Dzogchen is a Tibetan Buddhist yogic practice that is known to produce rainbow body. Sometimes called the Great Perfection, Tibetans consider it the fastest path to enlightenment. Dzogchen creates a state of mind from which the physical body transforms from a formed to a formless condition, becoming invisible to the common eye (i.e., rainbow body). This mental state is known as the true nature of mind.
Two phases are involved. In the first, called trekchö, the practitioner trains to accept that all physical phenomena are emanated aspects of a universal mind. In other words, if the universal mind is a cow’s udder, the teats on the udder would be emanates (not creation) of it. To the naked eye, each teat appears physically different. But, in essence, all teats are the same; an emanate of the mother udder, an aspect thereof. Thus, the trekchö practitioner learns to look through the physical differences found in mother nature and find sameness (universality) in everything that comes before the senses. When this happens in the day-to-day with effortless spontaneity the person will have achieved true state of mind. The once embodied aspect of the universal returns to the universal from which it emanated (i.e., rainbow body is realized). The teats merges with the mother udder…they become what they once were.
Dzogchen is the path to selflessness. Self is the agency that makes us think that we are different from everything else in our field of vision. It is the agency that makes us think we are the center of attention wherever we might be. When everything is viewed with sameness there is nothing to be different from. In that situation, there is not such thing as self. Selflessness is like 24/7 non-thinking meditation for, when everything is the same, there is nothing to think about. Self is a pure mental construct. No surgeon has ever found one on the operating table nor no mortician on the autopsy slab. It is truly amazing how this little non-existing thing can have such major influence on life.
Another way to neutralize self is through non-dual perception. In non-duality all material world objects and conditions which express with polarity are viewed with sameness. Thus, the distinctions between short/tall, fat/skinny, common/elite, gay/straight, male/female and so forth disappear into sameness. Everything, including self, just is.
Dzogchen’s second phase is called thögal. While trekchö and thögal practices usually proceed in parallel, the former must be completed before the latter can find realization. Thögal centers around the notion of a subtle body which supports the physical body. The subtle body is a system of energy channels which feed five chakras. The channels/chakras distribute animating energy and functional know-how throughout the body using disciplined breathing techniques. When trekchö is complete the practitioner curtails the animating/cognitive energy distribution in support of the dissolution that is primed to take place.
Ascetic, meditative lifestyles are prevalent traits of Dzogchen practitioners. The practitioners engage in deep, prolonged, meditation practices in order to absorb teachings. The meditation typically takes place in caves and hermitages, far removed from society. Practitioners, ever aware of the pitfalls of karma, live under a high moral imperative to avoid otherwise being blown off course by karmic influence. The practice is conducted under the watchful and demanding guidance of an accomplished Master who guides his students through the learning process. The Master is crucial to the process. Unlike a teacher who passes along knowledge to his students, the Master also passes along understanding. The Master and the student enjoy a very special relationship where their respective minds overlap.
While this blog speaks to the condition of a person’s mind, the reference is a literary convenience only. When true nature of mind is achieved (i.e., a state of total selflessness) the body returns to the primordial emptiness from which it came (rainbow body). That is, in the example given above, the “teats return to the mother udder.” Thus, the mind is not something a person owns. It is something a person is. The body is mind assembled into form and, it takes on, and remains in, form whenever it observes itself as if it was a self. In Christian vernacular the body is the “Word made Flesh.” Cessation of observation of self (e.g., non-duality) causes the body (i.e., mind assembled into form) to return to the primordial state of emptiness that it is. This is what Einstein, Planck and their peers meant when they said that the all matter is a derivative of consciousness. It is also what the Buddha meant when he famously said that the world is empty when it is empty of self.
There is at least one school in Tibet which teaches Dzogchen. As of 2018 it has thirteen rainbow body deaths to its credit since resuming operation in the late 1950’s.