Mahanthi Ramaraju


Osho speaks on Tao - 1
Belly Breathing

Lao Tzu believes in nonexistence tremendously. He is the first to bring the utility of nonexistence to its ultimate glory. Of course, he did not know about black holes, otherwise he would have talked about them. He was a simple man, living in a village. Living the simple life of a peasant, raw, simple, not very cultivated and civilized. He was against civilization, he was for nature. He has only one simple simile: the wheel. He says, the nave of the wheel, the hub of the wheel is empty, but the whole wheel depends on it.

It is called the nave of the wheel. Why? Because it is just like the nave that exists in man. Just near your navel, the Japanese say, there exists a point called Hara. The Hara is the black hole in your body. Japan has discovered, following Lao Tzus idea, that somewhere in the body, death must have a home. Death does not come from the outside, it is not an accident as people think. People say death is coming. No, death is not coming, death is growing within you; it is not that somewhere on life`s path, you meet death suddenly. If it were so,  then methods could have been devised to avoid death, to deceive it, or not to go to that point where death waits for you, to bypass it, or to send somebody else instead of you. There would be such a possibility, if death were an outside phenomeon, happening to you from the outside. But death is carried within you like a seed. It comes into existence, when you come into existence, in fact it existed even before you. You have come out of it.

Death must have somewhere a point within your body. So the Japanese searched the body to find out where the black hole exists. It is just below the navel. Two inches below the navel exists the point of death. It is a very subtle point. You must have heard the word Harakiri; the word comes from Hara. Hara means the black hole inside the body and Harakiri means suicide, to use that black hole. That Hara in the body is non-being. It is absence, it is nothingness. And the whole of Taoist practice is to be alert to the Hara. They have created a different type of breathing for it; they call it belly-breathing. You cannot find a more silent man than a Taoist, who has been doing belly-breathing and has become attuned to it...

You breathe from the chest. All over the world chest breathing, which is a shallow breathing, exists. Maybe it is because of the fear of death, that you don`t breathe from the belly; because when you breathe from the belly, the breath goes deep down to the Hara. Then you touch death. Afraid of death, you practice shallow breathing. Remember, whenever you are afraid, your breathing will become shallow. Every fear is basically a fear of death. You may not be consciously aware of it, but your body knows where death is: don`t go that way! Your body is wise,wiser than your mind. It has to be, because the mind is a very new comer. The body has existed longer than the mind, has passed through millions of lives, mindless lives, and has accumulated much wisdom. Whenever you are afraid you stop breathing or you breathe very shallow, afraid to come nearer to death.

Deep breathng absorbs death into life, deep breathing creates a bridge between life and death; the fear disappears. If you can breathe deep down to your belly, then fear will disappear completely. That`s why the Japanese can commit suicide more easily than anybody else in the world. It looks like a game. They can commit suicide for such simple things, that nobody can understand what the need was, because they know life and death are not separate, they are one. Death is also life, the other aspect of the same coin.It is a rest.

If you breathe deeply, you will feel rest flowing all over your body -a relaxation, a non-tense state of affairs. Have you ever watched a small child breathing?He breathes from the belly. You can watch and you will see. That`s how Lao Tzu wanted everybody to breathe. That is the Taoist yoga: just like a child. The belly goes up and down, and the chest remains absolutely unaffected, as if the chest has nothing to do with breathing - and it has nothing to do with breathing.

But there are many problems: the fear of death - you cannot breathe deeply, the Hara is there! And just near the Hara is the Lifepoint, which you call sex center. That too is a fear. If you breathe deeply, then sex arises. So people who have become afraid of sex cannot breathe deeply; immediately you will feel that suppressed sex has become alive again. It starts flowing into your veins and into your blood. And of course, it is as it should be: the center of life should be just near the center of death. Hara, the center of death, and sex, the center of life, are just so near, so close, that they almost touch each other - two aspects of the same coin. That`s why in sex also people are afraid, because death starts throbbing with sex. A real sexual experience is also an experience of death; you die... That`s why people are so afraid f sex, so afraid of women; I have not come across many people who are not afraid of women. Fear.... woman has given you birth, she must be carrying your death also......

From: Tao: The Three Treasures, Volume l, #7 17 June 1975, a.m., Poona, India