The following explains how our physical body is formed.

An ancient Tibetan medical text states:

The sense consciousnesses arise from one's mind. The flesh, bones,

organ of smelling and odors are formed from the earth element.

The blood, organ of taste, tastes and liquids in the body arise from

the water element. The warmth, clear coloration, the organ of sight

and form are formed from the fire element The breath, organ of

touch and physical sensations are formed from the air element. The

cavities in the body, the organ of hearing and sounds are formed

from the space element 1

"In short," writes Kalu Rinpoche, "it is from mind, which

embodies the five elemental qualities, that the physical body

develops. The physical body itself is imbued with these qualities,

and it is because of this mind/body complex that we perceive

the outside world—which in turn is composed of the

five elemental qualities of earth, water, fire, wind and space." 3

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. These are called, respectively: nadi,

prana, and bindu in Sanskrit; and tsa, lung, and tiklé in Tibetan.

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 three

principal ones: the central channel, running parallel to the

spine, and the right and left channels, which run either side of

it. 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.

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 through all the channels except the central

one are said to be impure and activate negative, dualistic

thought patterns; the winds in the central channel are called

"wisdom winds." 4

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