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tummo questions
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12/4/17 3:19 AM
Hi all,

I have experimented with tummo/heat yoga a few times. My results were inconsistent eihter using forceful or gentle method (only visualisation). Surely, I have a lack of knowledge in proper execution, especially because I still don't have enough (comprehensive) information about the whole system and the antidotes/preliminary/complementary exercises (tsa lung trul khor). I also need to mention that I have almost all of the available (not restricted) English books and pamphlets on the subject. Moreover, I deeply regret now that I didn't join the conversations with LocoAustriaco and Omega Point back then.
So, here is my current questions:
Are there any irreversible/uncorrectable effects of improper practice?
What is the 'fuel' of the tummo? It is possible to use up/ exhaust/ wear down permanently this 'fuel' or energetic base of the tummo? 

Thanks for considering my request.
Antoine

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/4/17 9:48 AM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Hi Antoine - I too have been experimenting with tummo. I've managed to get to the 'blazing' stage (as descibed in the 'Bliss of Inner Fire') a couple of times but am also a novice and share your desire to find people who know more about this.

You can certainly produce the wrong kind of inner heat which effects the area just under the skin rather than radiating out from within the body. This can be nice like sunbathing but can make you ill and cause pain as I've found out a few times. This can be resolved by halting the practice for a while. I don't know of any other issues that could arise due to improper technique. Although proper technique itself can produce quite difficult mind states due to this being such a intense practice.

I can't really be of any further help. Hopefully someone else on here know more. Would be grateful though if you could share with me the literature you have read on this. At present I only really know the book 'Bliss of Inner Fire'. Would be great to add some more information to that.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/4/17 1:29 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Vajrayana Buddhism is a shamanic system. In other words, large parts of it involve dealing with spirits. If you're trying to do "tummo" based on videos, books, etc, and have never had transmission of the sytem in person from a master of it, even if you're doing all of the moves and meditations correctly, you're not doing tummo. You're not just doing it wrong, you're doing something else entirely, even if it feels like the descriptions.

The problem is that most of the people who do learn it properly are sworn to secrecy and can't talk about it. This makes it very hard for people who have had transmission to discuss it online. Consequently, most of the people who do discuss it online are the ones who haven't learned it from someone certified by a lineage such as a lama. Some lineages have different rules and some masters in some lineages are ok with talking about some of the details (hence Lama Thubten Yeshe's book), but it depends on the lineage.

It's very easy these days to get a proper tsa lung, trulkhor & tummo course. The Palyul summer retreat offers it as their second level course every year in Upstate New York (you have to either complete a Nyingma ngondro or take their ngondro retreat first), Tenzin Wangyal's Ligmincha group offers it frequently (I think they'll have a retreat on it in the US in 2018) and Namkhai Norbu's students offer it around the world in various places, including, I think, an ongoing class on Yantra Yoga in New York City. Smaller groups also have lamas or qualified students who teach it.

