Rainbow body

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In Dzogchen, rainbow body (Tibetan: འཇའ་ལུས་, Wylie: 'ja' lus, Jalü or Jalus) is a level of realization. This may or may not be accompanied by the 'rainbow body phenomenon'. The rainbow body phenomenon is pre-Buddhist in origin,[1] and is a topic which has been treated fairly seriously in Tibet for centuries past and into the modern era. Other Vajrayana teachings also mention rainbow body phenomena which occurs during or after the death process.


Tibetan letter "A" inside a thigle. The "A", which corresponds to the sound ‘ahh’,[2] represents kadag while the thigle represents lhun grub.

The rainbow body phenomenon is a third person perspective of someone else attaining complete knowledge (Tibetan: རིག་པ, Wylie: rigpa). Knowledge is the absence of delusion regarding the display of the basis.

Rigpa has three wisdoms, which are kadag, lhun grub and thugs rje. Kadag deals with trekchö.[3] The lhun grub aspect has to do with esoteric practices, such as (but not limited to) tögal, that self-liberate the human body into a Sambhogakāya (rainbow body phenomenon).[3][4] The symbol of Dzogchen is a Tibetan "A" wrapped in a thigle. The "A" represents kadag while the thigle represents lhun grub. The third wisdom, thugs rje (compassion), is the inseparability of the previous two wisdoms.

In Dzogchen, a fundamental point of practice is to distinguish rigpa from sems (mind).[5]

The ultimate fruition of the tögal practices is a body of pure light and the dissolution of the physical body at death, this is called a rainbow body (Wylie 'ja' lus, pronounced ja lü.)[6] If the four visions of tögal are not completed before death, then during death, from the point of view of an external observer, the dying person starts to shrink until he or she disappears or "vanish into light".[7] Usually fingernails, toenails and hair are left behind[8] (see e.g. Togden Ugyen Tendzin, Ayu Khandro, Changchub Dorje).

The attainment of the rainbow body is typically accompanied by the appearance of lights and rainbows.[6]

Exceptional practitioners are held to realize a higher type of rainbow body without leaving behind "the hair or fingernails"[7] or dying, a state named the Rainbow Body of Great Transference, or jalu powa chemo. Having completed the four visions before death, the individual focuses on the lights that surround the fingers. His or her physical body self-liberates into a non-material body of light (a Sambhogakāya) with the ability to exist and abide wherever and whenever as pointed by one's compassion.[9]

Eyewitness account[edit]

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen's Heart Drops of Dharmakaya, a Kunzang Nyingtik Dzogchen meditation manual commentated on by Lopon Tenzin Namdak, contains an eyewitness account of his main students' bodies shrinking and rainbows appearing in the sky at death.[10]

Reported accomplishments[edit]


  1. ^ Guinness (2018).
  2. ^ Norbu 2002, p. 56.
  3. ^ a b Garry 2005, p. 296.
  4. ^ Dalai Lama 2004, p. 32.
  5. ^ Kunsang 2012, p. 154.
  6. ^ a b Ray 2001, p. 323.
  7. ^ a b The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Translated by Dorje, Gyurnme; Coleman, Graham; Jinpa, Thupten. Introductory commentary by the 14th Dalai Lama (First American ed.). New York: Viking Press. 2005. p. 502. ISBN 0-670-85886-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Norbu 1999, pp. 158–161.
  9. ^ Rangdrol & Matthieu 2001, p. 153.
  10. ^ a b Gyaltsen 2002, pp. 135–137.
  11. ^ Rabjam 1996, pp. 137–139.
  12. ^ Allione 2000.
  13. ^ Norbu 2012.
  14. ^ Holland 2002.


  • Allione, Tsultrim (2000). Women of Wisdom. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 9781559391412.
  • Dalai Lama (2004). Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8.
  • Garry, Ron (2005). Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche's Heart Advice. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 9781559399517. The practice is that of Cutting through Solidity (khregs chod), which is related to primordial purity (ka dag); and Direct Vision of Reality (thod rgal), which is related to spontaneous presence (Ihun grub).
  • Guinness, Loel (2018). Rainbow Body. Serinda Publications. ISBN 978-1932476873.
  • Gyaltsen, Shardza Tasha (2002). Heart Drops Of Dharmakaya: Dzogchen Practice Of The Bon Tradition (2nf ed.). Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1559391726.
  • Holland, Gail (March–May 2002). "Christian Buddhist Explorations: The Rainbow Body". Institute of Noetic Sciences Review. Institute of Noetic Sciences (59).
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema, tr. (2012). Perfect Clarity: A Tibetan Buddhist Anthology of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Ranjung Yeshe Publications. ISBN 978-9627341697.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (1999). The Crystal and The Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen (New ed.). Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-135-9.
  • Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (2002). Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light (Rev. Exp. ed.). Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1559391610.
  • Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (2012). Rainbow Body: The Life and Realization of a Tibetan Yogin, Togden Ugyen Tendzin. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1583944912.
  • Nyoshul Khenpo (2005). A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage. Padma Publications.
  • Rabjam, Longchenpa (1996). Talbot, Harold (ed.). The Practice of Dzogchen. Translated by Tulku Thondup (2nd ed.). Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-054-9.
  • Rangdrol, Shabkar Tsogdruk; Matthieu, Richard, tr. (2001). The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1559391542.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Ray, Reginald (2001). Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 9781570627729.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]