GORAKH BODH (passage part1)
Swami ji, what is the form of mind?
What is the form of breath?
What is the state of vital breath?
Toward which door [of the body] should one
[direct yogic] practice?
Shri Machhendra says:
Avadhu, void (shunya) is the form of mind.
Breath (pavan) has no form, no shelter.
Vital breath (dam) has indescribable, invisible states.
Practice [the method of] the tenth door
This shloka starts the sequence of questions and answers on the nature of breath and its origin. To understand the origin of life force, or Prana, one should look no farther than Shiva Sutras; the following exposition illustrates the inseparable cosmogony of Time, Void and Prana:
Nasargikah pranasambandhah 
There is a natural connection with Prana (Shiva).
Shiva, the creator and supporter of the universe, destroys it when its cycle comes to an end. Being Prana of all Pranas of this Creation, Shiva Mahakala, or the great Time, manifests in the human body in the form of Prana.
All embodied things and processes of this world are naturally connected with Shiva-Prana; He exists everywhere yet seems to be non-existent and perceived as Time. Although we constantly feel its flow, Time remains beyond all sensations and limits of our experience. Only those whose consciousness is fully developed by understanding the essence of Time may unite with It. Breath of Life in all beings, Prana is naturally linked to the supreme Tattva – Time. Time manifests Prana, and Prana returns back to the Time, dissolving in It.
Out of the greatness of Time, Conscious Void evinces itself in the form of energy (Shakti), and its creative force supports all things in this universe. Perceptible by the senses, Conscious Matter, or body of this creation, is born out of union of Time and Void.
Everlasting and unchanged, life-giving, creative and fertile Shakti of this material world – Emptiness – is the basis of all movements and actions, occurring in It. Emptiness pervades Time; being the root consciousness of conscious Emptiness, Time Itself pervades the Void.
Great Time Itself is the Prana, or the vital force, of Void and Matter; permeating all existing creation, it always remains transcendent.
Void (shunya) is the form of mind
The Hindi term for “void” – “shunya” – literally translates as “emptiness” as well as “zero”. Self-void represented by Kutastha appears in the practice of Yoni Mudra. It is a point of self-zero, or self-Shunya, mastered by the practitioner. It is also said that the
appearance of a dark circle with a golden aura around it signals a temporary movement of Kundalini on the verge of awakening.
Guru Matsyendranath defines the nature of mind, pointing at the Void as its root and form.
Universal Shunya is the basis of all existing Matter, as 99.9% of the surrounding material world consists of emptiness, including human bodies: they are nothing but concentrated expressions of Void. Being the source of its own origin, Void precedes mind.
Great Emptiness is absolutely conscious: only a conscious entity can give birth to another consciousness. Together with jiva, the individual soul, Void infills every cell of the body and every particle of the material world surrounding it. Individual mind confirms the fact of existence to its carrier; only acute consciousness can register the very fact of existence (“I am”).
Condensed Consciousness expresses Itself in form of individual physical bodies, while physical brain serves as the seat of mind, its hardware.
In the fourth chapter of Hatha Yoga Pradipika Swatmarama describes inner and outer voids. The exploration and realization of those voids takes the seeker “beyond mind” – a yogi is lead to the Unmuni state by the sound of the Void.
When all granthis are cleared, the yogi’s mind merges with the outer Void as he listens to the greatness of eternal Naad in the state of Samadhi.
Awareness of the sound allows the seeker’s conscious mind to enter the realm of sub consciousness.
This step signifies the beginning of comprehension of the Void’s Consciousness.
Once the yogi has established himself in the Void, he will discover its greatest property, Consciousness, also called the Universal Mind, for lack of better terms.
Shall we consider nature to be different from its forms or separate the form from its nature?
Nature is expressed in a vast variety and each form has its own nature. They complement and offset each other. The true nature of mind reflects greater Void Itself and that’s why Shunya, or Emptiness, is greatly stressed upon in Yoga.
Vital breath (dam) has indescribable, invisible states
Formless and invisible, breath has never been seen. Out of five elements, Vayu (air) and Akash (ether) also remain unseen; always bound together, they form a brotherhood.
Akash, or the sky, is visible but cannot be touched; even its color is nothing but an optical illusion.
Formless ether is still “grosser” in comparison with the Void: Emptiness itself is more “formless” than the substance which infills it.
The powerful source of life, vital breath animates every carrier and is considered to be a true Shakti, or force which grants power and protection.
Part of Vayu’s properties and “responsibilities” is to express Life Itself.
Closely connected with Earth, the air element Vayu acts as Its protector. Being connected with the earth element in the human body, Vayu animates and protects our earthly bodies as vital breath. Vital breath is a carrier of Prana, which is even more subtle than Vayu.
The practitioner becomes aware of the formless and invisible ether element Akash by contemplating upon it; but first he studies and understands the nature of Vayu, or vital breath, through steady performance of pranayama.
Breath practice removes ignorance and intellectual limitations. Such “cleansing” results in the emergence of a super-intellect, able to analyze and absorb the deepest knowledge.
At that stage the yogi has already explored and realized subtle elements – he leaves them behind and moves beyond Akash, becoming aware of the Void.
Understanding and realization of the Void is possible only with sequential steps on this path: by understanding the nature of breath, by purification and “cleansing” by and through it, by befriending it and taking its guidance on the path to the higher realms.
“Through the miraculous pill of the breath
You are dwelling in Akash
Inside yourself is a sky and Kailash
The dhobi (laundress) from the underworld
climbs up in the emptiness”
Practice [the method of] the tenth door
“At the tenth door the avadhut has undone the lock”, says Gorakhnath in one of his treatises.
What is referred to as “the method of the tenth door” is the Tenth door of Brahma. Human body is compared to a temple with nine doors, but the power of yogic tapas (vigorous practice) develops the tenth gate, commonly known as Brahmarandhra.
He who is able to open this door during his lifetime gains control over all nadis (energy channels) of his body. To leave one’s body through the tenth door of Brahma is a privilege for only a few highly advanced sadhaks (adepts).
Initiated by direct instructions from the Guru or God Himself, such a journey requires a life-long time of dedicated preparation. Adepts transfer their full fate in the discipline they follow and into the teaching of the Guru. At the time of physical death, the yogi will open this door from inside to let the spirit exit the used and worn shell of the body.
Entry into Sushumna Nadi lies at the tail of the sleeping snake, in Muladhara: this orifice is called Brahmadvaar; let’s agree that this is the threshold of the door of Brahma. In order to enter the middle channel, one has to start pulling the door handle, so to speak.
When Kundalini has risen by the union of Prana and Apana, which entered Sushumna through Brahmadvaar, the “serpent energy” travels up through the length of the spine to the top of the skull. There it arrives at the mouth of Shankhini – another opening of the door of Brahma which releases the current of energy. Such is a journey – from Brahmadvaar at Muladhara center to Brahmarandhra, the chamber of Brahma.
The entire Sushumna itself is the gate of Brahma. Opening the door of Sushumna in Muladhara is the act of opening the tenth door.