Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Breath and Spirit of Life

"Breath of Life" courtesy of artist Gerald Mendez
View Gerald's gallery at airbrush

Many traditions believe that God/Creator breathes the spirit and life into humans:


Direct thyself unto the Lord of the Supreme World and loosen thy tongue, so that He shall confirm thee by the spirit of Beyan (i. e., explanation) and breathe into thy mouth the Holy Spirit and move thy tongue with the best meanings and mysteries.


Genesis 2:7 says, "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."


In the Tao Te Ching the Chinese sage Lao Tzu says: “Tao is the breath that never dies. It is the mother of all creation.”


Kneph: the breath of life, his name meaning soul-breath. Kneph was a spirit that breathed life into things, giving them form. "In the Egyptian Coptic rite, the priest immediately after baptism breathes on the face of the infant saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost”; and their priests are ordained by the reigning bishop breathing on the new prelate’s face. And, by inhaling a dying breath capture its power."


The Greeks called the life-force Pneuma. Pneuma has the same range of meanings as prana, and more. It not only refers to breath, air, wind, and the spiritual life-force, it also means “spirit” and “soul.”


In the Hindu tradition, God, Prana, and Divine Consciousness are considered to be one and the same. This is why the Hindu sages also call Prana “the Breath of God.” They go on to say that God creates the universe with his own breath because the pranic life-force (or Breath of God) is the same as Divine Consciousness in its creative (or moving) aspect.


But, into this dirt, God breathes ruach elohim, God's breath. Man is made of dirt, like the animals, but endowed by God with God's spirit.


"…the sacred spirit may breathe in me…"


"When thy Lord said unto the angels: lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire, And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate." (Qur'an. Ch 38- vrs 71&72)

Native American

Oh Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in the wind, Whose breath gives life to the world, Hear me!


The Latin word spiritus not only has the same range of meanings as pneuma (breath, wind, spirit, soul, and life-force), it also means “God within the breath.”


Each god gave Ask and Embla, the first woman and man, a gift: Odin gave them breath; Hœnir gave them understanding and spirit; and Lodur senses and outward appearance.


"Rise early in the morning to greet the sun. Inhale and let yourself soar to the ends of the universe; breathe out and let the cosmos inside. Next breathe up the fecundity and vibrance of the earth. Blend the breath of earth with your own and become the breath of life itself. Your mind and body will be gladdened, depression and heartache will dissipate and you will be filled with gratitude (kansha)."


"Enough to breathe the spirit of God on earth, And to live in the joy of Nam, And if these things are not given to him, Pray, here is Thy rosary of beads! I cannot tell beads unless I am quite comfortable." –Guru Granth, in the Measure Dhanasari.


FoodSpark said...

I always find it fascinating to compare religions and the different ways that we articulate the same ideas. We're all on the same path aren't we?

Michelle said...

I like to see how they all correspond,'s amazing sometimes how the beliefs of widely diverse cultures will have the same core belief. :-)

I like to think we're all going to arrive at the same place one of these days....there's only one universe (although there may be many dimensions according to scientists!), where else can we go?!