increasing the energy. We tune such a way that we attract similar kinds of energy which is the intention called as ‘sankalpa’ together and manifest very big activities. We become the core and all the other similar intentions can join that.
What energies are you referring to? How are we going to absorb them?
There are several people who have same kind of intentions and same kind of passion. If I strongly manifest my passion and my energy and my prana, then I will have the capacity to attract similar kind of minds and energies. Then it starts to become like a big wave. The only way we are separated from that force is our arrogance.
This is the reason that when we want to do some thing we find that some unknown forces come together without our planning and make things possible. We think that we are lucky and things look like coincident. But the explanation given is that they are not coincident but the influence of these subtle forces which have given the energy for our activity.
What is levitation?
I would consider that all these physical laws are the manifestations of God himself. Anything I do to deny any of the physical laws is going against the God’s will. The first thing is I feel I need to reach divinity. Sailing against the wind of God is basically our arrogance. Trying to break some of the nature’s laws for me seems to be not a very happy idea of yoga. There is another God’s law that is creating a world of illusion. Even though there is no water, showing that there is water is an illusion. That is what we call a “mirage”. Similarly when there is no object actually as rainbow, seeing a rainbow is a mirage. It looks like it is valid in the nature’s law but it is not there and you see it. Levitation can be seen as an illusion which is not there but we see it. I feel that we do it by psychedelic energy.
Bears go to sleep for months. During that time his respiration rate goes very slow. When a bear can do it subconsciously, how can human beings can not do it?
There are three types of animals going in hibernation. They are frogs, snakes, and bears. Nature has provided them with hibernation abilities. When the animal hibernates there is most minimum activity of survival and all the rest of the activity is conserved. This capacity is provided to the animals so that they will not be struggling for food when the food is not available like in winter. This is actually the only indication that has inspired human beings that he can also try to hibernate. In the case of animals when they are in hibernation there is no development or growth taking place. This is a law of nature. But when we consciously hibernate it is a spiritual growth. That is one of the reasons why we try to go into a peaceful state of mind. It is like a consciously made hibernation. Mandukya Upanishad talks about this. It especially talks about frogs. Frogs go to hibernation as a natural phenomenon which is supposed to be the fourth state of consciousness. We normally know three state of consciousness. These are wakeful state of consciousness, dream-state of consciousness, and deep-sleep state of consciousness. Beyond these three, we have a fourth one. The indication of this fourth state of consciousness is all these hibernating animals. If I go to that fourth state of consciousness consciously, that is what we call a meditation. A frog goes to the fourth state of consciousness but stays as a frog. This is natural for it. But when a human being does that he becomes a Buddha.
Could you talk about the concept of chaos in harmony?
This is a little bit difficult subject so please bear with me. In the nature, chaos and harmony are never separated. We think they are opposite but in fact in nature, they are always together and complimentary to each other. Look at a tree and you will see that the leaves are similar. There is an absolute harmony. When you closely observe and compare the leaves, you will see that they are totally different. There is a total chaos. There is a chaos but there is also harmony there. Every tree has leaves, roots and trunks within a wonderful harmony. The moment you see it from a distance you can tell it is a tree and see what is the species and variety. When you come close, you see that no tree is like another tree. Similarly if you take even our cells; there is a similarity and you can see an absolute matching. But if you more closely observe, you will see they are different and in chaos. The continuity of the creation takes place because of the combination of harmony and chaos. Harmony brings the discipline. Chaos brings absolute and infinite creation. If only harmony is there, creation will die. Similarly if only chaos is there, creation will again die.

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