‘Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.’
Breathing aside, as it is happening by itself, ask yourself the question, who is this I that knows it is breathing in and out?
It can’t be the personal I, the separate self, the body-mind we call ‘I’ made up of the temporary attributes of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions that are always coming and going. So perhaps a better question might be what is this I that knows it is breathing in and out?
‘What’ infers an object or thing, and all things are bound by the limitations of time and space – they appear and then eventually disappear.
So if the I that knows it is breathing in and out is not the personal I made up of fleeting thoughts, images, memories, moods, sensations, and perceptions – all subtle objects in themselves – or things ‘out there’ in the world, all of which are subject to the limits of time and space, what is it?
You know what it is because you are it. Not the limited personal you, but the limitless knowing presence that has always been with you, aware, unchanged, and untarnished regardless of your experience.
It’s hopeless to try and think this through. The ‘it’ we are talking about is prior to mind, prior to the body and the world. It is that part of you, we, I, that remains ageless as the personal self, the body-mind, is born, lives, and dies, as things out in the world age and disintegrate.
To say that it is a part of you is not entirely accurate. It is not a part of you as a body-mind in a world. You, as a body-mind in a world, are a part of it. ‘It’ is that which contains all things, yet is not itself a thing. It cannot be found because it has no objective qualities, but it is never not here. Call it consciousness, awareness, or Divine Spirit. Whatever you call it, it is the undeniably present and aware essence in which all things arise, are known by, and made of.
It is consciousness that knows it is breathing in and out, and because all there is is consciousness, consciousness is breathing itself in and out, although in reality there is no in or out for consciousness, so consciousness is just breathing.
We, as individual body-minds, are the manifest breath of consciousness. Yes, we appear to come and go, to be born, live and die, but in reality there is no place to come from and no place to go to. There is only infinite and eternal consciousness breathing itself, or more accurately, consciousness just is. And we are that.