It's entirely possible to cause yourself energy problems in any meditation system even when you have had proper instructions. This isn't a theoretical problem. Breathing practices are especially prone to causing problems. Why take a chance on the internet version of something when you can learn a complete system the traditional way from a lineage? If the reason is not wanting to commit the time to do even the most mininal amount of ngondro, not wanting to be bound by a lineage, not wanting to spend money on a course, please consider asking yourself the following question: would you be willing to go to a Tibetan lama (there are lamas who either live in or drop by many major North American and European cities fairly regularly, it's very easy to meet one) and tell them that you're doing "tummo" and describing what you're doing? If not, please ask yourself what's so compelling about the internet version of tummo that it's worth spending so much time on when the end results are unknown and possibly lead to health problems, when there are perfectly effective meditation systems like vipassana and samatha that don't require formal transmission and can be discussed openly.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/4/17 3:59 PM as a reply to Adam M.
Hello Adam,
Thank you for you reply. I can certainly produce very intensive heat sensations inside the belly area. I'm usually visualising a small, red-hot, cone like flame or experimenting with a combined breathing+visualising method that I call "blowing on the ember". My problems are really on the both ends of the spectrum:
- maybe due to my weak concentration the heat rapidly dissipates, or 
- the heat is being transformed into low, lasting fever, which is quite scary for me.
As for sources, imho the most excellent is LocoAustriaco's tummo instructions. You can find it online either thanks to a DhO member Tommy M (http://alayapragmatica.blogspot.hu/2012/11/instructions-on-tummo.html) or in discussion form on the archived KFD website (http://awakenetwork.org/forum/kfd-archive-wetpaint/12575-tummo). It seems to me that he has a deep understanding and insight, personal experience in the field, and some western sci/med background.
A complementary material (no harm intended) can be found here: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3604496 from OmegaPoint. Unfortunately, his language is too abstract for me in some places.
You mentioned Lama Yeshe's great book, a must.
There are books on the six yogas of Naropa/Niguma from Glenn H Mullin.
A good book is: Stairway to The State of Union from Choden Rinpoche (with a few trul khor exercises). 
I don't want to offend  anyone with this, but there is some relevant information in Kelsang Gyatso's Clear Light of Bliss. (Although, I am aware of that there is some controversy around it's/his reliability.)
My first meetings with tummo were in:  Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines from Evans-Wentz; The techings of tibetan yoga by Garma C.C. Chang; http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/ettt/index.htm; Fundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Anagarika Govinda.
I understand that my failures were due to the fact that I ignored even the most basic instructions and warnings from the above mentioned sources. 




 

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 2:57 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Dear Jigme Sengye,

Thanks for your concern and valuable advice. I'm willing to ask any lama, ngakpa/mo, advanced student who is willing and able to answer to the hows and whys of the complete method. 
I always try to avoid the devotional element of these practices, because I can't and won't bow, bend, kneel, lie down with honest faith or intention before anybody or anything, anymore. But, this doesn't mean that I don't respect them, it's only a religious conistency issue and a residue-side effect from my catholic upbringing.
As for shamanism, I was born in a country where shamanism was the ancient practice-belief system and still exist in the form of folktales, beliefs, mythic figures/elements and I have a little but rapidly eroding knowledge of Tibetan culture and history. In this regard the main lesson for me from our history is that no spirit, totem, yidam or dharmapala can save you from death or human stupidity and cruelty.

Best,
Antoine

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 3:53 AM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Thanks for that Antoine – Also, I’m sure you’ve read this and maybe you have got to this point but after a while the visualisations start to become automatic and much more vivid. At this point you can relax effort and start experimenting with the vase breathing through trial and error e.g. trying short versus long breaths and tensing various muscles at different points of the cycle to see what technique helps fan the flames and blaze the fire. This is much easier once the visualisations are automatic as varying the breathing technique can disturb your concentration before you reach this point. You do need good concentration to get to this point and it may be your concentration rather than lack of technique that is your problem here. (though of course I’m no expert!)

I do apologise to all those this may offend. I do know that those who have mastered the genuine Tibettan Tummo are sworn to secrecy and many are genuinely concerned over people experimenting with these techniques without the proper training. Of course I haven’t received any tutoring on this,am not bound by any oath but believe in sharing my experience with others who are free to choose whether to take on these risks. If it’s any consolation, I am probably going to drop this practice in favour of Samatha and Vipassana in any case though will continue to share my experiences.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 9:24 AM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Georges, 

"I always try to avoid the devotional element of these practices, because I can't and won't bow, bend, kneel, lie down with honest faith or intention before anybody or anything, anymore." - 

That is the opposite attitude to the one that will bring peace and joy to the mind.  Bow down before everything and everyone and your mind will let you see their perfection and your own. 

Seriously.  The goal here is to drop the delusion of a seperate self that has value and responsibility and is creating meaning as it goes through its "life".  That is all fiction- a superstition.  To drop the delusion, you first have to stop reinforcing it.  Everytime one stands proud before someone, you are building up the superstition and everytime one submits, prostrates or serves, you begin to break it down.  

