Transforming the human body into Rainbow Light and ascending at the time of death. Today we discuss this amazing phenomena which has been fully documented by the Tibetans for thousands of years.
Even within the traditions associated with this phenomena some are happy to assume they are merely stories told by old men to impress the children.
But as Sogyal Rinpoche points out in his classic Tibetan Book Of Living and Dieing.
This may be very difficult for us now to believe, but the factual history of Dzogchen lineage is full of examples of individuals who attained rainbow light body, and as Dudjom Rinpoche often used to point out, this is not just ancient history. Of the many examples, I would like to choose one of the most recent, and one of with which I have a personal connection. In 1952 there was a famous instance of the rainbow body in the East of Tibet, witnessed by many people. The man who attained it, Sonam Namgyal, was the father of my tutor and the beginning of this book.
This is happening right now and has continued in an unbroken line that we can trace since the first Buddha of the Bon Tradition, according to tradition close to 10,000 years prior.
This has nothing to do with Sakyamuni Buddha who became well known 2500 years ago and whose tradition is not known to produce this phenomenon.
Now as you are reading this on Perseus Arcane Academy, then as Magical Practitioners we have to ask ourselves how could this occur? What Planetary Sphere would be involved? What beings from the Earth Girdling Zone would have information relating to this? For those who have gone through Franz Bardons approach to Kabbalah we have to ask what kind of formula would result in this transformation? Surely if we have means at our disposal to research this magically with the help of beings responsible for huge areas of knowledge then this is an area what should get a lot of attention.
There is also some crossover areas between magical practitioners and those that practice the method that results in Rainbow Body – Dzogchen
In magical practice we seek to get to know the Elements, we want to gain balance initially and finally aim to master them. In Dzogchen the work of the Elements is usually ( I say usually as there are multiple approaches in Nyingma, Sakya as well as Bon, I do not include Gelug and Kagyu as there is ongoing debate as to whether Mahamudra is the same fruit or not) completed in the prior vehicles of Vajrayana practice (Each tradition varies). But a key difference in Dzogchen and the transformation into Jalu is that it is said the Elements are purified in and of themselves not balanced as a group. Worth more study and discussion, I think.
Another thought is that the practitioners of Dzogchen seem to be a participant in a process rather than how we would see it magically as the creator and master of the process being in control of every aspect. Where are they going. do they really know outside of the cultural beliefs, it seems only Guru Rinpoche was a Master of all aspects of reality in the way we would see it Magically whereas others who have achieved this amazing thing, seem to set up the requirements for a process to begin and then rest in that with no active participation.
What Is Rainbow Body
This will sound like a movie but here it is. The Rainbow Body is the transformation of the physical body into light. There are variations of this process.
Some, where the body is completely transformed and others where there is a partial transformation whereby the body shrinks (enough to fit into a small box) over a period of 7 days and manifest Rainbow light in the vicinity.
Many historical occurrences are well documented. The great thing about the Nyningmapa (Red Hats – One of the four main Tibetan Buddhist Traditions, oldest and closest to the Ancient Tradition) and the Bon (The Ancient Tradition which predates Nyingmapa according to some by 10,000 years) is that they are excellent record keepers.
They both also have in common a method of practice called Dzogchen (The Great Perfection). This is a real gift to mankind. It has it’s own identity and is free of deities and religious overtones. It is simplicity itself for the prepared student.
Dzogchen is known as the practice which brings about the Rainbow Body phenomena.
What it is and where it comes from is another highly debatable point with lots of self-interest involved from various traditions. So here I shall briefly cover both main opinions, as even within the same tradition different sub lineages have their own opinion on many things.
The Nyingmapa perspective is that the primordial Buddha Sambhogakaya made visionary contact with the first (according to them) human master Garab Dorje.
