Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/56

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of ideas on the subject of respiration. 'If we carefully attend to profound thought,' he says, 'we shall find that when we draw breath a host of ideas rush from beneath, as through an open door, into the sphere of thought; whereas when we hold the breath and slowly let it out we deeply keep the while in the tenor of our thought, and communicate as it were with the higher faculty of the soul,—as I have observed in my own person times out of number. Retaining or holding back the breath is equivalent to having intercourse with the soul; attracting or drawing it amounts to intercourse with the body.'

"This indeed is a fact so common that we never think about it; so near to natural life that its axioms are almost too substantial for knowledge. Not to go so profound as to the intellectual sphere, we may remark that all fineness of bodily work,—all that in art which comes out of the infinite delicacy of manhood as contrasted with animality, requires a corresponding breathlessness and expiring. To listen attentively to the finest and least obtrusive sounds, as with the stethoscope to the murmurs in the breast, or with mouth and ear to distant sounds, needs a hush that breathing disturbs; the common ear has to die and be born again to exercise these delicate attentions.

"To take an aim at a rapidly flying or minute object, requires in like manner a breathless time and a steady act. The very pulse must receive from the stopped lungs a pressure of calm. To adjust the exquisite machinery of watches, or other instruments, requires in the manipulator a motionless power of his own central springs. Even to see and observe, with an eye like the mind itself, necessitates a radiant pause. Again, for the negative proof: We see that the first actions and attempts of children are unsuccessful, being too quick, and full moreover of confusing breaths; the life has not fixed aereal space to play the game, but the scene itself flaps and flutters with alien wishes and thoughts. In short, the whole reverence of remark and deed depends upon the above conditions, and we lay it down as a general truth, that every man requires to educate his breath for his business. Bodily strength, mental strength, even wisdom, all lean upon