"The most durable lines that a man of knowledge produces come from the middle of the body," he said. "But he can also make them with his eyes."
"Are they real lines?"
"Can you see them and touch them?"
"Let's say that you can feel them. The most difficult part about the warrior's way is to realize that the world is a feeling. When one is not-doing, one is feeling the world, and one feels the world through its lines."
--Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
Search through any number of in-depth discussions of meditation, yoga, exercises intended to have any effect on so-called emotional or spiritual well-being, and keep track of how many of these discussions don't take up the matter of breathing, somewhere along the line.
Better yet, don't bother. There probably aren't any, and if there are, they are only a few.
This is because any breathing exercise you attempt for more than a few seconds will radically alter the way you feel. Unless the exercise has you breathing the way you already do. But if you change the way you breathe, you change your world.
And this is because twoness is what creates us as individuals. In the physical world, we are created by a variety of reflections of the so-called Sound Current, which is twoness itself, splitting infinity into parts. All of these things are wavelike, two-part processes:
--breathing: two lungs functioning with an in-and-out pumping motion;--heartbeat: two double valves, another in-and-out pumping motion;--electricity: a wave function involving a flow of invisible sub-atomic particles;--lymph fluid: another fluid pumped by the motion of the body; pumping is always an unsteady in-and-out dichotomous process;--the Vibes: experienced by most unworlders, this physical sensation has no obvious physical source, but is actually caused by interaction of two or more differently vibrating chakras or overtones or dream bodies;--tinnitus: the inability to stop listening to the Sound Current that's always there since it creates the world, your body, and your mind.
Tinnitus is possibly a habit of mind; on the other hand, if you can't keep your breathing, heartbeat, lymph pumping, and brainwave-emitting bodily centers functioning in synergetic cooperation with each other and an infinitude of other systems, such inability constitutes the death of the body. The deathless "soul," on the other hand, is just infinity. It can hardly get too involved in the ending of whatever movie it's been watching for a portion of a puny century, much less mope about it. While death is hard on those who experience the death of others, it's no big deal for the self, since there is only one of those, and infinite awareness can just play the tape over again if it was that great... with variations, even.
To stop living, just stop breathing. They can claim that I'm wrong when I say that we breathe the world into existence, but they can't prove it. And while most people can't control their heart, lymph, or brain waves, almost everybody can change the way they breathe. And by so doing, change their world.
I had my first classic unworlding experience around 1980 at the age of 24, during a month-long marathon of deep, connected breathing that put me into an obviously physical version of the Vibes and kept me there. I say "obviously physical" because the particular flavors of Vibes I was experiencing were obviously caused by the way I was breathing. Not because you could see any part of me vibrating. So essentially, these Vibes were the same vibes as the Vibes vibes. You know, those Vibes. During that month of breathplay, I also had my first experience of ESP and I was in a state of bliss the whole time. I don't say that lightly. My usual jubilantly cantankerous personality more or less evaporated into a relaxed bubble and I walked around without gravity, no troubles, nothing to complain about. My whole world changed, temporarily. Walking around in a vibratory condition 24/7 is nothing to sneeze about. Not that I think you should try it. In fact I forbid you to try it. If you try this, it's your problem, not mine. Because I told you not to. So don't even read this chapter.
Carlos Castaneda used to talk about something he called the lines of the world which brought the world into existence somehow. I'll tell you how. The infinite universe is awareness and nothing else. Since it's infinite, it can't be split into parts, because you can't draw lines on infinity or it's not infinity any more. But paradoxically, since it's infinite, it can and does include everything. All possibilities and impossibilities have equal status within infinity; they can't be told apart.
This paradox is at the heart of creation. We have to impose "harmonics" or some such metaphor on infinity in order to explain the parts of the universe, how the parts interact with each other, etc. And then there's science, telling us that the universe is just a field of possibility waves, and when awareness (we) encounter these waves, our observing them turns them into facts. So facts turn out to really be choices made by consciousness from among possibilities that exist in a potential state till we manage to magically manifest them as real stuff by observing them.
