Vital Energy

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Vital Energy (rlung)

  • In the tantras and related medical traditions, it is said that there are ten kinds of vital energy or subtle winds (Skt. vāyu) which flow through the 72,000 energy channels (Skt. nāḍī) of the body, and thereby sustain life, giving rise to various conceptual states within the individual's mind. These comprise: five inner vital energies (nang gi rlung lnga) which influence the body's inner motility, and five outer vital energies (phyi 'i rlung lnga) which have specific effects on the outward motility of the body. The former are the vital energies associated with the five elements ([[earth, water, fire, air, space) and their respective colour-tones (yellow, white, red, green, blue). The latter comprise life-breath (Skt. prāṇa, Tib. srog 'dzin), muscular movement (Skt. vyāpin), digestion (Skt. samāna), semiotic/ vocal movement (Skt. udāna), and reproduction/ waste disposal (Skt. apāna).
  • On a physical level, it is important, according to the Tibetan medical tradition, that vital energy remains in balance with bile and phlegm, which are collectively known as the three humours, if sound health is to be maintained. Then, as far as the subtle body is concerned, the movement of vital energy through the energy channels of the subtle body is refined in the context of the perfection stage of meditation. Ordinarily, in the case of individuals who have not cultivated such practices, both vital energy and subtle mind are diffused via the right and left energy channels respectively and thereby come to permeate the entire nextwork of the body's minor channels. This dissipated vital energy is known as the vital energy of past actions (las kyi rlung) because it is activated by dissonant mental states, and the influence of past actions predominates, obscuring the inner radiance of the subte mind. However, when the practices of the perfection stage of meditation are applied, both vital energy and subtle mind are fused together within the central energy channel of the body (Skt. avadhūti), the knots which block their combined movement through the energy centres (Skt. cakra) located on the central energy channel are untied, and the non-conceptual inner radiance arises, for which reason it is then known as the vital energy of pristine cognition (ye shes kyi rlung). See also Klong-chen rab-'byams-pa, GGFTC, pp. 1007-1008. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)