(G. A. Ulmer)
Tibetan monks, who lived as hermits in the mountains of Tibet and were cut off from any medical supplies, developed based on their ancient medical knowledge specific physical movements with which they tried to keep body, mind and spirit healthy and to heal diseases. These movements were called Lu Jong. “Lu” means body and “Jong” means training. So Lu-Jong means the training and movement of the body.
Lu Jong has a unique tradition and differs from yoga, which is practiced in India, and also from Qi Gong, which originated in China. From Qi Gong later Tai Chi and other physical practices have emerged. Lu Jong is the oldest system of body training of Asia, older than Yoga and Qi Gong.
There are three types of Lu Jong:
The Interior Lu Jong – basic movement of the body,
The Exterior Lu Jong – dances of monks, and
The Secret Lu Jong – special classes.
Lu Jong movements were passed on from the Master to the student.
Doctor Tulku Lama Lobsang is currently the head of this still practiced school in Tibet. By making the correct movements, it is possible to quickly restore the balance of the various ‘juices of life’ and elements in the body, to open and to close the appropriate channels, and as a result to attain good health. A whole series of body movements have been emerged, each one with its own effect on the numerous meridians, reflex zones and specific organs or body parts.
In Lu Jong, the deep knowledge of the Masters about nature, mind and body is integrated into the movements. The Masters realized the influence of nature and the five elements (water, earth, fire, wind, space) on us. They also knew about the natural power within our mind and how this communicates with the forces of nature. They knew in what way the spirit is related to the breath and to lung (Tib.), the inner wind as subtle life energy – for this wind has a special impact on the meridians and ultimately on our health.
By observing animals and their behavior in certain situations, they experienced the healing power of nature. Therefore many Lu Jong movements are adapted from the movements of animals.
Lu Jong, an all-encompassing theory of movement, does not just give health to our body, but also to our mind. With these movements we can fight diseases effectively, rid ourselves of negative emotions such as hatred and greed, and achieve an emotional balance. Most problems that we produce ourselves are created by an excess of greed and selfishness. Through Lu Jong movements we are able to influence the mind to be free and compassionate.
The Five Elements
(Original text by Tulku Lama Lobsang)
Our body consists of the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind (air) and space. The base of these five elements is the wind. If we harmonize it, then the other elements in our body also have a balanced flow.
Out of the five elements, the “building materials” of our body are being formed:
- Bones and flesh arise from the earth element, which is responsible for the “solidity”.
- The water element that flows in the form of blood and other fluids within us, is responsible for the “cohesion” of the body. Without this element, our body would fall apart like dust.
- The body heat is assigned to the fire element, which is responsible for the transformation and the maturing process.
- Thanks to the wind element we can breathe and think, it is responsible for the motion of the body, its growth and development.
- All cavities in our body are corresponding to the space element that creates room for all other elements. Space means “space of existence” – the planets and stars move in space, water could flow nowhere if there was no space.
The five elements are acting in the cosmos and in our bodies as well. According to Tibetan understanding, the universe is the macrocosm and our body is a microcosm which reflects the macrocosm. Consequently, everything that happens outside – i. e. any change in our environment – figuratively happens in our bodies as well. This is because everything belongs together and nothing is separated, the elements are flowing outside of us and within us.
In Tibetan medicine, the harmonic impact of the elements is considered very important for health. When the balance of the elements is disturbed, we become ill. The wind element plays a key role: It sets all elements in motion, and through a harmonic flow, it can bring them together in unison.
The five senses are also functioning thanks to the five elements:
- Thanks to the space-element we can hear.
- Thanks to the wind-element we can smell.
- Thanks to the fire-element we can see.
- Thanks to the water-element we can taste.
- Thanks to the earth-element we can touch.
If the elements within our body are not in equilibrium, the channels are unbalanced, too. If the channels are not balanced, the wind is not balanced. If the wind is not balanced, then there is no equilibrium to our mind.
