RE: Breathing Exercises (Maxim)
Jul 06, 1996 08:24 PM
by Maxim Osinovsky
On Fri, 5 Jul 1996, Jim Meier wrote:
> Hi Max --
> >> <clip>>
> I agree with you on the goal, but it still seems to me that you're being
> literal on the mental aspects of raja-yoga to the exclusion of all others.
> Is that right?
> Vivekanada writes,
> As I have already stated, pranayama has very little to do with breathing.
> Prana, manifesting itself as mental power, can only be controlled by mental
> means. That part of pranayama which attempts to control the physical
> manifestations of prana by physical means is called physical science, and
> that part which tries to control the manifestations of prana as mental force,
> by mental means, is called Raja-yoga.
> Pranayama would seem to have a part to play in Raja-Yoga, as long as we
> recognize it for what it is and not merely the action of the lungs.
My statements were not supposed to be an absolute truth, just a relative
one, in the following sense: IF AND ONLY IF one adopts a certain system
of values and guiding principles--those attributed to the Masters
of Wisdom--then one would better choose definite techniques and reject some
others judged inaapropriate.
Or, in other words, the goal determines the means (not to be confused
with the famous Jesuit maxim, "the goal justifies the means").
What I meant is: (i) only simple breathing exercises are OK for most
people at this time, not advanced ones like those described in numerous
commercially available books on hatha yoga, e.g. B.K.S.Iyengar's "Light
on the Yoga"; (ii) mental control of prana takes precedence over purely
physical control; (iii) breathing exercises--as everything else on the
Path--are to be performed in the light of the Self, as exemplified by two
beautiful books by Rammurti S. Mishra on raja yoga.
Your Vivekanada quote is excellent, and I love it, but it lacks a
comparative evaluation of mental means and physical means. So let me
quote from H.P.Blavatsky's "Secret Doctrine" (edited as part of
Blavatsky's Collected Writings, pagination should be same as in the first
edition; emphasis added):
V.1, p.95: "This chapter of Anugita explains <...> Pranayama, or
regulation of breath in Yoga practice. This mode, however, WITHOUT THE
PREVIOUS ACQUISITION or at least full understanding of the TWO HIGHER
SENSES, of which there are seven, as will be shown, PERTAINS RATHER TO
THE LOWER YOGA. The Hatha so called WAS AND STILL IS DISCOUNTENANCED BY
THE ARHATS. IT IS INJURIOUS TO THE HEALTH AND ALONE CAN NEVER DEVELOP
INTA RAJA YOGA."
V.1,p.47,footnote: "...this kind of torture and self-maceration is
precisely the *lower* form of Yoga, Hatha Yoga..."
So, behind a particular issue of breathing exercises for developing the
siddhis, raised by Ramadoss, there is a broader and much more important
issue of strategy of spiritual development, and we here on this email
list are definitely going to return to it again and again as more issues
of esoteric practice are being raised. It looks like we have achieved a
considerable degree of refinement, and the lack of complete agreement is
due to one of two factors: (i) differences of basic postulates--if so no
agreement can be reached and sharing the opinions without putting no
blame on anyone would suffice, or (ii) unimportant differences in
phraseology used--in this case it's better to drop the issue at the point
of agreement in principle without any further hairsplitting.
I feel Jim and I are in the second category. Thanks Jim for helping me
clarify and refine my own position on the issue.
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