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seeking the path

but does he not know that there is no ånåpånasati in the yoga systems? The breathing exercises of yoga—pranayama as they are called—are quite a different affair, which do involve control of the breath and, for all we know, the most fearful bodily afflictions for any non-brahmachari who presumes to practise them. (‘By the practice of Pranayama one is freed from all diseases. By mistaken course of Yoga, the Yogin brings upon himself all diseases’—Hatha Yoga Pradipika, II, 16.) Ånåpånasati consists in the paying of constant mental attention to the natural breath as it comes and goes; and whether we do ånåpånasati or not we still continue to breathe in the same way. Where, then, is the threat to health? In fairness to Mr. Baptist it must be said that he is not the first to tell us of the horrid effects of this kind of meditation—we have been warned, before now, that the practice of ånåpånasati leads to such diseases as diabetes and consumption. Let us end with the Buddha’s own words: ‘When one cultivates and makes much of the concentration on inbreathing and out-breathing, there is no wavering or shaking of body, no wavering or shaking of mind.’ (Kindred Sayings, Vol V., p. 280). ‘Wherefore, monks, if a monk should desire: May neither my body nor my eyes be fatigued, and by not clinging may my mind be freed from the åsavas,—he must give strict attention to this same intent concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing.’ —Ibid., p. 281. ‘Monks, this intent concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing, if cultivated and made much of, is something peaceful and choice, something perfect in itself, and a pleasant way of living too. Moreover it allays evil, unprofitable states that have arisen and makes them vanish in a moment.’ —Ibid., p. 285.

Ñå~av⁄ra Bhikkhu


Early Writings (Seeking the Path - Ñāṇavīra Thera)  

Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...