BREATH AWARENESS IN WORLD’S RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS

Giorgos Halkias

 

Breathing is a manifest condition and quintessential expression of life. It has been literally and metaphorically entangled with spiritual principles inspiring sacred meanings and practices across varied religious domains. We can surmise that the periodic operation of respiration, in its heart-felt indispensability and visceral relation to life, impressed upon devoted minds and attentive bodies the sanctification of his breath. In its Buddhist unfolding, training in the discernment of inspiration and expiration is a technique for dispelling the ‘discursive mind’ and affecting an ensuing rest on a ground that is pervasive. Conscious breathing also serves as an entry to the tantric subtle body experienced as a web of flows and intensities broadcasting from a place inside the skin’s surface that is devoid of tissues, blood, bones, and organs. Essential to a number of esoteric Buddhist meditations in Tibet the mind is trained to ride the breath in its perception of three contiguous planes of experience: the surrounding environment, the physical body and the subtle body-without-organs. 

Ares’ Breath

All men who breathe out Ares more than is just

incur the gods’ wrath.

                                Oresteia

Every breath has its expiration. The Greek nouns πνοή (pnoe) and πνεύμα(pneuma) equally translate as the external wind element and the vital breath that is closely associated with an inner conscious im/pulse, or soul (ψυχή in Greek; animus in Latin). In Homeric Greek the word ψυχή (psyche) may translate as breath, the breath of life that, once having passed the hedge and

bar that form the teeth, can hardly be brought back again (Keary 1881: 477).

 

In the realms of the Greek, human contingencies ought to be fashioned, like myths, from luminous decimals of mind and Nature’s potency ought to divine the irony in the face of all men. The Oresteia begins with a captivating event: eagles descend from the sky to capture, tear and devour a hare. The virgins devoted to the worship of Artemis interpret the oracular to mean: in order

for the winds to blow and carry the stagnant Greek fleet to the land of Troy, King Agamemnon and leader of the fleet, ought to sacrifice to the chaste goddess of the hunt the last breath of his sweet daughter Iphigenia – a human virgin to ransom the end of the ‘adverse winds of suffering’ that descended from Strymon and have caused evil leisure, starvation, the wandering of men, and the withering of the flower of the Greek race (Agamemnon 192 – 98). The shaman’s propitiation of the weather elementals, appeased with blood sacrifice, inspires Aeschylus to tell of the beginnings of a ‘karmic redistribution’ that unfolds in the royal chambers of the House of Atreus that ‘breathes out slaughter’ for King Agamemnon. The rage of an ancestral wind of genocide lingers insatiable as Agamemnon expires and ‘breathes out’ the ‘swift gushing of his blood.’ Matricide strikes the royal house when queen Clytemnestra who breathed ‘Ares on those she loves’ is avenged at the hands of her own son Orestes.[1]

 

Breathe into Me Your Wish

In the act of blowing, therefore, a person is creating a special

ritual situation in which he ‘mobilizes’ his vitality to achieve

certain ends. The Akawaio explain this by saying that in blowing, a

person detaches his own spirit from his body and sends it, in the

breath with which it is associated, to perform certain tasks.

(Butt 1956: 50)

In Judeo-Christian religious narratives it is said that God ‘formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2: 7). The Hebrew word ruach translates wind (Exodus 10: 13), breath (Genesis 6: 17), and divine power (Ezekiel 37: 9 f.) The discussion over the influence of an unseen life-giving force is daily re-enacted in the practice of insufflation (the action of breathing upon a person or thing to re-enact the influence of the Holy Spirit). In the Eastern Orthodox Church insufflation rites play a seminal role in all Baptisms and for the Roman Catholics they are ritually deployed in connection with the consecration ofchrism and until recently also for that of baptismal water.

 

Legends of the wind impregnating women and animals abound in antiquity and can be found as late as 1912 in the Ainu tribes of Northern Japan who believed there to be a country without men where the women, like flowers, are inseminated by the blowing wind (Zirkle 1936: 35). In Ancient China (as in many other parts of the world) exists the belief that human beings consist of a bodily and a spiritual substance. The spirit depends for its existence on a subtle force called ch’i that enters the body from heaven. According to the Book of Rites, upon death, the ‘breath-soul’ (hun-ch’i) swiftly returns to heaven as the body-soul (hsing-p’o) returns to and turns to earth (Ying-Shi Yu 1987: 13).[2]

 

For the Akawaio of Guyana, breath has spiritual powers in the practice of taling(or ritual blowing on someone by forcing one’s breath in short sharp gusts, either through the mouth or down the nose, with a specific wish or demand). The act of breathing on someone is not a light matter, for it is considered among the most important causes of sickness and death, as well

as an effective means of curing illness within the Akawaio belief system (Butt 1956: 49 – 55).

 

We may construct similarities between the Akawaio’s emphasis on ‘ritual breathing’ and the Vedic tradition in which the father of a new-born son requests five Brahman priests to ‘breathe over’ the boy, ‘but if the Brahmans are not available, then he should ‘breathe over’ (anuprānayāt ) the boy himself, circumambulating him; whereby the boy ‘attains the whole of life and lives to old age’ (Coomaraswamy 1940: 56 – 57). Coomaraswamy

envisioned close correspondences in the breathing rites of American Indian and Vedic traditions. He writes that in-breathing and out-breathing ‘are clearly employed in the same way and with the same presuppositions as in the Indian contexts. In the Laguna tale of Josι Crito the ox in the stable breathes on the infant… Prayer sticks are breathed from the Hopi – to inhale the essence… In Acoma myth Iyatiku, in making the first corn fetish, breathed on it. “Thus from her breath we shall receive the health she is herself possessed of,” says the Town Chief of Cochiti’. ‘… I breathe from your fathers, so make me strong like you,’ says a man in Zuni tale in praying to Eagle… In Zuni initiations the corn fetish is breathed from by the recipient and breathed on by the giver… a sick person will breathe from the lapsed hands of the doctor…The Zuni hunter, breathing in the breath of the deer, is supposed to say: “Thanks, my father, this day I have drunken your sacred wind of life…”’ (1940: 67).

 

The Breathing Body

For Empedocles, as for Plato, breathing may have served to avoid

a vacuum and perhaps to account for a cooling of our inner heat.

(O’Brien 1970: 166)

For the Ionian philosopher, Anaximenes of Miletus (circa 6th century), the originative principle (arche) of the cosmos was air; when air was rarefied (fire) or condensed (water or earth) these elements compounded together made up the wide diversity of the natural world. For Anaximenes air was the actual breath of the universe, an ever-living and divine source.

 

res-betweenbreaths1Plato held that breathing takes place not only through the mouth and nostrils, but through the whole body. The Hippocratic treatise makes it clear that ‘once air has been drawn in through the mouth and nostrils, it is then dispersed throughout the body by a system of internal veins.’[3] In India there is a highly evolved medical yoga system that connects the processes of in-breathing and out-breathing (a total of 22,736 breaths in one day) with

physiological activities in the human body. In Indian and Tibetan medical sciences, there are five main winds, or breaths, that circulate in the body and regulate corporeal processes: a)prāna (Tibetan: srog-’dzin; life-supporting wind) is located in the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose, and ensures respiration and swallowing; b) udāna (Tb: gyen-rgyu; upward moving wind) rises up from the central channel of the subtle-body and produces speech; c)samāna (Tb: me-mnyam; fire equalizing wind) is located in the middle of the body and promotes digestion and other heat-producing operations; d) apāna(Tb: thur-sel; downward pressing wind) is located in the organs of excretion and generation, and ensures childbirth and evacuation of excrement, urine, gas, and semen; and e) vyāna (Tb: khyed-byed; diffused wind) is mobilized across the 72,000 channels of the subtle body and motivates the movement of limbs and blood-circulation.[4]

 

