# A Union of Opposites (4-final): breathing with Pythagoras

So… how are we going to ‘breathe with Pythagoras’?

We shall use the 3-4-5 properties of a right-angled triangle, translated into a breathing pattern. As we saw in the previous post, we know these are harmonic, and represent squares. If you followed the symbolism, you will remember that the sequence point-line-surface represents the emergence of the physical world; which is continued by the cubes – the key to 3D space. For this exercise, we’ll stay with squares.

The first thing to do is to establish a breathing count. Let your breathing settle and take a few easy breaths. Check you are not carrying tension in your midsection by gently easing your diaphragm down as you breath in, allowing your chest to fill, naturally.

Breath out, fully, but without effort, then take in what you feel is your natural, unstressed amount of air to a count of three. Be deeply aware of this and remember its duration. Try to keep this ‘length of breathing’ in your mind and use it as a basis for the rest of the exercise.

Close your eyes and breathe out. As you do so, see the formation of a brightening point of light in your mind (the red circle with white border)

As you continue to breathe out, let this mental picture of the small circle get brighter.

Now, holding the image of the small circle, breathe in for the three count. See the dot becoming a red line whose length is three units, growing from right to left. As you approach the end of your in-breath, see the line running out of length, as in the diagram’s base.

Hold the breath for a count of four as you travel from the same point but vertically upwards, (i.e. at 90 degrees). The two lines have formed a right angle to each other. See the place where the two lines merged becoming a small, solid square, as in the diagram.

Now imagine that you are the top of that line, looking to make a perfect join with the original line of three units; at the point where the small circle began. Breathe out, as gently as you can, for five units, closing the gap and making the figure complete. Then imagine you are the whole of that line, looking back at the small, solid square. Breath in while looking at the square, then return to contemplate the small circle, where you breathe out to begin the cycle, again.

You have come back to the beginning, back to the start of creation.

Repeat this for a maximum of ten breaths. Return to it after a rest if you wish to continue.

If you would like to combine this with the previously described ‘elements’ exercise (Part 2), use these symbolic attributions:

East – the small circle.

South – the line of three units.

West – the line of four units.

North – the line of five units.

And returning to the East-overhead, use a picture of the the circle shrinking to nothing as the final image. You will have symbolically cycled in and out of manifestation, involution and evolution.

(Note: If you suffer from any breathing difficulties or blood pressure, you should consult your doctor before doing any such exercises)

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (3)

A Union of Opposites (2)

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

# A Union of Opposites (3) breathing with Pythagoras

As a schoolboy, struggling with mathematics, the name Pythagoras struck terror in me. I remember staring at the hated formula below and thinking I’d never get it…

In non-gobbledegook, the equation reads: (a squared equals b squared plus c squared). I can hear the teacher’s voice now, confident that everyone would find it intuitive!

Outside, the summer was passing, yet there we were in a hot classroom with dry as dust letters that could also be numbers… And not just that – not that the numbers themselves weren’t bad enough – we had to ‘square’ them as well! What sort of torture was that?

The language of mathematics eventually became a friend, but not before I had to talk myself down from the night-terrors of squares and equations. So, as a prelude to creating some unusual and powerful breathing to go with last weeks’ ‘elements’ exercise, let me share some of the insights about the inner work of Pythagoras, one of the greatest scientist/philosophers the world has ever known.

Years after that childhood terror, and as competent with maths as needed for a career in computing, I came across the diagram below, and realised there was a much better way to teach this stuff…especially if you had a philosophical leaning and wanted to understand the inner meaning of all numbers – of the key to the very idea of quantity, itself.

The Greeks were wonderfully literal in their descriptions. They knew that when you multiplied a number by itself, in this case, ‘a squared’, it also described the AREA marked out by two lines of equal length (the boxes above), set against each other at a ‘right angle’; for example, box a, above, times itself, or a-squared. That square would have an internal space – an area – of one line length times the other. In this case, they are both the same number, so the result is that number multiplied by itself – or turned into a SQUARE.

If you contemplate the properties of the above diagram, you can see the clear linking of the square and the right-angled triangle.

Pythagoras was fascinated by triangles, seeing that many things in nature had two different aspects that were resolved by a third connecting them. In this way, the world moved forward, harmoniously. His most famous triangle is below.

The elements are as follows:

1. It has three sides, and three angles, hence it is a ‘tri-angle’. Ignore the large numbers in the diagram, for now. Their significance will emerge, later.

2. Two of the sides join in a special angle of 90 degrees. This is the same angle as that within a square, in fact, it is the only angle in a square. A square is a very special figure, as we shall see, later. The little square figure indicates that this triangle’s core angle is 90 degrees, otherwise known as a Right Angle.

3. There are three sides to this triangle. The longest side is always opposite the square figure that indicates the Right Angle. The longest side opposite the Right Angle is called the Hypotenuse, which originally meant ‘that which stretches under”.

4. Something that ‘stretches under’ or ‘runs beneath’, like a root on a plant, is a foundation that supports the rest of the structure. In the case of the right-angled triangle, the Hypotenuse of the triangle – that which unites everything, is reflected from the square sign opposite. Neither can exist without the other. The square sign – the right angle – has no dimensions. It is a fixed ‘understanding’ of squareness that is the basis of a unique relationship between two lines. The square is found throughout the universe. Most of the time it is invisible.

5. The square is also the basis of the dimensions of physics and mathematics. A point has no dimensions, just a theoretical position. The line has one dimension, which is length, this is the first use of numbers and direction. The parts of the line have to maintain a consistent direction or it’s not a straight line. ‘Straightness’ becomes foundational, like our square, in everything that follows. Straightness is an extension of Square as an underlying principle.

6. Beyond the straight line, which could go on forever and get dull, there is a need for creation to become more sophisticated in its unfolding of ‘form’. The combination of a square angle (90 deg) and another straight line defines the next dimension, that of an area, generally known as a ‘surface’. The surface is continuous across two dimensions, it’s no longer just a line, and it has an area, whose dimensions are the multiple of each line. A triangle is a surface, the simplest of surfaces, and in its architecture we can see all the principles of creation, plus one more: the two extensions from the original point, created by the ‘square’ or right-angle are ‘resolved’ or ‘made useful’ by the hypotenuse, that which stretches under, or joins, connects, unites, limits.

The process of the creation of form, on which all else in our material world is based, is therefore seen to contain an ongoing inner process, the reflection from the origin (the original square) to the limit of the extensions, in the form of the link between the original invisible square as right-angle and the largest side of the triangle.

In next week’s post, we will continue this foray into the mind and work of Pythagoras, and the further implications of his work. Before closing, however, it’s interesting to reconsider the most famous of the Pythagorean triangles, below, in the light of the above and the following questions:

Q1: can you locate the origin, the primary square, the first length, the second length and that which ‘stretches beneath’, linking the whole creation back to the origin?

Q2: Can you translate the Pythagorean equation below into its ‘action’ in the world, in line with the ‘creation story’ above?

(As a side note, a triangle, explained in this way, has sometimes been compared to the symbol of the Bow of the Archer…)

In the closing post of this ‘Intention’ series, we will consolidate the answers to the above into a single breathing exercise to add to the journey of the elements in Part 2.

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (2)

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven