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An article on Tarthang Tulku's book ~

The Joy of Being

Advanced Kum Nye Practices for Relaxation, Integration & Concentration by Tarthang Tulku

Kum (sKu) refers to the body, in the sense of embodied being. Its significance goes beyond our physical form to encompass all aspects of our being and ways we can develop and nurture ourselves as embodiments of authentic existence. Nye (mNye) means massage, or exercise that heals, integrates, and invigorates. Together, the words Kum Nye refer to massage, postures, and exercises that enable us to be comfortable in our embodiment and inspired to awaken the full capacities of body and mind, senses and heart. 

The physical exercises of Kum Nye are only the outward forms of a holistic vision of human being. Their true value lies in their ability to stimulate energy that joins body and mind in a continuum of joy and appreciation. In mastering Kum Nye, we learn how to benefit from all manner of experience; we gain confi dence that is grounded in self-knowledge and establish a foundation of joy that can sustain us throughout our lives. We learn what it means to be complete in ourselves: We discover what it means to BE. 

Kum Nye was known in the time of the early disciples of the Buddha and was continued by later yogic practitioners. In Tibet, it was not always common. In the West, it is best known as a way of massage, but it also includes simple postures and stretches that are yogic in nature, with the main tuning taking place internally. 

Exercises presented in the earlier Kum Nye books, Kum Nye Relaxation, Parts I and II (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1978), focused on the physical aspects of our being, using massage, breathing exercises, postures, and movement to relax and energize our bodies. The Joy of Being goes more deeply into the inner aspects of our embodiment. It emphasizes the inner massage of feeling, using the senses to revitalize our capacities for seeing, hearing, sensing, touching, relishing, and cognizing and creates the basis for a satisfying and meaningful life. It is intended to help you feel at home in your embodiment, so you will appreciate your inner treasures and be inspired to cultivate them further. 

Since anyone can begin to develop these treasures without much philosophy or theory, Kum Nye is an efi ective way to engage meditation. Relaxation that allows the heart to open and meditation to manifest naturally is especially helpful for Western practitioners. As you practice these exercises, senses, mind, and consciousness become more familiar with bliss-the rich nectar of energy fiowing unobstructed through a completely relaxed and balanced body. Bliss heals the heart beset by anxiety and pain and restores calm to the pressured and confiicted mind. When bliss becomes part of your being, mind and body will cooperate when you wish to meditate, and you will no longer have to struggle so much with physical and mental distractions. So before you meditate, relax deeply and use Kum Nye to touch blissful states. Once bliss has served its purpose, you can let it go and rest in the relaxed calmness of meditation. If you become attached to bliss and become reluctant to let it go, you will need to find a qualified teacher to help you move beyond it into the deeper current of samadhi. 

Kum Nye's way of relaxing body, senses, and mind can introduce us to the power and beauty of the spiritual path. Abundance of joy inspires generosity of heart and the wish to bring joy to others. Joy builds on joy: Joyful in our own being, we take delight in the positive accomplishments of others and spontaneously feel their joy as our own. The sufiering of others hits the heart more directly, inspiring compassion and the wish for knowledge that heals and inspires. Love moves beyond self and obligation to manifest more broadly in our actions, and joy stabilizes into equanimity that removes fear and empowers commitment. In this way, the benefits of practicing Kum Nye can transcend the limits of our specific embodiment and generate merit that uplifts all beings. 

The Need to BE 

Generally, our inability to feel complete in ourselves, to simply BE, compels us to spend much of our time looking for something in a restless, hungry way-friends, distractions, comfort, entertainment-even knowledge. However we might rationalize our motivations, the cause of this restlessness can often be traced to a lack of satisfaction. Most of us eventually reach the point where we realize that something is missing in our lives. 

Kum Nye can balance, integrate, and energize the whole of our being, opening clearer channels of communication between senses, body, and mind and inviting a sense of wholeness and calm that is deeply refreshing. When all aspects of our being coexist harmoniously, each supporting and complementing the other, our inner environment becomes happier; our feeling-tones are more generally light and joyful, and our interactions with others are more consistently pleasant. When body and mind are in perfect balance, we are whole and complete: nothing is missing. It is here we may respond to a new vision of human destiny and take the next steps on our spiritual path. 

