More about Sowa Rigpa

Traditional Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa

An Overview
  1. Sowa Rig­pa
  2. His­to­ry
  3. The Four Tantras
  4. Ele­ments & Ener­gy
  5. The Three Roots
  6. Amaz­ing Heal­ing Sys­tem

therapy ttm 001Tra­di­tion­al Tibetan Med­i­cine is a Himalayan heal­ing sci­ence which is more than 2000 years old. In the native lan­guage it is called Sowa Rig­pa. It has pre­served its authen­tic­i­ty inte­gral­ly until today’s date through the pure lin­eage of trans­mis­sion.

As one of Asia’s three great heal­ing sys­tems, Tra­di­tion­al Tibetan Med­i­cine (TTM) approach­es suf­fer­ing and dis­ease holis­ti­cal­ly, whilst being com­pat­i­ble with any oth­er east­ern or west­ern med­ical tra­di­tions. Sowa Rig­pa can be stud­ied by all and used for all.

The med­ical sys­tem employs a com­plex approach to diag­no­sis, incor­po­rat­ing tech­niques such as pulse analy­sis and uri­nal­y­sis, and uti­lizes behav­ior and dietary mod­i­fi­ca­tion, med­i­cines com­posed of nat­ur­al mate­ri­als (e.g. herbs and min­er­als) and phys­i­cal ther­a­pies (e.g. Tibetan acupunc­ture, mox­i­bus­tion, etc.) to treat ill­ness.

Tra­di­tion­al­ly med­i­cine was pre­sent­ed with­in the con­text of an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary study con­tain­ing the Five Major Sci­ences (Bud­dhist Phi­los­o­phy, Log­ic, San­skrit, Med­i­cine, Arts & Crafts) and the Five Minor Sci­ences (Syn­onymics, Math­e­mat­ics & Astrol­o­gy, Dra­ma, Poet­ry, Com­po­si­tion). His­tor­i­cal­ly as well as sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly an inter­de­pen­dent rela­tion­ship has devel­oped espe­cial­ly between the fields of Bud­dhist Phi­los­o­phy, Med­i­cine and Astrol­o­gy.

1. Sowa Rigpa

The term Sowa Rig­pa has two fun­da­men­tal mean­ings:

  1. Sowa can be trans­lat­ed as ‘Heal­ing’ and Rig­pa as ‘Sci­ence’; so Sorig (abbre­vi­a­tion of Sowa Rig­pa) means ‘Heal­ing Sci­ence’.
  2. Sowa can also be trans­lat­ed as ‘Nour­ish­ment’ while Rip­ga is trans­lat­ed as ‘Aware­ness’; in that case Sorig means ‘Nour­ish­ment of Aware­ness’.

This twofold mean­ing is con­nect­ed to Tibetan medicine’s aim at real­iz­ing rel­a­tive and absolute bal­ance.

2. History

ttmKalender-7938In the 8th cen­tu­ry the physi­cian and spir­i­tu­al prac­ti­tion­er Yuthok the Old­er wrote the first ver­sion of the Four Med­ical Tantras. He pre­dict­ed that the accom­plished physi­cian Yuthok the Younger would rewrite his work in the future.

400 years lat­er a young doc­tor called Yuthok Yon­ten Gonpo from a vil­lage of Goshi Rethang, West­ern Tibet, edit­ed the Four Tantras based on his col­lect­ed knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence. This ver­sion would be known as the ‘Bible of Tibetan Med­i­cine’, and Yuthok the Old­er would be called its ‘Father’.

By then Yuthok the Younger, hav­ing start­ed study­ing and prac­tic­ing med­i­cine at the age of eight, had trav­elled to Cen­tral Tibet and India sev­er­al times dili­gent­ly learn­ing and acquir­ing med­ical knowl­edge. So his work was based on and influ­enced by

  • the study of wild ani­mals,
  • the shaman­ic heal­ing tra­di­tion,
  • the spir­i­tu­al view of the Bud­dhist phi­los­o­phy.
3. The Four Tantras

The San­skrit word Tantra - or Tibetan Gyud - means ‘Lin­eage of Teach­ing’. It indi­cates the unbro­ken trans­mis­sion line of the orig­i­nal and unchanged med­ical knowl­edge since the begin­ning.

  1. The first tantra is called Root Tantra. It gives an intro­duc­tive overview of Tibetan med­i­cine. For a med­ical stu­dent this tantra is like a world map.
  2. The sec­ond tantra is called Explana­to­ry Tantra. It includes basic sci­ences such as anato­my, embry­ol­o­gy, phys­i­ol­o­gy, pathol­o­gy etc. It can be com­pared to coun­try maps.
  3. The third tantra is called Oral Instruc­tion Tantra. It con­tains expla­na­tions about all dis­eases divid­ed into the Eight Branch­es:
    • The body as a whole
    • Pedi­atrics
    • Gyne­col­o­gy
    • Psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders
    • Trau­ma­tol­ogy
    • Tox­i­col­o­gy
    • Geri­atrics
    • Infer­til­i­ty
  4. These are the maps for every city in this world.
  5. The fourth tantra is called Final Tantra or Action Tantra. It talks about prac­ti­cal or clin­i­cal TTM - a city guide for our med­ical jour­ney.
4. Elements & Energy

ttmKalender-7967In the Bud­dhist cos­mol­o­gy every­thing con­sists of the Five Ele­ments: space, wind, fire, water and earth. They rep­re­sent empti­ness, motion, speed, liq­uid and solid­i­ty - sim­i­lar to the char­ac­ter­is­tics of mod­ern physic’s atoms. Accord­ing to TTM the Five Ele­ments also express them­selves in our body, e.g. each hand has five fin­gers, and we have five sense organs.

