Bimala: The Tibetan Prophetic Medicine

A group of people sitting cross-legged over thick carpets inside a wooden house driking tea.

In the Tibetan traditional medical system, the utilization of herbal formulas in spiritual practices is not uncommon. A reduced number of trained Buddhist yogis, such as the Tibetan siddha Jetsun Milarepa, and a few other highly realized masters have gone as far as to develop the capacity of subsisting solely on herbs. 

Tibetans possess an ancient wisdom culture that traces back to the lost Kingdom of Zhangzhung and its many alchemists. The flourishment of esoteric branches of Buddhism from India in Tibet in reality was only possible thanks to the suitable soil which had been prepared beforehand by the Bön religion. 

Tibetans have been the guardians of techniques capable of transforming the whole of existence into a pure reality.

While herbal formulations do not work for everyone in the same way, there is one formula called Bimala that is said to have been created by one of the greatest masters of the highest yogic discipline of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Vimalamitra is described in Indian literature as a Buddhist monk who left his monastery in Bodh Gaya to study the profound tantric teachings after seeing Buddha Vajrasattva in a vision.

As the story goes, Vajrasattva appeared to Vilamamitra and his dharma brother, Jñānasūtra, and told them that they had been monks for five hundred lifetimes already, and yet in order to attain enlightenment in their lifetime they were to travel to the Bodhi Tree Temple in China and study under the guidance of the great Dzogchen master Śrī Simha.

Vimalamitra is said to have stayed in China for twenty years, after which he mastered the Great Perfection instructions. Along with no one less than the second buddha Guru Padmasambhava, and Vairochana, Vimalamitra contributed to the establishment of the Dzogchen teachings in Tibet. 

Prophecies For The Future Times

There are many prophecies attributed to Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava talking about future times in which people will be agitated by many afflictions. Some prophecies also talk about natural disasters, pandemics, and famine.

“When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth.”

Guru Padmasambhava

Bimala, or Vimala, as this medicine is sometimes called, was created specifically as a remedy to soothe the mind from the agitation that is the most subtle symptom produced by the degeneration of the elements, more specifically the air element.

According to Tibetan traditional medicine, our bodies are governed by the potency of three energies. They are:

  • Wind (rLung). Mobile like the Air element.
  • Bile (mKris pa). Hot and burning like the Fire element.
  • Phlegm (Bad Kan). Solid and stable like the Earth and Water elements.

Bimala is a medicine that pacifies disturbances of the rLung Humour. Vimalamitra is said to have created this herbal formula.

A Medicine For The Wind Humour

The Wind Humour’s nature is mobile. Every physiological movement within the body involves the work of the Wind Humour. There exists a total of five types of rLung, one of which is responsible for connecting the body to the mind and retaining the consciousness in the body.

Since rLung is involved in the movements of the mind, and in Tibetan medicine the mind includes the totality of all cognitive functions, when rLung is out of its natural places and rhythms a person might experience a distorted reality in extreme cases.

Milder cases of Wind Humour disturbances are very common. The general symptoms caused by rLung disturbances include anxiety, restlessness, irritability, unjustified sadness, mental instability, unsettled emotions, agitation, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, frequent mood swings, and insomnia. 

"A special therapy for vata (wind/rlung) in the heart: when the nine wicked spirit siblings are rampant, no one will be unaffected by this disease. The symptoms are depression mental instability, disturbed thinking, pain and tightness in front and back of the upper body, lack of mental clarity, poor memory, being sad for no reason, restlessness, hostility, lethargy and agitation, shortness of breath, acute fainting. Because various illnesses arise, the method of healing them with medicine is demonstrated."

Vimalamitra

rLung constitution is characterized by a lean body, short limbs, and small fingers. Cold weather may negatively affect people who have this constitution.

A predominance of Wind Humour in a person confers an unstable mind, a need for talking a lot, a fondness for music and sports, and a food taste that ranges from sweet to sour flavors, and bitter to hot.

Most people’s constitution is a mixture of the Three Humous in different ratios. Therefore, people with any body type and different affinities can suffer from rLung disturbances.

In the Tibetan system, Bimala is considered a medicine with no contraindications. Besides Wind Humour disturbances, Bimala is also utilized by yogis and yogins with the purpose of calming the mind and enhancing concentration during meditation retreats. However, people who are under conventional medications should have a look at the ingredients of this formula and consult with their doctors about possible conflicts.

Bimala’s Formulation

The main ingredient of Bimala is nutmeg. In Tibetan traditional medicine nutmeg is metaphorically said to be a medicine that “fills empty hearts”, and is used in the treatment of some cardiovascular issues, as well as in emotional and mental depressive states. 

The second main ingredient in the original Bimala formula is Terminalia chebula, a fruit known as the king of all medicines which is used in both ayurveda and Tibetan medicine. Terminalia chebula is said to contain all six tastes: sweet, acid, astringent, salty, bitter, and spicy.

Other ingredients found in Bimala are agarwood, Indian thorny bamboo, frankincense, Geranium wallichianum, cloves, cardamom, black cardamom, caraway, Indian sandalwood, red sandalwood, Terminalia bellirica fruit, Indian gooseberry, hog plums, Ferula asafoetida L., and garlic.

The traditional way of taking Bimala is in the form of round herbal pills which are hard to chew and have a very strong taste. The pills can be grounded and added to a glass of warm water and drunk right before bedtime in order to promote a smooth night of sound sleep. Some Tibetan doctors recommend taking the pills with a sip of aged wine for a faster effect. Bimala tincture is easier to ingest.

The main health benefit of Bimala is said to be its effect on improving sleep. Some Tibetan doctors will confidently advise their patients to gradually replace their sleeping pills with Bimala pills, but these are few. Other reported benefits of Bimala are:

  • Calming general restlessness;
  • Uplifting and balancing in cases of sadness and depression;
  • Improving concentration, and both short and long-term memory;
  • Promoting calm and peace of mind;
  • Helping to remember dreams.

Reflections on Element-based Medical Systems and the Prophetic Visions of Tibetan Yogis

It seems true that we are living in a degenerated age when we look at the world from the Tibetan perspective. Before the development of high-resolution microscopes, the elements were considered the most immediate components of natural objects that oriented doctors, laymen, and sages alike about the contents of the world. 

The information that the elements convey when we perceive them as the quintessential measurement units of natural things is more organic and direct than when we measure things in terms of atoms and molecules.

Atomic information is more mathematical and intellectual, besides, most people will never get to experience an atom first-hand, let alone experience the entire world at the atomic level. Only a privileged class of scientists can do that, and only in their heads. The rest of us have to conform to believing what is read in the books. 

The fact that there’s a discrepancy between how our senses perceive the world and how we are taught to think about the world may be the cause of our apparent disregard for our natural environment. A lot of effort is put into intellectualizing the world, and not enough effort is put into experiencing the world firsthand. 

This might be a big part of the problem our generation is facing since despite the unprecedented scientific and technological advancements our generation has seen, we don’t seem to be able to address the most critical debility of our system which is the care for the environment. 

Disclaimer

This information should not be used to diagnose or handle a health issue or illness, and people who are looking for individual medical counsel should consult with a certified physician. Continuously seek the direction of your doctor or another qualified health supplier regarding a medical condition.

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