From an interview with Dr. Yeshi Dhonden, author of Health through Balance.
Dr. Dhonden, how does a spirit make a person sick?
How that happens, generally speaking, is you have various types of spirits, could also be nagas – the same kind of thing – and the spirit harms you with their mind. The spirit directs malevolent thoughts to the body, and that’s enough to create illness.
Nagas dwell in various places like springs, also sometimes in groves of forests and other places. Especially in the case of forest glens or in springs, if someone comes and pollutes the spring or starts cutting down trees that are actually the lodgings of nagas, they can harm you. But in such a case, it’s really up to a lama – and I am not implying that I’m a lama in this particular case – then it’s up to a lama to perform a divination to really find out what kind of spirit influence it is, to identify that. It’s primarily up to the lama to determine what type of ritual practices, etc. need to be done to counteract that influence.
So if it’s a lama who is diagnosing or trying to determine what type of spirit influence is afflicting the individual, that’s how the lama will do a divination. If it’s a doctor, the way the doctor proceeds is to do a special kind of diagnosis of the urine, unlike the normal one for normal illnesses involving imbalance of the various humors. By analyzing the urine, the doctor will be able to tell what type of spirit is involved, and that would indicate what kind of countermeasures need to be taken.
Learn how to make a set of permanent tormas using polymer clay. This video was produced in 2003 and available on VHS at Snow Lion publications. It was recently uploaded to Youtube.
On one level this ritual dance, unique to Tibetan Buddhism and performed only by monastics, might seem a colourful spectacle set to a strange cacophony of instruments, drums, and the human voice. In fact, within the Tibetan Buddhist world, Cham is far from entertainment. Rather it is a profound form of meditation which opens up the possibility of experiencing the sacred. For the audience, It falls into a category of spiritual experience known as thongdrol in which the veils which obscure the clear light of the natural state of mind momentarily fall away to give a glimpse of the true nature of phenomena. For the dancers, it is a prolonged meditation in which they visualise themselves as the deity or Dharma protector.
Both the performers and the audience are intended to approach the dance in a meditative state. (Continue reading here:)
A special feature of the annual Kagyu Monlam are the elaborate butter sculptures designed by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. These beautiful tormas were featured in the documentary, Torma: the Ancient Art of Tibetan Butter Sculpture, completed in 2014 under the guidance of His Holiness. The film highlights the extraordinary level of craftsmanship that goes into creating the wax butter sculptures. Even though butter sculpture exists in other cultures, the Tibetans have taken the art form to dizzying heights. (Continue reading here:)
In February 2017 the Kagyu Monlam torma artists were creating their artworks. Enjoy the slideshow:
According to the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam website:
“The chöpöns who have kindly come to Kagyu Thubten Chöling include Karma Wangchuk, a master artist from Rumtek Monastery, seat of the sixteenth Karmapa; and Karma Samten, who was trained at Dilyak Monastery in Nepal. Both are members of a select group of torma artists assembled by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa in 2005, during which they received additional training in the intricate design and detail of torma as part of the preparation for the 2005 Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya.
Eight four-foot tall torma, painted in brilliant colors, are being created for the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam, gifts of love to great lineage masters of the Kagyu tradition: Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa; the First, Eighth, and Sixteenth Karmapas; and the Eighth and Eleventh Tai Situpas. In addition, the torma will be ornamented with the Eight Auspicious Symbols and the Eight Auspicious Substances.”
(Photos by Margot R. Becker)
The Marpa Lotsawa torma:
The Milarepa torma:
The Choje Gampopa torma:
The 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa torma:
The 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje torma:
The 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpai Dorje torma:
The 8th Tai Situpa Panchen Chokyi Jungne torma:
The 11th Tai Situpa Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo torma:
May it be auspicious!