Religion and the Subtle Body, II




On Souls and Subtle Bodies

Angela Sumegi




'Subtle Body' in Tibetan

Barbara Gerke




Open Channels, Healing Breath

Alejandro Chaoul





On Souls and Subtle Bodies

Angela Sumegi


p. 69 wake-induced lucid dreaming

[quoted in Purev 2002, p. 129] "when I was calling on my ongod {is.t.a-devata}, it seemed that somehing invisible embraced me suddenly {cf. being embraced by one's K3 (KL) in Kemetic practice} ... . {During the ensuing dream-state,} Afterwards ... I, riding a nice horse, began to travel through unknown ... ."

{This is an instance of shifting into the dreaming-state without loss of memory of the transit from waking to dreaming.}

Purev 2002 = Pu̇rėv Otgony (transl by Purvee Gurbadaryn ; Naratsetseg Purviin; & Elaine Cheng) : The Religion of Mongolian Shamanism. 2nd edn. Vol. 1. Ulaanbaatar : Genco University College.

p. 69 rising in the planes

[quoted from Drolma 1995, pp. 9-10] "I then had the sensation of climbing higher and higher into vaguely defined space, ... swiftly ... soaring into the heavens. ... I suddenly found myself in a place that I did not recognize. ... In every direction were mountains ... ."

{This is an instance of what is known in the Golden Dawn Society as "rising in the planes", a specialized transit from waking-state into a bodiless dream.}

Drolma 1995 = Delog Dawa Drolma (transl from Bodish by Richard Barron) : Delog : Journey to Realms Beyond Death. Junction City (CA) : Padma Publ.

pp. 69, 80 >das-log

p. 69

"Drolma's spirit journey as a >das log ... begins with ... four goddesses arriving on beams of rainbow light who carry her off on a litter."

p. 80, n. 1

"The research by Franc,oise Pommerat ... presents a ... pattern. She notes : 'they do not travel to the netherworld only once, as the {political-state-approved} biographies let us suppose {and which would be the case it they were actual near-death experiences}, but at regular intervals during "se'ances", which occur {in public performances?} on auspicious days of the month. In fact,

delok are akin to shamans,

{not "akin to shamans", but are actual shamanic practitioners of Bon affinity}

but shamans who have been Buddhicized

{inasmuch as the >das-log are all either rN~in-ma or Sa-skya by way of denomination, they are of Bon extraction; for, these two denominations are often reckoned as Bon by Bon practitioners}

in such a way ... that they have lost the memory of their shamanistic origin' (1997:508).

{Incorrect! Sa-skya and rN~in-ma practitioners are all aware of their tradition's Bon provenience, but they feign otherwise in the praesence of regular "Bauddha" Vajra-yana practitioners -- and Vajra-yana itself is actually largely of non-Bauddha Pas`u-pata provenience, anyway.}

In Dawa Drolma's account, her death {actually, catalepsy} is volutarily induced ... . In that way, she may represent ... the >das log studied by Pommerat, who, like shamans, enter into their journeys voluntarily in order to benefit {usually to heal} their clients or to act as guides for the dead."

Pommerat 1997 = Franc,oise Pommerat : "Returning From Hell". In :- Donald S. Lopez (ed.) : Religions of Tibet in Practice. Princeton Univ Pr.

p. 70 an-atman

"the Buddhist doctrine of ... 'no-self' (anatman) denies any enduring vitalistic essence as the basis of life or identity." {But, in direct contradiction to this claim by A.S. : on p. 83 infra, mention is made of the Vajra-yana belief in a "subtle life essence"!}

{Partly wrong : Vitalistic essence is not denied as a basis of life; what is denied is ongoing selfhood or meaningful ongoing self-centred asocial identity during life.}

"Nancy Eberhardt [2006, p. 9] points out that among the Shan of Thailand ..., the anatman theory is popularly interpreted as

'having no control over one's self' {Is this sought? It ought to be repudiated!}

{Not quite : Irresponsible absence of control over actions is not sought; what is sought is relinquishment of the notion of a viably socially irresponsible self.}

or 'being unable to keep oneself from changing'." {This sort of an-atman would be regarded as commendable; for variety is said to be desirable in life.}

{This is altogether realistic : one's likings (for various foods, various musics, various instances of arts, etc. keep on shifting from moment to moment, if one be a mortal abiding in a composite material universe.}

Eberhardt 2006 = Nancy Eberhardt : Imagining the Course of Life : Self-Transformation in a Shan Buddhist Community. Honolulu : Univ of HI Pr.

