Tracking the Illusory Magical Wheel
Physical Yoga in Tibetan Tantra and Dzogchen
In Tibetan Tantric Buddhism and Bön, yoga refers to expedient means (thabs, S. upāya) for liberating oneself and others from the wheel of cyclic existence (kor ba, S. saṃsāra). Central to that agenda is mastery of a subtle physiology of energy channels (rtsa, S. nāḍī) and their nodal points at radiant “wheels” (’khor lo, S. cakra) along the body’s central axis. The method whereby subtle energy (rlung, S. prāṇa), and corresponding mental states, are brought under conscious control are known in Tibetan as Tsalung Trulkhor (rtsa rlung ’khrul ’khor), literally “illusory” or “magical” “wheel of subtle channels and vital energies.” This chapter traces the development and trajectory of the Magical Wheel in so-called Perfection (rdzogs rim) and Great Perfection (rdzogs chen) practices that Tibetan Buddhism and Bön uphold as progressively efficacious means for freeing oneself from conditioned existence through realisation of the illusory, and therefore mutable, nature of self-identity (bdag med, S. anātman).