The Five ele­ments can be sim­pli­fied into three prin­ci­ples which are called nye pa (faults):

  1. Lung lit­er­al­ly means ‘motion’ and is usu­al­ly trans­lat­ed as wind. It has the nature of move­ment and boosts hot or cold ener­gy.
  2. Tri­pa lit­er­al­ly means  ‘burn­ing’, it is trans­lat­ed as bile, it is speedy in nature and is a hot ener­gy.
  3. Beken trans­lates into phlegm, lit­er­al mean­ing is ‘dew and earth’. It is liq­uid and sol­id, a cold ener­gy.

Lung, tri­pa and beken form the bridge between body and mind. There­for rebal­anc­ing ener­gy will affect both body and mind. Tar­get­ing the bridge is also the fastest and most effec­tive way to heal the entire­ty of a human.

Through the law of cause and effect the ele­ments and ener­gies of our envi­ron­ment and with­in our body are insep­a­ra­ble from each oth­er. It is called ten­drel - inter­de­pen­dent con­nec­tiv­i­ty. This is why it is impor­tant in TTM to work with both human and nature.

5. The Three Roots

In accor­dance to the con­nec­tion between nature and Tibetan med­i­cine the Four Tantras sum­ma­rize a physician’s dai­ly work as the Three Roots. This anal­o­gy also indi­cates the impor­tance of the med­ical profession’s foun­da­tion. Stu­dents of Tibetan med­i­cine learn and inter­nal­ize them still today.

Root of Health and Dis­ease

This part cov­ers basic the­o­ry, such as bal­ance of ener­gy, body and mind (‘health’), imbal­ance of ener­gy (‘dis­ease’). The­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge about anato­my, phys­i­ol­o­gy and pathol­o­gy is its foun­da­tion.

Root of Diag­no­sis

In here the main diag­nos­tic tools are intro­duced:IMG_0595 copie

  1. Inspec­tion - includes eval­u­at­ing the form and con­tour of the patient’s body as well as the patient’s com­plex­ion; crit­i­cal obser­va­tion of the sense organs, in par­tic­u­lar the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the tongue; and detailed inspec­tion of the urine, which is con­sid­ered to be the most impor­tant fac­tor in diag­no­sis.
  2. Pal­pa­tion - in TTM, the art of pal­pa­tion (touch­ing) com­pris­es var­i­ous fields, the main two being pulse read­ing and point check­ing.
  3. Case his­to­ry - is the process of col­lect­ing infor­ma­tion: how to ques­tion and lis­ten to the patient in order to iden­ti­fy signs and symp­toms; know­ing about diet and behav­iour in order to under­stand what the pos­si­ble caus­es of the dis­tur­bance or ill­ness may be.

Root of Ther­a­py

There are four main meth­ods of treat­ment in Tibetan med­i­cine, name­ly

  1. Diet
  2. Lifestyle
  3. Med­i­cine
  4. Exter­nal Ther­a­pies.
6. Amazing Healing System

Tibetan med­i­cine offers unique fea­tures not found in any oth­er heal­ing tra­di­tion or mod­ern med­i­cine. Among these are the remark­able diag­nos­tic meth­ods of pulse read­ing and urine analy­sis, a vast mate­ria med­ica includ­ing thou­sands of plants, min­er­als, ani­mal prod­ucts etc. used for med­ical treat­ment, and a sophis­ti­cat­ed sys­tem of exter­nal ther­a­pies.

Pulse diag­no­sis includes more than ten basic divi­sions of puls­es, each based on dif­fer­ent aspects such as time, sea­sons, typol­o­gy, ele­ments, ener­gies, spir­its and more. Each type of pulse may have var­i­ous char­ac­ter­is­tics of up to hun­dred if not thou­sands - a com­plete diag­nos­tic tool in your hands.

Herbal med­i­cine has always been fas­ci­nat­ing to humankind - the cure could be right in your front gar­den! Tibetan med­i­cine uses what nature offers:

  • Pre­cious met­als & gem­stones
  • Min­er­als & earth
  • Plants & herbs
  • Ani­mal prod­ucts

ttmKalender-8073The famous Ku Nye Mas­sage is one of the addi­tion­al exter­nal ther­a­pies. It can be applied in almost all cas­es with pre­ven­tive, cura­tive or symp­to­matic inten­tion. Ther­a­pists use dif­fer­ent oils and var­i­ous mate­ri­als such as stones, gems, shells, conch­es, wood, met­als depend­ing on typol­o­gy and dis­or­der.

Tibetan acupunc­ture is one of the high­est yet unknown heal­ing arts of TTM. In the Four Tantras described as inva­sive and supreme amongst the exter­nal ther­a­pies it is the most effec­tive ther­a­py. The vari­ety and com­plex­i­ty of the points, appli­ca­tions and indi­ca­tions are com­pa­ra­ble to the art of Chi­nese acupunc­ture.

Mox­i­bus­tion or moxa is com­mon­ly used to treat cold natured dis­or­ders. It proves to be an effec­tive means against rheumat­ic dis­eases and dif­fer­ent types of pain. A mod­i­fied ver­sion known as hor me (Mon­go­lian moxa) is said to be used on Genghis Khan every day - insin­u­at­ing the secret of his accom­plish­ments.

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