A rainbow body (Tibetan: Jalü or Jalus (Wylie 'ja' lus); Mandarin Chinese: 虹光身 / 光蘊身; Cantonese: Hong Gworng Sun / Gworng Whun Sun) is a body not made of flesh, but consists of pure light, an astral body.

In Dzogchen

The rainbow body is the physical mastery state of Dzogchen of the Nyingmapa and the Bönpo where the trikaya (Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya) is in accord and the nirmanakaya is congruent with bodymind and the integrity of the mindstream to the heartmind) is realised as Dharmakaya. The corporeal body of the realised Dzogchenpa, which is now hallowed, returns to the primordial energetic essence of the Five Pure Lights of the five elemental processes through the Bardo of Mahasamadhi or Parinirvana. This is then projected as the mindstream through the process of phowa. The realiser of Jalus resides in the timeless, eternal space that is considered a mystery.

According to Dzogchen lore, the attainment of the Rainbow Body is the sign of complete realisation of the Dzogchen view. As Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002: p.141) states: “The realised Dzogchen practitioner, no longer deluded by apparent substantiality or dualism such as mind and matter, releases the energy of the elements that compose the physical body at the time of death."

More specifically, the rainbow body is constituted by the Five Pure Lights. When the view of Dzogchen and the integrity of the mindstream which links the Trikaya is realised prior to the death-Bardo (Skt. antarabhava), the bodymind of the Nirmanakaya (Tib. sprul sku) Dzogchenpa enters samādhi (Tib. ting nge ‘dzin)[1] and commences Phowa or the ‘transferral of consciousness’ into the constituent Five Pure Lights of the Sambhogakaya (Tib. longs sku)[2] to the Dharmakaya, sometimes leaving the non-living faecal elements of the bodymind such as hair and nails.

There have been a number of documented sightings of the Jalus process through the Bardo of death which may take a number of days to complete. The bodymind of the Nirmanakaya in samadhi, all the time decreasing its dimensionality as the constituent Five Pure Lights of the mindstream are transmuted into the 'glorious body' of Sambhogakaya.

From the case studies of those who have realised the rainbow body the practices of tregchöd and thödgal are key.

In Sutras

Besides secret and unrevealed scriptures, the rainbow body is also mentioned in some Mahayana Sutras, for example, Mahayana Secret Sublime Sutra (大乘密嚴經, Taisho Tripitaka 0681, 0682) says:

They had therefore achieved the Wisdom Concentration, and acquired Mind-Created Bodies, which are adorned with mighty supernatural powers. Such bodies are free of any interspaces, bones, or substances, they are like the sun and the moon, like rainbows, electricity, finest gold, luminous pearls, Sphatikas, Pravadas, Hridaras, Campakas, Pavonine Flowers and Moons, and the images from mirrors.

List of people said to have attained a rainbow body

It is speculated as many as 100,000 people throughout history may have achieved this.[3][4] Many on this list are Nyingma Buddhists. Kenchen Tsewang Rigdzin disappeared alive in 1958.[5][6]

  • Togden Ugyen Tendzin
  • Khenpo A-chos (1998)[7]
  • Ayu Khandro (1953)
  • Nima Cultrim Rinpoche Teache of Arta Lama
  • Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen

Two Tibetan Buddhists are reported to have achieved this in 1998 and 2008.[8][9]

Agni dhatu samadhi

Agni dhatu samadhi (火光三昧), the spontaneous combustion of many Indian Patriarchs of Chán Buddhism,[10] Chinese monks Yuanmo (元模)[11] and Juxing (具行) [12].

Sakhu is a transformation to Akh in ancient Egyptian belief similar to rainbow body.


Rainbow body is not self-immolation as the body is transformed after death.

There is however a controversial practice of Self-immolation in Mahayana Buddhism. In the Lotus sutra a boddhisattva Bhaisajyaraja (藥王菩薩) performed dana to the buddha Candrasurya-Vimlaprabhasasri (日月淨明德佛) through self-immolation. Some Mahayana Buddhists in China and Vietnam have performed this controversial practice.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Some Buddhists, such as Thích Quảng Đức and Liang Qing burned themselves in protest against the persecution of Buddhists.[21][22] [23][24][25]



  • Mahayana Secret Sublime Sutra (大乘密嚴經, Taisho Tripitaka 0681, 0682)
  • The Scripture of Forty-nine Chapters, by Ultra Supreme Emptiness Emperor, the Heavenly Lord (太上虛皇天尊四十九章經), in the "Orthodox Tao Store" (正統道藏) compiled during Ming Dynasty (AD 1368 – 1644)
  • A Poem that Enlightens Those Who Get Lost and Rectifies the Way to Tao (破迷正道歌) by Taoist master Tzong Ley Kyun during Torng Dynasty (AD 617 – 960)
  • "The Great Dictionary of Taoism"(道教大辭典), by Chinese Taoism Association, published in China in 1994, ISBN 7-5080-0112-5/B.054
  • Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai Rinpoche (Edited by John Shane) (1988). The Crystal and the Way of Light.. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0140190848
  • Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (1999). The Crystal and The Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-135-9
  • Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002). Healing with Form, Energy, and Light. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1559391766
  • Rinpoche, Sogyal; Harvey, Andrew (Editor) & Gaffney, Patrick (Editor)(1993). Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. (Rev and Updated ed.). HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 9780062508348 ISBN 0062508342
  • Reynolds, John Myrdhin (1996). The Golden Letters. (1st ed edition). Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1559390506 ISBN 978-1559390507
  • Blackman, Sushila (Compiled and edited) (1997). Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die: Death Stories Of Tibetan, Hindu & Zen Masters. New York, US: Weatherhill, Inc. ISBN 0 8348 0391 7

External links

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