In the verses of Omar Khayyam posted yesterday, there was one that spoke briefly and vividly about the importance of the breath. Some academics have suggested that it was only after Sufism reached India and encountered the yogic traditions of pranayama that the Sufis developed an interest in this subject, a theme that Hazrat Inayat does indeed address very carefully in the Pasi Anfas section of the Gathas and elsewhere, but obviously that is not the case. Khwaja Moinuiddin Chishti, credited with bringing Sufism to the subcontinent, was not even born when Omar Khayyam left his dust to mingle with the earth, and anyone who has awakened to the inner life, of whatever tradition or of no tradition whatsoever, will have recognised the truth that our breath is central to the spiritual experience.
A miraculous feature of the breath is that in that simple current the voluntary and the involuntary meet. In a physical sense, we can alter the rhythm of our breath, and pause it for a time, but we cannot over-rule the Divine power that flows through our breath and connects us with all life. Anyone wishing to understand the mysterious interplay of will power, human and Divine, could find all they require in a close study of the breath.
All that we accomplish in life is by the vehicle of the breath. Obviously our speech depends upon breath, as does our physical action. As we study the deeper side of life, we discover that there is also an inescapable connection between breath and our thoughts and feelings. Indeed, our breath is the unseen transmitter of all that we think and feel; some, who are sensitive, are conscious of this effect, but recognised or not, our breath affects all our environment and reaches much farther than most people imagine.
For this reason, the Sufis teach the science of placing a sacred thought on the breath. It is a way of perfuming the breath, so to speak, and brings a wonderful fragrance to the atmosphere.
Omar Khayyam urges us to ‘love this sweet dear breath of yours, the one and only true fruit of your life.’ All other ‘fruits’ are derived from this, whether they be a career, an accomplishment, a relationship, or a work of art. Students might like to use this as a simple but powerful tool to help them along their path. With every breath – or at least as often as one can remind oneself of the task – to ask oneself, ‘With this breath, what fruit do I offer?’
With this breath, what fruit do I offer?