Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic,has written in his book, "Meetings with Remarkable Men", that dervishes warned him against all kinds of breathing exercises because any chance in the natural breathing system brings about disorder in life, with disastrous results. What is your comment?
There is some truth in what he says about pranayam and other breathing exercises. We should not interfere with the way we breathe, the way we walk, stand or sit, because as soon as we place hindrances in their way, changes begin to happen.
So if you want to remain as you are, then it is just proper that you don't interfere with your breathing.
But if you have somewhere to go – if you want to bring about a change, a transformation in your life – then you will have to take the risk.
The risk is: if you bring about a change in your breathing pattern, it will change your whole lifestyle. If you are satisfied with being as you are, if you think it is okay as you are, then you need not do a thing. But if you feel that as you are is not enough, then you will have to make a change.
Then a change in our breathing becomes important to us, most important. And as soon as you make a difference in your way of breathing, many things in you will begin to fall apart, and many other things will begin to be put together. Now, after thousands of experiments, it has been found what it is that will drop away from you and what it is that will be put together and added on to you. It is now as good as settled – a veritable science.
A few things are known to all of us from our day-to-day experiences. For instance, when you are angry, your breathing undergoes a change; it does not remain the same. And breathing changes even as you feel quiet and silent; it will not be what it used to be. And if you know how you breathe in a state of silence, then you can create that state by regulating your breathing in a way that corresponds with silence.
The mind and breathing are interconnected.
Therefore the discipline of breathing has great significance. A change in breathing effects a corresponding change in your mind. And there is no danger involved when it has been established – and established very scientifically – how mind behaves in different states of breathing. There was danger of course in the initial stages of this experiment. In fact, danger is there even now in the experimental stages of every new adventurous search in life. But as the experiment succeeds it turns into a scientific law.
For instance, it is impossible for a man to be angry if he keeps his breathing steady and calm. Both anger and calm breathing cannot go together. The contrary is also possible. If you begin to breathe the way you breathe in anger you will shortly find anger arising in your mind.
Pranayam, or the discipline of breathing, has discovered many methods for the transformation of your mind.
It would be good to understand the difference between what we call artificial breathing and what we call natural breathing. What you know as natural breathing is not that natural. If you understand it rightly you will know that it is all artificial breathing which you have become accustomed to. Because you have been breathing this way for a very long time, ever since your childhood, you have become used to it. It has become your habit –second nature. Really you don't know what natural breathing is.
What is known as our natural breathing is not natural; it is only conditioned and artificial breathing. It is so patterned that it has turned into a habit.
Children breathe in a way that is quite different. Put a child to sleep and then watch him; he breathes with his belly and, as he breathes, it is his belly that rises up and goes down. But grown-up people breathe with their chest and so it is their chest that moves up and down with breathing. The child breathes naturally, really.
If you begin to breathe the way children do, your mind will slowly get into the same state as that of a child; your mind will be as innocent as the child's. Or conversely, if you become as innocent as a child is, you will begin to breathe with your belly.
When we understand this, we can take steps to more natural breathing. As it is, our breathing is unnatural, artificial. The dervish is wrong to tell you not to breathe artificially. In fact, our breathing is already artificial, unnatural enough. But as our understanding of it deepens, we will increasingly breathe naturally. And when our breathing is utterly natural, the greatest possibility of our life will begin to actualize and unfold itself from within.
It is also good to know that the practice of sudden, artificial breathing is beneficial.
The dervish is right in saying that it is dangerous to interfere with one's breathing. But it is only a half-truth. It is full of possibilities too. It is a gamble.
So if sometimes we breathe for a little while in a completely unnatural manner – unnatural in the sense that we never have breathed this way – we will begin to be aware of very new states, new situations within us.
These are situations in which we can go mad, and we can also be liberated in such situations. We can be insane and we can also become free in such situations. Both possibilities are there. And since it is we who create these situations in us, we can very well control and undo them when we think it to be necessary. So there is no danger. Danger is possible only if we cannot undo them. But because we have brought them into being, we can very well terminate them as soon as we wish.
Such situations are in your hand, because every moment you know where you are moving, whether you are moving towards bliss or you are moving to wards misery, whether you are moving towards peace or towards danger. At every step you know clearly what is happening. So there is no danger whatsoever.
If the pattern of breathing is changed very suddenly and briskly, then your whole inner state undergoes a complete change. We can never know, in our habitual way of breathing, that we are separate from the body. The habit that has become ingrained in us has bridged the two; it works as a bridge between the body and mind, and we have become so accustomed to their being one.
The strangeness of a thing immediately shakes you out of the rut of unconsciousness; it puts an end to your psychological sleep. Your unconsciousness can never end in a world that is well organized and settled, and where everything repeats itself mechanically every day. Your unconsciousness goes when some thing unexpected, strange and amazing happens, and happens suddenly.
So when the experiences of breathing put you in an utterly strange situation, then new possibilities of spiritual growth open up before you; you attain to awareness, and then you really see something.
If someone could go mad consciously, it would be a great experience; no other experience could be greater than this. But he should be mad and yet remain aware.
In the Dynamic Meditation that I have devised, such a space can be created where you remain fully aware within, and you go completely mad without. You go so mad that if someone else had been in your place you would not hesitate to call him insane. So you can very well call yourself insane. But all the same you are aware and watching that you are dancing and whirling. So both things happen simultaneously: your being aware and your going mad.
But since you are aware, how can you go really mad? Yet what is happening to you is the same that happens to a madman. It is in such a situation that a feeling of utter strangeness overwhelms you, and you separate yourself from the body. Not that you do it, the separation happens on its own.
The creation of such moments of strangeness is very important for awareness. And they are created more quickly through breathing than through anything else. Where other techniques will take years, breathing will do it in ten minutes. This is because breathing is so deeply connected with our being that even a slight stroke on it reverberates throughout our being.
Osho: "In Search of the Miraculous"
See Part 2: Creating a Discontinuity
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