A Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast, once explored the Tibetan Buddhist claim that a person of high spiritual development could exit their physical body, vanish in mere days, leaving behind only ashes, to become a ‘rainbow body,’ of manifest light. This ‘metanormal’ activity is not relegated to the Tibetans, though. Attaining ‘rainbow body’ is discussed in Zen texts, as well as Zoroastrian, Christian, Manichean, Muslim, Bonpo, Nyigma, and of course, Vedic texts, among others. Attaining the ‘light body’ is for everyone, but the Tibetans have given us ample proof that it actually does, and can occur. This experience in Universal.
There is, in fact, quit a bit of postmortem research on this paranormal phenomenon in Tibet. Rast endeavored to research the death of a Tibetan Monk, Khenpo Achö, who had reportedly obtained rainbow body because he thought it could help him more deeply understand the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but his search was followed by many more inquiries, each researcher delving in for their own personal or spiritual reasons.
Khenpo Achö is of some notoriety, but so are others who have obtained rainbow body, like Bon po master, Sharrdza; thousands of yogis in the Tamil Siddha tradition and others, Christian saints like Peter Celestine, Sergius of Radonezh, and Seraphim of Sarov, along with numerous accounts from Taoist masters.
Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche writes of his teacher’s passing into a body of light:
“. . . my precious teacher Dzogchen Lama Karma Rinpoche passed away on the 11th of November, 2013. Yesterday I received extraordinary news from my Dharma friends in the holy Dzogchen area of Tibet that the sacred body of my kind teacher Lama Karma has obviously and dramatically shrunk in size. Lama Karma’s body was about 175cm (approx. 5’9”) tall, but two weeks after he passed away, his seated body has now shrunk to about 20cm (approx. 8”), which means his body, including his skeleton, shrank nearly 80%. According to Dzogchen tantra, this kind of miraculous display shows he has attained the Small Rainbow Body, which is a sign that he has attained the supreme accomplishment of Buddha in this very life. Please deeply rejoice in his devoted practice and realization of Dzogchen. In doing so, you accumulate immeasurable merit. If his body continues to shrink and totally disappears, then this miracle will be categorized as Light Body or Atomless Body. I will describe these various miraculous results of Dzogchen practice later in this message.”
Khenpo Achö attained the rainbow body on a hillside above Lumorap in September 1998. Regional press gave specific accounts of the process, and “The Rainbow Body,” appeared in an Institute of Noetic Sciences Review 59 (March–May 2002); it was also mentioned by Matthew T. Kapstein in The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience(University of Chicago Press, 2004).
Tulku Pema Rigtsal, a Nepalese Monk recounts Achö’s transfiguration:
“Recently, on August 29, 1998, at Dome Khamngak in Azi Rong in Tibet, Khenpo Achö, eighty years of age, attained physical dissolution. One day at noon, lying in bed, without having suffered any recent illness, while in the posture of a sleeping lion and reciting he six-syllables mantra, he attained buddha in the primordial basic matrix of alpha-purity, his heart of clear light reality perfected beyond the intellect. As his body dissolved into light, his wrinkles vanishing, he seemed like an eight-years old child with a beautiful complexion. After a week had passed, when people came to know of his death, they performed his death puja secretly in order to deceive the authorities, and at that time, rainbows appeared inside and outside, and a pleasant aroma pervaded the place. His body gradually diminished in size, and at the end, he attained Buddha; not even his nails and hair were left behind. It was just like a bird flying from a rock— people nearby have no idea where it might have gone’.
As many have observed, and as Rev. Francis V. Tivo has said, “through many conversations with yogis in India, lamas in Tibet and Dolpo (Nepal), Zen masters in the US and in Japan, Muslim teachers in Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey and the US, there is a real consensus that education about religion is not well done in the contemporary world, and that communities of faith need to be more clearly heard in the production of educational materials and methods of study.” This includes a discussion of the most outlandish sounding spiritual attainment – of leaving behind the physical body, for one that likely materializes at will in a different realm in a different form. The rainbow body attainment is for all people, not just a few monks and saints, but we are kept distracted with more mundane concerns so that attainment of this high goal becomes not only circumspect, but simply ignored.
As William Henry, a researcher of the rainbow body, explains:
“. . .two ‘elephants of transcendence’ are now before us. One grey. One pink.
Grey. We will enmesh a spectrum of inorganic digital technology in our skin (and everything else) and entangle (some say enslave) ourselves further in a ‘smart’ synthetic brain (or invisible prison) that clouds our home planet’s atmosphere with technology and eliminates Free Will. The world’s largest corporations are developing this technology. Millions have signed on. Incomprehensible benefits and challenges await. Trillions of dollars are at stake.
Pink. We will remain natural or organic beings and spiritually craft a rainbow light body that insures our freedom, and also leads to a post biological future in a consciousness of heightened awareness in which humans transform the earth into a planet of light and love. Before you say, ‘yeah right’, one should realize that millions of people who practice yoga, meditate, visualize and study methods of ascension are on this path. Their ascension can save our world.”
In fact, the secret of obtaining rainbow body was often ensconced in European and Christian art throughout the ages, as a means to vibrationally ‘transmit’ its possibility to the masses. Even if one didn’t understand what they were seeing – what the artist was painting – their subconscious mind understood the instructions that were being given. Of course, you can see numerous paintings of Tibetan Thangkas and Bodhisattvas that depict sages and monks sitting on a cloud with a massive halo, seemingly made of rainbow colors. This was not simply artistic license, but a means of transmitting information to the initiate who was ready to undertake the path for obtaining a body of light.
There are even reports of more than 160,000 documented cases in Tibet of people reaching a stage of consciousness that allowed them to transmute their physical form, and simultaneously, rainbows appear in the sky, the air is filled with a pleasant fragrance, and only traces, such as a handprint, what look like ashes, or a small, doll-like miniature of their physical form remains. It is said that greatly realized beings who attain the rainbow body at the time of death leave behind only nails, hair, and occasionally cartilage.
For yogis, the attainment of ‘enlightenment’ is no different than obtaining rainbow body. There are simply different levels of attainment. There are incidences of ‘partial’ rainbow body attainment for different yogis all over the globe.
The Christian bible describes a similar process, only it names it ‘the transfiguration.’ Almost every culture has a name for this practice, yet millions of people around the world have never heard of the term, nor have any notion of what it would entail to ‘transfigure.’ Just to make it clear, that this is not an isolated phenomenon:
- The Sufi call the rainbow body, ‘the most sacred body’ or the supracelestia body.
- The Taoists call the rainbow body, the ‘diamond body.’ Those who have obtained this level of spiritual purity are called ‘the immortals’ or ‘the Cloud Walkers.’
- Tantric and Kriya yogis each have their own name for rainbow body, being ‘the divine body,’ or ‘the body of bliss.’
- Rainbow body is also called the ‘superconductive body’ by Zoroastiran Vedantaists.
- The Christina gnostics called it the ‘perfect body’
- Other names found throughout the ages include the ‘immortal body’ or the ‘Golden body.’
So how do we obtain Rainbow Body with so many accounts transcending every age, culture, and religious sect? We utter the six-syllable mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, and purify our hearts and minds. You can certainly obtain transmissions from lineages who have perfected this process, and even get initiated into practices which guarantee the attainment of ‘rainbow body’ in as little as one lifetime, but all of these start with being centered on love, and letting go of fear. As long as you are removing the ego-placed obstacles from your mind, you are progressing toward the Body of Perfection.