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Trul khor

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Tsa lung trul khor
Tibetan: རྩ་རླུང་འཁྲུལ་འཁོར་
Wylie: rtsa-rlung 'khrul-'khor
Tsa lung[1] Trul khor (lit. "magical movement instrument, channels and inner breath currents") known for brevity as Trul khor (lit. "magical instrument" or "magic circle") is a Himalayan tantric discipline which includes breathwork (or pranayama), meditative contemplation (or dhyana) and precise dynamic movements (or Body work) to centre the practitioner (as bindu is core to mandala) and to engender the body-mind precision of a keened instrument. Chögyal Namkai Norbu Rinpoche, a prominent exponent of Trul khor, prefers to use the Sanskrit equivalent term, Yantra Yoga, when writing in English. Trul khor hones the practitioner's faculty and supports the mindstream re-emergence of natural body-mind or primordial awareness or rigpa (cf. Dzogchen).

Trul khor traditionally consists of 108 movements, including bodily movements (or dynamic asana), incantations (or mantra), breathwork, and visualizations, all timed to heart rhythms. The flow or vinyasa (Sanskrit) of movements are enlikened to beads on a mala. The body postures (or asanas) of ancient Himalayan yogis are depicted on the walls of the Dalai Lama's summer temple of Lukhang. Trul khor is the fruitful distillation of the confluence of centuries of ancient Bön movements, Indian yogic traditions, and Chinese movement forms (that developed into disciplines such as Tai Chi Chuan).

Himalayan physical yogas vary between lineages and the complexity of the practices are not disclosed until a deep level of samaya is realised by the practitioner.

Tsa lung

The 'subtle body' which is often referred to as the Vajra Body in medieval Tibetan Buddhist discourse is constituted by the flow of subtle energy currents: 'rtsa' (Wylie) is equivalent to Sanskrit: nāḍī, sirā, srota and dhamanī; 'rlung' (Wylie) is equivalent to Sanskrit: prāna or vāyu. Metaphorically, the two outer channels are gendered in the Himalayan tradition of Buddhism and Bon where the male channel is lunar and Moon oriented and the female channel is solar and Sun oriented which is a particular inversion of Shavite, Shakta and Shakti tantric traditions of Sanatana Dharma where the male is generally identified as solar and the female as lunar.

Tsa lung Trul khor employs the tsa lung and they constitute the internal yantra or energetic sacred architecture of the Himalayan yoga's alternate nomenclature, Yantra Yoga. Yantra therefore not only denotes the asana of the physical bodily posture and position and transition between asana, but also denotes the 'spiritual energy' (rlung) generated from the vinyasa of the movement but also the vajra of the subtle body, the energetic yantra.

English discourse

Namkha'i et al. (2000, revised)[2] opened the discourse of a Buddhist and Bonpo Dzogchen synthesis of Trul Khor into English with his treatise on Yantra Yoga, essentially a commentary on a practical yoga manual by Vairotsana, 'phrul 'khor nyi zla kha sbyor gyi dgongs 'grel dri med nor bu'i me long (Wylie). Namkha'i holds that Vairotsana codified this work from oral instruction by Padmasambhava. That said, Sri Singha a student and teacher of Padmasambhava and also a teacher of Vairotsana spent considerable time in what is now known as China. Indeed, Vairotsana also spent time in what is now known as China. Trul Khor has a clearly marked similarity to certain Taoist movement systems as well as esoteric Indian yoga traditions of tantra and Chinese traditions of Tantra which coalesced at Mount Wutai amongst other locations. The East Mountain Teachings which unified with the tradition of Dzogchen—refer Barber (1990)[3] -- also contained esoteric systems of movement. The East Mountain Teachings were present in Mount Wutai. Sri Singha spent a number of years at Mount Wutai. Interestingly, the Five Pure Lights as an iconographic aureole of the Dzogchen practitioner and metonymic of the Rainbow Body is a motif found in poetry of Mount Wutai refer Cartelli (2004) where:

"...a cloud no longer appears as the floating cloud so familiar in the Chinese literary tradition but as a five-colored cloud or nimbus surrounding the bodhisattva Manjusri and his various forms. The five-colored cloud is one of many numinous traces (lingji), or holy traces (shengji), of Manjusri and other extraordinary beings which appear repeatedly in the Mount Wutai poems."[4]

Namkha'i tilled the ground for the dissemination of Yantra Yoga through his practical teaching and esoteric transmission of this discipline within the International Dzogchen Community which he founded post 1975 from its seat in Italy, Merigar. Chaoul (2006) has opened the discourse of Bon traditions of Trul Khor into Western scholarship in English with his thesis from Rice University.[5] In his work, Chaoul makes reference to a commentary by the famed Bonpo Dzogchen master, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen, byang zab nam mkha' mdzod chen las snyan rgyud rtsa rlung 'phrul 'khor (Wylie).

Primary texts

  • Tibetan: འཕྲུལ་འཁོར་ཉི་ཟླ་ཁ་སྦྱོར་གྱི་དགོངས་འགྲེལ་དྲི་མེད་ནོར་བུའི་མེ་ལོངWylie: 'phrul 'khor nyi zla kha sbyor gyi dgongs 'grel dri med nor bu'i me long
  • Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen: byang zab nam mkha' mdzod chen las snyan rgyud rtsa rlung 'phrul 'khor

See also



  1. "Lung" is the Tibetan term for Qi and Prana (spiritual energy). Lung is in everything (or the Universe), though resides in nothing (or the void).
  2. Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (2000). Revision: Laura Evangelisti. Translation: Des Barry, Nina Robinson, Liz Granger, Carol Chaney. Yantra Yoga Manual. Italy, Shang Shung Edizioni.
  3. Barber, A. W. (1990). "The Unifying of Rdzogs Pa Chen Po and Ch'an". Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 3: 301–317. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  4. Cartelli, Mary Anne (2004). 'On a five-colored cloud: the Songs of Mount Wutai.' Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. 124, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2004), pp. 735-757.
  5. Chaoul, Marco Alejandro (2006). Magical Movements ('phrul 'khor): Ancient Yogic Practices in the Bon Religion and Contemporary Medical Perspectives. Houston, Texas, USA: Rice University.
  6. This booklet is published for those who have received the transmission of these practices from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

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