In Tibetan medicine the physical body consists of five gross physical elements: flesh and bones are earth, blood and lymph are water, body heat is fire, nervous and motor function is wind, and consciousness is space. Most psychiatric cases are diagnosed as the result of the inner winds circulating in ways and places they should not have in the first place. ‘In fact, intense neurotic behaviour and the psychological and physiological symptoms of

nervousness are called simply ‘sok-lung’ (srog-rlung), a disorder of life wind.’[5]

 

The life-supporting breath, orprāna, is the individual manifestation of a person’s immortal soul. In theAtharvaveda it is associated with the life and the promotion of longevity (Athar, VII, 53) while the lack of prāna signals ‘death and the loss of life, and charms were recited to kill enemies by removing their breath’ (Zysk 1993: 200). In a theoretical context, Réné Guénon (1928: 77 – 78) describes that prāna, in the strictest sense, attracts the still non-individualized elements of the cosmic environment, causing them to participate by assimilation in the individual consciousness. Likewise, theudāna for Guénon, projects the breath, while transforming it beyond the limits of the restricted individuality into the sphere of possibilities of the extended constituents of self viewed in their totality. Thevyāna is noted as consisting on the one hand, of all the reciprocal actions and reactions, which are produced upon the person’s contact with the surrounding elements (environment), and on the other hand, of the various resultant vital movements. The samāna is explained as the inner substantial assimilation, by which all the elements absorbed become an integral part of one’s sense of individuality.

 

The Power of Breath

Down there all speech is vain. There, forgetting and passing by

are the best wisdom: that I have learned now. He who would

grasp everything human would have to grapple with everything.

But for that my hands are too clean. I do not even want to inhale

their breath; alas, that I lived so long among their noises and

vile breath!

                     Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, III

 

Yoga utilizes various means or techniques for transforming one’s consciousness and attaining liberation from compulsive states of mind and their cycle of res-betweenbreaths2rebirths. The science of prānāyāma is included among the six earliest references found in early Indian Yoga ascetic manuals. It is defined as the ‘restraint of the breath,’ or according to Patanjali as the ‘cutting off (viccheda) of the flow of inhalation and exhalation’ (Yoga Sūtra 2.49). Oneprānāyāma technique necessitates that both breath and mind are broughttogether through controlled respiration, so that the objects of the senses are restrained and a continued voidness of conception ensues leading ultimately to the fourth superconscious condition (turya, turīya), in which one’s soul (ātman) is free to dwell with the universal spirit (brahmān) (Zysk 1993: 205).

 

Indian and Tibetan tantric practitioners utilize the functions of respiration for the purpose of perceiving an internal plane of micro-interactions (measured by speeds, flows and intensities) that could be termed in Deleuzian approximation, as the Body without Organs.[6] The ‘yogic flesh’ of the subtle body can be described to contain ‘immaterial space’ resonating ‘within corporeality.’ It is visualized as a network of approximately 72,000 subtle luminous conductors emanating from a trilateral axis consisting of a main stalk, the susumnā nādī(Tb: dbu-ma rtsa; middle channel). The axis runs parallel to the cerebro-spinal column and extends to the orifice that corresponds to the crown of the head (brahmā-randhra). The left (feminine) and right (masculine) channels, the idā(Tb: rkyang-ma) and pingalā (Tb: ro-ma) run in lateral course, or in a helix, along the susumnā, verging at the left and right nostrils, and penetrating the central channel at the perineum. According to the instructions and attainments of the paths and stages of Tibetan Buddhist Tantra, maturation of the breath-mind (rlung-sems) occasions the admission of the wind (and the mind which rides it) into the respective energy-wheels (cakras) which cross the susumnā,or central channel. The releasing of energy-wheel knots, including the restricting knots of their branches, foreshadows the perfection of the tantric path of liberation. 

