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by Osho in Tao: The Three Treasures

The breath is the most important thing. With it life starts and with it life ends. It is the most mysterious thing; without it there is no possibility of life.

Life seems just a shadow of breath. When breath disappears, life disappears. So this phenomenon of breathing has to be understood.

Every child born is not really alive until he breathes. He has just a few moments left. If he breathes after the birth, in those few moments life enters. If he does not breathe he will remain dead.

Those first few moments of life are the most important. The doctors, the parents, all become concerned when a child is born. Will he breathe? Will he cry and start breathing? Or will he remain dead? Again, as in all the myths created, in every man Adam is born again.

The child cannot breathe on his own. To expect that is impossible because the child does not know how to breathe, nobody has taught him. This is going to be his first act, so this cannot be his act.

Let me repeat it: This is going to be his first and the most significant act -- that's why it cannot be his act. If God does it -- okay; if God is not willing -- finished.

The whole has to breathe in him, that's why those few moments are full with suspense, doubt, apprehension, fear -- because both possibilities are still open. The child can remain dead. Then nothing can be done. The child cannot do anything, the parents cannot do anything, the doctors cannot do anything; humanity is helpless. It is up to the whole.

Only prayer can be done. We can only wait in deep prayer. If the whole moves into the child, the child becomes alive, otherwise not.

This first breath is taken by the whole. And if the first breath is taken by the whole then everything else which depends on breathing cannot be your act. If you think you are breathing then you have taken a very wrong step. And because of this wrong step ego will be created. Ego is accumulated ignorance.

You missed. You have not been breathing, the whole has breathed into you, but you have taken it as if you are breathing.

The first act of breath bridges you with the whole, makes you one with the whole, and all that follows will not be your activity; all that is going to happen after this first breath till you die, till the last breath, is going to be the activity of the whole. The whole will live within you.

You can think that you are doing all those things -- then you live in ignorance. If you become aware that the whole is doing everything, you are being possessed by the whole, breathed by it, you are just a hollow bamboo, a flute, the sound comes from the whole, the whole life comes from it -- then you live a life of enlightenment.

==

This is the only difference between ignorance and enlightenment.

One step in error, that: "I have done it!" -- and the whole journey goes wrong. One step right, that: "The whole has been doing it in me, I am not the doer, I am just the field of his play, a flute of his songs, a reed, nothing more, an emptiness in which he flows, moves, lives!" -- then you live a totally different life, a life of light and bliss.

This is the first act, this breath. Many more things have to be understood about it.

If life starts with breath, and death also, and everything is between these two, then yoga, Tao, tantra, and all sciences of inner alchemy, cannot neglect breathing.

Yoga calls it prana. That word is beautiful. Yoga calls breathing prana. Prana means the elan vital, the very vitality of your being.

It is not just air coming and going through your lungs. Yoga says the air is just the outer layer of it. Hidden deep in that layer is vitality.

So breathing has two parts. One: the body of breathing, made up of oxygen, nitrogen and so on, and, two: the spirit of breathing, made up of vitality, God himself.

It is like your body is there, and you, your consciousness, is hidden deep down in your body. The body is a protection, a vehicle. The body is the visible vehicle for the non-visible you. And the same is the case with every breath. The breath itself is just the outer layer; hidden deep in it is life itself.

Once you discover that God himself is hidden in breath, you have come to know yourself. That's why there is so much insistence and so much search in yoga, Tao and tantra about breathing. If you simply go on breathing and thinking that this is just air coming in and going out you will never be able to penetrate the mystery of it. And you will remain completely oblivious of yourself. Then you will remain rooted in the body. You will never be able to know that which goes beyond the body, that which is within but yet beyond, that which is hidden in the body but not obstructed by the body, not limited by the body. A beyond within.

In each breath that life has to be discovered.

Yoga calls those methods pranayama. The word pranayama means expansion of life. One has to expand life to infinity in each breath.

Buddha has called his own methods of discovering the innermost core of breath anapana-sati yoga: the yoga, the science, of incoming and outgoing breath; and Buddha has said no other yoga is needed. If you can deeply watch your own breathing, and watch so meditatively that anything that is hidden in the breath does not remain hidden but becomes revealed, you will come to know all.

That looks simple, but it is difficult.

Buddha said to his monks: "Sitting, walking, standing, whatsoever you are doing, go on doing these things, but let your consciousness be aware of the breath coming in, going out. Go on looking at your own breath -- one day with the very continuous hammering on the breath, the temple opens."

The God is hidden in the temple of the breath. Suddenly one day you become aware that it is not just air. If for you it is just air, you have a scientific mind but you don't have the awareness which can reveal the innermost core of it. Then you can analyze and come to know how much oxygen is needed, how much hydrogen, how much nitrogen, how much carbon dioxide, and you can go on playing with the body of the breath -- but you missed the innermost real phenomenon.

That's why, if a man is dead, you can give him, pump into him, the right proportion of oxygen, but he will not be alive.

Unless God breathes in it, unless it contains the innermost consciousness of the whole, it is a dead breath. Oxygen will pass through the lungs -- nothing will happen.


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