By Punya Srivatsava
Meet Leonard D Orr, founder of Rebirthing Breathwork, a form of breathing which he is convinced will help you achieve immortality, says Punya Srivastava
Leonard D. Orr, 76, is better known as the founder of Rebirthing Breathwork, a form of continuous and conscious breathing that is said to heal our birth traumas and launch us into a happy and healthy life. Even more interestingly, Rebirthing Breathwork also holds the possibility of helping us achieve physical immortality. Despite being a land of immortal yogis, India has not evinced much interest in the possibility of living forever, unlike the West, which has had an enduring love affair with the concept. Leonard Orr, it turns out, has had a lifelong fascination for the subject and his exploration in Breathwork soon gave him some breakthroughs in the area. Despite being 76, he does not look his age, so it appears that death may be weakening its grasp over him.
In the country for his ‘Babaji Trip’, Orr had just returned to Delhi from his 10-day long training retreat in Chandigarh. Dressed in a casual green kurta and rust pants, he looked happy and fulfilled.
The pioneer of the concept of physical immortality in the Western world, Orr came up with the rebirthing-breathwork technique following his own experiences of birth memory flashes while in a bathtub. By his own calculation, about ten million people have benefitted from his technique. It has also led to the foundation of the Theta House, the first rebirthing centre in world.
Orr’s India connection arises from his discipleship of Haidakhan Babaji who he visited several times until the latter’s death in 1984. Although Haidakhan is often confused with Mahavtar Babaji, the immortal yogi of Paramahansa Yogananda fame, the two appear to be different, although there is little clarity on the subject.
Following is an excerpt from a long conversation with Orr, ranging from physical immortality to his Babaji connection.
You have been a researcher and seeker of physical immortality since decades. How do you describe this term?
Physical immortality is nothing but mastery of life, or yoga of everlasting life. It involves mastery of body or the physical universe. Today, this is the missing element in most metaphysical systems. This concept of mastery is very well presented in the philosophy of Baba Gorakhnath. Just going into the transcendental state during meditation is not enough. We must be in that state throughout our lives. This is the realistic meaning of the word physical immortality.
Why would people want to achieve physical immortality, trapped in the same boring life and body? Why wouldn’t they want to experience this world in various different lives as different forms of creation?
The reason people are bored and feel trapped is because that is exactly how they felt in their previous life – bored and trapped. Death and rebirth didn’t change anything. The problem is the mind, not eternal life or death.
How would you describe the yoga of everlasting life?
It is simply the awareness of the energy body. This awareness has to become a part of one’s five senses in order to be in yoga. The next step is to cleanse the energy body through spiritual purification. And lastly, we need to practice spiritual communication to complete the cycle. Spiritual enlightenment, spiritual purification and spiritual communication together lead to spiritual development. Also, we need to make sure that we build high quality relationships with people who are doing enough spiritual purification, so as to conserve our energy.
How can one practice spiritual purification?
By doing earth, air, water and fire exercises. These exercises help in cleansing the accumulations of death cycle, pre-natal conditioning, birth trauma, and death urge. Some of the immortals took as long as 300 years to get rid of their conditioning and accumulation. One needs to do enough spiritual purification to achieve perfect existence, perfect consciousness and perfect bliss – one’s full divine potential. I have been following this cleansing regimen for 50 years. I bathe twice a day before sunrise and sunset, exercise prana yoga, fast once a week and sleep with a fire burning in the fireplace. These, according to me, are disciplines of pleasure. They teach us self-mastery. There is prana in water, air, food and fire. For example, our relationship with food becomes more conscious if we fast one whole day a week. I feel much more refreshed on waking up in a room with a fire crackling in the fireplace.
What do you mean when you say that people have a death urge?
The death urge is a psychic entity that is composed of your entire life thoughts, that of helplessness, hopelessness, discouragement and depression. Thoughts that negate our fundamental divine nature are part of the death urge. We inherit a whole complex of these thoughts and also our family tradition. It means that most people are likely to die at the same age and with the same symptoms as that of their parent of the same sex. All these things bog down a person’s life urge and create a complex of inner misery that prevents him from feeling his full divine potential. People are afraid of living with themselves forever, scared of facing the ghosts of their thoughts; hence the death urge is more powerful than physical immortality.
How can rebirthing breathwork help in healing people of their death urge?
These techniques help you in clearing away the layers of the emotional self. They help you clean away the long embedded birth trauma, the pre-natal conditioning, setting your emotional self free and rejuvenated. Breathwork sessions prepare you to go into a meditative state. The rebirthing techniques with water transcend you to the pre-natal state, where you face and cleanse the trauma, emerging out in a blissful state. As a person completes one energy cycle, he is transported into a realm of bliss, making the process of life fun, with success, creativity, relationships, and finances becoming much more achievable.
Do you think rebirthing helps people differently than other healing modalities?
Yes. You can say that rebirthing starts where other modalities end. It helps you operate from a state of continuous bliss. Once you get free of your innate sense of trauma, that is birth trauma, you can go back to your other modalities with much more vigour. They will work much more efficiently for you then. Why, rebirthing helped me meet my mother in her reincarnated state! She died in 1956 and reincarnated in 1963. I met her in 1998 while she was an under-trainee rebirther with me.
Just going into the transcendental state during meditation is not enough. We must be in that state throughout our lives
You have authored many books on physical immortality, rebirthing breathwork, prosperity consciousness. Is there a new book in the pipeline?
Yes. I started writing a book on Babaji last year. I hope to finish it by this Christmas.
You are a devotee of Babaji. How did you find him, or rather, how did he find you?
Babaji is a shiva yogi, the eternal youth. So he is everywhere, and he is everybody. He appeared before me for the first time in 1977 in the Haidakhan ashram in Haldwani, while I was in meditation. He gave my body a warm glow that lasted for three weeks. That was the best feeling I ever had in my life, even better than any rebirthing session. Since then he has appeared before me a number of times, in various bodies in different countries. Sometimes I recognize him in the present moment, while other times only after he disappears. Once he appeared before me as an urchin in a street in Rome. I recognized him by the way he was looking at me. I went upto him and offered to buy him a gelato cone. For 15-20 minutes, I walked around the streets eating gelato with him. There was no need to have a verbal communication. I just basked in his aura, receiving whatever he wanted to give me.
What did you receive?
Oh, everything! He gives me as much as I can hold every time he appears before me. When he was in his physical body, I would make a point to visit him in the ashram at least once a year. After 1977, I visited him seven to eight times until 1984. He gave me the real understanding of water purification. Although I spent more time in a bathtub than anyone else in the world, I never really understood water purification until I bathed at 3 am and 3 pm in the river, in the ashram. It was then that I understood the significance of water as a psychoanalytical stimulus in energy body cleansing. Babaji taught me the importance of fasting. It was after meeting him that I introduced cold water purification as a technique in my course, and started element exercises. He used to say that rebirthing will be the only yoga left in the end.
What message would you like to give to people?
Discover the power of elements. A person has conscious energy breathing only at the time of his/her birth. I call it rhythm of breathing or prana yoga of newborn babies. But after every passing second of his birth, the person starts losing that ability. Every negative thought we experience inhibits the breathing. By the time we are 30, we become zombies. After that we try to stabilise our lives and wait around for death. Curing this Zombie consciousness is the core goal of immortal yoga. This is the essence of Vedic culture. Hence, doing water, air, fire and earth exercises is a must. These are not just intellectual or ritual experiences. They help you become aware of your energy body and give you physical immortality.
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