"The adorable one who is seated
In the heart rules the breath of life.
Unto him all the senses pay their homage.
When the dweller in the body breaks out
In freedom from the bonds of flesh, what else remains?
For this Self is supreme!
We live not by the breath that flows in
And flows out, but by him who causes the breath
To flow in and flow out."
The Katha Upanishad
"Ignite kundalini in the depths of
Meditation. Bring your breathing and mind
Under control. Drink deep of divine love,
And you will attain the unitive state."
The Shevetashvatara Upanishad
When we look deeply into our inner world, the outer world makes more sense. We find that the supreme essence lives in the little things, the quiet moments. Peace arises in the whispering of breath coming in and breath going out. Love arises in the heart that is clear of dark thoughts. Is not love the binding force that unites all life? Is not love the gravity of our emotional selves? How can life have meaning without love? Minor annoyances and major conflicts take us out of the sphere of love. Our goal should be to free ourselves from those distractions, so that we can live always in love.
Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to experience joy. Most of us look for happiness in transitory things and experiences. Only by living in the light of love can we live in joy. When we place our stock in things and experiences we will always drift toward sadness, since experiences fade and things decay. When we live in love we still feel pain. We still feel loss, but the pain and loss do not overwhelm us. Living from the sacred heart of love our external circumstances are relatively inconsequential. The person in most desperate of circumstances can be joyful when living in the sphere of love. The person living in absolute luxury and ease can be in hell if they lack love in their heart.
Peace comes from wise loving. Neither grasping for loved objects nor thrashing about in negative emotional states, the true lover settles into a place of inner harmony. This harmony can only be sustained through looking inward at the thoughts and emotions that well up from dark places.
The quiet mind appreciates the subtleties of life. The quiet mind finds joy in simplicity. The small pleasures, the mundane tasks all become occasions for gratitude. Thankfulness arises from the quiet mind as dew settles on morning leaves. Peace of mind generates gratitude. Gratitude generates humility. Humility reinforces gratitude.
Draw in your breath with gratitude. Be thankful for the simple gift of atmospheric pressure. Breathe out love as you share your inner atmosphere with the outer world. Sense the connection between the inner world of your body and the world outside your body. Focus on that interface: breath going in; breath going out; drawing in oxygen to light the fire of your blood; pushing out gases, moisture, heat.
Your relationship with the atmosphere is continuous give and take. It is persistent, essential, integral. Can you see that the clear division between what is inside and what is outside is illusionary? Nothing happens inside us when we are cut off from the outside. Remove the air and we no longer breathe. Shortly we no longer live. Without the out-breath there can be no in-breath. We must move air between our inner and outer to live. Air going in circulates through our entire body. Air going out has been through our entire body.
Our breath gives the lie to the thought that "I'm in here, and the rest of the world is out there." We share the air with all living things. This in-breath contains molecules breathed elsewhere. This out-breath will be breathed by other beings over and over across time.
See if you can view your thoughts, emotions, and actions in the same way. You have been sustained by the thoughts, emotions, and actions of many people. You have been supported by the lives of innumerable plants and animals. Your past thoughts, emotions, and actions have affected innumerable beings already. Your future thoughts, emotions and actions will affect innumerable beings in ways you cannot imagine. Acknowledge your deep connection with the rest of creation. See how the boundaries between you and the world are less distinct than you might have conceived.
Sit quietly in this understanding. Sense your unity with all that is. Take your time.
Such simple thoughts are seeds of love. Simple gratitude grows into compassion. Compassion and living in loving kindness breeds joy.
- Give thanks to the people, plants and animals that have made your life possible and sustainable.
- Give thanks for your body that constantly performs miracles of growth, transformation, protection, and healing.
- Give thanks for your food.
- Give thanks for air, water and warmth, and for the awareness that the world is sustaining you in this moment.
Breathe in gratitude. Breathe out loving kindness.
May you live in joy.
© 1998-2010 Tom Barrett