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 1:01 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Georges Antoine Bagend:


I always try to avoid the devotional element of these practices, because I can't and won't bow, bend, kneel, lie down with honest faith or intention before anybody or anything, anymore. But, this doesn't mean that I don't respect them, it's only a religious conistency issue and a residue-side effect from my catholic upbringing.


I think that's fair. I also have an uneasy relationship with devotion. There are apparently other ways of approaching shamanic practices that have a service model (as in you do good things that aren't of a devotional nature for the spirits, expect nothing and well, see what happens) rather than the highly structured, text-based devotional model of Vajrayana or for that matter branches of Christianity that do similar things. Have you tried or looked into more visionary shamanic practices? I know very little about the subject, but it seems that it's possible to get transmission (including for the yogic practices that go with that sort of thing) without having to go through authority structures, religion, etc.

I'm curious as to what you're looking to get from your current approach to tummo. Is it that you find the meditation particularly focusing and sensations enjoyable or is it the thrill of figuring out how to do it? Same question for Adam.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 4:09 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Just to clarify, the reason I'm bringing shamanism up in a thread about a yogic technique in which it might seem off topic, is that without the dealing with spirits aspect, in general, Vajrayana practices don't work properly, since you're losing half of the power. If you're just plugging in to breath and concentration, then tantrism just becomes fancy, ritualistic yoga with a repetitive mental movie running in the background.

The problem with believing this is that it really isn't rational at first glance. Asking the average person to believe in spirits is frankly nonsensical and unreasonable. An empirical approach of trying Tibetan tantric practices with an open mind in the traditional way with transmission will lead to having experiences that lead to revising one's worldview to allow for the utterly bizarre ideas involved, but it's hard to see a good reason to put up with all the annoying devotionalism until one does that. Even if one believes in spirits, it's still hard to see why they are necessary for any particular Vajrayana technique to work (they are for the tantric parts, it's unavoidable). I can see why it's tempting to just strip it down to a yogic technique and ignore the shamanic aspects and the religious baggage.

For those who are doing this and don't want to deal with all this religious authority stuff or any shamanic practices (Vajrayana or otherwise), the reason I was asking what you want to get out of it, is that there might be practices that might better achieve your goals that you don't have to figure out on your own or modify to suit your needs.

Anyway, Antoine, thanks and best wishes to you too. I hope you find an approach that doesn't get you hurt and leads you to a good system that gives you some benefit.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 3:29 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Hi Jigme,

I'm curious what you'd suggest in terms of yogic alternatives to tummo that are safer to practice without a transmission / supervision.  I experimented a bit with the "Internet tummo" instructions just a couple months after I read MCTB, and generally found it aversive and unclear exactly how it'd help.  But since stream entry, I've noticed that there are some breathing patterns that I automatically fall into when meditating that are at least reminiscent of tummo. For example, I'll be investigating some pervasive pattern of identification and will find myself holding my breath and tensing up.  The tension/identification will then break up into vibrations without me "doing" anything until it all passes, and then I'll automatically breathe out again.  This can sometimes generate body heat in the process. I've also found visualizing/feeling attention moving upwards and downwards through the chakras/central channel can also be good vipassanna. So I feel like now I can intuitively feel how at least the yogic component of tummo would be useful and how doing it could lead to dropping even more identification, even though I've been avoiding longer duration breath holds or "Internet tummo".

So I guess I'm curious about alternative practices that include some version of the breath hold but that might be safer to practice than "Internet tummo."  Thanks!