This teaching really established itself under the Guidance of Guru Padmasambhava who is called by many the second Buddha and is said to have spontaneously manifested from a Lotus. The Bon traditions tells a slightly different story. That of Tonpa Shenrab, who lived 18,000 years ago according to the Terma revealed by Loden Nyingpo. The tradition was then taught and started to spread though out the then country of Zhang Zhung which includes western Tibet and Gangchen Tisi (Mount Kailash).
Components of Dzogchen
This is where it gets a little tricky as Dzogchen by its very nature is non dual and outside of concepts. Concepts are what keep us here and separate from realizing the ‘View’ as discussed in Dzogchen.
Trekchö and Tögal – These two practices are what we outsiders often hear of Dzogchen practice. Trekchö is one of cutting through this perceived reality to reveal something entirely new that has always been there.
While Tögal is that of leaping over to another state called lhündrup or spontaneous presence. This is built upon the previous foundation of Trekchö and cannot be started without that. So in very layman’s terms the path is that of Trekchö and the fruition (Many debates on whether Dzogchen fits the cause and effect – fruit description) is that of Tögal which when stabilized and lived in brings about attainment of the Buddha body (ku) and wisdom (yeshé) = Rainbow Body upon death or before for some.
But without a foundation just trying to start the above practice will bring little benefit.
That is why there is something called Ngondro in both the Nyingma and the Bon Tradition. This gradually prepares and matures the student for practice of more advanced methods and finally this practice.
One of my observations is that those who are known to have achieved the fruit of this practice are very rarely in the monastic tradition. More often than not they are the lone yogis in long retreat or even the hidden yogis that no one was aware even had a practice.
Lets now look at what proof there is that any of this actually exists outside of a DMT trip.
One last thought, Rainbow Body (Jalu) is most often associated with Dzogchen. There are rumors and other evidence to say it has been achieved in other traditions. But so far it seems only the Tibetans have the method somewhat understood.
There are many partial signs such as incorruptible bodies etc that are associated with this as seen in some Russian mystics from ‘Christian’ traditions. So lets keep our eyes open.
Where is the Evidence?
One of the most well known recent occurrences of the Rainbow Body is that of Khenpo A-chos so we shall begin with this.
A book has now been released written by Father Tsio on this famous incident of the Rainbow Body but also covering many other occurrences as well as the wider meaning behind the phenomena. GET IT HERE.
The reports come to us via Father Tsio, David Steindl-Rast and IONS (Institute Of Noetic Sciences). This is one of the most well documented and talked about occurrences due to the hard work of Father Francis V. Tiso a Catholic Priest and David Steindl-Rast a Benedictine monk. Neither of which have let Religious boundaries stop their search for clarity on this most mysterious of subjects.
In 1998 a team headed out to Tibet to research what was the latest occurrence. That of Khenpo A-chos who had achieved the greater Rainbow body. They spoke with local witnesses and gathered any remaining evidence. You can listen to Father Tsio in this post on IONS website here.
Lets now briefly look at this and other evidence that all point towards the Rainbow Body being a very real thing and not at all part of religious history but something that continues to occur right up to the present day.
In the photo above we see a frail but happy Khenpo A-Chos a few weeks before his transformation looking happy.
Witnesses report that only a few days before his death a Rainbow was seen over his small hut. Apparently he was of the opinion that this transformation was very possible while still alive (another debatable point dependent upon tradition). At the time of death, he was reciting the six-syllable mantra Om Mani Padme Hung on his right side.
Then his breath stopped and his flesh became pinking or brilliant white dependent on the witness. He was then wrapped as is tradition on the recommendation of his friend Lama A-Chos. Throughout this process those present said they could notice he was getting smaller, not just the flesh but the length of the bones.
Other signs (mentioned in the old texts) were noticed in this period such as perfume, beautiful music and more Rainbow Light. This continued for seven days (the body once wrapped is left alone) when they then went to unwrap the body only to find he had gone! There was no more body apart from some hair and nails.
Witnesses including Lama Norta came forward saying that Khenpo A-Chos had appeared to them in dreams and visions. (This is well documented in other cases whereby final instructions were given to students)
There is another inspiring case I would like to recount.
The father of one of Sogyal Rinpoches many tutors. A super inspiring story that kept me fascinated with this phenomena.
At the beginning of his classic book Sogyal Rinpoche (I am aware of Sogyal Rinpoches fall from grace but this does not take away from his book, which was actually written by others anyway) says the following.
He was a very simple, humble person, who made his way as an itinerant stone carver, carving mantras and sacred texts. Some say he had been a hunter in his youth, and had received a teaching from a great master. No one really knew he was a practitioner; he was truly called a ‘hidden yogin.’
“. . . he then fell ill, or seemed to, but became strangely, increasingly happy. When he illness got worse, his family called in masters and doctors… “Just before his death at seventy-nine, he said ‘All I ask is that when I die, don’t move my body for a week.’ When he died his family wrapped his body and invited Lamas and monks to come and practice for him. They placed the body in a small room in the house, and they could not help noticing that although he had been a tall person, they had no trouble getting it in, as if he were becoming smaller.
At the same time, an extraordinary display of rainbow-colored light was seen all around the house. When they looked into the room on the sixth day, they saw that the body was getting smaller and smaller.
On the eight day after his death, the morning in which the funeral had been arranged, the undertakers arrived to collect the body. When they undid its coverings, they found nothing inside but his nails and hair.”
What a beautiful story and I like it all the more because he was a hidden yogi with no external signs of practice.
Really the more we look the evidence there is. Just this year in 2016 thanks to the research of the Naldjor community.
This is what I love yet again showing that this is not just a story! Right now, this is happening. Lama Thubser achieved the lesser transformation. Meaning his body did not transform entirely into light and instead significantly shrunk. Enough that he could be fit inside a small box!
The pictures speak a thousand words in my opinion. Here is one of descriptions from Naldjor for the following pictures
These photos show the small rainbow body or Jalü Chung (‘ja’ lus chung) after seven days of continuous practice folloing the final outer breath, ordinarily called death. He was a Dzogchen practitioner affiliated with Kathog monastery, Kham, Eastern Tibet. He studied with the great Kathog Situ Rinpocheas well as with Adzom Rinpoche’s son Adzom Gyalse. Moreover he received teachings from Jamyang Khyentse Lodrö and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche.
Amazing isn’t it. Here he is in my favorite picture, a beaming smile.
Then looking frailer.
The process then began.
Looking like he is still in meditation.
Finally having shrunk to the extent that he can fit inside of a box.
But was there only one recorded occurrence in 2016? No actually there was another practitioner that also achieved this transformation.
This is another incredible transformation in modern times. Again it was a small transformation meaning the body shrank.
Tasha Lamo was the mother of Lokgar Rinpoche which is one of the Tulku in Nyingma Katok Monastery.
On the left we can see her in life and then below we can see a significant shrinkage of the body. So much so that she fits into a small box. This quite graphic picture for me really brings home the reality of this. It is happening!
The last transformation I wanted to talk about comes next. I left this one until last as even the photography seems to show up some strange phenomena.
Of course rigorous research is still required but I believe there is more than enough physical evidence and reliable witnesses to merit more academic research into this subject.
Lama Achuk Rinpoche
This great Rinpoche achieved the Rainbow Body at the age of 84. Having inspired his disciples in life his greatest lesson was in death.
His body shrunk from 1.8 meters to approximately 3cm tall.
A clear sign of achieving the small transformation, almost the full transformation.
Apparently the following picture showing the Rainbow light was manifest by this Lama. The Lotus was according to witnesses only visible in the picture, make your own mind up on that one.
The list could go on with other teachers I have physically met. We will now look at some other occurrences that show the practitioner actually had transformed their body already during life.
Other Manifestations of the Rainbow Body
I am providing just a very small sample of what has inspired me over the years. The more we look the more we find and it just convinces me more and more how little we understand of these ancient traditions. Many thanks to Linhai of Sacrejourneys.org for his research and maintaining a site where people can still see the masters of these traditions and even travel with Linhai to Tibet.
These photos all courtesy of Sacredjourneys.org.
While not displaying the transformation at death like most practitioners. He after gathering and teaching his students some final instructions must have felt the time was right.
He then swiftly flew, yes flew straight up into the air never to be seen again!
Terton Jigme Puntsog
Known to stick his arm into solid rock to reveal Terma (Hidden Treasures).
Long been a favorite of mine. More than a decade ago he was with a group of students and to show the illusion of matter and samsara pushed a wooden staff into a mountain, plus he wears shades which make me like this even more. To my knowledge the staff is still there in the mountain which is now an area visited by devotees.
Tsewang Rinpoche (2)
This one is straight out of a comic book. At Huang Long Temple in Sichuan when the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution came to destroy the Monastery he flew into the air and despite their efforts the guards couldn’t shoot him down! In the end they ran away in repentance!
But what does this mean for us right now in life?
I think whatever you want it to. Our perception is highly influenced by our subconscious programming. In fact a lot of the preparation training in these traditions though given exotic names (Ngondro – usually 100,000 repetitions of four foundation practices will be completed before even the Vajrayana Path can be started and Dzogchen is usually started after Vajrayana) is in fact dealing with these subconscious patterns before we can even arrive at something like Dzogchen or any other means of attaining Rainbow Body.
But I do believe it is absolutely achievable and that more people than we realize are achieving it.
So I choose to believe we all can with the proper mindset. What we need is clear access to the methods separate from the culture to see what are the real triggers that cause this to occur. At the very least just knowing of the existence of these practices opens our mind and almost forces us to contemplate what life is and how we fit into this creation called the Universe.
I really hope you have enjoyed this brief look at the amazing phenomena known as Rainbow Body (Jalu). Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
FURTHER INFORMATION & RESOURCES
Here are some resources I have found useful in my ongoing research of this subject. Please do check them out.
These books have inspired me for years. If you would like to research this subject further then I can recommend the following for being a good balance of practicality and inspiration.
Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying: I cannot say enough about this book. It takes a subject that most of us just do not want to acknowledge.
Death is not a popular subject. But here we see how Living and Dying can be part of a very wholesome cycle fully living and consciously dying.
If you buy one book, forget the methods and the techniques and just get this. It will open your mind and heart to what comes next. Truly beautiful book. Get it here on Amazon.
Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen: This I feel is like the next step. After reading Living and Dying people might think, okay what next?
Well this starts to give lots practices to start implementing into our lives.
It is also a little more open in its explanations as it is coming from the Bon perspective. Get it here on Amazon.
This next book is by the very same Francis Tsio that I mentioned earlier in this blog post. He has written it all down into what could be one of the best books by someone outside of the tradition. Here is the info: Francis V. Tiso, a noted authority on the rainbow body, explores this manifestation of spiritual realization in a wide-ranging and deeply informed study of the transformation of the material body into a body of light. Seeking evidence on the boundary between physical science and deep spirituality that might elucidate the resurrection of Jesus, he investigates the case of Khenpo A Chö, a Buddhist monk who died in eastern Tibet in 1999. Rainbow Body and Resurrection chronicles the dissolution of Khenpo’s material body within a week of his death, including eye-witness interviews. Tiso describes the spiritual practices that give rise to the rainbow body and traces their history deep into the encounter of religions in medieval Central Asia. His erudite exploration of the Tibetan phenomenon raises the fascinating question of whether there is a connection between the rainbow body and the dying and rising of Jesus.
Drawing on a wealth of recent research, Tiso expands his discussion to include the contemplative geography out of which Dzogchen arose some time in the eighth century along the great Silk Road across Central Asia. The result is an illuminating consideration of previously unimagined relationships between spiritual practices and beliefs in Central Asia.