|Back||SOUK - 28sep09 - manifestation of the soul|
28th September 2009
We continue with the series of teachings on the soul’s manifestation in the world. How does the soul come to be, how does the soul exist in this world, and then where does the soul go to after this world. This is a series of teachings given explicitly by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan 1923 in the summer school in Paris . They were transcribed for us. We will take a reading and then comment on it as a way of expanding it and making it more and more relevant for our time and for us to use as a spiritual teaching. When we began the series we were saying that this esoteric teaching is the companion teaching to the art of personality, which is the other kind of teaching that Hazrat Inayat Khan gave, which is the practice of spirituality in life - how to use life a not only a spiritual teacher, but as a spiritual practice. These teachings are like the inner part of that teaching, the art of personality is the outer part of the teaching.
Tonight’s subject is on how the light of the Divine spirit manifests as breath.
“The divine spirit is known by the mystics of all ages as the sun and therefore in all ancient mystical symbols the sun has been pictured as the sign of God.”
We see that in the American Indian tradition, in the Egyptian tradition, and certainly in the Zoroastrian tradition.
“This conception gives one a help in the further knowledge of metaphysics. This sun is that aspect of absolute God in which God begins to manifest and His first step towards manifestation is His contraction, that contraction which is seen in all living beings and in all objects.”
The sun is of course also referring to the physical sun, which is a star, we think of sun worship, moon worship, earth worship - God is in all, but the sun in a particular stage was emphasised in religious traditions because it was recognised that the sun was not only the sacred object in the sky, but it was the physical manifestation of the Divine, which is not so absurd as it first may seem, because we all come from the sun. We carry the light of the sun in our bodies, that physical light, that is where we came from. Our earth came from the sun. So it is recognising that origin f our being. Where did the sun come from? It came from the big bang of creation. Also in the beginning there was a contraction, and the contraction resulted in this epiphany of light, the appearance of light, We know from cosmology that in the beginning, before the universe began there was nothing. Then we know that somehow there was a contraction, a gathering together of energy, which then resulted in the gigantic explosion which was the creation. What he is saying is that the breathing in and the breathing out is the inhalation and exhalation of God, it is the mystics’ way of understanding it. Of course the physicists are looking at it from a very physical point of view, the mystics look at it from a metaphysical point of view, but the views happen to coincide, and that is what is important. We know for example when a star dies, it shrinks into a black hole. It begins to contract and to shrink and shrink and shrink. Imagine the size of our galaxy contracting to smaller than a pinhead. That is what actually happens. And it get so intense, imagine all the energy and power into one infinitesimally small space. It then explodes. We have here an exact parallel to what the mystics are saying. We have been able to observe this on our radio telescopes.
“This sun is that aspect of absolute God in which God begins to manifest and His first step towards manifestation is His contraction, that contraction which is seen in all living beings and in all objects. It is first contraction that takes place and next expansion. The former tendency is the desire of inhalation and the latter of exhalation. The contraction and expansion which is seen in all aspects of life, comes from God Himself.
“The Omnipotent Life by this tendency became concentrated and it is this concentrated Light of Intelligence which is the Sun recognized by the mystics.”
We have been referring to the physical sun, which is a star, but the mystics are also referring to the metaphysical sun. God, very much like a star, contracts, and then manifests as light. There is a term at that we use in Sufism to describe this, it is the being of the rasul. The being of the rasul is the most radiant being. There is something about its radiance that shows the light of God. But it refers to a state of a human being that becomes Divine. That is the meaning of rasul. The actual experience that we are talking about - it is quite true, we radiate light from our bodies all the time, but if we actually close all exits for energy to come out, like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, the bits at the bottom too, everything closes up, and particularly you hold your breath, you breath in and hold your breath, your consciousness inverts, it goes inside-out. Initially the experience of that is darkness, emptiness, but as you are purified and trained you will actually learn to hold that stage longer and longer, and eventually that inner light begins to manifest to you. You begin to see your light, your personal light. You begin to see your aura, then the light of the soul, and then you see this intense bright light, the light of the sun. And you start to feel like the sun, you are on fire. And you start to feel the power of the sun. And then you begin to realise, this is what the mystics are talking about. This is a state that one can attain, it is in all of us, not just in some people. It is in everyone. Christ said to his disciples “You are all sons of God.” They said “You are the son of God” and he said “Yes, but you are all sons of God.” Reminding them that it is not exclusive, Divinity is in everyone. This is the sun in us.
