The link below will be a good place to follow the research attempting to document this phenomenon, which from all accounts is the quickening of the body's natural dissolution via the adept's advanced state of consciousness; this, in the Vajrayana yogic lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, is considered the ultimate expression of non-dual awareness, where the body's intelligence is brought fully into awareness through intensive cultivation of witnessing consciousness and kundalini powers during the adept's lifetime. There is also an emphasis, at least in the stories of those rare adepts who allegedly die in this way, of their having been very compassionate, or enlightened souls.
In any case, it isn't unknown to hear analogies made to Christ's resurrection, although the two events have strikingly different features:
The Rainbow Body isn't the adept's ability to control death, and doesn't involve the transformation of dying into a light body with the body re-appearing afterward as re-animated or, in the case of the resurrection accounts of Jesus, as a body fully physical yet unbounded by the physical world i.e, neither resuscitated nor a ghost. Apparitions of light are know to be common after the body is dissolved, but no accounts I'm aware of where the adept reappears as a physical human being.
One might say that Jesus' resurrection body dissolves into light during his ascension, but the nature of His resurrected body suggests something else occuring than simply dissolution under the inevitable constraints of death, as is the case with these Tibetan yogis.
Theirs seems to be the typical course of death, yet in a person whose kundalini awakening during life was profound, eliciting a high degree of mind-body congruity during dying, where the enlightened body embodies the mind's relatively purified condition, implying that in life the adept's body/unconscious will was as nearly awake as our own limited mentation. These are referenced as the siddhis in Buddhist and Hindu folklore, and suggest that the typically polarized energies that uphold the mind-body dichotomy are alchemized to an exceptional degree.
Similar phenomena are recorded in Christian literature, such as incorruptability of dead saints' bodies, levitation, Mt. Tabor-like manifestations, stigmata, profound healings, etc . . .
What stands out in the Gospel accounts is the early church's insistence that the disciples' experience of Jesus was neither in the form of a resuscitated body, nor as a ghost, nor as a body of light resembling Him physically.
Jesus speaks somewhat mysteriously to one of the women who greet and embrace him beyond the empty tomb by telling her not to touch Him, as He hasn't yet ascended to the Father. Yet He allows Thomas to touch His wounds, passes through walls, and eats fish with his friends.
The early church seems to have made every attempt to state both the profundity of Jesus' Easter appearance to them, but more than this the importance of His person as God incarnate. IOW, while there may be some resemblance to the Rainbow Body, the passage of God Himself through these processes procures a different meaning than one's guru vanishing from sight.
In a sense, one might say that the Rainbow Body, if it isn't simply an important metaphor or legend in Tibetan folklore, is what the soul is doing at death, gathering as much of its longing while letting go of its attachments to this world, but with a vast amount of the mind-body's polarized energies resolved/alchemized; this would be the body dissolving back into the soul, its template. We see a more decrepit form of this in the way the body feeds upon itself, dissolving during the catabolic state in the end stage dying process, which releases tremendous amounts of endogenous morphine to allow the transition.
And so our bodies are only partly awake as consciousness, although they are prone to this awakeness the more open the heart is. Were they fully awake, they'd reveal their nature as temples of the resplendent soul. However, it seems to have been the wise counsel of the church to encourage, even insist, that phenomenon like this not be the focus of attention in the mystic's life.
Here's a link with more detailed descriptions of allegedly recent rainbow body transformations, with some excerpts:
Here are some excerpts, which suggests a tendency to view Jesus' resurrection in this way, although the gospel descriptions suggest more than just the body dissolving back into the resplendence of the soul:
"Steindl-Rast?s own curiosity about the rainbow body began when he heard various stories of Tibetan masters who had, through their practices, reached a high degree of wisdom and compassion. It was reported to him that when they died, rainbows suddenly appeared in the sky. ?And I was told that after several days their bodies disappeared. Sometimes fingernails and hair were left. Sometimes nothing was left.?
These stories made him reflect upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is central to his own faith. "We know that Jesus was a very compassionate, selfless person. When he died, according to the gospels, his body was no longer there."
Of course, this is quite different from the gospel accounts; their emphasis being that Jesus' resurrection body was trasformed, yet just as physical as luminous.
"In today?s world, Steindl-Rast points out, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is interpreted differently, depending upon one's spiritual leanings. For fundamentalists, the resurrection?the act of rising from the dead "happened only to Jesus, and couldn?t happen to any other human. The minimalists, on the other hand, says Steindl-Rast, focus on Jesus' spirit living on, and believe that the resurrection of Jesus had nothing to do with his body."
