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Psycho-physical system, or subtle body (Tib. luwa) – the subtle system of

  • channels or tsa (Wyl. rtsa; Skt. nadi),
  • wind-energies or lung (Wyl. rlung; Skt. prāṇa), and
  • essences or tiklé (Wyl. thig le; Skt. bindu)

of the human body.


According to Sogyal Rinpoche<Ref>The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, revised and updated edition (HarperSanFrancisco and London: Rider, 2002), pages 251-252.</Ref>: :The Tantric Buddhist tradition of Tibet offers an explanation of the body that is quite different from the one most of us are used to. This is of a psycho-physical system, which consists of a dynamic network of subtle channels, “winds” or inner air, and essences. We are familiar with something similar in the meridians and ch’i energy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

:The human body is compared by the masters to a city, the channels to its roads, the winds to a horse, and the mind to a rider.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche writes: :The subtle body is a kind of interface between the mind and the physical body, a means by which these two aspects of being interact.<ref>Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Open Heart, Open Mind (Harmony Books, 2012), page 135.</Ref>

According to Tselwang Rindzin, the main tutor of Tsoknyi Rinpoche: :You know you have a physical body, and you’ve come a long way toward understanding how the mind acts to create a sense of self. But there is a layer of experience that lies between these two. That layer is what we call the subtle body.

:To describe the subtle body is as hard as trying to describe the taste of water. You know when you are drinking water. You can feel the need of it when you are thirsty. You can feel the relief when your body receives its moisture. But can you actually describe the taste of it to someone else?

:The subtle body is very rarely discussed in texts or in public teachings. It’s understood to be one of the higher or more advanced teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.


Wind-Energies or Inner Air

Through these channels flow the winds, or inner air. There are five root and five branch winds. Each of the root winds supports an element and is responsible for a function of the human body. The branch winds enable the senses to operate. The winds that flow in the central channel are called 'wisdom winds'. The winds that flow in all the other channels except the central channel are said to be impure, and to activate negative dualistic thought patterns.


The “essences” are contained within the channels. There are red and white essences. The principal seat of the white essence is the crown of the head, and of the red essence at the navel.



Further Reading

Channels Key Terms Psycho-physical System

psycho-physical_system.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/20 19:52 by

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