22 September 1999, BBC News Report:

Members of a little-known cult claim that all they need is the

air that they breathe. Breatharians claim to be nourished

by prana, a Hindu term for the universal life force. Their

leader Jasmuheen, a 42-year-old New Age guru from Brisbane

formerly known as Ellen Greve, says she has eaten little

more than herbal tea, juice and an occasional biscuit since

1993. She instead draws energy from prana and meditation.

Yet the cult has been implicated in at least two deaths. The

most recent, Australian-born Verity Linn, 49, was found dead

in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands on 16 September.

Police believe she was following the Breatharians’ 21-day fast.

A diary belonging to Ms Linn recorded her last days as she

refused to eat or drink, believing it would ‘spiritually cleanse’

her body and ‘recharge her both physically and mentally’.

Another woman died in an Australian hospital after following

the Breatharian 21-day fast.

 

Pure Energy

Breatharianism relies on light and taking in only tiny

amounts of food and liquid. Followers believe that the energy

they save on metabolising food and fluid can be redirected

into physical, emotional and spiritual energy. ‘We are neither

a religion nor a cult, just concerned citizens who have

experienced from our association with the Ascended

Masters, and many other great Ones and teachers,’

Jasmuheen says on her website. ‘Our work is to share some

cosmic, yet intelligent alternatives that offer pragmatic

solutions to many of the challenges that face the world

today.’ She claims to have hit upon a solution to world

hunger – that in time, we can all learn to live on air alone.

The Breatharians’ findings – based on surveys of those who

have completed the 21-day fast and interviews with

alternative health practitioners – will be published in late

1999. Jasmuheen plans to send the finished report to agencies

such as the United Nations and Unicef, ‘to provide a step-bystep programme to eliminate world hunger, improve global

health and well being, [and] decrease pollution.’ She hopes to

overturn the ‘outdated’ view of the majority of the world’s

population that ‘if you don’t eat, you must die’.

 

Spread the Word

Many of the Breatharians’ ideas are based on the teachings

of St Germain, a 16th century European monk and alchemist,

through his writings and ‘more recent channelled material’.

His profile on the website is quite a read: ‘Many would

know of St Germain as the writer of William Shakespeare’s

plays. Previous embodiments are said to include Merlin

and Christopher Columbus.’ The learned saint himself

encouraged Jasmuheen to promote Breatharianism, using

modern-day technology and media contacts to spread the

word world-wide.

 

‘Not Strictly a Cult’

Michelle Shirley, spokeswoman for the Cult Information

Centre, says that although Breatharianism is not strictly a

cult, the centre has been monitoring its activities. ‘A cult

uses coercive teaching. We don’t have any evidence that that

is being used here, or that it isn’t being used. Jasmuheen

is a spiritual teacher who spreads her words through the

Internet and her books. So it is not an organisation that

you join, it is more fluid than that.’ Friends and families of

Breatharians have contacted the centre five times in the past

year. They are encouraged to be as non-confrontational as

possible, as Jasmuheen’s followers are told that they should

not be swayed by negative comments. ‘We are particularly

concerned about any implication that if it doesn’t work, it

is the person’s fault,’ Ms Shirley says. ‘That implies there is

nothing wrong with the Breatharians’ teachings.’

The Vrātyas, ascetics par excellence of the Atharvaveda, are said to have lived by breath alone. They utilized a prānāyāma technique that allowed them to make their breaths long through the mastery of inhalation, exhalation and two kinds of retention: one that aimed at the union of inhalation and exhalation (sahita), and one without inhalation and exhalation (kevala). The former involves the holding of the breath after inhalation; the latter, after exhalation (Zysk 1993: 202).

 

Overbreathing

Changes in perception are closely linked with breathing as observed in times of a rage or an orgasm, where one’s breathing is noticeably different whencompared to milder states. Likewise, several scientific studies have shown that breathing in high altitudes or deep sea levels effects perception. Respiration and physical health are also correlated as in the case of

overbreathing.

Surveys suggest that 10 to 25 percent of the US population

suffers from chronic CO2 deficits (hypocapnia) as a result

of overbreathing, and that up to 60 percent of ambulance

calls in major US cities are a direct result of the symptoms

triggered by overbreathing. The effects of deregulated

respiratory chemistry play a major role in so-called

‘unexplained’ physical symptoms and performance deficits.