This person is probably only paraphrasing Steindl-Rast, unless he's flown the Catholic coop completely. "The rainbow body is a complex phenomenon that will probably take years of study. "If we can establish as an anthropological fact," says Steindl-Rast, "that what is described in the resurrection of Jesus has not only happened to others, but is happening today, it would put our view of human potential in a completely different light." This is all a part of the New Age enthusiasm that seeks to pull Christian notions into more "enlightened" perspectives, apart from any real discourse. That much was clear enough in Jim Marion's dialogues with Phil.
- Recent Rainbow Body Experiences
"Through his Swiss contact, Tiso received the name of the monk whose body had vanished after his death: Khenpo A-chos, a Gelugpa monk of Khams, Tibet, who died in 1998. Tiso was able to locate the village, situated in a remote area where Khenpo A-chos had his hermitage. He then went to the village and conducted taped interviews with eyewitnesses to Khenpo A-chos' death. He also spoke to many people who had known him.
"This was a very interesting man, aside from the way he died," observes Tiso. "Everyone mentioned his faithfulness to his vows, his purity of life, and how he often spoke of the importance of cultivating compassion. He had the ability to teach even the roughest and toughest of types how to be a little more gentle, a little more mindful. To be in the man's presence changed people."
Tiso interviewed Lama Norta, a nephew of Khenpo A-chos; Lama Sonam Gyamtso, a young disciple; and Lama A-chos, a dharma friend of the late Khenpo A-chos. They described the following: "A few days before Khenpo A-chos died, a rainbow appeared directly above his hut. After he died, there were dozens of rainbows in the sky. Khenpo A-chos died lying on his right side. He wasn't sick; there appeared to be nothing wrong with him, and he was reciting the mantra Om mani padme hum over and over. According to the eyewitnesses, after his breath stopped his flesh became kind of pinkish. One person said it turned brilliant white. All said it started to shine.
"Lama A-chos suggested wrapping his friend's body in a yellow robe, the type all Gelug monks wear. As the days passed, they maintained they could see, through the robe, that his bones and his body were shrinking. They also heard beautiful, mysterious music coming from the sky, and they smelled perfume.
"After seven days, they removed the yellow cloth, and no body remained. Lama Norta and a few other individuals claimed that after his death Khenpo A-chos appeared to them in visions and dreams."
Now, there are some distinctions that stand out here with the gospel accounts. The latter speak of no rainbows, which appears to be the way the enlightened person's presence announces itself in this Tibetan phenomenon. As for visions and dreams, the gospel accounts make it clear that Jesus' appearance was as a physical being, and though he walked through walls, he did so in physical form, just as he ate and walked amoung them, allowing physical touch to demonstrate his identity to them. Jesus' physical presence seems to be the primary feature of the early church's witness to His resurrection.
- Other Rainbow Body Manifestations
"Francis Tiso remarks that one of his most intriguing interviews was with Lama A-chos. He told Tiso that when he died he, too, would manifest the rainbow body. 'He showed us two photographs taken of him in the dark, and in these photographs his body radiated rays of light. Because Lama A-chos emphasized that it was possible to manifest the rainbow body while still alive, not just in death, Tiso plans to return to Tibet with professional camera equipment to try to photograph this radiating light."
This further distinguishes the rainbow body from Jesus' resurrection, as Christian saints have been well-documented in displaying various forms of luminosity, which could be understood as heightened kundalini activity increasing the body's pourosity. To say that the rainbow body can be achieved during life, prior to death, is to further delimit it as a subtle body transformation incapable of restoring itself to physical form once the body is dissolved. From this Buddhist pov, one could speculate that Jesus did undergo a rainbow body type trasformation, dissolving as these yogis allegedly do, but re-incarnating as His fully physical indentity. Whereas the rainbow body partakes of the dying process with greater consciousness, re-manifesting as the physical body once dissolved would seem to involve the ability to create out of nothing, since there are no accounts of being able to overcome death among these Tibetan legends.
"Other incidents of metanormal occurrences upon death are also being studied. For instance, two of Tiso's colleagues were present for the postmortem process of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who died eight years ago. 'This man was a very large-boned individual,' says Tiso, 'and it was reported that seven weeks after his death the flesh was reduced. That could have been done by chemical substances. However, the bones also shrank."
I'm familiar with accounts of this deceased Lama, who was considered a kind of modern Buddha. Again, we have here accounts similar to the incorruptability of exumed Christian saints.
