As I am editing this page - Seinfeld on TV - Twirling a Raibow Coloured Umbrella . (Editor - Greg. (time: 00:36, 4.4.02 - channel: Paramount) )

The Rainbow Body

by Sogyal Rinpoche

Throughout the advanced practices of Dzogchen, accomplished practitioners can bring their lives to an extraordinary and triumphant end. As they die, they enable their body to be reabsorbed back into the light essence of the elements that created it, and consequently their material body dissolves into light and disappears completely. {as typing this I hear the words 'dancing on the rainbow' on TV 00:41.G.}

This process is known as the "rainbow body" or "body of light", because the dissolution is often accompanied by spontaneous manifestations of light and rainbows. The ancient Tantras of Dzogchen, and the writings of the great masters, distinguish different categories of this amazing, otherworldly phenomenon, for at one time, if at least not normal, it was reasonably frequent.

.....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.

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. His son told him he should remember, 'Everything is illusion, but I am confident that all is well."

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 extraodinary display of rainbow-coloured 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.

My masters Jamyang Khyentse asked for these be brought to him, and verified that this was a case of the rainbow body.

Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, Rider Pub., Sogyal Rinpoche Ch.10 -p167-169

Excerpt from Golden Letters: The Three Statements of Garab Dorje

p140-141 -

With regard to the Das-rjes, in each case the master in question attained the Body of Light at the time of his death, when he dissolved his physical body into the dimension of the space of the sky. And then, in response to the distress and lamentations of their respective chief discilples, each master remanifested himself in a sphere of rainbow light (thig-le) suspended in the sky, whereupon he delivered his last testament to his astonished disciple. Here in the 'Das-rjes collection are found the posthumous teachings, delivered in the form of a last testament, of the following masters:

1. Tshig gsum gnad du brdreg-pa, "The Three statements That Strike the Essential Points, " of Prahevajra or Garab Dorje(dGa'-rad rdorje)

2. sGom nyams drug-pa,"The Six Meditation Experiences," of Manjushrimitra ('Jam dpal bshes-gnyen)

3. gZer-bu bdun-pa, "The Seven Important Points," of Shrisimha (dPal gyi seng-ge mgon-po)

4. bZhags-thabs bzhi, "The Four Methods for Remaining in Contemplation," of Jnanasutra (Ye-shes mdo)

more from 'The Golden Letters' The Three Statements of Garab Dorje:

Rigpa integrates into the pure vision before one in space and becomes that vision. One becomes a Rainbow Body, light without shadow. This despite Jung's protestations to the contrary, occurs because the obscurations or shadow (sgrib-pa), inherited from an immemorial past, have become exhausted in the process of purification by way of practicing contemplation. The causes for obscuration have been eliminated, so no more obscurations need arise to limit awareness - this is what "omniscience" means.

The Body of Light represents a complete and total and radical transformation of one's status of being, a rediscovery of what was primordially present, and this condition is permanent. It is Awareness itself (rig-pa nyid) and is dependent on nothing else. This may be compared to the various Christian notions of transfiguration, resurrection, and ascension; but in the case of Dzogchen, the methodology of how this is accomplished, namely the realizing of the Body of Light, is presented in precise terms.

There exist in history many examples of the successful completion of this process. Even in recent years there have been a number of Tibetan Lamas, both Buddhist and Bonpo, who attained realization of the Rainbow Body ('ja-lus-pa) at the end of their lives and some of these occurences were witnessed by Chinese Communist officials.

Generally, there are three different ways in which this process may occur

1. Rainbow Body of Light ('ja'lus) is attained at the time of death by means of Trekchod practice. One's physical body is dissolved into its subatomic constituents and becomes pure radiant energy, leaving behind only hair and nails. The process generally takes seven days, during which time the body progressively shrinks in size.

2. The Body of Light ('od-lus) is realized at the time of death by means of practice of Thodgal, as was the case with Garab Dorje.

3. The Great Transfer ('pho-ba chen po) is accomplished also by way of Thodgal, but there is no necessity of going through the process of dying. Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, and the Bonpo master Taphihritsa are all examples according to tradition, of individual masters who realized the Great Transfer.



