Prana is energy - the living energy in us, the life in us. This life manifests itself, as far as the physical body is concerned, as the incoming and the outgoing breath. These are two opposite things. We take them as one. We say "breathing" - but breathing has two polarities: the incoming breath and the outgoing breath. Every energy has polarities, every energy exists in two opposite poles. It cannot exist otherwise. The opposite poles, with their tension and harmony, create energy - just like magnetic poles.
The incoming breath is quite contrary to the outgoing, and the outgoing is quite contrary to the incoming. In a single moment the incoming is just like birth and the outgoing is just like death. In a single moment both things are happening: when you take breath in, you are born; when you throw breath out, you die. In a single moment there is birth and death. This polarity is life energy coming up, going down.
In the physical body, life energy takes this manifestation. Life energy is born, and after seventy years it dies. That too is a greater manifestation of the same phenomenon: the incoming breath and the outgoing breath... the day and the night.
In all of the seven bodies - the physical, the etheric, the astral, the mental, the spiritual, the cosmic, and the nirvanic, there will be a corresponding incoming and outgoing phenomenon. As far as the mental body is concerned, thought coming in and thought going out is the same kind of phenomenon as breath coming in and breath going out. Every moment a thought comes in your mind and a thought goes out.
Thought itself is energy. In the mental body the energy manifests as the coming of thought and the going of thought; in the physical body it manifests as breath coming and breath going. That is why you can change your thinking with breathing. There is a correspondence.
If you stop your breath from coming in, thought will be stopped from coming in. Stop your breath in your physical body and in the mental body thought will stop. And as the physical body becomes uneasy, your mental body will become uneasy. The physical body will long to breathe in; the mental body will long to take thought in.
Just as breath is taken in from the outside and the air exists outside you, likewise an ocean of thought exists outside you. Thought comes in, and thought goes out. Your breath can become my breath at another moment and your thought can become my thought. Every time you throw your breath out you are likewise throwing your thought out. Just as air exists, so thought exists; just as air can be contaminated, so thought can be contaminated; just as air can be impure, so thought can be impure.
The breath itself is not prana. Prana means the vital energy that manifests itself by these polarities of coming in and going out. The energy that takes the breath in is prana, not the breath itself. The energy that takes breath in, which asserts it, that energy that is taking the breath in and throwing it out, is prana.
The energy that takes thought in and throws thought out, that energy too is prana. In all of the seven bodies, this process exists. I am only talking now of the physical and the mental, because these two are known to us; we can understand them easily. But in every layer of your being the same thing exists.
Your second body, the etheric body, has its own incoming and outgoing process. You will feel this process in each of the seven bodies, but you will feel it to be just like the incoming breath and outgoing breath, because you are only acquainted with your physical body and its prana. Then you will always misunderstand.
Whenever any feeling comes to you of another body or its prana you will first understand it as the coming in and the going out of breath, because this is the only experience you know. You have only known this manifestation of prana, of vital energy. But on the etheric plane there is neither breath nor thought, but influence - simply influence coming in and going out.
You come into contact with somebody without having known him before. He has not even talked with you, but something about him comes in. You have either taken him in or thrown him out. There is a subtle influence: you may call it love or you may call it hatred - the attractive or the repulsive.
When you are repulsed or attracted, it is your second body. And every moment the process is going on; it never stops. You are always taking influences in and then throwing them out. The other pole will always be there. If you have loved someone, then in a certain moment you will be repulsed. If you have loved someone the breath has been taken in: now it will be thrown out and you will be repulsed.
So every moment of love will be followed by a moment of repulsion. The vital energy exists in polarities. It never exists at one pole. It cannot! And whenever you try to make it do so, you try the impossible.
You cannot love someone without hating him at some time. The hatred will be there because the vital force cannot exist at a single pole. It exists at opposite polarities, so a friend is bound to be an enemy - and this will go on. This coming in and going out will happen up to the seventh body. No body can exist without this process - this coming in and going out. It cannot, just as the physical body cannot exist without the incoming and outgoing breath.
As far as the physical body is concerned, we never take these two things as opposites, so we are not disturbed about it. Life makes no distinction between the incoming breath and the outgoing breath.
There is no moral distinction. There is nothing to be chosen; both are the same. The phenomenon is natural.
