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Chapter 11: The Alchemy of Chaotic Breathing

That is why statues of Buddha made in Japan and China are quite different from statues made in India. In India, Buddha’s images have a small belly and a large chest. In Japan and China all his images have a large belly and a small chest. To us, Japanese and Chinese statues of Buddha look odd; we think they are misshapen and ugly. But in fact, it is right; because when a man of silence like Buddha breathes, he breathes with his belly - which is the natural way of breathing.

Such an innocent person as Buddha cannot breathe with his chest, which is unnatural and artificial. And when you breathe with your belly, the belly is bound to be large and round. So the large belly of Buddha’s statue is symbolic. It might not actually have been so large, but it has to be depicted the way it has been, because a man like Buddha breathes with his belly, and is as innocent as a child.

When we understand this, we can take steps towards more natural breathing. As it is, our breathing is unnatural, artificial. The dervish is wrong to tell you not to breathe artificially. In fact, our breathing is already artificial, unnatural enough. But as our understanding about it deepens, we will increasingly breathe more naturally. And when our breathing is utterly natural, the greatest possibility of our life will begin to actualize and unfold from within.

It is also good to understand that the practice of sudden artificial breathing is helpful. But one thing should be clearly understood: where there is gain, there is loss as well. Someone runs a shop which brings profit and loss in the same measure. And someone else is gambling where he is a winner and loser in the same measure. The ratio of gain and loss is always the same. So the dervish is right in saying that it is dangerous to interfere with your breathing. But it is only a half-truth. It is full of possibilities too. It is a gamble.

So if sometimes we breathe for a while in a completely unnatural manner - unnatural in the sense that we have never breathed this way - we will begin to be aware of new states, new situations within us. These are situations in which we can go mad, and in which we can also be liberated. We can be insane and we can also become free in such situations. Both possibilities are there. And since it is we who create these situations in ourselves, we can easily control and undo them when necessary. So there is no danger. It is dangerous only if we cannot undo them. But because we have produced them, we can also stop them as soon as we want.

These situations are in your control because every moment you know where you are moving, whether you are moving towards bliss or you are moving towards misery, whether you are moving towards peace or towards danger. At every step you know clearly what is happening. So there is no danger whatsoever.

If your pattern of breathing is changed very suddenly and sharply, then your whole inner state completely changes. With our normal way of breathing, we can never experience that we are separate from the body. Our ingrained habitual breathing has bridged the two; it works as a bridge between the body and mind, and we have become accustomed to their being one.

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