By contraction, expansion and relaxation, we influence through the Lu Jong movements the flow of juices and energies within the channels. By doing so, blockages can dissolve, and the wind, responsible for the harmonious flow of these energies, can circulate unhindered and free. This is a prerequisite for us to overcome diseases.
The Four Groups of Diseases
In Tibetan medicine, four groups of diseases are differentiated:
- Some diseases come and go at different times of the year. There is no immediate need of a medical treatment. They come and go by themselves. But the use of medicine will heal them faster.
- Visible manifested diseases are caused through external influence and our behavior. They need to be treated medically, otherwise we can die.
- The so-called mental illnesses are generated primarily from our thinking. Many people claim or imagine something that does not exist, and as a result they fall sick. Diseases of this group can be cured with shamanistic rituals and also through medicine.
- The fourth group includes diseases, which lie in the karma (mental or physical actions and their effects) of past lives. Due to that reason they cannot be cured. In Tibet it often happens that people accept certain diseases as an effect of karma (and therefore refuse medical treatment). Our common medical world does not understand this, but one possible way of healing means to clean the karma or to create good karma. This can be achieved by practicing Dharma.
The Three Humours
The three already mentioned juices are called in Tibetan medicine lung (wind), tripa (bile) and bekken (mucus). They are defined as the three principles, the three different levels of “life energy”. These energies that are forming as juices include the five elements which exist in all living beings and basicly make life possible. They constitute a sensitive system that connects the gross (physical) with the subtle (spiritual) plane. Each principle (wind, bile, mucus) has its very own characteristics, which also structure the smallest living cell in combination with the five elements.
- Lung (wind) embodies the air, which is responsible for the thoughts and reason as well as for breathing, movement, all excreta and orifices.
- Tripa (bile) embodies the fire, which is responsible for the body heat, digestion and the whole metabolism, and also for the courage and the will.
- Bekken (mucus) embodies the earth and the water, which is responsible for the body structure, the liquids, the flexibility of the body and joints as well as for the patience and the sleep.
The three humours thus represent the five elements. They are already present during conception in the seed of the father and the egg cells of the mother. Also our spirit bears – in the state of transmigration – the basics of the Five Elements.
If during conception semen and ova in relation to one of the three humours are ill, then they are not suitable for fertilization. Should it still happen, then the risk is very high that the child will be born with a disability. According to the mutual relation of the three humours during fertilization, the dispositions and abilities of a human being are created.
Also after birth, the balance of the elements and the balance of the three humours are decisive for the health.
Characteristics of the Three Basic Types
- Thin, stooped people
- Light physical constitution
- Sensitive towards wind and cold
- Dry, bluish skin
- Thin, brittle hair
- Love eating sweet, sour and salty food
- Very fond of talking
- Have a simple character
- Suffer from insomnia, lack of concentration, respiratory disorders, joint pain, problems with the spine and the locomotory system
- Agile, nimble people
- Easily excitable
- Yellowish skin
- Constantly hungry and thirsty
- Love eating sweet and bitter food,
- very intelligent and proud
- Suffer from indigestion, stomach troubles, skin irritation with redness, sun sensitivity, dermatitis
- Rather obese people
- Strong physical constitution
- Light skin color
- Love eating spicy and acidic foods, but can long remain without food
- Love to sleep late
- Are patient and have a comfortable, balanced character
- Suffer from weight and digestive problems, mucilage of the respiratory tract
Every individual retains its basic type in a lifetime.
Features: light, fine, cold, mobile, rough, hard
Main centers: the heart, brain, bones
The whole circular flow works because of the wind, just as breathing, movements and secretions. Thanks to the wind-principle we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. In Tibet, there is a distinction of five types of wind:
- The life-preserving wind is located in the heart center and is closely linked with the brain. It enables thinking and consciousness, perception through the senses and breathing.
- The rising wind is mainly located in the upper body. It allows the ability of speaking, it gives the senses their clarity, (makes the skin shining) and trains the memory.