{From a purely theistic point-of-view, however, even "having no control over one's self" could be understood, pietistically, as meaning /being praedestined to perform all actions performed, on account of being controlled (super-consciously) by deities/. Vajra-yana is sufficiently theistic to entertain such a mode of understanding the behaviour of beings; and according to reports, the Shan States (unlike the more densely populated Irrawaddy Valley) are permeated with Vajra-yana ideology.} {For an ordinary adhaerent of Hina-yana, "having no control over one's self" would more likely be understood as "controlled by Mara" : for, being dominated by Mara (/MARa/ being cognate with /meMORial/ [for a dead person] and with Skt. /sMARa/ 'unpleasant memory') is indicative of considering only a result (unpleasant memory of a result of some anti-social attitude, without considering that one's attitude may be the cause of that result). The greed-maddened anti-social pseudo-self of the capitalist-militarist is the original attitudinal cause (by that attitude's becoming absorbed by all-too-many voters) of social woes : whereas, communism, to be imported to this planet by extraterrestrials aboard flying-saucers' mother-ships (vimana-s), is to be the remedy. [written Mar 3 2015]}

p. 71 rejection?

"The anatman theory ... represents the rejection of ... shamanic soul theories". {Incidentally, this is, for shamans, not a mere "theory", but a pragmatic practice.}

{False! The Siberian shaman's so-called "souls" (always experiential!) are the dream-body, the between-lives body, etc., which are accepted by, and admitted into, Vajra-yana, which hath much use for such subtle bodies.}

"the subtle body cannot be directly equated with the shamanic idea {not an "idea", but an experience!} of soul".

{very false!!}

{These subtle bodies include (in Vajra-yana terminology) : nirman.a-kaya, sambhoga-kaya, dharma-kaya, etc.}

pp. 71-2 separation (projection) of subtle bodies from the material body

"the Fourteenth Dalai [b]Lama, speaks of a 'special dream body {identical with the shaman's dream-"soul"!} [that] is able to dissociate entirely from the gross physical body and travel elsewhere' (Varela 1997:39).

He further asserts that 'it is possible in one's meditative practice to separate the very subtle energy-mind from the gross body and to bring it back' (1997:207).

... I am not concerned with whether or not phenomena such as ... subtle bodies ... can wander about separated from [p. 72] the physical body ...; my interest is in the ontological implications of such ... ." {But how can their ontology be explored if their experiential functions (separating, wandering, etc.) be all ignored?!}

{The autobiographical literature of experiential astral projection (by Occidentals, in their native western European languages) is extensive -- but the authoress (A.S.) would appear to be entirely ignorant of it all!}

Varela 1997 = Francisco J. Varela et al. : Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying : an Exploration of Consciousness ... . Boston (MA) : Wisdom Publ.

p. 73 dark netherworld

"In Black shamanism, upon death the souls of humans and animals pass from the light world of the living to the dark world of dead spirits".

{Untrue! Siberians shamans visiting the dark netherworld find therein not souls of the dead, but deities who bring about ailments among mortals by abducting their individual healths. The same Siberian shamans as who visit the dark netherworld to redeem the abducted healths, also have the duty of transporting souls of the dead into an upper world of luminance.}

{Incompetent so-called "white" pseudo-shamans in typically spread this false and scurrilous account (intended to slander true shamans; and here retailed here by the authoress A.S.) in Siberia and in Mongolia among their unsuspecting dupes.}

p. 81, n. 8 the 4 modes of praeternatural vanishment of a cadaver at death

"passing away with no physical remains;

{This is well-known to Taoist hagiography.}

vanishing in the midst of mass of light and sound;

vanishing in a great conflagration ...; and

{"spontaneous human combustion"}

the dissolution of the body into ... rainbow body (Kapstein 2004:144-5 ...)."

Kapstein 2004 : M. T. Kapstein : "The Strange Death of Pema the Demon Tamer". In :- Matthew T Kapstein (ed.) : The Presence of Light : Divine Radiance and Religious Experience. Univ of Chicago Pr.

p. 81, nn. 9-10 rDzogs-chen

p. 81, n. 9

"From a Bon rDzogs chen perspective, see ... Lopon Tenzin Namdak's commentary on the relationship between rainbow body and the three bodies ... in Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1993:79)."

p. 81, n. 10

"For a concise summary of rDzogs chen cosmogony see Cuevas (2003:59-60)."

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen 1993 = Heart Drops of Dharmakaya. 2nd edn. Ithaca (NY) : Snow Lion Publ.

