With this post we continue the series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan exploring the power and the mystery of breath. In this instalment, he turns to the metaphysical and mystical understanding of the breath current. The previous post in the series may be found here. A small portion of the last post is repeated here for the sake of clarity.
The same current of life runs through all. Man is the ideal being, as the scripture says. He is ideal because intelligence is given to him to perceive the secret of this breath, whereas from animals and birds it is hidden. The life of all creatures is mysterious and full of wonder, but man alone is blessed with the intelligence which conveys the power of understanding the secret of the breath. If there is anything more lasting than our transitory life, it is this, the secret of our being. It is by this that man is able to master life, both here and in the hereafter.
Having understood this truth, mystics have been able to teach that the religion of all religions is the knowledge of self, for the knowledge of self brings the knowledge of life. This life-current which runs through the center of man’s being, attaching mind to body and to all other planes of existence as well, it is this that is all important. It passes from man’s innermost being out to the body, which is the instrument whereby man is able to experience life on the surface. When he has knowledge of this, a man begins to realize, ‘I am not as small as I had thought, not as weak as I had thought; I am much stronger on other planes. I can live much longer than I could on the physical plane. I can see myself on all the different planes by means of that inner knowledge of the breath.’
Therefore, to the mystic, breath is like a lift, a lift in which he rises up to the first floor, and then to the second, and then to the third floor – in fact wherever he wishes to go.
The mystery of the Sphinx, and the mystery of Buraq that is mentioned in the life of the Prophet Mohammed, have to do with this. When the Prophet reached the court, or gate, of God, the Buraq was sent. The Buraq was an animal with wings, and the Prophet rode upon it in order to reach the gate of the highest heaven. He passed through gate after gate as he passed the seven heavens. In the end he arrived at the gate of the highest.
What does this allegory mean? The body of the Buraq is this physical body. The wings represent the ability of the breath to reach far and yet retain its connection with the physical body. The Prophet mounting upon his back represents any soul who treads the spiritual path. Whoever has courage, whoever has faith, whoever has confidence, whoever has trust, whoever has patience and hope and perseverance, can tread this path and make use of the vehicle of the breath.
If we read the history of Buddha, who was a yogi, we shall find that without yoga and without spiritual meditation, which is accomplished by breath, no one in this world has ever attained spiritual perfection. The healing power of Christ, the magnetism of Mohammed, the miraculous power of Moses, the charm of Krishna, and the inspiration of Buddha – all these were attained by breath. And how did they attain them if there were not a current passing between us on the earth and the source of energy, the source of power and magnetism?
Is it not plain that breath conveys even the words which go out from our lips to the ears of the hearer? The voice is breath. The word is breath. Without breath, speech cannot be produced. And yet a person may easily accept this and acknowledge that it is true that it is breath that does this, but he will not willingly believe that thought also is breath. He can see the movement of the air which arises from speech, and he wonders if it is meant that thought also causes a movement of the air. This is because he does not understand that a life-current runs through it all, and that is breath. It is easily seen when it manifests itself upon the physical plane, but on the higher planes it is not seen; yet it extends higher than the planes. If there is anything that connects man with God, if there is anything that connects the mortal with the immortal, it is this bridge which we call breath. It is a bridge whereby to pass from the world of mortality to the world of immortality; it is the bridge whereby immortality passes down to mortality. That life which seems mortal is really the ray of immortal life. What seems mortal is only the shell. It is not life that is mortal, it is the cover that makes it seem mortal.
To be continued…