So Castaneda was right: we experience the world--or "feel" it, as he said--by drawing lines on the undifferentiated infinitude of awareness, separating oneness into infinite parts, which is twoness. This doesn't alter awareness one bit; the lines we draw are already contained somewhere within infinity. But by the choices we make, we experience one reality or another, whistling our happy tune within the vast fields of the mind, mistaking it all for a prison we call reality, while infinite untouched awareness just purrs away somewhere in the background as usual, unperturbed by anything.
Once I dreamed that I was back at a new age resort called Campbell Hot Springs, where I had stayed on-and-off as a child in my early 20s. In this dream, I became lucid--remembered who I was--and looked around. I was lying on a cot in a room at the hot springs lodge reading a book. I looked at the cover of the book. It was decorated in livid tones of red, orange and yellow. In the world of this dream, it was a new book by Carlos Castaneda, entitled Meetings of Possible Ways. I set the book down and played with the light beams coming into my room through slatted window shades covering windows that looked out into the hallway. By opening and closing my eyes to varying degrees, I could break the light beams into brilliant, prismatic lines of every color of the rainbow with my eyelashes. I played with this effect for a while, then woke up.
A few weeks or months later, I discovered that Castaneda did in fact have a new book out, and it did in fact have a cover illustration done up boldly in reds, yellows, and oranges.
Be that as it may, the first time I had lived at Campbell Hot Springs, my friends and I were having a great time, cooking vegetarian food, making cookies out of leftovers, and getting by somehow without any money, when the owner of the resort moved out of his house in San Francisco and moved to the resort to personally supervise our spiritual development. This fella was deeply interested in selling his breathing method and related philosophy to rich new agers, and he called his technique "Rebirthing" since he claimed you would relive your own birth and release the associated birth trauma if you kept breathing long enough. This in turn would save you from your own psychological demons.
Well, I had once been told that rebirthing was the cure for Primal Therapy, not an extension of it, so when the owner informed the manager of the hot springs that anyone who wasn't getting Rebirthed once a day would have to leave the hot springs, word of this new policy trickled down to me and I was beset with anxiety. I had a hard time with rebirthing, because every time I lay down to breathe, I would get hypoglycemic and start demanding pizza. But faced with the specter of possibly being evicted from this beautiful and righteously funky high mountain resort in the middle of a gorgeous summer and surrounded by people I really liked for a change, I did what any reasonable person would do: I panicked.
Which to me, in those days, meant that I got angry and it was someone else's fault and I was going to find a clever way to lash out, without getting beaten up or arrested. Some means of lashing out which would make me look smarter than the morons who were torturing me. With adrenalin pump in hand, I marched up to the manager or my friend or whoever I told, and informed them that, due to the new policy, I was going to start doing the connected breath of rebirthing 24 hours a day. I was advised that I might be overreacting, but to me at this time in my life there was no such thing as overreacting, and perhaps underneath it all I was maybe a little bit bored or something. Always an intensity freak, no doubt about that.
I was still informally evicted from the hot springs sleeping quarters since I had no way to pay rent, but I was allowed to live rent free at the Globe Hotel in town, less than two miles away, a national historical landmark since it was so old. I was the only tenant other than the young Swedish woman who had been put in charge of the building. She was spending all her time writing a romance novel, but she wouldn't allow me to edit it for her, so when I wasn't working for my daily grub in the hot springs kitchen or digging ditches or whatever needed to be done, I was walking to town, walking to the hot springs, walking in the mountains, or lying on my bed in the hotel with no chance that anyone was gonna come knocking at my door.
