The practice of Tsalung, as well as its attendant Tsalung healing, have for the most part managed to remain secret, restricted only to high level tantric practitioners. However the public gaze is shifting as more is being learnt about the potential health benefits of Tsalung healing and its general applications. Is the world ready to accept Tsalung healing as a healing modality? We explore this question among others with Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya, who has practiced Tsalung healing for many years, and taught it to small groups of his interested students.
Hands and their healing power have held my fascination for as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories are strangely not of carefree days of fun in the sun, but of waking from fitful sleeps in the middle of dark chicken pox or flu nights, feeling instantly soothed by the touch of my mother’s cool hand lying on my forehead, or softly against my neck, as she checked for fever. This early awareness of the healing power of hands was fed by the colorful “melting pot” of religious cultures in which I lived, where “laying on of hands”, was common for blessings, but also for animated sessions of miraculous cures for the sick and casting out of spirits.
Only think of how we utilize our hands on a daily basis, from heavy manual work, such as lifting and gripping, to the smallest, most delicate task, and you will surely agree that they are worthy of every possible accolade. There is the sense of touch, so concentrated in our hands, the information that we gather just from touching an object with our hands that can in turn give rise to potentially hundreds of emotional responses. These hands are also capable of sublime expression through graceful movements, such as mudras (symbolic hand gestures), which are integral to many Buddhist rituals. There is ancient wisdom relative to the hands that has been passed down through the ages, and which continues to inform many traditional belief systems, such as in the east, where it is believed that hands have certain special characteristics, existing as energy centers, they contain points for the five elements (earth, fire, water, air and space), and the ability to channel these elements.
It was no surprise therefore, that I was eager to participate in the “first cycle” of the Tsalung healing workshop program, the very first time this particular one week workshop was being offered to advanced TME students. Tsalung healing practice is part of Gegsel trulkhor (bgegs bsal ‘khrul ‘khor), or “magic obstacle pacifying practice”, which means the magical clearing of channels and lung (rlung) or wind flow obstructions in the body. To tell the truth, I was somewhat skeptical that I would come away with much more than insights into theoretical concepts of Tsalung. This was due to my limited understanding at the time, which could not differentiate between “Tsalung healing” and “Tsalung”, the latter being related to Highest Yoga tantra, with commitments and practices far beyond my practice capabilities.
I am happy to report that in attending the workshop I quickly learnt that Tsalung healing is only a very small part of spiritual Tsalung practice, and that I had worried needlessly about being inadequately prepared in spiritual practice. The workshop is geared towards learning specific techniques properly, in order to develop one’s own Tsalung healing capabilities. Honestly, there was a great deal of information to process in a short time, and there was that exam at the end to worry about. While all of us workshop attendees studied hard and practiced for many hours every day with the Master over the week, it remains clear to me that this potentially very valuable healing modality will require ongoing dedication and effort, in order to bear fruit. That is what the rest of this year is for! So, until we meet again next year in the second cycle, our Master has left it literally and figuratively, “all in our hands”.
An interview with Dr Pasang Yonten Arya on Tsalung healing
1. Are there any special requirements such as spiritual attainments, commitments, initiations etc. that are a pre-requisite to learning Tsalung healing?
Yes, there is. For this Tsalung therapy work, I made a small commitment necessary instead of the traditional requirements. Since the work is on healing a person’s body mind energy obstacles, Medicine Buddha practice is therefore required.
Generally speaking, there is little known publicly about the practice of Tsalung. It is part of a hidden, restricted tantric practice, used for spiritual development. It should be understood that Tsalung healing is only a very small part of the general Tsalung practice. There are dedicated tantric practitioners, meditators and yogis, many of whom remain in remote locations for their life-long spiritual practice, and during their spiritual journey, obstacles may arise naturally from channel blockages and lung obstructions. These are called Tsalung obstacles (rtsa bgegs rlung bgegs). The method used to pacify and heal the channels and restore the lung flow, is called Tsalung gegsel trul ‘khor (rtsa rlung bgegs bsal ‘khrul ‘khor). This cleanses, opens and expands the channels, making it possible for the attainment of positive spiritual experiences. To advance in the study and practice of Tsalung, practitioners are obliged to receive initiations of particular divinities (tutelary deity) and go on retreats. If a yogi makes the decision for life-long retreat, part of the preparation by the meditation master would be teaching Tsalung healing.
Expecting the miracle power of Tsalung healing to come in a quick and easy way is maybe in fantasy only. It will not be that easy at all. To achieve this miracle power, it is necessary to dedicate oneself to Tsalung healing practice from the heart, and to train over a long period of time. Only then may one achieve some kind of power in the heart. But that power must be generated from the loving-kindness of Medicine Buddha and your own good heart.
2. On what disorders would the use of Tsalung healing be effective?
The effectiveness of Tsalung healing is dependent on the practitioner. If he/she is well trained with strong love and compassion in the heart, Tsalung healing will be powerful. Generally speaking, Tsalung heals many types of disorders, but it is particularly helpful where there is body imbalance due to lung distribution problems, for example, channel blockages which can cause physical and mental pain, disturbed mind, sleeping problems, equilibrium problems and mental instability. It is also beneficial to use Tsalung healing along with powerful healing mantra and sadhana such as Vajrapani and Garuda where there is infection, inflammation, as well as phlegm disorders. Used in conjunction with yoga exercises, it can be very helpful for digestive disorders. It is harmless and beneficial to all.
3. If I was looking for a good Tsalung healer, what would be some of the qualities I would be looking for?
The person should have a good heart, be willing to work with Tsalung energy and train themself well in good Tsalung practice. The main cause of good Tsalung energy is devoting oneself in practice, being one with everything around and its movement, which is Tsalung energy flow.
As I have said before, the concepts and practice of Tsalung healing come from tantric meditation practice, so a Buddhist practitioner would feel most comfortable with the techniques. Most important is that the healer must have a good heart and enthusiasm in providing the healing therapy. Also, having the Medicine Buddha initiation and a daily sadhana practice, gives strength to the mind and increases the healing energy.
4. Do you believe the world is ready to accept Tsalung as a healing modality?
Yes, I believe so. In general, people have become more aware of their health and wellbeing, as well as the possible side effects of medicines. There are some people that adopt simple ways of maintaining health, for example through diet and exercise, while others will go further, actively seeking better health, disease prevention, and ways to balance their bodies using natural methods. They all want the same thing: to be healthy and prevent disease. Tsalung healing can be used to maintain as well as restore health, oftentimes more effectively than other alternatives, by utilizing the spiritual energy flow of Medicine Buddha, tantric meditation, Naropa’s yogic lujong, visualization, breathing, Tsalung healing techniques as well as healing mantras.
For these reasons, I believe the world is ready to accept Tsalung healing as a healing modality. However, bear in mind that Tsalung healing goes further, it is not merely for body energy and lung healings, the main goal of Tsalung healing practice is to help oneself with the disharmonies of mind and emotions, and taking steps up the stairway to Medicine Buddha land to achieve peace and liberation from the disease and samsaric prisons.