We can look at some other traditions like alchemy. In alchemy the sun is extremely important. They do not mean the sun in the sky. They mean the sun in you. And the moon is extremely important, they mean the moon in you. And the earth in you is extremely important. Those three work together. You work with these three forces. They are like three powerful forces in your being. The moon is your soul. The sun is your spirit. The earth is your body. And in alchemy you learn to contain that, you learn to contain yourself, and as you contain it you begin to realise successively earth, moon, sun. It goes in stages. They refer similarly to the Divine Light as the sun in you. Not something that comes to you, but something in you. You begin to actually see it. It has always been there, if it was not there you would not be alive. This is what the mystics mean.
“Shamstabrez mentions this in his verses. He says: 'When the Sun of His countenance became manifest, the atoms of both worlds began to appear as His Light fell, and every atom adorned a name and a form.'”
So that Sun is in everything, even the tiniest atom. It gives it form and it gives it light.
“The Hindus have called in Vedanta Chaitanya the Spirit or the Light of God. In the Qur'an it is mentioned: 'We have made thy light out of Our Light and from that Light We have made the whole universe.'”
It is the same thing. Out of this contraction and then expansion of light came all the other realms of life until finally the physical realm manifested.
“In plain words this explains that, when there was nothing, no form, no name, no person, no object, there was Intelligence and it is the contraction of that Intelligence which brought Its essence into a form of light, which is called the Divine Spirit. Expansion of the same Light has been the cause of the whole manifestation. In plain words the manifestation is the exhalation of God and what is called Laya destruction or the end of the world, is the inhalation of God. The Divine Spirit spreads Itself, which we call the manifestation, containing of various names and forms; and God contracts Himself of which humanity dreads and calls destruction.”
It is just the in-breath and the out-breath of the divine, neither personal or impersonal, right or wrong. It is not in contradiction with the scientific view, it is quite in sync with it.
“For this many blame God, many judge Him and many think unfair on the part of God to create and destroy.”
That is an old way of thinking, that somehow somebody is out there who is pulling all the strings and says “Let’s make the universe and then we’ll destroy it.” That sounds very unfair. The point is God is none other than us, we are part of the same being. Every soul is a ray of light that has come into manifestation and there comes a time for that soul to return, very much like a start that expanded and then contracted. In our bodies there are many germs, and every time that we breathe in, millions of them die. Is that unfair? Is it unfair to breathe? It is natural, it is all part of nature. Creation and destruction, it is like a Divine breath. We tend to look at things very much from our personal point of view, that somebody is responsible for all this rather than us, and somehow they have got the whole project wrong.
“But for God, Who is the only Being, this is the natural condition, by which He eternally lives. The beginning and the end of the world is only His one breath, the duration of which is numberless years. Between this one breath myriads of lives have been born, lived and died and experienced this world and that world, the Heaven and the contrary place, all.”
“Souls therefore are the rays of this Sun which is called in Sanskrit Brahmani and the nature of the ray is to extend and withdraw, to appear and disappear, and the duration of its existence is incomparably short when considered with the durability of the Eternal God, the Divine Spirit. There are living creatures, small germs, and worms and insects, who do not live longer than a moment; and there are other beings whose life is of hundred years and some creatures who live longer still; and yet it is a moment, even if it were a thousand years, compared with eternity. Time that man knows is in the first place learned by the knowledge of his own physical constitution.”
That is our concept of time. But we need to expand that view. To look at time simply as a breath, breathing in an breathing out. There is only one breath.