And I was breathing. Within minutes of beginning my new life as a 24/7 connected breather--and possibly assisted by the aforementioned adrenalin pump--I was addicted to air. I had never felt so good, not since I was a small child with no worries. And with parents like mine, that was pretty small. But suddenly I lost interest in my hoarded primal scabs and stopped caring about all my stupid habits. I don't know if it was because the breathing supplanted my normal state of mind and I slipped into a samadhi state of no thought, or what. There's no sense trying to figure out what happened, since it was 36 years ago and I can't even remember exactly what kind of breathing I was doing.
When I started breathing hard, non-stop, I quickly breathed through the harmless "creeping crud" or tetany-like symptoms where your fingers and toes and mouth curl up and get semi-paralyzed. But the vibrations never went away. I just lived with them. Happily. They felt fantastic. I had never felt so alive, except maybe in those flying dreams I used to have as a child.
One day I was at loose ends at the resort, and being temporarily not a worrier anymore, I just started walking to town for no reason. I was really flying, I mean I was high on air, buzzing to beat the band. The two-mile long, straight, flat dirt road that I walked between town and resort has become for me the symbol of the Endless Path. The featurelessness of the road matched the emptiness of my ecstatic mind. Let me emphasize that during this period I was not struggling to breathe a certain way; I was doing it. I think that's where the adrenalin pump came in, as well as the abundance of free time I had on my hands. I have not been able to really reproduce this state since, except sporadically. Smoking cigarettes till I was about 47 might have had something to do with it.
When I got to town, that hot summer afternoon, I went upstairs to my little wooden room and flopped down on my creaky old bed with not a thought in my head except, "What if I'm just doing this to get high?" Another part of me quickly responded, "So be it!" and I closed my eyes, knowing I would be gone in seconds. One of the benefits of my new condition was that I could just lie down and close my eyes, any time of the day or night, and be gone is less than five seconds. And those vibrations, they were just so warm and wonderful, I can't describe how happy and excited I was to be alive, feeling that way, day after day after day.
Next thing you know, I was crouching down on the floor going through my little backpack, which I had leaned up against my bed before lying down. I found a twenty dollar bill and thought, How nice, I didn't know I had any money...
Now wait a minute! I don't have any money! What's going on here???
I looked up reflexively, and there, a few inches from my nose, was my sleeping body, lying in the bed. Though I was not normally a very good gymnast, I leapt back into that thing and sat up in a heartbeat. I picked up the breath again, and congratulated myself on somehow accidentally achieving my first conscious "out-of-body experience" after wishing and hoping for such a thing for ten years but not having a clue how to induce it.
Actually, I recall feeling somewhat underwhelmed. I couldn't believe how normal it had felt. No bells and whistles, no angels singing on high, just me doing stuff without the benefit of my usual body, and being totally aware of it.
Not long after that I had to get on with my life, look for a job in the city, etc. I went back to my cigarettes and my mental and emotional hangups, nothing was changed except I vowed that someday I would make my life all about learning and teaching what I now call unworlding. I am now one year into that "someday".
I can't remember the exact style of breathing I was using, whether I was breathing fast or slow, belly or chest, etc., but it would have been relatively deep breathing no doubt, and definitely there was no holding the breath at any time. That's called "connected breathing" because you never stop. Being determined to never stop breathing even for a second, my mind quickly emptied and stayed that way, for the most part, for the whole month that I was doing the connected breathing.
In the past year of this practice, I've tried, and temporarily sworn by, a number of different breathing styles, and what I've finally decided is that you have to keep changing how you breathe if you want to stay in the buzzy state. That's where awareness and waking-upness comes into it: breath + awareness = lifelikeness. Another way to put it is, if you only had one breath to breathe, how would you breathe it?
But this information is not for you. Not you. You are forbidden to try this. Absolutely forbidden.
But if you were to disobey me by any chance, I think you would find yourself dipping into little lapses on your breathing couch and having many little awakenings every day. I think you would ask yourself, "What just happened?" and you would be shocked to recall having just come face to face with one of your own dream bodies, and that "body" had been obviously trying to get your attention; to make you lucid. To wake you up.