Deficits in extracellular carbon dioxide levels (in the blood,

for instance) as a result of overbreathing can lead to:

 

• blood and extracellular alkalosis (increased pH)

• cerebral hypoxia, reduced blood volume and flow

• cerebral hypoglycemia, reduced blood volume and flow

• ischemia (localized tissue anemia)

• reduced coronary artery blood volume and flow

• bronchial constriction in the lungs

• smooth muscle constriction in the gut

• coronary constriction in the heart

• mineral imbalances, e.g., magnesium, calcium, potassium

• triggering of all known stress symptoms

• discharge of emotions

• disruption of attention

• compromised perceptual-motor skills

• impaired cognitive function

• buffer system compromises

• antioxidant depletion and platelet aggregation

• muscle fatigue, weakness, spasm, and pain

Mindful Physiology Institute, Certification Program in

Breathing Education http://www.bp.edu

 

Reading and Riding’ the Breath

 

Bring together channels, breath and the ‘drop’, and the

knowledge of bliss and voidness will arise in your ‘soul-series’.

Immeasurable is the play of this great joy.

Delighting one in another, they are completely purified and gain

the symbol of non-duality.

                   The Way of Pure Sound (Snellgrove 1967: 183)

In the 118 th Discourse of the Majjhima-Nikāya, a Pāli text of old Buddhism, training in ‘mind-fullness with regards to breathing’ (ānāpāna-sati) requires the conscious observation of inhalation and exhalation for the purpose of attaining the four foundations of mindfulness (sati-patthāna), the seven factors of enlightenment (sambojiihanga), and finally complete liberation from the mind’s suffering (samsāra). The scriptures state: ‘Drawing in a long breath, he knows: “I am drawing in a long breath.” Exhaling a long breath, he knows: “I am exhaling a long breath.” Drawing in a short breath, he knows: “I am drawing in a short breath.” Exhaling a short breath, he knows: “I am exhaling a short breath.”’ For Govinda this is the first step: ‘the simple observation of the process of breathing, without mental interference, without compulsion, without violation of the natural functions of the body. Hereby breathing becomes conscious, and with it the organs through which it flows’ (1960: 150).

 

In Tibetan language, lung refers to the ritual reading of religious scriptures andrlung translates as breath, air, motility and wind. Traditionally before one commences the study of a Buddhist Tantric text one has to receive the lung(reading transmission/empowerment) for that particular text by a Tibetan master who will read it aloud and authorize the spiritual aspirant to engage with the scripture. It is believed that a sacred text does not have the power to reveal its secrets until each letter has been breathed upon, read aloud, and infused with the voice-energy of the adept who has internalised and realized its meaning. More importantly, ritual reading serves as a link in a long uninterrupted line of oral transmissions that go back, if not to the original Buddha, to the primordial articulation of Buddhist liberation manifesting (for the benefit of literate beings) as text. During scriptural oral transmissions (lung), breath (rlung) and mind 30 Breath-taking (sems) are inseparable as inprānāyāma meditations and shamanic technologies of generation and harm (the ritual blowing of the Akawaio).

 

Inhaling and Exhaling Light

 

Essentially I am a matter concerning light.

                    Seferis

The ceremonial use of dung-chen (lit. big conch shell), a straight trumpet with a conical bore and shallow mouthpiece, measuring one to four meters long, is blown by Tibetan ritual specialists. Its sound serves as an offering to the wrathful deities who are said to be honoured and pleased by the blast and are visualized through a resounding vibration.[7]

 

Breathing and many ‘varieties of speech’ (i.e. prayer, song, whispers, cries, etc.) are phenomenologically related. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, there is a tradition of a mystical prayer associated especially with the monks of Mt. Athos. These practitioners searching for peace of mind are called Hesychasts

and engage in the unceasing recitation of the prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy upon Me. They recommend a particular bodily posture, with controlled breathing to keep time with the recitation of the prayer. Their immediate aim is to secure what they term ‘“The union of the mind with the heart”, so that their prayer became “prayer of the heart”. This leads, in those chosen by God, to the vision of the Divine Light, which, it was believed, can be seen with the material eyes of the body.’ [8] In Islam dikhr (Arabic for remembrance) is basically a Quranic word, commanding ‘remembrance of God’ as an act of devotion during and after the salāt (prayer) during which a common technique is that of saying la ilaha (there is no God) while breathing in, and illa Allah (except God) while breathing out.

