The mystical practice from Tibet of generating bodily heat,
so that a hermit may spend winter naked in a cave amid snow
and freezing temperatures at an altitude between 11,000 and
18,000 feet. Adepts have supposedly distinguished various
types of tumo exoteric arises spontaneously in the course of
mystical raptures; esoteric keeps a hermit comfortable on a
snowy hill; and mystic produces experiences of paradisiacal
According to Alexandra David-Neel, tumo ‘‘is also the subtle
fire with which warms the generative fluid and drives the energy
in it, till it runs all over the body along the subtle channels.’’
This has some similarity to the Hindu teachings of the nature
of kundalini energy—possibly aroused in subtle physical channels,
related to the energy of sexual activity, and productive of
either heat or cold in the body.
David-Neel, Alexandra. Initiations and Initiates in Tibet. London,
1932. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books,
———. The Secret Oral Tradition in Tibetan Buddhist Sects. San
Francisco City Lights, 1964. Reprint, Calcutta Maha Bodhi
Society of India, 1971.
———. With Mystics & Magicians in Tibet. 1931. Rev. ed. as
Magic and Mystery in Tibet. New Hyde Park, N.Y. University
Books, 1956. Reprint, New York Dover Publications, 1971.