- The all-pervading wind is, as the name suggests, responsible everywhere in the body, for the blood circulation as well as for the body mobility.
- The fire accompanying wind is in the stomach and is responsible for the digestion. It creates the feeling of hunger and thirst.
- The wind staying permanently at the bottom is located in the lower body and is responsible for the excreta, substances and for the lower body. If the wind, in relation to the other juices, is abundantly present, it can cause the following disorders:
- Lack of concentration, mental distraction (in the western world there are a lot of concentration problems. Now we can see how easily we can prevent such effects through proper nutrition and correct behavior.)
- Respiratory diseases
- Joint pains
- Spine problems
Features: hot, oily, spicy, ill-smelling, liquid and purifying
Main centers: stomach, liver, bile, blood
The bile-principle is responsible for digestion, body temperature, shining of the skin and the strength of body and mind. In Tibet, there is a distinction of five kinds of bile:
- The digesting bile is located in the stomach area and is responsible for digestion, the body heat and the strength.
- The food converting bile is located in the bile and liver. It is responsible for the blood production and the red color of blood.
- The accomplishing bile is located in the heart area and is responsible for pride, courage and the completion of an intention.
- The seeing bile is located in the eye and is responsible for vision.
- The complexion clarifying bile is located in the skin and is responsible for its color and shine.
Features: cool, heavy, oily, dull, stable, smooth, sticky, wet
Main centers: the mouth, throat
The mucus-principle is responsible for the body fluids, the peace of mind and sleep. The following five types of mucus are distinguished as:
- The supporting mucus is located in the chest area and cares for the upright posture.
- The removing mucus is located in the stomach and dissolves the food.
- The sentient mucus is located on the tongue and is responsible for the tasting.
- The satiating mucus is located in the brain and is responsible for the perception of the senses.
- The connecting mucus is located in the joints and allows the bending and stretching of the joints.
The Three Juices as Causes
Health is, when the three humours or principles are in balance in our body. If only one falls out of balance, one gets sick. The juices are trying to keep each other in equilibrium. If one principle is too strong or too weak, then one of the other two tries to compensate.
For example, if the mucus, which includes the elements of earth and water, becomes too strong, then the bile (element fire), tries to compensate it. However, if the mucus-principle becomes so strong that the bile is no longer able to compensate the imbalance, then a mucus or cold disease can develop. That’s why we have to rebalance the mucus with correspondingly warm food, with herbs, massages and specific exercises (e. g. the 5th basic exercise: “Lingshi Tadril – how a new mountain raises”). Otherwise the function of the bile-principle would get weakened.
If the bile, the fire-element, becomes too strong due to poor diet, it produces too much heat in the body and allows fever and heat illnesses to unfold. In this case, we should cool down the system with the element earth by means of cold foods,
cold applications and appropriate physical exercises (e. g., the 2nd basic exercise: “Dongmo Surdung – Yak – the one who swings his head”), because otherwise our metabolism would get damaged.
In contrast, when the wind, the air-element, becomes too strong due to poor diet, it attacks the mucus (the elements of earth and water) and bile (fire-element). The disturbed equilibrium can be re-harmonized through the element of space. For that we need heavy, fatty food and appropriate physical exercises, which open the space-element in us (e. g., the 1st basic exercises: “Ngangmo Chutung – wild goose drinks water”).
The Three Juices in Behavior and in Food
Wind diseases arise, for example, if we
- Eat too much bitter food
- Think too much
- Worry too much
- Are mourning intensely
- Are anxious
- Have too often sexual intercourse
By means of the following measures, we can face a wind-disease:
- To eat heavy, fatty food, meat and some mushrooms
- To be with people we like
Bile diseases arise, for example, if we
- Eat too much acidic and spicy food
- Eat too fatty food
- Drink too much alcohol
- Do strenuous work for a long time
- Remain too long by the fire and in the sun
- Are too proud
By means of the following measures, we can face a biliary disease:
- To eat cold food and drink cold water
- To eat vegetables and fruits
- To give ourselves plenty of rest
Mucus diseases arise, for example, if we
- Eat too much sweet, raw and bitter food
- Drink too cold drinks
- Do not move after eating
- Like to indulge in laziness and inertia
By means of the following measures, we can face a mucus disease:
- To eat warm food
- To drink hot water
- To keep us warm
- To move a lot
The Three Juices and Colors
The color red is strengthening the bile, the fire-principle. Tibetans bind watchdogs red cloths around their necks in order to strengthen their aggressiveness. Because it can be very cold in Tibet, and as the color red has a warming effect, the Buddhist monks wear red garments.
