• David Carlson

974: Interbeing is interbreathing. Let us praise our common breath.

974: Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Interbeing is interbreathing. Let us praise our common breath.


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

Let Us Praise the Air


We are meditating on that interior experience we call praise, and its opposite which is essentially taking for granted or not noticing. There is so much to praise and there is so much we take for granted.


Let us consider Earth, Air, Fire and Water and how these elements are worthy of attention and praise. How, in Mary Oliver’s words, they are worthy of astonishment.



How astonishing is air? James Joyce spoke of the air in Dublin this way:

The air without is impregnated with rainbow moisture, life essence celestial, glistening on Dublin stone there under starshiny coelum. God’s air the Allfather’s air, scintillant circumambient cessile air. Breathe it deep into thee.


This is quite a poem to air. The last line is surely urging us not to take it for granted and not to participate lightly. Rather, to “breathe it deep into thee.”


Of course, we cannot take for granted that air today is healthy to breathe in deeply. Pollution is an attack on our Allfather’s air. Air of course is what we breathe, it is our breath—and what most spiritual traditions around the world understand as spirit.


One of the stories of humanity’s creation in the book of Genesis is that the Allfather breathed his/her breath into the first human and thus we came to be.



Breath and Wind are often identified with Spirit, no doubt


because they are invisible but their effects surely are not. The first breath of a baby? The last breath of one who dies? These are not minor events.


Thus, many meditations practices instruct us to breathe air/spirit in and breathe air/spirit out. Not to take breath for granted–indeed, to recognize it as sacred.


What is science telling us about air today? A lot.


In Sam Kean’s book called Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us, we learn that today’s science is convinced that our atmosphere is so complex that “it rivals the human brain in both its intricacy and its fragility.”*



With every breath, we literally breathe in the history of the world. It is very likely that with every breath we are inhaling particles from everyone else’s breath who ever lived—thus the title of the book: We are inhaling molecules of Caesar’s last breath.


Talk about interconnection! We are already inside one another, inhaling one another’s breath and that of our ancestors. Community is already here holding us together. Interbeing is interbreathing. Let us praise our common breath.


The elements of earth, air, fire, and water merge spectacularly as lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano meets the sea.




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