But before one can practice Thodgal, one must first purify the twofold obscurations and master the state of contemplation throught Trekchod practice, a releasing or a cutting through of all one's tensions and rigidities. If one does not first perfect Thekchod as an absolutely necessary prerequisite, then the Thodgal practice will be little better than watching a cinema show. Although one practices Thodgal not in the state of ordinary consciousness but in the state of contemplation, there is nevertheless the ever-present danger that one will become attached to the visions that arise.

Excerpt from: The Golden Letters : The Three Statements of Garab Dorje, the First Teacher of Dzogchen, Together With a Commentary Garab Dorje, John Myrdhin Reynolds (Translator) (co.uk / com

Dharma Talk by Living Buddha Lian Sheng on 01/07/96 (page 10-13)

Today I am going to talk about "Rainbow Light Great Attainment" which is the highest spiritual level to which a Tantric cultivator can aspire to achieve.To begin with, what is "Rainbow Light Great Attainment"?

It can take a long time to explain it. In form, it is the lights of rainbow. And, in abstract, it is the most profound "cosmos-consciousness". When a Tantric cultivator is able to have union with the cosmos-consciousness, he is said to have achieved the "Rainbow Light Great Attainment".

Spiritual cultivation is a big undertaking in life, as all the cultivators can see the transient natures of all the passing events. When a person makes up his mind to do cultivation, he is at the peak of his career. The "Rainbow Light Great Attainment" I am talking about is the spiritual fruit that all cultivators seek - an ordinary human being is able to have a union with the cosmos-consciousness.

First, I would like to briefly explain the difference between "Tantrayana" and "Sutrayana" Buddhisms. Permit me to use an analogy. Sutrayana is like a classroom where you learn all the theories about Buddhism. And Tantrayana is like a laboratory where you put what you learned in the classroom to experiment. In short, while Sutrayana stresses the importance of theory, Tantrayana emphasizes the significance of actual practice. Hence the former is like a classroom, and the latter a laboratory.

"Rainbow Light Great Attainment" is the highest spiritual level a Tantric cultivator can aspire to achieve. Upon attainment, many inconceivable events will unfold. The accomplished cultivator will be able to radiate "purified lights", and bring brightness wherever he goes. If he so wishes, he can even summon help from the mysterious cosmos-consciousness. Many highly competent cultivators are known to have radiated rainbow lights from their bodies, and caused many rainbows to appear in the sky before they departed from this Samsara world.

The Tantra taught by True Buddha School has the same effect. All accomplished cultivators will be able to summon the rainbow, and cause strange phenomena to appear in the sky. And they are able to have unions with the cosmos-consciousness also.

Before I began the first lecture on this series of talks on "Rainbow Light Great Attainment", an unusual Vajrasattva appeared. He was holding a Vajra on his right hand and a bell on his left. When he threw his Vajra into the sky, a huge rainbow light appeared. It's my aim to let everyone (cultivator and otherwise) know the true meaning of "pure cultivation". As spiritual cultivation is very important in life and a genuine effective way of cultivation is hard to come by, I sincerely hope all of you would treasure this "Rainbow Light Great Attainment", since it is the most profound Dharma taught by Tantrayana School of Buddhism. That's all for today.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Miraculous event - 16th Karmapa

For several years, those thought to be responsible for finding the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa were apparently left without instructions. Over time this led to turmoil within the Kagyu lineage. It was assumed that those believed to be holding the mantle of Karmapa's spiritual power, Shamar Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, all renowned Kagyu lamas, would shoulder the task of finding and recognizing his reincarnation. However, trouble was brewing even before the funeral of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa was over. During the cremation at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, a miraculous event occurred which is common only to the very highest of accomplished Buddhist yogis. Under a cloudless blue sky bearing a circular rainbow around the sun, Karmapa's heart rolled from the flames to the edge of the cremation stupa. It appeared as a fiery ball of electric blue-black material where, upon the advice of Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, it was retrieved. Karmapa's eyes and tongue were also found unburned by the flames and they too were saved. Traditionally, such an occurrence indicates that body, speech and mind aspects have come together to be preserved as timeless relics, imparting intense enlightened transmission and blessing to all beings in the future. Such an event also occurred during the funeral of Gampopa and the 2nd Karmapa.

