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Engaging The Subtle Body: Re-Approaching Bla Rituals In The Himalaya

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the concept of a 'subtle life essence', known in Tibetan as bla, which pervades Tibetan and Himalayan folk, literary, medical, astrological and religious practices. It explores the various meanings of bla and how it has been described in classical Tibetan medical texts. The chapter analyses sense perceptions within bla rituals based on Desjarlais' and Holmberg's ethnographies. The ethnographies show that bla pervades the physical, social, spiritual and environmental bodies of the community in various ways. The chapter suggests areas and approaches for future research on bla, rather than presenting definite conclusions. Future research on bla could analyse ways in which ideas of rnam shes, sems and bla have occupied the same cognitive space that consequently may have transformed the ideas of health and illness.

Keywords: bla rituals; Desjarlais' ethnography; Himalayan folk practice; Holmberg's ethnography; rnam shes; sems; Tibetan medical texts



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    Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, 2003. Volume 10: Soundings in Tibetan Medicine — Recommend this title to your library
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