But as far as the second body is concerned, hatred must not be there and love must be there. Then you have begun to choose. You have begun to choose, and this choice will create disturbances.
That is why the physical body is ordinarily more healthy than the second, the etheric, body. The etheric body is always in conflict because moral choosing has made a hell out of it.
When love comes to you, you feel a wellbeing, but when hatred comes to you, you feel diseased.
But it is bound to come - so a person who knows, a person who has understood the polarities, is not disappointed when it comes. A person who has known the polarities is at ease, at equilibrium.
He knows it is bound to happen, so he neither tries to love when he is not loving nor does he create any hatred. Things come and go: he is not attracted to the incoming nor repulsed by the outgoing.
He is just a witness. He says, "It is just like breath coming in and breath going out."
The Buddhist meditation method of Anapana-sati Yoga is concerned with this. It says to just be a witness to your incoming and outgoing breath. Just be a witness, and begin from the physical body.
The other six bodies are not talked about in Anapana-sati because they will come by themselves, by and by.
The more you become acquainted with this polarity - with this dying and living simultaneously, with this simultaneous birth and death - the more you will become aware of the second body. Toward hatred, then, Buddha says, have upeksha. Be indifferent. Whether it is hatred or it is love, be indifferent. And do not be attached to anyone, because if you are attached, what will happen to the other pole? Then you will be at a "dis-ease." Disease will be there; you will not be at ease.
Buddha says, "The coming of the beloved one is welcomed, but the going of the beloved one is wept over. The meeting with the one who is repulsive is a misery, and the departing of a repulsive one is bliss. But if you go on dividing yourself into these polarities, you will be in hell, living in a hell."
If you just become a witness to these polarities, then you say, "This is a natural phenomenon. It is natural to the 'body' concerned" - that is, one of the seven bodies. "The body exists because of this; otherwise, it cannot exist." And the moment you become aware of it, you transcend the body. If you transcend your first body, then you become aware of the second. If you transcend your second body, then you become aware of the third....
Witnessing is always beyond life and death. The breath coming in and the breath going out are two things, and if you become a witness, then you are neither. Then a third force has come into being. Now you are not the manifestations of prana in the physical body: now you are the prana, the witness. Now you see that life manifests on the physical level because of this polarity, and if this polarity stops the physical body will not be there, it cannot exist. It needs tension to exist - this constant tension of coming and going, this constant tension of birth and death. It exists because of this. Every moment it moves between the two poles; otherwise, it would not exist.
In the second body, "love and hate" is the basic polarity. It is manifested in so many ways. The basic polarity is this liking and disliking, and every moment your liking becomes disliking and your disliking becomes liking - every moment! But you never see it. When your liking becomes disliking, if you suppress your disliking and continue fooling yourself that you will go on liking the same things always, you are only fooling yourself doubly. And if you dislike something, you go on disliking it, never allowing yourself to see the moments when you have liked it. We suppress our love for our enemies, and we suppress our hatred for our friends. We are suppressing! We allow only one movement, only one pole, but because it comes back again, we are at ease. It returns, so we are at ease. But it is discontinuous; it is never continuous. It never can be.
The vital force manifests itself as like and dislike in the second body. But it is just like breath: there is no difference. Influence is the medium here; air is the medium in the physical body. The second body lives in an atmosphere of influences. It is not simply that someone comes in contact with you and you begin to like him. Even if no one comes in and you are alone in the room, you will be liking/disliking, liking/disliking. It will make no difference: the liking and disliking will go on alternating continuously.
It is through this polarity that the etheric body exists; it is its breath. If you become a witness to it, then you can just laugh. Then there is no enemy and no friend. Then you know it is just a natural phenomenon.
If you become aware and become a witness to the second body - to the liking and disliking - then you can know the third body. The third is the astral body. Just like the "influences" of the etheric body, the astral body has "magnetic forces." Its magnetism is its breath. One moment you are powerful and the next moment you are powerless; one moment you are hopeful and the next moment you are hopeless; one moment you are confident and the next moment you lose all your confidence. It is a coming in of magnetism to you and a going out of magnetism from you. There are moments when you can defy even God, and there are moments when you fear even a shadow.
When the magnetic force is in you, when it is coming into you, you are great; when it has gone from you, you are just a nobody. And this is changing back and forth, just like day and night; the circle revolves, the wheel revolves. So even a person like Napoleon had his impotent moments and even a very cowardly person has his moments of bravery.
