Tummo is a Tibetan term for a suite of advanced sadhana, contemplative practice, spiritual energetic work or meditation of the Himalayan traditions of Vajrayana and Bön.
In common currency, Tummo is related to the description of intense sensations of body heat, that are held to be a partial effect of the practice of Tummo-meditation. Tummo is taught as one part of the six yogas of Naropa. Stories and eyewitness accounts abound of yogi practitioners being able to generate sufficient heat to dry wet sheets draped around their naked bodies while sitting outside in the freezing cold, not just once, but multiple times. These observations have also been discussed in medical articles (Ding-E Young and Taylor, 1998).
Tummo (gTum mo in Wylie transliteration, also spelled Tumo, or Tum-mo; Sanskrit '''') is a Tibetan word, literally meaning 'fierce [woman]'. The term 'drod' and 'tummo' are synonymous though the former is used in Traditional Tibetan medicine, whilst the latter is employed in tantric spiritual disciplines. The Sanskrit terms ca??al? and ku??alin? are NOT etymologically related.
Kurt Keutzer (2002) discusses the Kundalini yoga, Vajrayana, Nath Sampradaya, Mahasiddha and Milarepa:
Kundalini yoga in the Natha Sampradaya and Vajrayana in Tibetan Buddhism both take their origin from the Mahasiddhas who were active in India from the 8th century to the 12th century. Kundalini yoga practices formed the core of the teachings of a number of these Mahasiddhas and are strongly represented in both Tibetan Buddhist practices and contemporary kundalini yoga practices. Kundalini yoga was spoken of as ``Candali yoga'' by these Mahasiddhas and became known as gTummo rnal 'byor in Tibet. Candali yoga was a key practice of the famous Tibetan yogin Milarepa.
The Tummo practices were first described in writing by the Indian yogi and Buddhist scholar Naropa, though the Buddhist tradition holds that the practice was actually taught by Shakyamuni Buddha and passed down orally until the time of Naropa. The Tummo practice is also found in the Tibetan Bön lineage. One of the most famous practitioners of Tummo according to the Tibetan tradition was held to be Milarepa. The biography of Milarepa is one of the most popular among the Tibetan people (Evans-Wentz, 2001). Modern western witnesses of this practice include the adventurer Alexandra David-Néel (David-Néel, 1971), Lama Anagarika Govinda (Govinda, 1988), and anthropologist Dr. John Crook.
Dr Arya (2006) in discussing the 'life airs' (Tibetan: rLung) states that historically: "The rLung practitioner (yogi) uses special colors of clothes to improve the power of the Tummo fire."
Dr Arya (2006) describes the raising of 'drod' or 'tummo' through the tsa lung vortices (Tibetan: khorlo; Sanskrit: chakra) in a manner comparable to the 'serpent fire' (Sanskrit: ku??alin?; ca??al?) and mentions Vajrayogini and bodymind making reference to English renderings of marigpa, sahasrara and Traditional Tibetan medicine:
The psychic heat Drod is produced by the space particles and the heat manifested from the friction of the wind element. This is another fundamental element as it supports and gives power to the consciousness, like the power of the fire that can launch rockets to space. The power is called medrod or 'digestion fire' in medicine and Tummo in yoga tantra. The heat (fire) sustains life and protects the body/mind. The psychic fire increases the wisdom, burns the ignorant mind of the brain and gives realization and liberation from the darkness of unawareness. That is why yoga describes Tummo as the aggressive fire which ignites from below navel, pierces the chakras one by one and reaches the sky of the crown chakra. The tummo burning arrow married with the celestial bride leads to enjoy the life of transformation of samsara. They give birth to the son of awareness from the blissful garden of Vajrayogini.
The celestial partnership is comparable with the Shiva-Shakti Kundalini union. As the serpent energy "shakti" 'ascends' to the Crown Khorlo, Shiva, the cosmic consciousness (Dharmakaya) 'descends' through the khorlo and takes 'root' in the Base Khorlo as the Sambhogakaya into the Nirmanakaya of the sadhaka. It is important to remember that the language of directionality encoded within this process is only metaphorical and that the Dharmakaya is nonlocal, unbounded and uncontained.
An attempt to study the physiological effects of Tummo has been made by Benson and colleagues (Benson et al., 1982; Cromie, 2002) who studied Indo-Tibetan Yogis in the Himalayas and in India in the 1980s. In the first experiment, in Upper Dharamsala (India), Benson et al. (1982) found that these subjects exhibited the capacity to increase the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3°C. In the most recent experiment, which was conducted in Normandy (France), two monks from the Buddhist tradition wore sensors that recorded changes in heat production and metabolism (Cromie, 2002).
While the physiological effects of Tummo are well known, they are not the primary purpose of the meditation practice. Tummo is a tantric meditation practice that transforms and evolves the consciousness of the practitioner so that wisdom and compassion are manifested in the individual.
It is not considered wise to engage in the practice of Tummo, or any other intense form of meditation, without the supervision of a credible teacher or guide, or without thorough psychological and physiological preparation. Intense, or unsupervised forms of meditation, might sometimes lead to substantial meditation-related problems. See Lukoff, Lu & Turner (1998) for more details on these problems.
Tummo is taught currently in both Asia and the West by a few qualified Tibetan lamas, typically to students who have mastered other preliminary meditation practices. There are also several books now published in English that describe the practices in some detail.
In January, 2008, Wim Hof of Holland set a [world record] for exposure to ice. Wim Hof is a Tummo master who spent 72 minutes in a tub of ice wearing minimal clothing.
This article is based on "Tummo" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tummo&action=history