The Hindu sages of India found that there is a vital force which maintains the activities of the physical body. It is a real and highly specialized kind of composite energy with a material basis entirely different from the other kinds of energies working within the human body which maintain its equilibrium and guard against diseases and premature death

The vehicle of this vital life force is not the dense physical body but rather it is a subtle vehicle which interpenetrates the denser physical body and works in conjunction with it it is the spiritual body of the soul which is analogous to an ‘etheric double’. Within this spiritual body which is practically the counterpart of the physical body run currents of energy of a spiritual nature which vitalizes it.

The Hindus found ways to control the currents of the vital force by manipulated breathing. It is the control of this vital force which is aimed at and not the breathing itself which is only one of the many manifestations of its actions in the physical body although there is a close connection between them. The reason why regulation of the breathing and control of the vital life forces plays such an important part in their development of the spiritual consciousness is the close relationship existing between the vital force energies and the mind.

The vital force energy exists on all of the various levels of consciousness and is the connecting link between matter and energy on the one side and consciousness and mind on the other. Consciousness expressing itself through the mind cannot come into contact with matter and function through it without the intermediate presence of the vital force. The human body in association with energy cannot affect consciousness except through the agency of the vital life force and that is why the vital force is found on all levels of consciousness from the lowest subliminal to the highest spiritual. It is necessary for the functioning of all of the vehicles of consciousness physical or non-physical.

This capacity to act as intermediary agency depends upon its peculiar constitution which combines within itself in some mysterious manner the essential qualities of both matter and consciousness and is thus able to serve as an instrument for their actions and reactions on each other. The regimen extends over a very long time and after prolonged practice the Hindu gains control over the vital forces and the ability to arouse and direct them.

The science of this is strictly guarded because not only is the technique the essential element of controlling these force but it is also the source of serious risks. The moment one starts these practices the risk begins and no one knows what it will lead to without a competent and practical teacher. The methods adopted in controlling and manipulating the vital force by regulation of the breath are a closely guarded secret which can be safely imparted only as a part of the yogic discipline which adequately prepares the disciple for its practice.

These powerful forces are very real though unknown to modern science which has no way to discover or measure them. There are serious risks to anyone who experiments with them out of curiosity and cases have been recorded of people who have ruined their lives by rashly starting to practice them without adequate preparation under guidance of a mentor. The essential element is itself the source of the dangers in the practice of breath control because it involves the cessation of inhalation and exhalation for prolonged periods. Therefore unless the initiate has practiced all of the prerequisite elements for a long time and has acquired conscious and real mastery over their desires and propensities it would be disastrous for them to engage in this practice.

However, if all of the prerequisite conditions are present it enables the manifestation of unexpected experiences and powers which if taken up by the uninitiated would surely lead to disaster as some inexperienced people have found to their regret there are significant warnings about this in the sacred writings of the Hindu masters. It is simply because these things are not meant for people who are leading the ordinary lifestyle of the world with all of its desires and indulgences and who have a naive desire for spiritual attainment as an addition to their enjoyments of the outer world.

That having been said there is no harm in trying to understand the rationale and the limit to which one can go safely in the manipulation of breathing for the sake of promoting good physical and mental health the beneficial effects. Certain yoga exercises are not attended with any risk and can be adopted with caution by those who live a well-regulated and clean life and are not given to selfish excesses of any kind. But since the vital force currents are affected in the process caution and moderation are necessary. The discipline which serves to lay the foundations for the life of spiritual illumination involves the transformation of the lower human nature in the individual so that it may properly serve the aspirant by bringing about necessary changes in them.

There are some practices which are moral and prohibitive while there are others which are constructive and disciplinary for the intellect for laying the ethical foundation of the yogic life and also for organizing their life for the highly strenuous yogic disciplines they follow. When we use the words pure and impure in relation to our life we obviously use them in a relative sense. According to the Hindu philosophy the entire universe, seen or unseen, is a manifestation of the divine life and is pervaded by the divine consciousness and therefore everything is pure and sacred. A thing is pure if it enables or helps to serve efficiently as an instrument of the divine spirit expressing through them at any particular stage of their spiritual evolution. It is impure if it hinders the full expression of life or impedes the exercise of functions. Purity is therefore nothing absolute only functional and related to the next stage of evolution which life is seeking to attain.

All of the lower states of being of the aspirant are constantly changing, and purification consists in systematically and gradually replacing the coarse material of their body by a more refined type of material, beginning with the selection of the right sustenance for the material body. The purification of the more subtle etheric, spiritual vehicles which serve progressively as instruments for the expression of thoughts and emotions is brought about by a different and more difficult process which involves control and development of the will-power of the individual. The entry to the enjoyments and selfish comforts and indulgences of the lower life and mind must be closed completely and permanently before one can hope to make real progress on their path of true transformation.

The transference of life activity from the outer to the inner realm comes only after the long period of discipline which preparation for the mental control necessary to bring about the removal of the barriers to allow the physical intellect to come into direct contact with the soul. Then the cloudy and blurred mental images which an ordinary person is able to form in their mind are replaced by clear images which are very precise and palpable.

The basic principles and philosophy of the spiritual transformation do not necessitate the adoption of the rigid discipline and techniques of the Hindu practitioners in order for us to successfully negotiate the pathway to spiritual consciousness. The upsurge of the vital Kundalini force in the Hindu adept is physically and mentally disruptive and inimical to the well-being of the average uninitiated human being. However, the gentle descent of the Divine Consciousness into their being is completely safe and brings a spiritual transformation without the necessity of causing vital forces to erupt in them. Each individual should follow the leadings and teachings of their own spirit and live accordingly, patiently making the necessary progressive stages towards their spiritual transformation.

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