"Lama A-chos told Tiso that it takes sixty years of intensive practice to achieve the rainbow body. 'Whether it always takes that long, I don?t know,' acknowledges Tiso, 'but we would like to be able to incorporate, in a respectful way, some of these practices into our own Western philosophical and religious traditions."
One has to wonder: why would it be important for a Christian priest to incorporate these practices? Again, this link is probably paraphrasing the investigators; but the question remains: what is the value of this in terms of virtue? How easy it is to get enamoured with such phenomena.
"At the same time, continues Tiso, the research team plans to expand the scope of this research beyond the confines of the Tibetan culture, so they can compare the rainbow body phenomenon with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To our knowledge, says Tiso, the bodies of most Christian saints did not disappear or shrink after their deaths. 'Highly realized saints in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity tend to move in the direction of incorruption, so that the body does not decay after death. However, he adds, bodily ascensions are mentioned in the bible and other traditional texts for Enoch, Mary, Elijah, and possibly Moses. And there are numerous stories of saints materializing after their death, similar to the widespread phenomenon known as the 'light-body."
What these accounts suggest, obviously, is that the phenomenon itself is less important than who is undergoing it. The references to Enoch and Elijah and Moses remind of Mount Tabor in the presence of Jesus, and yet in the gospel accounts Mount Tabor isn't considered the decisive event, or even among them; it isn't included in the incarnation of God, and His resurrection and ascension which bring about the full Christian meaning distinct from human attainments of enlightenment. As for re-materialization of saints, this is again more in the form of visions and light bodies, not as fully physical beings with the same valid existence as prior to their death.
"In my church of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Italy, we have a large number of accounts, going back centuries, that indicate that these saints appeared in dreams and visions, rescued people from harm, and cured them of diseases. Even today, people still tell me they have these visions," says Tiso.
"In 1984, when Tiso was meditating with his eyes open in a chapel in Italy, he, too, had an extraordinary vision. Jesus Christ, he says, appeared before him in the form of a violet light-body. At that time, Tiso was considering taking a teaching position in the United States, but in this vision Christ indicated he should stay in Italy. 'It was important not to make a mistake at that point in my life,' reflects Tiso. 'I did stay in Italy, where I was eventually ordained, and I lived in a hermitage chapel for almost twelve years.' Tiso has also had several Tibetan teachers appear to him in dreams. When he gives public lectures he speaks frankly about these experiences, because he feels it is important for people to understand that they are more common than we think. 'I think that as people mature in their spiritual practice, they begin to have visionary experiences."
- Research Implications
"This research is clearly controversial because it tackles the age-old questions of life after death, the immortal soul, and reincarnation. Furthermore, it suggests that the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ was not an isolated case, but shines as an example of what may be possible for all human beings."
"Both Tiso and Steindl-Rast emphasize that these experiences are said to occur only in highly evolved individuals who are the embodiment of compassion and love. They speculate these qualities -- conscience and consciousness - are a driving force of evolution. 'It is my great hope that the rainbow body research will make us more aware of this possibility,' says Steindl-Rast."As for the rainbow body, Tiso and his team hope to actually witness and scientifically document the entire experience while it is occurring."This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
So far I haven't found any updates to this research project more recent than the Noetic Sciences outline of that proposal, which was back in 2000.
From this Buddhist pov, one could speculate that Jesus did undergo a rainbow body type trasformation, dissolving as these yogis allegedly do, but re-incarnating as His fully physical indentity.
That makes sense to some extent, w.c., but the "re-incarnation" would have to be distinguished from a mere recussitation, where the body eventually dies again. Resurrection affirms so much more than recussitation -- quantumly more, actually.
Yes, that was implied, but not stated well. I didn't mean "re-incarnation" as the Buddhists mean, but as you are alluding: Jesus glorified as the second person of the Trinity so His disciples could see Him in this way, which also witnesses to the His body in the Eucharist, the latter recorded in one of the gospels where Jesus disappears from their sight upon the breaking of bread, i,e, that His resurrected presence is now our Holy Communion with Him.
So Jesus' resurrected body would an expression of His Eternal nature, something quite distinct from the Rainbow Body that is only immortal as the soul's energetic, post-death presence.
Jesus' resurrected body is the source of Creation. The distinction is no less brazen than this. The non-dual field of consciousness is still being upheld beyond creation, or it wouldn't exist as a human experience or state of being. This "I" can witness creation in progress, but cannot originate its existence or design.
As Phil alludes, Jesus's resurrected body was Eternity fully incarnate, where body and soul are unified with their Creator and transformed and finally indestructable in Him. Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, who is an outpouring of Love to the Father now pours out, through the Holy Spirit which is their pure love resonance, this indestructable Body of Love that includes all humanity in the form of the Eucharist; this is Jesus' ascended body as His resurrected body in essence.
