The phenomenon is found most commonly in the Nyingma tradition, one of fiveTibetan Buddhist sects. Most of the practitioners follow a lifelong regimented practice known as Dzogchen. Dzogchen frequently involves extended periods in hermitic conditions, some in total darkness.Two of the Tibetan sects, Bön and Nyingma claim ownership of the practice although all five sects use it.
The objective of Dzogchen is to return the practitioner to his or her primordial state; the true nature. A person’s true nature is that fleeting, microsecond of time in between thoughts. It is like having déjà vu and amnesia at the same time. It is where salt and sugar taste the same. In the primordial state all duality ceases. Good and bad, male and female, salt and sugar, and so forth all blend into one — they just are. The practitioner stabilizes this non-dual view under a full range of behavioral conditions: virtuous, non-virtuous, counter cultural, involuntary survival activity and so forth. Along the way, the practitioner thus exposes himself or herself to activities which might ordinarily result in shame, embarrassment, scorn, and so forth in order to strengthen stability of the non-dual view by becoming immune to what others think. Mainstream West would probably refer to the person as a “weirdo.”
Having achieved an unwavering non-dual view of reality, the student effectively becomes a non-person, setting the stage for the body to dissolve into the primordial void from which it came. Using visualization techniques which center on the Tibetan particular view of the body and its functioning, the practitioner’s body breaks down into its elemental parts in a stream of multicolored light. Dissolution is not possible unless the person first finds his or her primordial state.
In 2018 Devins visited two rainbow body sites and experienced the outpouring of devotion, reverence and respect that Tibetans give to those who achieve the ultimate spiritual state. The rainbow body phenomenon is virtually unknown here in the West but is widely known throughout Tibet, near unanimously by the monastics. The naturalness of a rainbow body death collides with Christian resurrection doctrine where the corpseless death of Jesus is taught to be a singularly unique, divinely orchestrated event. “It is mind-boggling,” Devins says, “to think that a distant culture, considered ignorant by any Western norm one might apply, knows how to die without leaving a corpse behind while the West, with all of its high scholarship, biblical knowledge and high-tech equipment, claims it can’t be done.” Rainbow body conclusively demonstrates the primacy of mind over matter and the awesome power of human intent. It is something Western mainstream refuses to accept.