- channels or tsa (Wyl. rtsa; Skt. nadi),
- wind-energies or lung (Wyl. rlung; Skt. prāṇa), and
- essences or tiklé (Wyl. thig le; Skt. bindu).
- The Tantric Buddhist tradition of Tibet offers an explanation of the body that is quite different from the one most of us are used to. This is of a psycho-physical system, which consists of a dynamic network of subtle channels, “winds” or inner air, and essences. We are familiar with something similar in the meridians and ch’i energy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
- The human body is compared by the masters to a city, the channels to its roads, the winds to a horse, and the mind to a rider.
There are 72,000 subtle channels in the body, but the three principal ones are:
- the central channel (Skt. avadhūtī; Tib. uma; Wyl. dbu ma), running parallel to the spine,
- the right channel (Skt. rasanā; Tib. roma; Wyl. ro ma) and
- the left channel (Skt. lalanā; Tib. kyangma; Wyl. rkyang ma), which run either side of the central channel.
The right and left channels coil around the central one at a number of points to form a series of "knots". Along the central channel are situated a number of “channel wheels,” the chakras or energy-centers, from which channels branch off like the ribs of an umbrella.
Wind-Energies or Inner Air
Through these channels flow the winds, or inner air. There are five root and five branch winds. Each of the root winds supports an element and is responsible for a function of the human body. The branch winds enable the senses to operate. The winds that flow in the central channel are called 'wisdom winds'. The winds that flow in all the other channels except the central channel are said to be impure, and to activate negative dualistic thought patterns.
- Jamgön Kongtrul, The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Six, Part Four: Systems of Buddhist Tantra, '9. The Nature of the Body' (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005), pages 169-85.
- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, revised and updated edition (HarperSanFrancisco and London: Rider, 2002), pages 251-52.
- Tulku Thondup, Enlightened Journey (Boston & London: Shambhala, 1995), pages 207-212.