The Five Wisdoms

The Five Wisdoms, also referred to as the Five Buddha Families, are traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings relevant to these challenging times.

They are a vehicle for self-discovery and a tool for working with others in everyday life, both personally and professionally.

The energies of our outer, phenomenal world and our inner, psychological realm can be experienced through the practice of yogic postures as five different qualities—simple presence, clarity, richness, passion and action—with infinite permutations.

The Five Wisdoms cultivate personal integration through direct experience of the basic elements of our existence: our body, emotions, thoughts, psychology, the spiritual dimension and surroundings. Discovering our unique way of perceiving and interacting with the world yields enormous insight into our patterns: what we think, feel, say, and do.

Opening to our energy with gentleness and kindness allows us to develop unconditional confidence and a tender heart or maitri. We uncover our strengths and let them shine! We radiate a natural brilliance, our authentic presence.

The Five Wisdoms reveal our inherent wisdom and confusion:

Buddha – radiates a sense of calm spaciousness

Buddha Energy is all pervasive and accommodating.
The confused quality is an immobile, dense energy of ignoring, or denying.

Vajra – offers a clear energy

Vajra ‘sees’ without bias, like a crystal mirror.
It can take on a self-righteous quality that hardens into hot or cold anger.

Ratna – exudes an earthy, golden energy

Ratna touches everything with richness, equanimity and satisfaction.
It can turn into greedy territoriality and puffed-up pride.

Padma – glows with the vital energy of compassionate wisdom

Padma energy is finely tuned to what is happening without bias.
It can cling obsessively to pleasure.


Karma – emits a swift energy

Like wind, representing all-accomplishing action for the benefit of others.
It can be power hungry, manipulative, competitive and envious.



History of the Five Wisdoms

Beginning in 1972, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, developed practices associated with the Five Wisdoms. The practices, which include colors and postures, are based on traditional teachings on inner yoga, the energy channels and chakras, as well as the principles of the five Buddha families of Tibetan tantra.

Read More:

Understanding who we are through The Five Buddha Families
Shambhala Sun, November 2002. Making the five buddha families accessible and completely relevant to our daily life. Shambahla Sun

Tibetan Buddhist Yoga: The Practice of the Five Wisdom Energies
a Kripalu article describing the wisdom energies and how posture practice allows us to experience our wisdom.

Embodied Transformation
Shambhala Times article on the unique aspects (energetic, embodied and transformative) of the Five Wisdoms.