 

In the instructions of the Buddhist master and systematizer of the teachings of the Great Perfection, Longchenpa (Klongchen Rab-’byams, 1308 – 1363), we read that during calm-abiding meditation (samatha; Tb: gzi-gnas) the meditator should sit on a comfortable seat in the cross-legged posture, covering the knees with the palms of her hands and visualizing the three channels in the subtle body. While exhaling, she is to think that she exhales

through the white channel (ro-ma) on the right side of the body and then through the right nostril. While doing so she must imagine that all the sickness, harmful effects and mental obscurations are cleared like smoke going out of a chimney. While inhaling, she is to think that the Buddhas, in the form of beams of light, have entered through the left nostril, the red channel (rkyang-ma) at the left side of the body and then have emerged into the central channel (dbu-ma). For a little while, she should hold the breath (directly) below the navel by pushing the breath a bit both downwards and upwards. Then slowly she should exhale as before from the lower ends of the ro-ma and rkyang-ma channels sending out the luminous air like a twisted smoky thread with various colours and natures: white and clear, blue and spreading, red and deep, yellow and clear, green and rich, and blue and grey (Tulku Thondup 2002: 291).

 

Expiration

 

Then when the outer breath is about to cease, lie down on your

right side in the (sleeping) lion posture, which constricts the

fluctuations of the vital energy. Press down firmly on the pulsation

of the two throat arteries. That prevents the vital energy from

leaving the central channel, and it guarantees that it leaves

through the passage of the aperture of Brahm. (Karma Chagmé

2002: 190)

For Buddhism, extensive familiarization with one’s mind during life willdetermine one’s ability to assimilate and utilize the experience of death and to influence the course of the departing consciousness, or mind-stream. Acquaintance and training, according to Longchenpa, come from practicing breathing for a few days and nights until the tranquillity of a clear and radiant mind without concepts arises. At that time, as there will be no moment of gross air and thoughts circulating in the body, the white moon and red sun, the essence of ro-ma and rkyang-ma channels, will become stable. In that stability, there will not be even a slight movement of air because one remains in the state of no-thought in the central channel and thereby realizes the innate primordial wisdom (Tulku Thondup 2002: 292).

 

The different signs and stages of death are recorded in Tibetan medical literature and in religious texts, such as the famous Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is said that during the death process and after the dissolution of the five physical elements in the body (earth, water, fire, wind, and space) it is highly desirable for consciousness to exit through the central channel and out

of the top of the head, through a soft spot on the skull called the ‘Gate of Brahmā’. One may get acquainted with this operation during the Buddhist tantric practice of powa(Tb: ’pho-ba), or transference of consciousness at the moment of death. In the practice of powa the breath completely stops when consciousness is ejected from the crown of the head and is dissolved into space. This is a crucial opportunity for those who have practiced Tantric meditation and have recognized in the breathless-state the internal luminosity of their mind. After giving up their last breath, they will be able to mingle their mind’s internal luminosity with space and be liberated in the moment of their fusion. Karma Chags-med (1613 – 1678), a luminary and Tibetan master of many Buddhist doctrines, states that ‘after the external breath has ceased and before the internal breath stops, you will remain in the state of the clear light, as if in a coma, for three, four, five, six, or more days. If you have previously identified the essential nature and are thoroughly familiar with it, you will dissolve into the state of the clear light of awareness’ (2000: 192).

