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Tibetan Buddhism - The art of warming oneself in the snow



Type of Spiritual Experience


The tsas mentioned in the following are equivalent to the meridians


A description of the experience

Alexandra David-Neel – With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet

The Art of Warming Oneself Without Fire up in the Snows

To spend the winter in a cave amidst the snows, at an altitude that varies between 11,000 and 18,000 feet, clad in a thin garment or even naked, and escape freezing, is a somewhat difficult achievement. Yet numbers of Tibetan hermits go safely each year through this ordeal.

Their endurance is ascribed to the power which they have acquired to generate tumo.

The word tumo signifies heat, warmth, but is not used in Tibetan language to express ordinary heat or warmth.

It is a technical term of mystic terminology, and the effects of that mysterious heat are not confined to warming the anchorites who can produce it.

Tibetan adepts of the secret lore distinguish various kinds of tumo : exoteric tumo, which arises spontaneously in the course of peculiar raptures and, gradually, folds the mystic in the " soft, warm mantle of the gods " ; esoteric tumo, that keeps the hermits comfortable on the snowy hills; mystic tumo, which can only claim a distant and quite figurative connection with the term "warmth," for it is the experience of "paradisiac bliss" in this world.

In the secret teaching, tumo is also the subtle fire which warms the generative fluid and drives the energy in it, till it runs all over the body along the tiny channels of the tsas. Superstition and odd physiological ideas have contributed to give birth to many extraordinary stories on this subject…..

… Only a few, even in mystic circles, are thoroughly acquainted with the several kinds of tumo, while the wonderful effects of the tumo that warms and keeps alive the hermits in the snowy wilds are known to every Tibetan. It does not follow that the process by which that mysterious heat is produced is equally familiar to all of them. On the contrary. It is kept secret by the lamas who teach it.

The source of the experience

Tibetan Buddhism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps