Prana: the most fundamental unit is energy

Osho A-Z

Osho talks on ‘Prana’: “Yoga says you are not only breathing air; you are also breathing prana. In fact air is just a vehicle for prana, just a medium.”


The solidity of the world is illusory. The solidity of these walls is illusory; they
appear solid because the energy particles, electrons, are moving at such a speed that you cannot see the movement. […]

This is what is happening. Matter has disappeared, has no more validity.

Illustration by Visual Alchemy

But what science has discovered is not really a discovery; it is a rediscovery. Yoga has been talking about it for five thousand years — at least. Yoga calls that energy prana. This word prana is very significant, very meaningful, pregnant with meaning. It is made out of two Sanskrit roots. One is pra; pra means the basic unit of energy, the most fundamental unit of energy. And na means energy. Prana means: the most fundamental unit is energy. Matter is just the surface. Prana is the real thing there is — and it is not a thing at all. It is more like a no-thing, or you can call it almost nothing. Nothing means no-thing. Nothing does not mean nothing; nothing simply means that it is not a thing. It is not solid, it is not static, it is not visible, it is not tangible. It is there, but you cannot touch it. It is there, but you cannot see it. It is there, beyond and beneath every phenomenon. But it is the most fundamental unit; you cannot go beyond it.

Prana is the basic unit of the whole of life. Rocks, trees, birds, man, God, everything is a manifestation of prana, on different levels, on different understandings, on different integrations. The same prana moves and manifests as millions, as many, but the basic unit is one.

Unless you come to know prana within yourself, you will not be able to know what God is. And if you cannot know it within yourself, you cannot know it without, because within you it is so close. That’s why Patanjali could know it five thousand years before Albert Einstein and company. Five thousand years is a long time for science to come to understand it, but they were trying from the outside. Patanjali dived deep into his own being; it was a subjective experience. And science has been trying to know it objectively. If you want to know something objectively, you have taken a very long route. That’s why so much delay. If you go within, you have found the shortest route to know what it is. […]

Yoga says you are not only breathing air; you are also breathing prana. In fact air is just a vehicle for prana, just a medium. You are not alive by breath. Breath is just like a horse, and you have not looked at the rider yet. The rider is prana. […]

Yogis say that the prana has five different shapes, workings, energy fields in you. You will say simply ”breathing” is enough. We know only two things — exhalation, inhalation — that’s all. But yogis live in the world of prana and they have come to know subtle differences, so they have made five divisions. Those divisions have to be understood. They are very significant. First is prana, second is apana, third is samana, fourth is udana, fifth is vyana. These are five prana manifestations in you, and each has a different work to do inside.

Prana, the first, is respiration. Apana, the second, is a help to excretion; it helps to cleanse the body of all excreta. The bowel movement comes from apana, and if you know how to work on it, you can cleanse your bowels as nobody else can. Yogis have the cleanest bowels. And that is very, very meaningful because once the bowel is totally clean, once your intestines are perfectly clean, your whole being feels light, as if you can fly. The burden disappears. […]

The third, samana, is digestion and providing body heat. If you know the function of the third and if you become aware where it is, your digestion will become absolutely perfect. […] You go on stuffing the body without digesting it. If one knows how to use samana, a small quantity of food will give him more energy than a big quantity of food ever gives to you. […]

In Tibet they have developed the whole system of body heat, creating body heat, on samana. They breathe in a certain way, in a certain rhythm, so that the samana vibe functions efficiently within their body. They create much heat. They can create so much heat that snow is falling, and a Tibetan lama will stand naked — perspiring — under the open sky. All over is snow; and you will be freezing. You will not be able to come out of the house, and he is standing in the falling snow – perspiring. […]

Fourth is udana, speech and communication. When you speak, the fourth type of prana is used. And the same type of prana can be trained; if that prana can be trained you become a hypnotic speaker, or you can become a hypnotic singer. Your voice can have a hypnotic quality. Just listening to it, and people can be magnetized.

And the same is used for communication. People who are in a difficulty of how to communicate — and many people, millions of people, are in that difficulty how to communicate, how to relate to others, how to love, how to be friendly, how to be open, how not to be closed — they all have some difficulty of udana. They don’t know how to use the prana energy which makes you flowing and makes your energy become open and you can easily reach the other and there is no block.

And fifth is vyana, coordination and integration. The fifth keeps you integrated. When the fifth leaves the body, you die. Then the body starts disintegrating, deteriorating. If the fifth is there, even if your whole breathing stops, you will remain alive. That’s what yogis are doing. When yogis exhibit that they can stop their heart, they stop four — the first four pranas — they keep on the fifth. But the fifth is so subtle that there exists no instrument yet which can detect it. […]

If you can know the fifth, you will be able to know God, not before that. Because the function of the fifth within you is the same as God’s function in the totality. God is vyana; he is keeping the whole together — the stars, millions of stars, the infinity of space, all together. If you know your body, your body is a small microcosm, representative of the whole macrocosm. In Sanskrit they call the body pind, microcosm; and the whole brahmand, the macrocosm. And your whole body is a miniature. It has everything that the whole has, nothing is lacking. If you can understand your totality, you will have understood the totality of all.

Our understanding remains at the level where we stand. If somebody says that there is no God, he is simply saying that he has not come to know something integrative in his own being, that’s all. Don’t fight with him, don’t argue with him, because argument cannot give him an experience of vyana. Proofs cannot give him an experience of vyana. Yogis never argue; they say, ”Come, experiment with us — hypothetically. There is no need to believe what we say. Just try; just to try to see what it is. Once you come to feel your vyana, suddenly God appears, then God is spread all over.”

Osho, Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 8, Ch 9

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Featured image by Bill Brouard from Visual Alchemy © Copyright 2015 –

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