From "The Life of Shabkar: An Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogi" translated by Matthieu Ricard, and published by SUNY, 1994.


Padmasambhava Rainbowbody

"Handsome body-
Like a rainbow in space.

Sweet Voice -- Like Brahma's song.

Vast Mind -- Like the wide expanse of sky: To the manifestation of the timeless teacher's (guru's) body, speech, and mind, I bow down.

Look with stainless wisdom-eyes on myriad beings, each one once our mother. Grant your blessing that, having swiftly realized the absolute body, I may manifest the true body of form.

I, the yogin Tsogdruk Rangdrol, will now sing some essential advice: Fortunate one's, who wish to achieve buddhahood in this very life, with this very body: Listen with respect.

The root of all that exists, Samsara and nirvana, is one's own mind. Primordially, mind is emptiness.

Merge then into the sky-like absolute expanse,
Empty, luminous, beyond clinging.

Outside, inside, eyes open or closed,
Day night; asleep, awake:
No difference

During practice, after practice,
Mind, appearances;
blend them.

Continuously, without wavering.
Merge completely with this vibrant, sky-like state.

Even if you died right now, you would have no regrets. Death is release into the luminosity of dharmakaya;
Out of the expanse of the absolute body, the body of form arises.

Although on this path, there can be no mistakes,
It is still wiser to avoid complacency.

Once you have achieved stability in meditation, do not remain satisfied with that alone.

If you persist, practicing the instructions to transmute the body of this life into a body of light, you will become like deathless Lotus Born One (the Primordial Buddha).

Therefore, fortunate heart-son, practice the development stage of the yidam deity. Then consider your body as the yidam, apparent, yet empty;

Consider the outer world as a Pure Land, a celestial palace, and ALL beings as gods and goddesses.

In the center (sushumna) of your divine body, visualize the three channels and the chakras, the Ah and the Hung [syllables].
Holding prana in the vase, practice the Tummo meditation [consisting of the synchronization of pranayama and visualization), the main practice of the completion stage.

Abandoning the nine actions of the three doors, utilizing the postures [asanas] and crucial points of the sense doors, the sense-fields, energy and awareness, meditate on the Dzogchen practice of Thoegal.

The distance covered by a great ship pulled on land by a hundred men for a hundred days, can be covered in just one day when it is put to sea.

In the same way. a single day of meditation performed with real stability of mind brings more progress than a hundred days practicing the development and completion stages before stability of mind has been reached.

If you persevere in practice, your skandhas will be freed in a body of rainbow light in this very lifetime, in this very body.

If you lack diligence, even though you do not achieve the rainbow body in this life, your death will occur without suffering and be accompanied by marvelous signs and [so-called] miracles." Pages 275-276

... and again

"Like a magician transforming one thing into another, you must learn to exchange non-virtue for virtue, and for the sake of all beings release the great waves of Bodhisattva activity. If you accomplish this perfectly, the fruit of the rupakaya will open....

The alchemy of the development stage will transmute the iron of your three doors into the gold of deities, mantras, and samadhi. The tummo fire [kundalini heat] of the completion stage will refine time again and again the rough ore of the skandhas and cast it as the golden image, non-duality.

Having clarified the butter churned from the milk of the Sutrayana and the mantrayana, enjoy with pleasure the medicinal milk of the Mahamudra. If you taste the dakinis' profound and secret heart-essence, in this life you will achieve the rainbow body.

Train the fledgling wings of your mind to fly through the fontanelle window of your body's house. Continuously let mind bask in the sun --
Luminous emptiness free from mistaking thought [objects] as [solid, separate, or] real -- Then, lasting bliss will [be allowed to] arise [naturally by itself]..."

About the Rainbow Light body

The Rainbow light body is the energy body of a fully realized master. In Tibetan Buddhism it can be realized in three ways; through the practices of Anuttara tantra, the special practices of the Kalachakra Tantra , or through Dzogchen. One may perceive it to be the transformative sambhogakaya (enjoyment body) which serving as a template, transforms the physical body into its highest rate of vibratory form. The three kayas (dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya) when integrated harmoniously form the svabhavakaya. or sahajkaya . The physical body governed by this template can dissolves into it once the pathways/channels have become opened and strengthened. It is here where the transformation takes place into the vajrakaya (or mahasukha-prajnakaya) -- the rainbow light body.

Vimalamitra spent thirteen years in Tibet, and then, left to Wutai Shan Mountain (Mount Wutan) in NorthEast China promising to return and emanate in Tibet every hundred years to further the Clear Light teaching of Dzogpachenpo. This is the same mountain where Shri Singha is said to inhabit. It is said that Vimalamitra remains, in the Rainbowbody of Great Transference (Tib. ja lu phowa chenpo) until all of the 1002 Buddhas of this fortunate kalpa have emanated. After that he will go take his vajrasana in Bodhi (Bodhigaya in the physical world), where he will manifest the state of complete, pure, and perfect enlightenment. Here the five elements that constitute all things are transmuted and purified into their primordial essences. These five elements relate to primordial source, like a seed relates to a potentially great tree and its fruit. The five elements also correspond to all of nature (prakrti, shakti, evolutionary force, conditions, nature, the Motherly Buddha), the major chakras, sounds, colors, the pure and impure emotions, the wisdom energies, and the "mysterious" integration of the inner and outer mandalas.


The rainbow light body/vajrakaya teachings pertain to the psycho- energetic components connected to material existence or manifestation/emanation. When the bodies align, its the dharmakaya (the formless truth body of the Primordial Buddha), sambhogakaya (the bliss body which is constituted of psycho-energetic components), and nirmanakaya (the emanation or physical/manifestation body), which all align in a harmonious unity as one, called the svabhavakaya – as-it-is.

The Dharmakaya naturally expresses itself as truth embodied. It's essential nature is absolute/ultimate bodhicitta. That is how it expresses when the innate Buddhanature/isvara is activated, spontaneously by opening up the pathways. Because the pathways have become conditioned through past negative karma, the yogi usually has to make an effort to clean out the pathways and create opportune conditions for this to occur.

That is why it is fruitless to attempt the rainbowbody without activating absolute bodhicitta/buddhanature. It just can't happen mechanically, although many egos have tried with disaster as the result. Activate the bodhicitta and realize the svabhavakaya, and one will then what is to be done is known in the light of true wisdom.

Svabhava (in svabhavakaya) means intrinsic vision as-it-is, pure intrinsic nature, or natural original nature. That occurs when the dharmas and psychic pathways are purified, activated, and aligned. When that purification, activation, and integration, extends to the five elements, the marmas, nadis, bindu, and winds inside the body form an inner synchrony with the cosmos (prakrti, the evolutionary force, Shakti Ma, or Motherly Buddha which are the dynamic sum total of causes and conditions since beginningless  time). This integration is the same as the integration of the microcosm and macrocosm, only here there are three bodies to integrate. Then one can recognize the true nature of the rainbow light body as it becomes illumined/activated and integrated in this conscious dimension.     

In some schools of yoga, the rainbowbody depends on inner psycho-energetic dynamics which purify and transform, activate, open, and integrate the physical body with the energy body (illusory body), and truth-body (dharmakaya). This eventually happens spontaneously and naturally, but most yogis will have to cultivate the ground as their karmic condition has become somewhat obscured.

Not much more can be said here about how, what, or when. It matters not how we label it. Talk, thoughts, and speculation are indeed cheap. Full one pointed and unhurried practice with full devotion is the key.

Bodhicitta Bhumi!

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