Those who witnessed the 16th Karmapa's cremation, saw the heart come out to the spot where Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, Drongu Nondrub, Namkai Dorje, Kurt Nubling and Khenpo Chodrak Rinpoche, among others, were stationed. Many people were therefore quite surprised that Tai Situ Rinpoche proclaimed at a meeting after the cremation, that the heart had "fallen in his lap." Later, in 1992, such a claim became the basis Situ Rinpoche gave as to why he was the one person with the authority to recognize the reincarnation of the 17th Karmapa. Situ Rinpoche had in fact taken the heart from those who had retrieved it and took it to his own room after the cremation. Later, many gold and silver pearls, Buddha images and other precious substances were also found among Karmapa's relics. Since then a fantastic golden stupa has been built to contain Karmapa's heart, which is kept at Rumtek monastery.

1981 Taking Leave of Karmapa In July 1981 Karmapa began the reconstruction of temples and meditation centers. He had thousands of Dharma texts printed and distributed, among these 500 copies of the Dege-edition of the Kanjur. Even during the last months of his life he worked hard to spread the Dharma. He died in the USA in a hospital in Zion near Chicago on November 5th, 1981, at 8:30 p.m. local time. His death was a last teaching on impermanence for everybody present, and indeed for all of us. As death approached, he had taken a half-dozen deadly diseases upon himself. Using his yogic power, he removed much of their harmfulness, at least for those in his powerfield. He also allowed the physicians to test their medicines on him. Some of their findings were amazing: even the highest doses of sedatives had absolutely no effect on him. He cared for their well-being and never talked about himself. On the evening of November 5th, the day of Liberatrice, the doctors had routinely entered his room. Seeing that his machines had apparently turned themselves off, all had the same thought, "He's playing a joke on us." At the very moment, they started up again, worked for five minutes and then stopped completely. The next morning, when the staff wanted to remove his body from the bed, the lineage holders asked if all signs of death were present. They were not. Karmapa's body was still warm and supple, and especially his heart center was so hot that one could feel it at a good distance. This is how he stayed. On November 9th, a helicopter landed at the military airport, on the other side from Rumtek of the large Sikkim valley. A line of cars left the airport, and about an hour later Karmapa arrived at Rumtek on a Mercedes truck. All four lineage holders sat next to the driver on its narrow seat. Karmapa's body was put into a concentric structure - a mandala - in the upstairs hall in the Rumtek monastery. The cremation took place one and a half months later. Instead of falling apart during the forty-five days, Karmapa had shrunk and was now sitting in a two-foot high box, which had a window so one could see inside. A thin veil covered his face, which was of a deep grey hue and somewhat shrunken. The rest of the formerly powerful man was the size of a small child. After the "Diamond Songs of the Kagyu Masters" was read, and a meditation on the eight Karmapa, the box was carried outside and inserted into a recently built clay stupa on the monastery's roof terrace. Then a monk who had never had any contact with this Karmapa and was called upon to light the masses of dry sandalwood underneath the stupa.

Lama Wangdor Rinpoche, in a Dzogchen teaching he gave at Rigdzin
Ling, told of a westerner that attained rainbow body in Nepal. He
told of him receiving teachings from a Dzogchen master and going
directly into strict retreat in an upstairs room of the masters
house. One day (after some years) he didn't take his food from in
front of his door and the lama asked one of his students to check up
on him. When they opened up the door he wasn't there, but there were
little rainbow arcs in the folds of his clothes and in the corners of
the room.

In Lama Wangdor Rinpoche's words "That guy? He went rainbow
body...all the way. He was a westerner. You're all westerners. He was
from California. You're from California. So what do you think?"

The implication was that there was nothing but our own diligence
stopping us from attaining the same goal.



Rainbow Body of the Great Transfer ('pho-ba chen-po'i'ja-lus)

Thekchod - relaxing of tensions

Thodgal -

Preliminary - Rushan practices

related books:

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying ~Sogyal Rinpoche Rider Paperback - 7 May, 1998 - Paperback - 440 pages new edition (7 May, 1998) Rider; ISBN: 0712671390 (.co.uk) - see 'bestselling section'

The Golden Letters : The Three Statements of Garab Dorje, the First Teacher of Dzogchen, Together With a Commentary Garab Dorje, John Myrdhin Reynolds (Translator) (co.uk / com

Healing With Form, Energy, and Light : The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen ~Tenzin W. Rinpoche Snow Lion Publications Paperback - May 2002

for more books see Dzogchen page & Nyingma page

Books on Bonpo Tradtion


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