གསོ་བ་རིག་པ

TIBETAN MEDICINE

Theory of Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan medicine thangka painting depicting the channels of embryonic formation, existence and connection from Illustrations to the Blue Beryl treatise of Desi Sangye Gyatso (སྡེ་སྲིད་སངས་རྒྱས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་) Tibetan medicine thangka painting depicting the channels of embryonic formation, existence and connection from Illustrations to the Blue Beryl treatise of Desi Sangye Gyatso (སྡེ་སྲིད་སངས་རྒྱས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་)

As with any medical system, understanding physiology (the organs, systems and substances of the body) is essential to Tibetan medicine. However, the underlying Three Principles of Function that create and maintain those structures and functions are of primary importance.

THEORY OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF TIBETAN MEDICINE

(Tib. Jungwa Nga; བྱུང་བ་ལྔ)

The ‘physics’ that describe qualities of the primary physical principles occurring in nature. These principles are named for their most identifiable physical manifestations: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space. The characteristics, of all matter, energy and principles existing in the natural world, e.g.: the function of our body and mind – result from the qualities of these elements individually or in combination.

EARTH (Tib. Sa; ས) has qualities of firmness and stability and therefore provides the basis of e.g.: physical existence and development.

Earth Element
Earth Element

WATER (Tib. Chu; ཆུ) creates moisture, giving rise to all fluids.

Water Element
Water Element

FIRE (Tib. Mae; མེ) creates things such as heat, transformation, dynamic function and activity.

Fire Element
Fire Element

WIND (Tib. rLüng; རླུང) creates motion and so enables all aspects of circulation and movement.

Wind Element
Wind Element

SPACE (Tib. Nam mKha; ནམ་མཁའ) provides the potential for existence of the other four elements in the first place.

Space Element
Space Element

In terms of health and medicine qualities of these elements individually or in combination make up the physical aspect of our bodies as well as its physiological principles, energies and forces.

THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF FUNCTION OF BODY AND MIND OF TIBETAN MEDICINE

(Tib. Nyepa sum; ཉེས་པ་གསུམ)

As with any medical system, understanding the organs systems and substances of the body is essential in Tibetan medicine. However, the underlying three principles of function which create and maintain those functions are of primary importance. Tibetan medicine defines those Principles of Function in this manner:

Medical thangka (tangka, thanka) painting of the 5 subcategories of rLung (rLüng; རླུང; AKA ‘Wind’) the circulatory/movement principle of Tibeta
	n medicine. rLung is one of the 3 Principles of Function of body and mind (Nyepa sum; ཉེས་པ་གསུམ; AKA ‘humors,’ Doshas). Sowa Rigpa; གསོ་བ་རིག་པ  藏药 17th century illustration depicting the 5 distinct subcategories of rLüng

1) rLüng (Pron. Loong; Tib. རླུང; aka: Wind) – Comprised of the Wind element. rLüng creates all movement and circulation in the body. That is, the movement of matter, e.g.: blood and digested nutrition; the circulation of true energy, e.g.: that which occurs in the nervous system, and the movement of those phenomena that cannot necessarily be measured such as thoughts moving in the mind. Developmentally, our capacity to express attachment, that is, a materialist world view is manifested as rLüng.

Medical thangka (tangka, thanka) painting of the 5 subcategories of rLung (rLüng; རླུང; AKA ‘Wind’) the circulatory/movement principle of Tibeta
	n medicine. rLung is one of the 3 Principles of Function of body and mind (Nyepa sum; ཉེས་པ་གསུམ; AKA ‘humors,’ Doshas). Sowa Rigpa; གསོ་བ་རིག་པ  藏药 17th century illustration depicting the 5 distinct subcategories of mKhrispa

2) mKhrispa (Pron. Ṭree pa; Tib. མཁྲིས་པ ; aka: Bile)– Comprised of Fire element. Provides fundamental heat to the body. It is involved in very many physiological functions, e.g.: digestion esp metabolism and assimilation and liver function. Developmentally, our innate capacity to express aggression, anger, frustration or resentment, is manifested as mKhrispa.

Medical thangka (tangka, thanka) painting of the 5 subcategories of Badkan (Bädkën; བད་ཀན ; AKA 'Phlegm') the cold principle of Tibetan medicine. Badkan is one of the 3 Principles of Function of body and mind (Nyepa sum; ཉེས་པ་གསུམ; AKA ‘humors,’ Doshas). 17th century illustration depicting the 5 distinct subcategories of Bädkën

3) Bädkën (Pron. Peh ken; Tib. བད་ཀན ; aka: Phlegm) – Comprised of the Earth and Water elements. Provides fundamental cooling for the body and is the basis for many physiological functions, e.g.: creating the physical principle whereby energy can be utilized to produce function, provides stability to the body and mind, provides our body’s lubrication, breaks down food at the initial stages of digestion. Developmentally, the mind expressed as ignorance or incomprehension is manifested as Bäkän.