Breath is the basis of all rhythm. Every rhythm in creation, the earth revolving around the sun, the moon around the earth, the tides rising and falling, the seasons, changing from winter to spring, summer to autumn, being born and dying, gong to school and leaving school, going to a Sufi class and leaving a Sufi class, thinking of a problem and letting go of the problem. It is all rhythm. Every rhythm in life, every single vibration is governed by this one breath, this one rhythm. What is important is to understand the metaphysics of the breath. It is important to breath in, but when we are breathing in we are withdrawing from the world. When people panic they breathe in. They do not breathe out, they breathe in fast. And things get worse. What are you told to do? A simple solution: blow out into a paper bag. Then breathe in from the paper bag and blow out.
Nigel was working with someone who is responsible for thousands of people and has to make far reaching decisions. He was very tired, extremely stressed, holding on to so much. So much tension, stress, anxiety. He said “how do you remain younger?” Nigel said “Meditation.” “Teach me to meditate.” They sat down, closed the curtain, everything was quiet, and Nigel said “Focus on your breath - the first step. Breathe in, now breathe out, in through the nose, out through the mouth.” And he said he couldn’t. He was really struggling to breath out through the mouth. He was always breathing in, and this has taken its toll on his constitution, he is basically dying. If he could learn to breathe out he could be creative, the out-breath is the creative breath. The in-breath is the destructive one. Not that destructive is bad, but you need to have a balance between the two. He does not have enough creative breath, healing breath. That healing energy that is in him cannot come out to the body, it is locked inside.
Once Hazrat Inayat Khan said (in the 1920s), today surgery is the method of healing, pills; after pills there will be light, and we are using laser light as a form of healing; and after light will come music as a form of healing, and after music it will be the breath, because breath is the most fine, the most powerful, the most complete form of healing, understanding the nature of breath. Breath is the basis of health, of healing. So that is why we begin to understand the inhalation as the withdrawing of the life force and the exhalation is bringing the life force back into the world. Like having expended yourself from the day’s work you need to rest and contract. When you have rested and contracted you can expand again. Most of us tend to find a way of burning the candle at both ends to get more done, but you cannot cheat nature. You can cheat it for a short while but eventually it catches up. We call that illness.
“The Sanskrit word pala which means moment, has come from the pulse which beats; it comes from pulsation. This knowledge has been completed to some extent by the study of nature: the changes of the season and the rounds that the world makes around the sun; man has completed his idea of time.
“Many wish to limit divine law to this man-made conception of time and make speculations about it. But the tendency of the mystic is to bend his head low in worship as the thought of the Eternal Life of God, the Only Being, comes to his mind.”
(All quotes: Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan - Lecture “The Soul towards Manifestation” given at the Suresnes Summer School on 10th August 1923 from the Complete Works of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan - Original Texts: Lectures on Sufism, 1923 II: July-December)
We have done a breath practice, breathing in and out. The breath has three stages. The first stage of the breath is to breath through the belly. Then you breath through the lungs, and then you breath through the top. That is one breath. You find where you have trouble, that is where the breath is blocked, the energy is not flowing.
Close your eyes and begin to become aware of your natural breath. As you calm down the breath slows, becomes more even and natural. Now what we can do is to focus on the in-breath, breathing in, then turn your attention to your head. Imagine there are holes all over your head, and you are breathing out through these holes. Imagine light coming out of your head as you breath out. If you notice that there is a part that feels tense, focus on that part on the in-breath and on the out-breath breath out slowly through it, as though that part becomes to open, and allow that inner light, because breath and light we see as the same, to be breathed through that part of the head. Now one can move to other parts of the body, for example you can focus on the back of your neck, breathing in through the neck and then breath out light through it. Shoulder blades, or between the shoulder blades, breath out light through it, imagine that part of you to open. Chest area - radiating out. You can extend it to the idea of breathing in, focussing on the heart, taking light from the heart in the centre of the chest outwards through the left and the right arms, through the hands. So you breathe out through both hands. And then you can do the same through your feet. Breath in and focus on the base of your spine, as you breath out imagine light going through your legs, through your feet into the earth. We could continue with all the parts of the body. The basic idea is that the in-breath focusses on the part of the body that you want to open, and on the out-breath you breathe light through it. This becomes what we call the healing breath, bringing that inner light to that part of the body that is lacking light, that is blocked.