Gyulü or Yoga[1] of the Illusory Body is a powerful spiritual modality and psychological practice and technique. Gyulu or Gyuma (T:sgyu-lus or sgyuma; S:māyākāyā[2]) comprises one of the Six Yogas. There are many versions and variations of this discipline, but like all tantric sadhana they have the triunic "outer", "inner" and "secret" upaya.[3]

Keown, et al. (2003) identify that the Gyulü, the "illusory body" is cognate with the "subtle body", and state that it is endowed with the Six Perfections (ṣad-pāramitā).[4]

Gyulu: an outer sadhana

Through studying their reflection in the mirror[5], the practitioner visualizes images of their own nondual bodymind. This is a practice in resolving duality into the mystery of nonduality. Gyulu is essentially a type of thoughtform practice, where the aspirant works towards realising the illusory, empty or void nature (shunyata) of samsara and the realm of duality.

The practitioner projects their imaginal self onto the mirror-image and identify this with the sambhogakaya form of their Yidam, and thereby link their mindstream and consciousness with that of the tutelary deity or yidam. Though a mystery, this association yields the mutual attribution and iteration of the inherent primordial essence-qualities of both the practitioner and the yidam. For a practitioner engaged in this practice, their mundane samsaric duality resolves into the mystery of primordial nonduality or nirvana whilst in body. The fruit of the practice is when the sadhaka views the inherent buddhahood in all phenomena and beings.[6] When they embody the nirmanakaya or 'emanation body', the rainbow gankyil, mandala and bindu that is their inherent primordial essence-quality.


Namdak rendered by Vajranatha (1991: unpaginated), convey a Mayadeha sadhana in Bonpo Tantrayana and relate it to Dzogrim and death Phowa practice:

In this case during our lifetime here on earth we do the practice of Dzogrim (rdzogs rim) which is the second phase of Tantric transformation, and we create in our heart center a very refined Illusion Body by way of a union of subtle prana and mind. This Gyulu or Illusion Body provides a suitable base for the manifestation of the Sambhogakaya and so it is not necessary to seek this base in any other dimension of existence. We have created this Gyulu during our lifetime on earth through our practice and then at the time of our death we transfer our Namshe or consciousness into it and it then becomes the vehicle for our Sambhogakaya.[7]

See also


  1. Yoga is best rendered in English as communion in its complete etymon, denotation and connotation.
  2. A conjunction of Mahamaya (with the semantic field: thoughtform, simulacrum, phantasmagoria, illusion, dream) and kaya (with the semantic field: body, corpus, field, dimension, plane).
  3. According to the seventh tantric precept of Vajrayana, only the outer sadhana may be described, and even with this outer sadhana, no actual technique may be transmitted without ascertaining the integrity and propensity of the recipient.
  4. Keown, Damien (ed.) with Hodge, Stephen; Jones, Charles; Tinti, Paola (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Great Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press. P.270. ISBN 0-19-860560-9
  5. The mirror is a divine 'symbolic attribute' (Tibetan: phyag mtshan) and potent polysemic symbol. In the Himalayan tradition it is called a melong.
  6. There is nothing which is non-sentient at some time.
  7. Namdak, Lopon Tenzin (teacher) and Vajranatha (editor) (1991). The Attaining of Buddhahood. Source: [1] (accessed: Wednesday March 18, 2009)


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