The color white evokes greed, the wind-principle. That is why the Buddha did not allow the monks to wear white garments.
On the other hand, the color yellow cools and dampens the desire and thus corresponds to the earth-principle. For this reason, the Buddha advised the monks to wear yellow garments.
Which of these colors are suitable for a person, depends on the principle which dominates in him/her. Is he/she a mucus, a wind or a bile basic type?
The Three Humours in Time
The wind-principle dominates
- in spring and early summer
- at the beginning of the day
- at the end of the night
The mucus-principle dominates
- in summer and autumn
- at the end of the day
- at the beginning of the night
The bile-principle dominates
- in late autumn and winter
- in the middle of the day
- in the middle of the night
The Three Humours and the Spirit
In the case of wind, bile and mucus disorders, the Tibetan medicine defines the main causes on the spiritual plane. It concerns the desire (being attached to the world of things), the hatred and delusion. In Buddhism, these three fundamental evils are also called “the three roots of the unwholesome”. Desire generally stands for lust and eagerness, no matter what is sought for. Hatred represents all forms of aggression such as anger, rage, trouble. Delusion stands for ignorance and prejudice.
- Wind-diseases are promoted by desire.
- Biliary-diseases are promoted by hatred.
- Mucus-diseases are promoted by delusion.
The origin of all these “poisons” is lack of knowledge about the real nature of things – they are empty, mere appearances. They have no material existence, because ultimately their substance cannot be proved. The ignorance and lack of knowledge end with the recognition of this reality. If our mind is too much influenced by lust, hatred and delusion, we find it difficult to develop the correct perception. However, this perception is necessary to be aware of the disturbing emotions. When we clear our minds, we will overcome the ignorance.
The functioning of the mind only becomes possible by the wind-principle. Without the wind, we cannot think. Therefore, the right wind flow is decisive to recognize and overcome the ignorance. A disturbance of the wind flow is also the most common cause of mental illness. Depression, for example, has its origin here. It is supported by the wind strengthening behaviors – like bitter and cold food, negative emotions (fear, pessimism, worry).
In mental disorders that are influenced by the bile, hallucinations can occur: We see ghosts, encounter gods, observe lights that enter the body.
In mental disorders influenced by mucus, we become “hermits” because speaking becomes difficult to us, we get sluggish and sleepy. Body and mind become immobile, we cannot think clearly and meditate anymore.
The Three Homours and Sun, Moon and Stars
The bile-principle prevails, while the sun is in the sky. People with bile-diseases should therefore avoid sunlight. When the moon shines, there is the mucus-principle prevailing. People with mucus-diseases should therefore avoid the moonlight.
The different stars are each related with the three principles. For example, in Tibet people take a bath in the lakes and rivers during the time, when the star “Ragscha” can be seen for one week at the autumn sky. It is said that its light, when it comes into contact with water, has a healing effect in the case of all wind-, bile- and mucus-diseases.
If on the other hand the star “Paschak” appears for one week in the night sky, people avoid contact with water. The light of this star has a disturbing effect on water. Then the contact with water can cause diseases. Eclipses balance the wind.
…to be continued
Tulku Lama Lobsang, Lu Jong, Page 20-32
Tulku Lama Lobsang,
“Lu Jong”, Scherz Publishing House Bern O.W. Barth.
Selected Lu Jong practices will be presented in the next issue.