 

Breathing is essential to many Eastern and Western medical and religious discourses. From the standpoint of Buddhist phenomenology, respiration is an intentional act that is co-extensive with the transformation of consciousness and its organizing perception. It intimately links the mind with the body and it is soteriologically employed as a means of surpassing one’s residual self image. Considered as a whole, the different experiences and appraisals of breath advanced in India and in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism can be integrated into a perfectly consistent system. Experience of breathing signifies primarily a meeting with ultimate reality: when one trains with breath one becomes conscious of the Self (atman), or penetrates into the very essence of life and the cosmic elements, or last, between breaths may come to recognize a subtle sensibility noted in the heart that transcends it all.

Notes
 

[1] Inspired by the imagery of wind inextricably linked with the dramatic events in Aeschylus’ trilogy. See Scott’s Wind Imagery in the Oresteia.

[2] Ying-Shi Yu writes that for the Chinese the function of breathing either through the nostrils or the mouth is differentiated by a system of bipartite souls: ‘According to the Ho-Shang Commentary on the Lao Tzu, heaven feeds man with five kinds of ch’i, which enter the body through the nostrils and are stored in his heart (mind)…Thus man has a soul called hun. The hun is masculine, it goes out and comes in through the nostrils and communicates with heaven. Earth feeds man with five tastes which enter his body from the mouth and are stored in his stomach… Thus a man has a soul called p’o. The p’o is feminine; it goes out and comes in through the mouth and communicates through earth’ (Ying-Shi Yu, 1987: 16).

[3] D. O’Brien, ‘The Effect of a Simile: Empedocle’s Theories of Seeing and Breathing’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 90, 1970, p. 172.

[4] For a detailed discussion of the relationship between Āyurveda and yogic conceptions of the bodily winds, see K.G. Zysk, The Science of Respiration and the Doctrine of the Bodily Winds in Ancient India, 1993, pp. 201 – 205.

[5] This life-wind is the main support of consciousness and these two are not treated as separate entities. ‘Mind is that which is aware; prana is the active energy which gives support to this awareness.’ See T. Clifford, Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry, 1994, pp. 132 – 133.

[6] For Deleuze and Guattari the term Body without Organs (BwO) designates several bodies (i.e. the Cold of the drugged BwO, the schizo, masochist, hypochondriac BwOs, etc), all of which have been misconstrued by the field of psychoanalysis. They write: ‘The error of psychoanalysis was to understand BwO phenomena as regressions, projections, fantasies, in terms of an image of the body. As a result, it only grasps the flipside of the BwO and immediately substitutes family photos, childhood memories, and part-objects for a worldwide intensity map. It understands nothing about the egg nor about indefinite articles nor about the contemporaneousness of a continually self-constructing milieu’ (1987: 165). And then again they write: ‘Where psychoanalysis says, “Stop, find yourself again,” we should say instead, “Let’s go further still, we haven’t found our BwO yet, we haven’t sufficiently dismantled our self.”… Find your body without organs. Find out how to make it. It’s a question of life and death, youth and old age, sadness and joy. It is where everything is played out’ (1987: 151).

[7] For a discussion of the ritual use of dung-chen in the monastery of the Tibetan State Oracle in exile, see B. Pertl, ‘Some Observations on the “Dung Chen” of the Nechung Monastery’, 1992.

[8] See E.A. Livingstone, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2000.

 

References

Butt, A. Ritual Blowing: Taling – A Causation and Cure of Illness among the Akawaio, Man, 56, 1956.

Clifford, T. Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1994.

Coomaraswamy, A.K. The Sun-Kiss, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 60 (1), 1940.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Ewing, A.H. The Hindu Conception of the Function of Breath. A Study in Early Hindu Psycho-Physics, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 22, 1901.

Govinda, A. Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, London, Rider and Company, 1960.

Guénon, R. Man and his Becoming: According to the Vedanta, London, Rider and Company, 1928.

Karma Chagmé, Naked Awareness: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen, with commentary by Gyatrul Rinpoche, Ithaca, Snow Lion Publications, 2000.

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