RE: Breathing Exercises (Maxim)
Jul 03, 1996 09:42 AM
by Maxim Osinovsky
On Tue, 2 Jul 1996, Jim Meier wrote:
> On 01 July, Maxim wrote,
> >I am going to advocate here a perspective on breathing exercises that may
> >be called strictly orthodox.
> >Jim, _all_ eight parts of Patanjali's raja yoga are practical, so pranayama
> >does not come first as a practice. Restraints and observances (yama and
> >niyama, purification of the mind and heart) are to be practiced, too, to
> >achieve practical, not just theoretical purity of life.
> Of course. But Pranayama is where so many want to *start* practical
> application, after reading Theosophical texts. Books have been written
> about harmlessness -- and a pretty good argument can be made for
> harmlessness as not only the first step on the Path, but for 90+% of the
> Path -- and yet it is much easier to get people to try a breathing exercise
> or a new meditation form than to practice restraint in the way we interact
> with others. That's all I meant.
Is it your observation that pranayama is where so many want to start
practical application? I am not sure about it. I am a member of local
branch of TSA, and it looks like most branch members are thirsty for
occult knowledge (or simply occult information), although there is a great
deal of curiosity about siddhis as well.
> >In the context of theosophy, the science of prana is very important (see
> >e.g. Rama Prasad's "The Nature's Finer Forces"). On the other hand, one
> >may notice that elaborated breathing exercises are condemned as harmful
> >in all the primary sources that may be broadly called the theosophical
> >tradition: H.P.B. (e.g. "From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan"), Alice
> >Bailey ("A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" and "The Light of the Soul"--a
> >translation and interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras), and Agni Yoga
> It's interesting that you used the phrase "science of prana", since a
> science implies something which can be studied, with self-consistent rules
> and laws governing behavior. Which describes Pranayama pretty well, but
> still leaves us with the question of "when is it appropriate to study these
> things, and how do we go about it?" You seem to take an extreme approach to
Jim, I believe the isue at point is NOT to do or not to do some exercises
or whatever, but motivation. So I cannot answer your question on the
level you've asked it. Thus let me shift to a more appropriate level.
Then your question may be answered in this way: ask your own
higher self if and when it's appropriate--it is the highest authority for
the one on the Path, its advices are personalized, and it never deceives
you. If your higher self instructs you to do some exercises, I do not see
any problem here. The true problem is that many people attempt
doing pranayama, yogic postures, and so forth for personal gain--pronto,
preferably in 40 minutes or in a few day, or maybe with an apparently
altruistic purpose (to better serve their fellow men) but with no higher
self's approval. That's what I'm concerned about. One should honestly
ask oneself what's more important to him/her--siddhis or the higher self.
If siddhis are more desirable and attractive than the attraction of the
higher self--well, expect obstacles and troubles. If attaining the higher
self if the supreme goal--then one receives all the techniques when and
if needed (when the disciple is ready, the teacher--in some form--is
immediately available), and siddhis will surely
surface as a natural outcome of the regular spiritual development.
> this in the following:
> >>I certainly wouldn't
> >> recommend anyone to start serious breathing exercises without personal
> >> instruction from someone experienced.
> >I wouldn't recommend anyone to start ANY serious breathing exercises,
> >whether under the expert supervision or without it.
> Why so adamant? I thought one of the "core teachings of Theosophy" is that
> there exist people who are not amateurs at this sort of thing?
Suppose we agree that the ultimate goal on the level of our personalities
is to attain union with our higher selves. Then the individual evolution
may be roughly divided into two halves: (i) growing and perfecting the
lower self, and (ii) recognizing the higher self and merging with it.
Since the present root-race is the fifth one, it is supposed to emphasize
development of the mind--the fifth principle. So all the physical
(both gross physical and subtle physical) means, like breathing exercises,
are not appropriate anymore. In fact all of us did all kinds of physical
exercises in the distant past (in Lemurian times) to gain control of our
physical and ethereal bodies, and back then it has been beautiful and
legitimate. Hatha yoga is in our genes so to speak... For the same
reason it is surely a way of the least resistance for many people
now--with the accompanying joy of accomplishment, like doing
elementary-school-level math problems at the age of 50 or solving
crosswords... The way of occult study and meditation is harder, but it
seems to be the only regular way for the 5th-race folks--except maybe a
few individuals whose karma it is to develop techniques of healing
for the benefit of the entire humanity, etc.
Of course, what's written above is just an opinion (although for
convenience it is presented in a dogmatic form), and I would be glad to hear
what others think about it.
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