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Observations placeholder

Tibetan Buddhism - Lung-gom-pas



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Alexandra David-Neel – With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet

 The way to the pass was longer than I had suspected, and I soon realized that the pack-mules would not reach the top of the ridge before nightfall. It was out of the question to let them attempt going down the other side of the range in the dark, so having reached a grassy spot near a brook, I stopped there. We had already drank tea and were collecting dry cow-dung to feed the fire when I saw the arjopa climbing the slope at some distance below us, progressing with extraordinary rapidity. As he came nearer, I could see that he was walking with the same peculiar nimble springing gait which I had noticed in the lama lung-gom-pa of Thebgyai.

When he reached us, the man stood quite still for a while staring straight before him. He was not at all out of breath, but appeared only half conscious and incapable of speaking or moving. However, the trance gradually subsided and the arjopa came back to his normal state.

Answering my questions, he told me that he had begun the lung-gom training for acquiring fleetness with a gomchen, who lived near the Pabong monastery. His master having left the country, he intended to go to Shalu gompa in Tsang.

He did not tell me any more and looked sad the whole evening. On the morrow, he confessed to Yongden that the trance had come on him involuntarily and had been produced by a most vulgar thought.

As he was walking along with the servants who led my mules, he had begun to feel impatient. They were going so slowly, he thought, and during that time we were, no doubt, grilling on the fire the meat he had seen my servant carry with him. When the three other servants and he himself would have overtaken us they would have to pitch the tents, to look after the beasts, and so there would only be time to drink tea and eat tsampa before retiring to sleep.

He visualized our little party. He saw the fire, the meat on the red embers, and sunk in contemplation gradually became unconscious of his surroundings.

Then, prompted by the desire of sharing our meal, he accelerated his pace and in so doing mechanically fell into the special gait which he was learning. The habitual association of that  peculiar gait with the mystic words his master had taught him, caused the mental recitation of the proper formula. The latter led to the regulation of the breath in the prescribed rhythm, and the trance followed.

Nevertheless, the concentration of his thoughts on the grilled meat dominated everything.  The novice regarded himself as a sinner. The mixture of gluttony holy mystic words and lung-gom seemed to him sacrilegious.

My lama-son did not fail to report the confidences he had received. I felt interested and put different questions to the novice. He was most unwilling to answer, but I managed to obtain some information which confirmed that I knew already. He had been told that sunset and clear nights were favourable conditions for the walker.

He had also been advised to train himself by looking fixedly at the starry sky.  I suppose that, like most Tibetan mystics, he had taken an oath not to divulge the teaching imparted by his master and that my questions troubled him.  The third day after his racing performance, when we woke, at daybreak, he was no longer in the tents. He had fled at night, perhaps using his power of lung-gom and this time for a more worthy purpose than that of sharing a "bonne bouche."

The source of the experience

Tibetan Buddhism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Giant strides


Activities and commonsteps