In judo there is a technique to know when a person is powerless. That is the moment to attack him. When he is powerful you are bound to be defeated, so you have to know the moment when his magnetic power is going out and attack him then, and you should incite him to attack you when your magnetic force is coming in.
This coming in and going out of the magnetic force corresponds to your breathing. That is why, when you have to do something difficult, you will hold your breath in. For example, if you are to lift a heavy stone, you cannot pick it up when the breath is going out. You cannot do it! But when the breath is coming in, or when the breath is held in, you can do it. Your breath corresponds to what is happening in the third body. So when the breath is going out - unless the person has been trained to fool you - that is the moment when his magnetic force is going out; that is the moment to attack.
And this is the secret of judo. Even a stronger person than you can be defeated if you know the secret of when he is fearful and powerless. When the magnetic force is out of him, he is bound to be powerless.
The third body lives in a magnetic sphere, just like air. There are magnetic forces all around: you are breathing them in and breathing them out. But if you become aware of this magnetic force that is coming and going, then you are neither powerful nor powerless. You transcend both.
Then there is the fourth body, the mental body: thought pulling in and thought pulling out. But this "thought coming in" and "thought going out" has parallels, too. When thought comes to you while you breathe in, only in those moments is original thinking born. When you breathe out, those are moments of impotency; no original thought can be born in those moments. In moments when some original thought is there, the breathing will even stop. When some original thought is born, then the breath stops. It is only a corresponding phenomenon.
In the outgoing thought, nothing is born. It is simply dead. But if you become aware of thoughts coming in and thoughts going out, then you can know the fifth body.
Up to the fourth body things are not difficult to understand, because we have some experience which can become the basis to understand them. Beyond the fourth, things become very strange - but still, something can be understood. And when you transcend the fourth body you will understand it more.
In the fifth body... how to say it? The atmosphere for the fifth body is life - just as thought, as breath, as magnetic force, as love and hatred, are atmospheres for the lower bodies.
For the fifth body, life itself is the atmosphere. So in the fifth, the coming in is a moment of life, and the going out is a moment of death. With the fifth, you become aware that life is not something that is in you. It comes into you and goes out from you. Life itself is not in you; it simply comes in and goes out just like breath.
That is why breath and prana became synonymous - because of the fifth body. In the fifth body, the word prana is meaningful. It is life that is coming and life that is going. And that is why the fear of death is constantly following us. You are always aware that death is nearby, waiting at the corner.
It is always there, waiting. This feeling of death always waiting for you - this feeling of insecurity, of death, of darkness - is concerned with the fifth body. It is a very dark feeling, very vague, because you are not completely aware of it.
When you come to the fifth body and become aware of it, then you know that life and death both are just breaths to the fifth body - coming in and going out. And when you become aware of this, then you know that you cannot die, because death is not an inherent phenomenon; nor is life. Both life and death are outward phenomena happening to you. You never have been alive, you never have been dead; you are something that completely transcends both. But this feeling of transcendence can only come when you become aware of the life force and the death force in the fifth body.
Freud said somewhere that he somehow had a glimpse of this. He was not an adept in yoga, otherwise he would have understood it. He called it "the will to die," and he said every man sometimes is longing for life and sometimes is longing for death. There are two opposing wills in men: a will to live and a will to die. To the Western mind it was absolutely absurd: how could these contradictory wills exist in one person? But Freud said that because suicide is possible, there must be a will to die.
No animal can commit suicide, because no animal can become aware of the fifth body. Animals cannot commit suicide because they cannot become aware, they cannot know, that they are alive.
To commit suicide, one thing is necessary: to be aware of life - and they are not aware of life. But another thing is also necessary: to commit suicide you must also be unaware of death.
Animals cannot commit suicide because animals are not aware of life, but we can commit suicide because we are aware of life but not aware of death. If one becomes aware of death, then one cannot commit suicide. A buddha cannot commit suicide because it is unnecessary; it is nonsense.
He knows that you cannot really kill yourself, you can only pretend to. Suicide is just a pose, because really you are neither alive nor dead.