The body, the vehicle that supports and sustains our life, is our most intimate friend, and we need to do all we can to make it more healthy and happy. The mind is also our constant companion; whatever it feels, we feel also, so it is a special pleasure to nourish it with bliss. If you ask, "How is it possible for us to give bliss to our minds at willfi" The answer is as close to us as our own bodies, breath, and senses. We can act now to attune the eyes to beauty, the ears to the quality of sound, the nose and tongue to the subtleties of fragrance and taste, and the body to its own vital energy. Then the senses can bring light and joy to the mind dulled with boredom or bound up with negative thoughts and emotions. The mind becomes joyful, awareness expands, and negativity loses its hold. When the mind is content, even the ego becomes mellow; free of the need to protect, assert itself, and defend, it develops the beauty of humility. 

Kum Nye can be your gift to yourself, your gesture of gratitude for your embodiment and all the cells and systems that enable you to experience the joy of being alive. Since everyone needs happiness and relief from the frustrations of a busy and often meaningless life, I hope you will make efiorts on the behalf of others and dedicate joy to them also. Doing this will greatly magnify the benefits of your efi orts. 

If you integrate Kum Nye into your daily routine, you can do many of its postures and exercises as you go about your daily activities, during short breaks from work, and in morning and evening. Then, when you meet with dificult times, you will have knowledge and techniques that will help you cope more efi ectively. 

Whatever your activities, you may someday learn that it is possible to have a more fiexible way of being. If you develop your sensory capacities, you may come to view your daily activities in a more aesthetic light. If you give joy to your mind, you may fi nd ways to transform your attitudes and apply new knowledge and techniques that bring ease to daily life and work. Whatever you do can become an exercise in Kum Nye, stimulating imagination and creativity. 

This book is my way of sharing my thoughts with you. For a long time, I have been considering how to present the more advanced aspects of Kum Nye in a practical way that can benefi t individuals in their daily lives and also support those who wish to engage more profound meditative states. Recently, I worked with Elizabeth Cook to compile my ideas into this book, and added exercises designed to convey a sense of the physical, sensory, and mental experiences possible through Kum Nye. 

While some orientation is helpful, words alone cannot connect you with Kum Nye: it is the practice that gives you the direct experience, and it is the experience that enables you to transform the quality of your life. Since the benefits of Kum Nye accumulate with regular practice, it is important that you select four to fi ve exercises from this volume about every three months and remind yourself to practice one or two of them at least twice daily. In all you do, remember that Kum Nye is your armament against negativity that scratches from within or afiects you through others. It is knowledge that you can master and sustain through mindfulness. 

Eventually, when you are familiar with the Kum Nye way of intensifying feelings and sensations, you will not need any reminder-relaxation will come naturally, because you embody the knowledge and attitudes cultivated through Kum Nye. Whatever you are looking for-power, positive feelings, a companion, or love-these are nothing in comparison to the richness of spirit Kum Nye can provide. There is no need to renounce or to give up what you cherish. You can accommodate all manifestations of mind and make joy out of whatever you do. 

Your body/mind embodiment is your personal treasure house, a source of beautiful feelings and profound satisfaction. If you appreciate its value and learn how to nurture it well, Kum Nye will show you how to enter the heart of your being and cultivate your inner riches more fully. Kum Nye will awaken the joy of being; Kum Nye will bring you home. 

Over the past twenty years, those who have made Kum Nye a part of their lives have had positive experiences. Students who have learned Kum Nye at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley have gone on to train as teachers and now ofier Kum Nye programs in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and Holland. Some of these long-term practitioners have recently expressed their appreciation for Kum Nye in brief comments that have been included at the end of this volume. 

Kum Nye Relaxation has been published around the world in fifteen languages and a photobook edition entitled Tibetan Relaxation has been issued in English, Dutch, French, German, and Portuguese. 

I hope The Joy of Being inspires new practitioners and encourages experienced ones to allow Kum Nye to touch their hearts more directly. May these essays inspire your practice and ease your journey through life. 

Tarthang Tulku Odiyan, August 1, 2005 

The Working Basis 

In all this world, there is nothing more important than appreciating the preciousness of our human embodiment and doing all we can to increase health and happiness for ourselves and others. 

Those of us caught in the confusing currents of modern life may tend to set aside this priority until we become ill or exhausted. But here is where Kum Nye can be most helpful. Its exercises awaken the knowledge we need to enrich our lives and benefit all of humanity, yet they also fit easily into our daily routines. If you love yourself, if you love others, the rewards of practicing Kum Nye will be greater than you can imagine. 

So it is important to make strong efiorts to develop this knowledge and apply it. You can do this by reminding yourself daily: There is beauty that you have not yet seen. There is sound that carries consciousness into heavenly spheres. There is fragrance more exquisite than the rarest incense. There is joy that expands beyond ecstasy and dissolves the seeds of sufiering. You deserve to experience all these treasures and manifest their significance to all humanity. 

