"The Five Tibetans"

topic posted Thu, June 5, 2008 - 5:28 PM by  Ryan
I also posted this in the Buddhism tribe. I hope nobody minds the duplication.

Lately I have been researching a set of yoga exercises that are ostensibly of Tibetan Buddhist origin and were introduced to the West in the 1930s. They have become widely known as "The Five Tibetans". Several years ago, I was doing research on ‘phrul ‘khor (yantra) when I came across a reference to the “five Tibetans”. I decided to look into them. When I saw these exercises, I was immediately struck by the fact that four of the five were quite similar to techniques from a ‘phrul ‘khor system that I was already practicing.

However, I quickly learned that some individuals were claiming that they were not derived from any authentic Indo-Tibetan yoga tradition. One thing that surprised me about the allegations of these skeptics (about why these exercises must be inauthentic) was that their claims either were distortions or in many cases were blatantly false.

Some examples of the false claims and factual distortions used by these “skeptics” are:

In Tibetan yoga there are five chakras not seven charkas. Tibetan yoga does not involve improving health by speeding up of “vortices”. Tibetan yoga was uninterested in adverting illness, cultivating longevity or improving appearance. Authentic Tibetan yoga always includes over a 100 movements. An authentic Tibetan practitioner will always reveal the name and lineage of their teacher (usually accompanied by long dedicational verses). Tibetans did not teach secret yoga practices to Westerners or laypersons in the 1930s. To attempt a practice without reciting from or memorizing an authentic ancient text is unheard of in all Tibetan spiritual lineages etc.

Every single one of these claims is factually (and demonstrably) inaccurate. Some of them even appear to be complete fictions.

Given that the “five Tibetans” certainly -looked like- a genuine form of ‘phrul ‘khor, and that the claims of many skeptics were flatly wrong, I decided to investigate to see if they are a legitimate form of Indo-Tibetan yoga. When I read _Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth_. I noticed that the book described these exercises and their effects it a way that was quite consistent with traditional Tibetan ’phrul ‘khor. Moreover, there were many details that would be hard to explain-away as mere coincidence.

For instance, it is common to group ‘phrul ‘khor methods into groups of five with an additional breathing exercise as a sixth method. It is common for Tibetans to advise practicing 21 repetitions of an exercise. The throat and genital chakras have a special relationship that causes one to affect the other. The seed syllable “om” is associated with the crown chakra. Clockwise rotation is auspicious and counter-clockwise rotation is in auspicious. Physical rotation of the body can cause or augment the rotation of the charkas. This spinning of the charkas is beneficial to the practitioner and ‘phrul ‘khor can be seen as a method designed to accomplish this. Greatly enhanced longevity, health, and even spiritual development are all potential benefits of these exercises.

These details are far too specific to explain away as mere coincidence

I’ve since learned from a lama and scholar of the sa skya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that the “five Tibetans” are an authentic form of yantra (‘phrul ‘khor) in the Indo-Tibetan tradition. They derive from a set of yantra used in association with the Sadnadapada dharma, especially as a support to candali-yoga practice (candali-yoga is, for all intents and purposes, essentially a Buddhist form of kundalini-yoga)

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an article on the “five Tibetans” which would probably cover the following areas

1) It would answers the many (false) claims of various skeptics

2) It would illustrate how many details in _Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth_ are directly related to the minutiae of other authentic Indo-Tibetan yogic traditions

3) Finally, it would discuss how the “five Tibetans” were derived from an authentic system of Tibetan yoga and how they were used within their original Indo-Tibetan context.

Would there be any interest in such an article?

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Warm Regards,
posted by:
  • Yes, this would be totally interesting to me!
    I've read some of your posts, and I'm very intrigued by your spiritual practices - although when I did a google search for "candali yoga" and perhaps some other things you mentioned - all I found was your postings on tribe! I've been a teacher of Kundalini Yoga (Yogi Bhajan's variety) as well as other types of hatha, and I'm very interested in other forms from Tibet. There doesn't seem to be that much info widely available.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing
  • For whatever my opinion is worth, I think a sincere effort to contribute to the body of western knowledge about your subject cannot possibly be a bad idea. Even if only a select group of people read it, it'll have an impact in some way. Good luck.

    Since there seems to be some controversy, you may wish to engage in a spirtitual ritual or something prior to the endeavor. Jews pray before studying Talmud that they are not misinterpeting anything. Probably not a bad idea for anyone (substituting mantra/meditation/etc for the word prayer). Not tryin' to preach here, just throwin' the idea out there for ya.
  • Ryan

    Sounds interesting to me.

    • Unsu...
      They feel good which is why I do them every day. . . not sure how important where it comes from is. . .
      • This appears to be an idea whose time is dawning on the collective unconscious radar: movies, books (on vampirism and other topics...etc).
        The Actualité magazine, a Time magazine pendant in French just ran a number not just on immortality but eternal youth and though some of the claims were flimsy, the whole notion is definitely in the works.
        There are talks of yogi completely regenating the bodies and teeth but it is all hushed up and secret right now. You have to join in very occult otganisations that in my opinion are all about pyramidal power and have little real knowledge to offer.It is often used as a bai so I distrust that source.
        One avenue that is not secret is Cris Griscom. She has rtaken the exercises in the Five Tibetans and added many more.The name of the booki/video s The Ageless Body.and it is also founded on chakra works and reversing the energy flow upwards from the first chakra.

        Post your article on the topic.
  • Unsu...
    I haven't read the other responses but found the original post interesting. Recently while cleaning out closets I discovered a book I'd bought several years ago titled "The Five Tibetans" recommended by a friend. I thumbed through it then and then basically forgot about it. For some reason this time when I ran across it, it really piqued my interest. I decided to give them a try. I did The Five Tibetans this morning.

    Now I find this thread, coincidence, I dunno....but, anything you might write would be of interest to me.

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