Cuevas 2003 = Bryan Jaré Cuevas : The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Oxford Univ Pr.

p. 80 the kaya-s of vajra-yana

"The reality body (dharmakaya) ... is formless, but

"its essence (ngo bo) ... corresponding to the reality body;

the enjoyment body (sambhogakaya) is the luminous subtle form ...; and

its nature (rang bzhin) ... related to the enjoyment body; and

the emanation body (nirman.akaya) is the compassionate ... form".

its pervasive compassion (thugs rje) ... related to the emanation body."




'Subtle Body' in Tibetan

Barbara Gerke


p. 83 substances moving in the bodily channels

"the channels of the body (rtsa),

the movement of wind (rlung), and

the subtle life essence (bla)."

"Rtsa ... transport ... also the mind (sems)".

p. 84 the 4 main types of channels, with sub-channels


"The 'channels of formation' (chags pa>i rtsa) are three channels that extend up, down and outwards from the navel ... . The second of these three channels ... is the ... life-channel (srog rtsa)".


"The 'channels of existence' (srid pa>i rtsa) ... are responsible for sensory experience, memory and clarity of mind ... ."


"The 'channels of connections' (>brel pa>i rtsa) ... diffuse from the right and left main channel."


"The 'vitality channels' (tshe>i rtsa) ... 'form the basis of life as such' (Parfionovitch et al. 1992:39-40)."

Parfionovitch et al. 1992 = Ûrij Mihajlovič Parfionovič; Gyurme Dorje.; Fernand Meyer : Tibetan Medical Paintings. London : Serindia.

p. 85 the 3 tantrik channels





in Samskr.ta




in Bodish




p. 87 carrier of mind

"Rlung is used to translate ... the Ayurvedic vata. [p. 96, n. 17 : "For ... 'wind' ... in early Indian Ayurveda see Zysk 1993, 2008."] ... All movements in the organism -- ... thoughts, all nerve activity ... -- are governed by rlung. ... It is also said to be the carrier of mind ... (Millard 2007:265 ...)."

Zysk 1993 = Kenneth G. Zysk : "... the Doctrine of Bodily Winds in Ancient India". J OF THE AMER ORIENTAL SOC 113:198-213.

Zysk 2008 = Kenneth G. Zysk : "The Bodily Winds in Ancient India Revisited". In :- Elisabeth Hsu & Chris Low (edd.) : Wind, Life, Health. Oxford : Blackwell.

Millard 2007 = C. Millard : "Tibetan Medicine ...". In :- Mona Schrempf (ed.) : Soundings in Tibetan Medicine. Leiden : Brill.

p. 92 movement of bla

"The bla moves ... around the body in a set fashion, following the moon cycle through 30 places (bla gnas),

which are mostly located in joints".

{In Borneo, the bodily souls are said to be located in the joints.}




Open Channels, Healing Breath

Alejandro Chaoul


p. 100 balance & breath

"both the Bo:npo Four [Medical] Collections (>Bum bzhi ...) and the Buddhist Four Tantras (rGyud bzhi), explain the 'science of healing' (gso ba rig pa) in terms of balance of one's ... three nyes pa ... . ...

Among the three nyes pa, rlung -- the 'wind' humour {umor} -- is described as having five distinctive kinds. Interestingly, the Bo:npo Mother Tantra (Ma rgyud ...) describes a set of five rtsa rlung or channel-breaths yogic movements".

p. 101 'magical movement' in Bon yoga

">phrul >khor ('magical movement') practices from the Oral Transmission from Zhang Zhung (Zhang zhung snyan rgyud) ... suggested that these ancient Tibetan Bo:n practices may be beneficial adjuncts to conventional medicine ... (... Chaoul 2007 ...)."

Chaoul 2007 = M. A. Chaoul : "Magical Movements (>phrul >khor) in the Bon Tradition and Possible Applications as a CIM (Complementary and Integrative Medicine) Therapy". In :- Mona Schrempf (ed.) : Soundings in Tibetan Medicine. Leiden : Brill.

pp. 108-9 the 5 vital breath-currents

p. 108

__ vital breath

at the __-centre

Upward-moving (gyen du rgyu)


Life-upholding (srog >dzin-pa)


Fire-like (memn~am-pa)


p. 109

Downward (thur du) clearing (sel-ba)

"secret" {genitalia}


ROUTLEDGE STUDIES IN ASIAN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY, 8 = Geoffrey Samuel & Jay Johnston (edd.) : Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West : Between Mind and Body. Routledge (an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group), Abingdon (Oxon), 2013.