The longevity ritual is known as tshedrup (or bla ma tshe dpag med kyi sdrup pa in full). The question ultimately is about validity and efficacy of tshe drup or tshewang because restoring bla and life force is part of it. The longevity rite originated with Guru and Madarava who practiced it in the Maratika cave, and was practiced later by disciples of Guru. Singye Dzong and Takstshang were important sites where Yeshey Tshogyal and other disciples practiced and witnessed the mandala of Guru Amitayus Yab-Yum. The central diety for visualization was Guru Amitayus, also known as Guru Pema Thodthrengtsal, and his consort (blama tshe dpag med yab yum). The origin and transmission of the tersar text of longevity practice ‘chimed rsog thig’ (Immortal Life’s Creative Seed) is a subject of illuminating joint article by Cathy Cantwell and Robert Mayer (Cantwell G and Mayer Robert, 2009).
The terma hidden by Yeshey Tshogyal was revealed in 1908 at the cave of Singye Dzong by Zilnon Namkhai Dorji (1874-), the root lama of the late Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-87) and Karmapa Khachap Dorji. The deduction of terma text of ‘chimed srog thig from dakini script was carried out most likely when Zilnon lived in Bumthang with the patronage of King Ugyen Wangchuck, because its colophon mentions the palace and king of Lhomon. The terma titled ‘chimed rsog thig corpus was incorporated by Dudjom Rinpoche in his gsung ‘bum dam chos rin chen nor bu’i mzodm, Vol pha :193-554. ‘Chimed rsog thig corpus suggests that longevity is affected not only by theft and attack on life force by various powerful spirits such as driza, shinje, luwang, nodjin, firegod, cannibal, wind god, and four kinds of demons.
There are other credible factors: (1) the decline of life force and breath, (2) the loss of body and mood, (3) the interruption in the subtle neurological, respiratory and libido processes (rtsa-rlung-thigle) (Dudjom 1999: pp. 110-122). Accordingly, a comphrehensive method of recovering longevity encompasses five elements: (1) ritual seeking jinlab from the assembly of Amitayus Buddhas and protector deities: (2) burnt offerings to the fire gods of wisdom (yeshey kyi me lha); (3) casting away of effigies of scapegoat as substitutes for meat, blood and life force to repurchase bla and life force (sha rin khrag tsab srog gi glud, see Dudjom 1999: 354); (4) consumption of herbal pharma products and other essences such as that of minerals (Dudjom 1999: 449-450); (5) the ultra secret practice of union following sbyor dnyos rje gsum (Dudjom 1999: 492-506); (6) longevity blessing (tse dbang), and (7) psycho-physical yogic exercise to work on subtle parts of neurological, respiratory and libido systems; and, more importantly, (8) visualisation and meditation that activates perceptional mechanism in a different way and reorients consciousness (see Part 1 of this article). In the case of longevity blessings with longevity nectar (‘chimed rdud tsi), longevity arrow-silk (tse dhar) and longevity pill (tse ril), the recipient visualizes Amitayus blessing the recipient with healing power and energy through the performing lama. One of the key assumptions behind the longevity practice is the body as an open system influenced by the environment (psychological, sociological, nutritional, spiritual etc.) in the widest sense of the term. If the body is an open system, then a mix of naturalist and personalist approaches to health is more comprehensive.
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