Rainbow body speaks to many aspects of the human experience, including, at the top of the list, reincarnation. A human body vanishing because of its owner’s expressed intent to forego material existence attests to the primacy of mind over matter and the survival of consciousness at death. It is in this mind-matter understanding that we must accept a basic premise: if mind can dissolve the body, then it can likewise create it. The door swings both ways; vanish versus appear, rainbow body versus reincarnation. The human body is but a proxy for the human mind and rainbow body attests to this truth.
But why? Why would mind assemble itself into human form? It is because of karma. Karma is the voice of regret, a perturbation in consciousness that originated with life’s ill-gotten decisions, and which cries out for justice. Thus, driven by the need to make things right, consciousness asserts the intent that is required in order for elements of matter to exist in accord with the science of the atom. The elements, so intended into existence, take shape in human form and the assembled mind-body complex goes about the business of cleaning up the karmic accumulation that longs for reconciliation. The clean-up can be looked upon as “taking a dose of one’s own medicine.”
The many, many reports of reincarnation that we read about in the media are more than a living person recalling personal aspects of some deceased person’s life. They are the living ones, under the influence of karmic winds, taking up where the former ones left off, cleaning up the accumulated karmic effects the former lives left behind. Unfortunately, in the process of clean-up the new life all too often adds to the karmic accumulation instead of taking away. Thus, a now-larger accumulation is passed along like a dirty baton in a foot-race. And, the beat goes on and the world’s problems continue to mount.
The 14th Dalai Lama is the reincarnate of the 13th, Thubten Gyastso (1878–1933)