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The Breath Part 2

Hazrat Inayat Khan

In every center, or Chakra, the breath resounds to a specific tone, and when these tones are distinct, not only does the body become radiant and the senses become acute, but also one's innermost being becomes responsive to a new level of consciousness. The Hindu term for a mystic is Antarajani the knower of the worlds unseen. The Hindu word 'Akasha' means the heavens within, as a capacity or receptacle of all different aspects of life, according to the extent of one's consciousness. The all pervading life is self subsistent; it is contained within itself and it manifests when it finds a capacity where it can be expressed as an individual point of radiance, and its subsequent reaction to this individualization is a further illumination.

As it is said in the Koran, "I have created thee with My light, and from thy light all is created." In this is the secret of the Hindu concept of trinity, Trimurti; first, the all pervading light; second, the light when concentrated in one point; and third, the light shining within itself, and thereby illuminating all things, reflecting in all things, strengthening and invigorating all things, as it is the nature of the sun to help the plants to grow and flourish. Light is silent and in its original nature, inactive. This condition of inertia is called in Hindu terms Sattva. The beginning of the activity of light is the assumption of individuality, and it is this individual capacity which allows the activity of the all pervading life to become intelligible.

In the Bible it is said "First was the Word and the Word was God", which could be understood to mean, the all pervading light, which is silent, has manifested itself, first in the realm of sound. In the Vedanta, this is referred to as 'Nada Brahma' or 'Divine Vibration.' In the Koran it is said, "Allah is the Light of heaven and earth." That which we recognize as space or what we call vacuum is all light. It manifests when vibrations unite and when atoms group together. It is audible when it acts as vibrations and it is visible when it manifests as atoms.

The question how the secret of the universe could be found within oneself, in a drop which is like a drop in the ocean, may be answered thus, that the drop is the ocean in miniature and the one who studies the drop studies the ocean. The saying of Christ, "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way," speaks of the centers within, which seem a narrow gate compared with the outer world which is so vast; but when one discovers the self within, one is thereby discovering the whole universe.

Life is light, and light is omnipotent and omnipresent. It is the comparison of light that is concentrated and of light that is spread out which accounts for the whole scenery of creation. For instance, when centered, light manifests as luminosity, and when scattered, it manifests as movement. The soul, heart, mind and body are different grades of radiance focused in limited forms, thoughts and feelings. The human being is so constituted that by the help of the organs of the senses and the stimulus of light and sound one feels and knows all that is around one, and one connects with all around by opening the channels of communication between oneself and others. For instance, the voice opens a communication which penetrates through the ears of another and so may reach the heart of the listener. Therefore, life can be lived still more fully by awakening faculties which have hitherto remained covered and unnurtured by the breath, just as there may be a piece of ground which may have lain waste and barren for want of water, or where there is water but which the light of the sun does not reach. By the practice of Shagal the Chakras are helped, as plants are helped by the sun and by the air, bringing illumination, ecstasy and peace. The more we receive impressions from all planes of consciousness, the more we receive knowledge from within, where all knowledge collects, which is the true secret of all inspiration. Shagal offers the recognition of an energy with two opposite directions experienced in one and the same consciousness, that which draws inward and that which draws outward from within.

For instance, when blocking the senses one is, so to speak, pulling down a veil over the outer impressions in an effort to open a contact with the energy within. In this practice, the working of the senses is reversed. That is to say, one is drawing from within instead of from outside with this difference: that from which we draw within is the very source of all sensorial energy, whereas that which is received from outside, although sustained by the energy of the cosmos, wears an inescapable veil of mental substance, because our mind inevitably distorts our perceptions in giving them an identity.

When closing the hearing, one listens to the unstruck sound of the cosmos, then audible within as "Hu."

When closing the sight, one searches for the inner light, revealed as luminosity with no relationship to any material brilliancy.

When closing off the taste, one replaces it by an incoming feeling of savoring the nature of values unknown to the tongue, and which are spiritually related to the ecstasy felt in the power of silence.

When closing the nostrils, and thereby blocking the incoming flow of breath, one is thereby merging the self-consciousness into that very same substance, Prana, which has been thereby held within and which is then revealed, in the absence of the self, now dissolved in the Divine Fragrance of the abstract spheres, as the only true reality.

The nature of the Shagal practice is such that during all stages one is in subtle contact with the Presence of a Central Consciousness, and in that experience, the fifth sense, the touch is sublimated to a higher level of perception, different from the ordinary understanding of the concept of touch. When the five senses, hearing, sight, taste, touch and the olfactory perception, have each been inwardly experienced, one can then proceed with two advanced aspects of Shagal: first, to block all senses simultaneously, as a practice; secondly, to be continually attuned, during one's daily activities, to all variations of Nature's scenery in an attitude of self-denial. It is essential to indicate that these meditative practices cannot have any effect unless they are done in sincere humility without any self-assertion or material purpose.

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