By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
In the calm and tranquil oceanic existence of consciousness, the first spanda (motion or movement) is called prana
The ancient scriptures tell us that prana, the life force, is derived from two words, pra and ana. Pra means “first.” Ana means “that which moves or animates”—the first unit of pulsation, animation, vibration, and movement.
There is a complex philosophy behind this statement, but Swami Rama (Swamiji) explained it in a simple way: that prana means “energy combined with consciousness”; intelligence that knows “I am moving”; that force whose motion or movement is self-regulated and not governed by anything else; that which is not blind force; and that which has purpose in vibrating, throbbing, and animating in a particular pattern or manner. That self-intelligent force is called prana.
It is because of the presence of that pranic force that the simple air that travels through our nostrils becomes a carrier or vehicle of vitality, freshness, and newness. When prana is not present in the body, none of our sophisticated medical devices are effective. They are not able to restart the lungs or heart after death, even though physiologically everything is still the same; the only difference is that the heart is no longer pumping and the lungs are not expanding and contracting.
Prana means 'energy combined with consciousness.'
It is said that the pranic force is omnipresent and omniscient: it knows all about the past, present, and future; it is spontaneously aware of everything visible and invisible. It is because of the presence of this life force that we receive vitality from food, assimilate it into our system, and supply it to all our tissues and cells. When that pranic force decreases or is not functioning well, it will make no difference how much nutritious food is eaten. Megadoses of vitamins will have no beneficial effect; they may even have an adverse effect on the kidneys and other cleansing systems in the body. So, actually, it is in the presence of this divine force, prana, that we thrive—this force sustains our life and health, and we can use it to unfold our vast potential.
That is why it is so important to understand this divine force. We need to keep asking the question “why?” like a scientist—or like a child who is constantly learning. We call the person who discovers something a genius, but inventions and discoveries take place only because of this childlike nature of continually asking, “Why? Why? Why?” When that nature vanishes—when we take an answer for granted—then immediately discovery stops. The moment we delete “why?” from our vocabulary, we get old, rigid, and stiff. Only this question can really lead us to understand what the pranic life force is.
Please continue reading this great article by Panditji here in the Himalayan Institute's Wisdom Library.