I find it strange that Tiso and Steindl-Rast, before even witnessing the Rainbow Body, would assume it the same as Jesus' resurrected body. The distinctions are on the order of levels of being, with the Rainbow Body merely a speeding up of a natural process via the dissolving of the mind-body tension into the luminosity of the soul that is nonetheless incapable of transforming death back into life (let alone into an indestructable physical being), or of creating out of nothing.
So to be in control of life and death itself, as Jesus was, and as the gospel writers take such care to describe in various ways, is no less than being the power of the uncreated Eternal in which the present moment and all phenomena inhere. His resurrected body appears to embody all that both human and divine natures would suggest.
As considered earlier, the Rainbow Body appears to be an accelerated expression of the natural luminosity which all dying people experience as their bodies decay and the soul decouples from its sense-based orientation.
It's interesting that such phenomenon, as in levitation, were discouraged in the Christian traditioin by spiritual directors for fear the one with these extraordinary psychic developments would become inordinately attached, or addicted, to them as obscurations of relationship with God. Those who dabble in eastern mysticism and view Christianity to be a bit obsolete in giving such advice are probably wedded to notions such as "Christ consciousness," where creatures and Creator are viewed as ultimately the same, inspite of the fact that no creature can overcome death itself (suicides aren't even one's willing death, but yearning to be free of intractable pain).
And so levitation, which many Christians experienced, isn't by itself a sign of deep sanctification, but is similar to the Rainbow Body phenomenon, where kundalini becomes so conscious that it overtly consumes bodily functions which it normally helps the soul regulate.
I find it interesting that Tibetan Buddhists seem to assume that those with the Rainbow Body experience are examples of holiness.
Very well said W.C. regarding holiness not being a necessity in levitation and siddhis. Were that true, we would not have any black magicians at all. Anyone being a student of the occult and going through a process of purification will be able to attain some occult powers. These occult powers are so trivial compared to the treasures of a true spirit filled life.
True powers are gifts from God, and are His powers to be used in service to Him. Any sincere spiritual aspirant will not be impressed with sidhis, nor will any true spiritual Master.
Humanity should only pursue a path of love and the hope of attaining freedom in God.
One of my sisters has shared with me that she was present in the room when her father-in-law died at around 3 am several years ago. Shortly before the death, she was awakened and the room was misty, as with a fog of sorts. A luminescent elderly woman was consoling the dying man, caressing his head. She simply faded from view shortly afterwards, and it was then that his breathing stopped. There was, briefly, a palpable sense of his presence in the room, then that, too, was gone. A few weeks later, she saw a picture of his mother as they were going through his stuff; it was the woman she had seen in the room.
I mention this because it seems that disincarnate human souls can manifest themselves to us in a number of ways. Sometimes we feel their presence close to us without seeing them; sometimes we encounter them in dreams; then there are ghosts; numerous Saints have appeared to different people throughout history, often very vividly; "rainbow bodies" seem to be another kind of manifestation where the soul draws to itself (or retains) sufficient matter/energy to manifest to the naked eye, at least for a brief period. As we've noted already, however, none of these apparitions should be confused with the resurrected body, where the soul of Christ was re-integrated with his body in such a manner as to enable him, through the medium of his risen body, to become a conduit of the Spirit in the space/time universe. Same goes for Mary, his mother, although her risen body is a participation in his victory, as ours will be as well.
Phil thank you for your sharing. I am right now looking at a photograph taken four years ago during my final farewell trip to see my Mom one more time. The photograph shows me embracing my Mom and standing next to me at the right side of me is a clearly visible being of light. Several spiritual knowlegeable persons have commented on the photograph and told me that it clearly shows either a powerful angel, discarnate soul, spirit, etc. This photograph is proof of life hereafter. There was no flaw in the film, nor anything that was produced due to a shadow, etc. It is a real sign of the power and love of God. Also it may be a powerful family guardian spirit and that I come from a faithful God serving lineage which goes back to the days of Christ, and is of an extreme high order.
The first photograph shows the spirit and/or soul, saint, etc. materializing like the speed of light. A Mormon High Priest said that it was the Holy Spirit of God. This spirit being was also seen visibly around me holding my hand during a cancer check-up by a renowned physician. This spirit being is so revered and honored that this physician almost fell to his knees to honor him/her. Needless to say, I shall treasure these photographs and know that we are all guarded and watched over by holy servants of God.
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