Kum Nye is Life 

Kum Nye is a way to relax body and mind, to awaken the senses, to nurture ourselves with enjoyment and create a rich foundation for all life activities. While the exercises presented here begin simply, with a focus on the body, their benefits extend to all aspects of our lives. Whatever our interests, occupations, or personal situations, Kum Nye develops our ability to heal and energize the whole of our being. It refreshes the senses and cultivates their higher capacities, opening gateways to experience savored by yogic practitioners of ancient times. Experience accumulates and deepens, unfolding meaning that finds expression in happiness that improves the quality of our actions and our relationships with others. Developing from this foundation, meditation reveals new dimensions of bliss, far beyond what we may now be able to imagine. This kind of knowledge is missing in modern life, where people tend to equate happiness with having an 

abundance of money, power, or material possessions, or a prestigious job, or work that one considers important or takes great personal pleasure in pursuing. They may have thought they were living the American Dream by working hard and striving after material goals, only to discover that these goals cannot in themselves produce satisfaction or meaning. Even with hard work, the road to success may be long and beset with problems. 

Those who reach their material goals soon fi nd their time filled by job and family responsibilities, by the drive to acquire and maintain possessions, and by a complex array of social and personal obligations. However easy it becomes to possess the latest technology or luxuries unknown to previous generations, many people are not really happy or content. 

Shortages are appearing in every area of modern life: shortages of funds, shortages of opportunity, shortages of joy and satisfaction. Day after day, our time is taken over; every moment seems pre-determined, every activity scheduled. Even our entertainments are governed by the pressure of time's constraints. Time seems to be ruling us, squeezing the juice out of every experience. 

Simultaneously, distractions abound. Hunger for sensation, or perhaps for escape, leads many to abuse their bodies further by indulging in excesses that complicate their lives still more. However intense these pleasures may be, they tend to be short-lived, and may only increase the driving intensity of desire. At some point we may realize that we are not getting enough enjoyment in life. 

Kum Nye awakens joy and helps us make life worth living. Its physical, breathing, massage, and mental exercises promote health of body, mind, and spirit, empowering us to create a positive and productive way of life. We learn how to stimulate the nerves and activate the body centers (cakras) through simple postures and movements. Blockages release and cakras open; vitalizing streams of energy fiow through them to and from the senses, supporting the vitality, creativity, and wholeness that expresses the abundance of the human spirit. 

By developing the capacities of our senses, we can satisfy the eye hungry for beauty, the mind hungry for meaning, and the heart hungry for love that does not disappoint. We can experience the wealth of pleasures that our senses can provide, so we will never be anxious or lonely, dissatisfied or depressed, yearning and looking for something to fill the emptiness inside. Then it may be possible to manifest the abundance inherent in our nature: abundance of life, abundance of knowledge, and abundance of bliss. If we are inspired to give abundantly as well, we may experience the joy of generosity free from obligation and self-interest. In all these ways, physical, mental, and spiritual, practicing Kum Nye can help us to manifest the bright promise of human being. 

The benefits of Kum Nye are fulfi lling and convincing; when you experience them for yourself, you will need no further motivation. The yoga of Kum Nye 

unifies the difierent aspects of our being and makes us whole. Fully in touch with our own bodies and minds, we can rely on our own resources for happiness. Free of neediness, we can be a good friend to self and others. We will not be so concerned with ordinary problems, but will be sustained with joy in all we do. 

Meditation can elevate the yogic practices of Kum Nye into sources of inconceivable bliss so rarifi ed that it goes beyond thought and beyond any sense of self or location in time and place. Since we can become attached to such rapturous experiences, they too will eventually have to be transcended, and accomplishing this will take the guidance of a qualifi ed master. But from where we are now, we need the pleasure that Kum Nye can give to relieve the shortages in our lives and break the patterns that bind us to frustration and pain. 

For now, it is important to continue to build and strengthen the Kum Nye experience. These practices stimulate the subtle energies of body and mind. Sensations are likely to become more intense; they may well up spontaneously in ways that enrapture the mind and brighten perceptions, and they may manifest in dreams that communicate deep levels of signifi cance. 

If you persist in your practice, you will find that mind and heart have more openness for joy and less and less room for pain and negativity. All these changes are signs that you have begun to embody Kum Nye. From there, you can connect more fully with the spiritual path and follow in the footsteps of the great Bodhisattvas.