Tummo Meditation – The Yoga of Inner Heat
Inner Fire Meditation or ‘Tummo’ is an ancient meditation technique that has its roots in Tantric Buddhism.
It is considered a direct and powerful meditation for spiritual enlightenment. Accordingly, it was originally passed on orally only in secret by the great masters of India, Nepal and later Tibet to selected and highly advanced students.
The effectiveness of Tummo Meditation is illustrated by the first encounter of Gampopa with the great enlightened master Milarepa.
Gampopa was himself an advanced yogi and told Milarepa how he could meditate for days in deep samadhi.
Milarepa replied unimpressed,
“I am not impressed! My dear son, your samadhi meditation cannot compete with Tummo meditation. I don’t know why you are so proud of it. You cannot extract olive oil by squeezing sand. My meditation of the inner fire is unrivaled.”
Milarepa was not exaggerating here. He had long since transcended any form of egoism. He simply knew from his own experience that inner fire is much more effective than ordinary deep meditation.
It directly activates the essential energy points in the body. In doing so, it begins a process of transmutation that transforms every form of energy and emotion into blissful, spiritual energy.
The result is an explosion of non-dual wisdom and deep realizations. It is a direct key to liberation. And you are invited to activate this key.
The origin and lineage of the inner fire meditation
The inner fire meditation is called Tummo in Tibetan which translates as “brave female”. Inner fire meditation (Tummo) in this form originally came from a proud and impressive enlightenment tradition that began with the great enlightened yogi Tilopa (988-1069) and was then continued by Naropa, Marpa, and finally Milarepa.
Tilopa’s practices, into which he initiated his chief disciple Naropa, drew from the various Tantric Buddhist systems and techniques developed in the ninth century.
In the Kagyu tradition that emerged from this lineage of masters, this ultimate meditation of inner fire was transmitted orally for many centuries. However, as a secret meditation, it was never taught publicly. Only selected, particularly advanced students were initiated by their master into the highest and most direct techniques of enlightenment.
Finally, it is thanks to the Tibetan master Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) that the six yogas of Naropa, which include the meditation of the inner fire, were written down after all. His work is still considered a standard work on the teachings of Naropa. And finally, it is masters of our time, such as Lama Yeshe and Kelsang Gyatso, who have made these original secret teachings of spiritual experience known in the West.
How the inner fire Meditation came to the West
The myth of the inner fire reached the West in two ways.
First, as a meditation that can measurably increase body temperature and bring many health benefits. As such, it also aroused the interest of science, and in one study monks were able to raise their body temperature by up to 8.3 °C through the Tummo practice.
And secondly, it was brought to the West by great Tibetan lamas of our time, such as Lama Yeshe. And this as an extremely powerful and direct path to spiritual enlightenment. And it is from this very world of spiritual enlightenment and liberation that Tummo meditation comes.
It has little to do with the former. It is rather a degradation of the original teaching. The inner fire was never about actually raising the body temperature. Rather, it is yogic, more subtle form inner heat. Properly directed, it leads directly to deep inner realisations, bliss and non-dual states of consciousness.
Before we get into the principles that make inner fire meditation so powerful, we first look at its benefits.