All living beings are spiritual beings, because in one manner or another, all of life breathes. Breath is an indication that spirit is present. In the ancient languages of Aramaic (ruha) and Hebrew (ruach), the word for spirit also means breath. Even in English, breath is defined as the vital spirit, which animates living beings. Our breath is connected to the air that every being breathes. By breathing consciously, we acknowledge our communion with all of life. There are atoms of air in your lungs, which were once in the lungs of everyone who has ever lived. In essence we are breathing (or inspiring) each other.
To be alive is to be breathing. To live and breathe with an exclusive focus on one’s small self, disconnected from the whole, is the definition of egotism. The enemy to the spirit is the selfish ego, who thinks that happiness can be gained through causing unhappiness and disharmony to others, through possessing and labeling. In many ancient languages, the word for enemy means one who falls out of rhythm, one who is not working in harmony with the larger group. Freedom from this enemy can begin by letting go of the breath as “my” breath. As we let go we enter into the shared life force, into a sense of harmony, which connects us all: the breath, the Holy Spirit.
If you want to know if someone is a “spiritual being” put them to this simple test and ask, “Are they breathing?” If the answer is yes, then you know that you are in the presence of a spiritual being. May we have the good sense to bow to one another in celebration of this universal tribal community of sacred, holy beings. Perhaps this is what Patanjali was suggesting when he said “sthira sukham asanam.” May our relationships with others be based in steadiness and joy and be mutually beneficial. The Hopi Elders tell us that we have passed the Eleventh Hour (a time of reckoning) and that now is the hour. Because of this, we should deeply consider all of our relationships, including what or whom we are eating, where we are living, and with whom we are living. The Hopi wisely tell us, “At this time in History, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.”
What could it mean to take oneself personally in such a way that it would cause one’s spiritual growth to stop? Our culture is essentially a domineering, herding culture. It is based on the enslavement of others, primarily other animal nations. It encourages us to seek self-gratification at the expense of others, even at the expense of the greater Earth community, assuming mistakenly, that we can exist outside of that community. The separation of spirit and body and of humanity and nature are results of the notion that the earth belongs only to human beings. This ignorance (avidya) and egotism (asmita) lead to low self-esteem, and leads us feeling that what we do as individuals has little bearing on the whole, and as a result we can feel inadequate and insignificant. This feeling of insignificance represents the “personal” delusion that the Hopi elders describe as the ultimate hindrance to our spiritual advancement.
Through communal yoga practice, self-confidence arises as we experience the wonder of breathing together in a variety of ways. Through chanting mantras and prayers, a greater sense of well-being is revealed through adding our voices to the choir. When we rhythmically move together, in tune with breath and intention we overcome debilitating estrangement, as we feel a part of a greater community. This unifying experience comes from a deep-rooted space of expansive, yet inclusive, consciousness, where all of existence is connected and pulsating with the joy of this wholeness, or holiness. That realization of unity is joyful and cannot be attained through hard struggle, (working against something) but only through holy celebration.
Holy celebration is inclusive as it embraces the whole community. Not one of us is an isolated case. Every action has tremendous impact upon all of creation. The key that unlocks the door to unlimited possibilities providing us with hope for a future life on earth is to actually take responsibility for our individual actions by looking into the possible outcome of each exhaled breath, each word spoken, each action taken and ask ourselves, “is this contributing to the happiness and well being of the greater community” and if it is not then have the courage to recognize it is not a holy celebration, because it does not include the whole. Stop holding your breath and get yourself in tune. Breathe with each other, dismantling our present master/slave culture and find a new way of living, based in the universal or unifying musical language of rhythm, harmony and partnership.
The Hopi Elders inspire us to pulsate with the global community when they encourage: “The time of the lone wolf is over, gather yourselves! Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.”