Death is on the fifth plane, in the fifth body. It is a going out of a particular energy and a coming in of a particular energy. You are the one in which this coming and going happens. If you become identified with the first, you can commit the second. If you become identified with living, and if life becomes impossible, you can say, "I will commit suicide." This is the other aspect of your fifth body asserting itself. There is not a single human being who has not thought at some time to commit suicide... because death is the other side of life. This other side can become either suicide or murder: it can become either.
If you are obsessed with life, if you are so attached to it that you want to deny death completely, you can kill another. By killing another you satisfy your death wish: "the will to die." By this trick you satisfy it, and you think that now you will not have to die because someone else has died.
All those persons who have committed great murders - Hitler, Mussolini - are still very much afraid of death. They are always in fear of death, so they project this death on others. The person who can kill someone else feels that he is more powerful than death: he can kill others. In a "magical way,"
with a "magical formula," he thinks that because he can kill he transcends death, that a thing he can do to others cannot be done to him. This is a projection of death, but it can come back to you. If you kill so many persons that in the end you commit suicide, it is the projection coming back to you.
In the fifth body, with life and death coming to you - with life coming and going - one cannot be attached to anyone. If you are attached, you are not accepting the polarity in its totality, and you will become ill.
Up to the fourth body it was not so difficult, but to conceive of death and to accept it as another aspect of life is the most difficult act. To conceive of life and death as parallel - as just the same, as two aspects of one thing - is the most difficult act. But in the fifth, this is the polarity. This is pranic existence in the fifth.
With the sixth body, things become even more difficult, because the sixth is no longer life. For the sixth body... what to say? After the fifth, the "I" drops, the ego drops. Then there is no ego; you become one with the all. Now it is not your "anything" that comes in and goes out because the ego is not. Everything becomes cosmic, and because it becomes cosmic, the polarity takes the form of creation and destruction - srishti and pralaya. That is why it becomes more difficult with the sixth:
the atmosphere is "the creative force and the destructive force." In Hindu mythology they call these forces Brahma and Shiva.
Brahma is the deity of creation, Vishnu is the deity of maintenance, and Shiva is the deity of the great death - of destruction or dissolution, where everything goes back to its original source. The sixth body is in that vast sphere of creativity and destructivity: the force of Brahma and the force of Shiva.
Every moment the creation comes to you, and every moment everything goes into dissolution. So when a yogi says, "I have seen the creation, and I have seen the pralaya, the end; I have seen the coming of the world into being and I have seen the returning of the world into nonbeing," he is talking about the sixth body. The ego is not there: everything that is coming in and going out is you. You become one with it.
A star is being born: it is your birth that is coming. And the star is going out: that is your going out.
So they say in Hindu mythology that one creation is one breath of Brahma - only one breath! It is the cosmic force breathing. When he, Brahma, breathes in, the creation comes into existence: a star is born, stars come out of chaos - everything comes into existence. And when his breath goes out, everything goes out, everything ceases: a star dies... existence moves into nonexistence.
That is why I am saying that in the sixth body it is very difficult. The sixth is not egocentric; it becomes cosmic. And in the sixth body, everything about creation is known - everything that all of the religions of the world talk about. When one talks about creation, he is talking about the sixth body and the knowledge concerned with it. And when one is talking of the great flood, the end, one is talking about the sixth body.
With the great flood of Judeo-Christian or Babylonian mythology, or Syrian mythology, or with the pralaya of the Hindus, there is one out breath - that of the sixth body. This is a cosmic experience, not an individual one. This is a cosmic experience; you are not there!
The person who is in the sixth body - who has reached to the sixth body - will see everything that is dying as his own death. A Mahavira cannot kill an ant, not because of any principle of nonviolence, but because it is his death. Everything that dies is his death.
When you become aware of this, of the creation and the destruction - of things coming into existence every moment and things going out of existence every moment - the awareness is of the sixth body.
Whenever a thing is going out of existence, something else is coming in: a sun is dying, another is being born somewhere else; this earth will die, another earth will come. We become attached even in the sixth body. "Humanity must not die!" - but everything that is born must die, even humanity must die. Hydrogen bombs will be created to destroy it. And the moment we create hydrogen bombs, the very next moment we create a longing to go to another planet, because the bomb means that the earth is near its death. Before this earth dies, life will begin to evolve somewhere else.
