Tibetan religious traditions have employed trulkhor as part of their spiritual training since at least the tenth century. Although trulkhor is found in all five Tibetan spiritual traditions, it is most prevalent in the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Bon schools. While trulkhor may have been practiced much earlier and preserved only as an oral tradition, written texts point to the practice of trulkhor by famed yogis of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries such as Marpa, Naropa, and Drugyalwa Yungdrung, among others. One of the greatest recent teachers was Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen,who lived from 1859-1934.

This trulkhor from the Bon tradition is based on two main lineages that were transmitted orally at first: the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyu, the Oral tradition of Zhang Zhung, for which the trulkhor chapter was probably put into writing sometime between the 8th and the 12th century, and the A-tri or Instructions of the A, that we know as written text from around the 11th century.

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These traditions are still alive and practiced today, and we can learn them also in the west. For those who have never heard or seen Tibetan Yoga, there are some illustrations depicting similar movements in a temple in Lhasa, well captured in the book, “The Secret Temple of the Dalai Lama” by Ian Baker with fabulous photos by Thomas Laird. Quoted from the book:

“These paintings were kept secret in part because of sectarian rivalries, but also because it was felt that, without proper guidance, practices which could bring enlightenment could also lead to disturbances of physical and psychic energy.”

“…the temple evolved into a secluded sanctuary where Tibet´s supreme rulers conducted meditation retreats in Highest Yoga Tantra and Dzogchen, guided by the murals that encompassed their secret chamber.“

So we see how these practises have evolved from this oral tradition, originating maybe in caves and then written down in texts and practiced in some monasteries too. Then migrating to the west into dharma centers and arriving into 21st century clinical research and western medical centers.

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