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/5/17 4:12 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Hi, and thanks for all keep rolling the thread. It's already more and better than I could have hoped for.
I have never tried visionary or other type of shamanic practice. I think the tummo was so compelling for me because I like to be in control of things.
My current approach to tummo stems from several determining experience or occasionally from an insight, here are few examples:
- My very first yoga book included a short description of the tummo practice from the (now I know) naro kacho vajrayogini tradition. As a child I was fascinated by it, although I didn't understand how to halve the A (tibetan characters not included) or how to perform properly the 'pot form breathing' (vase breathing)emoticon.
- There was a yogi. He was also a neuropathologist physician. So, this doctor wrote two or three rather scientific books about the relationship between yoga systems and physiology/ neurophysiology. After reading them I could understand some neuroendocrine-physiologycal principles behind the more mystical/esoteric exercises.
- Loco Austriaco's answers and instructions. I tought I could use it in the investigation of reality as a diving-suit-armor, a perfect and versatile tool.
- I have listened the encouraging Buddhist Geeks interview-episode with Hokai Sobol titled: Vajrayana in Plain English. 'Ah' for non-arising..., the dimensions of the mantras...  I could glimpse into the enormus complexity of the most basic vajrayana practices. After some time I speculated on the ngöndro where one began to build up the fractal(?) structure of an interface.
I like the adventure.
Best,
Antoine

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/6/17 12:29 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
[quote=] If you're just plugging in to breath and concentration, then tantrism just becomes fancy, ritualistic yoga with a repetitive mental movie running in the background.
Maybe a little dismissive this description but some of my experiences of internet tummo do feel like this. I never seriously tried to cultivate tummo. It was always just a curiosity on the side of my normal practice. In fact I'm quite surprised I got to where I am considering how little time I've spent on it. The problem with it though is that once you've started doing it, its very hard to put it back in its box. I often have unwanted tummo even when doing choiceless attention or whatever. My intention is to move on without focussing on tummo but I doubt it is just going to go away and at some point I am probably going to want to test out your view to see if internet tummo is any more effective as a concentration or insight practice then Jhanas or fire kasina and the like.

Like Antione I also like the adventure. I'm curious also and like to come to my own conclusions about experiences I have. I couldnt possibly become part of some tradition. Every bone in my body would object to that and I have very little concern about being a guinea pig for internet tummo lol. Its just the way I am.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
12/6/17 2:00 AM as a reply to Adam M.
Does anybody have experience with, or any pragmatic-like opinion on the branch/related practices?
Thanks.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/15/18 2:57 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
I watched the documentary yogis of Tibet, and that night woke up visualising the hot rice kernel, and my whole rump was on fire, from the kernel. sweating, it  was intense and impressive.

There is a Dutch man who practices a tummo version without beliefs, youtube Wim Hof, iceman.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/18/18 10:27 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
Regarding this thread in general, from a pragmatic P.O.V., the fruits of tummo appear for practitioners who already have rigpa stabilized.  Meaning, after full awakening.  Like dream/sleep yoga & other advanced practices, it can be done before hand, but not the original purpose.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/19/18 5:38 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks. Could you elaborate it further? 

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/19/18 9:42 AM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
I'm of two minds on tummo, dream yoga, and other yogic practices within vajrayana. If you have access to accomplished teachers within a traditional lineage, you should take advantage of that and will get the best results from that. However, most of us Westerners do not have such access, are unlikely to fit long retreats into our schedules, and do not have the cultural context to make that training as effective as possible.

For a lot of us, the better route is to do the simplified, accessible, dudebro version first, to get a feel for the basic physical and mental techniques, and then level up with the lineage specific teachings that require empowerments and spiritual accomplishments to take full advantage of. Just like there's no shame in learning arithmetic before calculus, there's nothing wrong with learning the Wim Hof Method before you commit to an intensive tummo retreat with a rinpoche, or if you do the simple lucid dreaming techniques for a while before you try advanced dream yoga. 

The fact that you do any practice at all is beneficial, even if another practice is supposed to be better, faster or more "correct". If you mispronounce a mantra but you have a fully compassionate intention behind it, you're far ahead of someone who has the reverse. Get the best information and teaching that you can, and practice as sincerely as possible. 

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/19/18 6:33 PM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
I haven’t studied this topic enough to elaborate in detail.  But the overall idea would be that of making the body a suitable “house” for awareness once it has been stabilized , rather than revealing it in the first place.

RE: tummo questions
Answer
7/22/18 4:49 AM as a reply to Georges Antoine Bagend.
If Wim Hof comes in the category of tummo practitioner then he's very pragmatic.