Rainbow body

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This article is about the Tibetan Buddhist belief. For the musical composition by Christopher Theofanidis, see Rainbow Body.

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 has been noted for centuries, including the modern era. Other Vajrayana teachings also mention rainbow body phenomena.


Tibetan letter "A" inside a thigle. The "A", which corresponds to the sound ‘ahh’,[1] 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་པWylie: 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 tregchöd.[2] The lhun grub aspect has to do with esoteric practices, such as (but not limited to) Thödgal, that self-liberate the human body into a Sambhogakāya (rainbow body phenomenon).[2][3] 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).[4]

The ultimate fruition of the thodgal practices is a body of pure light, called a rainbow body (Wylie 'ja' lus, pronounced jalü.)[5] If the four visions of thogal 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. Usually fingernails, toenails and hair are left behind[6] (see e.g. Togden Urgyen Tendzin, Ayu Khandro, Changchub Dorje.) The attainment of the rainbow body is typically accompanied by the appearance of lights and rainbows.[5]

Some exceptional practitioners such as Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra are held to have realized a higher type of rainbow body without dying. 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 nonmaterial body of light (a Sambhogakāya) with the ability to exist and abide wherever and whenever as pointed by one's compassion.[7]

List of those reported to have attained the rainbow body[edit]

  • Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1935)[8]
  • Namgyal Sonam in Manigango in 1952.
  • Shug-gseb rJe-btsun Cho-nyid bzang-mo (b. 1852, Attained 'ja'- lus in 1953.)
  • Kenchen Tsewang Rigdzin disappeared alive in 1958.[9][10]
  • Ayu Khandro (1953)[11]
  • Nima Cultrim Rinpoche Teacher of Arta Lama
  • Khenpo A-chos (1998)[12]


  1. ^ Norbu, Namkhai. Dream Yoga Revised. Snow Lion 2002, page 56.
  2. ^ a b Dudjom Rinpoche. Wisdom Nectar. Snow Lion 2005, page 296. "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)."
  3. ^ Dalai Lama. (2004). Dzogchen, pg. 32. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8.
  4. ^ Kunsang, Erik Pema. Perfect Clarity. Ranjung Yeshe 2012, page 154.
  5. ^ a b Reginald Ray, Secret of the Vajra World. Shambhala 2001, page 323.
  6. ^ Norbu (1999), pp. 158-161
  7. ^ Matthieu, Richard. 2001. The Life of Shakbar. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. pg. 153
  8. ^ Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen
  9. ^ Kenchen Tsewang Rigdzin-Rainbow Body
  10. ^ 前世今生论
  11. ^ Tsultrim Allione 2000
  12. ^ Holland, Gail. Christian * Zinkie (2006) Buddhist Explorations: The Rainbow Body in The Snow Lion Newsletter


External links[edit]