The sixth body is the feeling of cosmic creation and destruction - creation/destruction... the breath coming in/the breath going out. That is why "Brahma's breath" is used. Brahma is a sixth-body personality; you become Brahma in the sixth body. Really, you become aware of both Brahma and Shiva, the two polarities. And Vishnu is beyond the polarity. They form the trimurti, the trinity:
Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh - or Shiva.
This trinity is the trinity of witnessing. If you become aware of the Brahma and Shiva, the creator and the destroyer - if you become aware of those two, then you know the third, which is Vishnu.
Vishnu is your reality in the sixth body. That is why Vishnu became the most prominent of the three.
Brahma is remembered, but although he is the god of creation, he is worshipped in perhaps only one or two temples. He must be worshipped, but he is not really worshipped.
Shiva is worshipped even more than Vishnu, because we fear death. The worship of him comes out of our fear of death. But hardly anyone worships Brahma, the god of creation, because there is nothing to be fearful of; you are already created, so you are not concerned with Brahma. That is why not a single great temple is dedicated to him. He is the creator, so every temple should be dedicated to him, but it is not.
Shiva has the greatest number of worshippers. He is everywhere, because so many temples were made as a dedication to him. Just a stone is enough to symbolize him; otherwise it would have been impossible to create so many idols of him. So just a stone is enough.... Just put a stone somewhere and Shiva is there. Because the mind is so fearful of death, you cannot escape from Shiva; he must be worshipped - and he has been worshipped.
But Vishnu is the more substantial divinity. That is why Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, every avatar - divine incarnation - is an incarnation of Vishnu. And even Brahma and Shiva worship Vishnu. Brahma may be the creator, but he creates for Vishnu; Shiva may be the destroyer, but he destroys for Vishnu. These are the two breaths of Vishnu, the incoming and the outgoing: Brahma is the incoming breath and Shiva is the outgoing one. And Vishnu is the reality in the sixth body.
In the seventh body things become even more difficult. Buddha called the seventh body the nirvana kaya, the body of enlightenment, because the truth, the absolute, is in the seventh body. The seventh body is the last body, so there is not even creation and destruction but, rather, being and nonbeing.
In the seventh, creation is always of something else, it is not of you. Creation will be of something else and destruction will be of something else, not of you, while being is of you, and nonbeing is of you.
In the seventh body, being and nonbeing - existence and nonexistence - are the two breaths. One should not be identified with either. All religions are started by those who have reached the seventh body; and at the end language can be stretched, at the most, to two words: being and nonbeing.
Buddha speaks the language of nonbeing, of the outgoing breath, so he says, "Nothingness is the reality"; while Shankara speaks the language of being and says that the Brahman is the ultimate reality. Shankara uses positive terms because he chooses the incoming breath, and Buddha uses negative terms because he chooses the outgoing breath. But these are the only choices as far as language is concerned.
The third choice is the reality, which cannot be said. At the most we can say "absolute being"
or "absolute nonbeing." This much can be said, because the seventh body is beyond this.
Transcendence is still possible.
I can say something about this room if I go out. If I transcend this room and reach another room, I can recollect this one, I can say something about it. But if I go out of this room and fall into an abyss, then I cannot say anything about even this room. So far, with each body, a third point could be caught into words, symbolized, because the body beyond it was there. You could go there and look backward. But only up to the seventh is this possible. Beyond the seventh body nothing can be said, because the seventh is the last body; beyond it is "bodilessness."
With the seventh, one has to choose being or nonbeing - either the language of negation or the language of positivity. And there are only two choices. One is Buddha's choice: he says, "Nothing remains," and the other is Shankara's choice: he says, "Everything remains."
In the seven dimensions - in the seven bodies - as far as man is concerned and as far as the world is concerned, life energy manifests into multidimensional realms. Everywhere, wherever life is to be found, the incoming and the outgoing process will be there. Wherever life is, the process will be. Life cannot exist without this polarity.
So prana is energy, cosmic energy, and our first acquaintance with it is in the physical body. It manifests first as breath, and then it goes on manifesting as breath in other forms: influences, magnetism, thoughts, life, creation, being. It goes on, and if one becomes aware of it, one always transcends it to reach to a third point. The moment you reach this third point, you transcend that body and enter the next body. You enter the second body from the first, and so on.
If you go on transcending, up to the seventh there is still a body, but beyond the seventh there is bodilessness. Then you become pure. Then you are not divided; then there are no more polarities.
Then it is adwait, not two: then it is oneness.