Skip to main content
Browse by:

Sowa Rigpa Treating Poetry: The Poetics of Traditional Tibetan Medicine

Please join ENTANGLEMENT: STRANGE LIFE and the Contemporary Poetics Working Group for "Sowa Rigpa Treating Poetry: The Poetics of Traditional Tibetan Medicine," a talk by Robert Kocik.

"May all I make, compound or assemble together be medicine."

The daily vows, prostrations, visualizations and recitations for practicing Sowa Rigpa include the Aspiration Prayer from which the above quote is drawn. Does this entreaty apply to the composition of poetry as well? To every sentence we form? Every thought that arises?

I'm a poet whose primary research is in the field of Prosody. Prosody is the interplay between speech and song. It's the intonational, rhythmic, musical, interactive aspects of language. It is also definable as poetry's basic elements of composition (stress, intensity, pause, pitch, timbre, mood, etc.). Initially, I sought out Tibetan Medicine only in order to practice mantra (which is integral to Tibetan Medicine) as the most potent form of phonic sound.

As a student of mantra ('mind protection') I had no intention of practicing Tibetan Medicine which is tantric (tantra, 'body protection'). During the pandemic, my Tibetan teacher made the decision to go online and teach Sowa Rigpa (Traditional Tibetan Medicine), and I accepted an invitation to be interviewed. My resistance to this medical practice was elemental: 5 element theory, the 3 humors, the 3 poisons, and the one primary cause of disease (ignorance, ma rigpa, or avidyā) were foreign to me. In the interview it was pointed out to me that the mandala from which Sowa Rigpa emanates (a garden called Tanaduk) is the abode of the poets (the rishis, the same sage/poets who received the Vedic hymns). Right away, I asked my teacher: what are the rishis doing in there? His answer basically reconstituted my life.

I'd like to show the interrelationship between Sowa Rigpa and prosody, the composition of health, with prosody understood in this context as bearing properties such as vibration, vibrancy, timing, attuning, intoning, intent, interacting, proportioning, and equipoise.

Also on Zoom:

Contact: Nicole Gaglia