The Rainbow Body (Stages of Development 5)
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is something that is referred to as “attaining the rainbow body.” In the stories of the Tibetan yogis, this is described as an ultimate achievement of enlightenment and consciousness for one that is still in the flesh. I first heard of this from a teacher of mine some years ago. What he explained to me, at the time, sounded like something from a faery tale or fantasy novel. But at the time I had already witnessed many, many things.
So, I was far from dismissing his story. He said that to attain the rainbow body meant that a yogi had dedicated their life to dissolving all levels of attachment, and thus completing karmic cycles, during this lifetime. That one that had done so through diligent practice and the dedication to enlightenment would, essentially, clear all of the bands of luminosity that constitute the physical form and, one by one, dissolve them into light. What was left when the rainbow body was attained was nothing more than hair and fingernails. The yogi, essentially, dissolved into pure consciousness as light and was liberated from the physical form.
My time with this teacher was a pathway to many things. Some of them were tools that he gave me, things to clear spaces and remove demons, things to transform what was ready and willing to transform. During this time, this teacher of mine, who had also spent a significant part of his life in the Amazon learning to re-member, helped me to do the same.
There are energetic parcels of us, within us, that get lost to the conscious mind under the imprinting of our social construct. We are taught to forget certain things because to acknowledge them, to honor them and live with them, would shatter the way that we perceive the world at a given point in time. So, in order to stay functional in the world, at the level of energetic capacity we currently possess, we have to let certain things be stored away in the background of who and what we are. These parts of us stay with us, but they remain in the left-side awareness, also called the second attention, or the nagual. It is only when we have accumulated enough energy through acts of will and by releasing unnecessary energetic attachments that these component parts open up and can then be perceived by the conscious awareness, either as spontaneous thoughts, recollections, or dreams. This is re-membering.
In my time with this teacher of mine many aspects that had been latent in my awareness started coming to the forefront. Never things that accumulated to one, all-encompassing and Hollywood-esque moment of perpetual enlightenment, but more like breadcrumbs that traced back into my distant past, and aligned what had seemed to be random events into a continuity that showed me that there had been nothing random about my life path.
During one of the ceremonies that this teacher of mine led, something rattled and awoke in my memory. Something old. Much older than my physical body could ever be. In the rattling and exploding supernovas of consciousness that moved through me I saw the birth and death of galaxies. And I, simply, ceased to be.
To attempt to put this into words is as futile as asking a four-year old to engineer a space shuttle then pilot it to the farther reaches of the solar system. It’s ridiculous. Not because of a lack of trying or of a desire to, but because the simple tools we have to communicate, including our sense of self, our egoic-identity, are inadequate to encompass such things.
Most of what I experienced I forgot. As I felt my awareness condensing into a well-known form that first I managed to identify as human, then as male, then as a flashing flurry of characteristics, identifications, ideas, identities I started to weep. I wept and wept and wept at that heart-wrenching sorrow of being separated from what I knew I was already forgetting that I had gone through, that I had been.
What did come back with me was one of those alignments, one of those things, one of those messages of how the seemingly random steps of a life are actually the carefully-crafted stitches that weave together the trajectory of a life. It was Gucu’matz, Kukulcán, Queztalcoatl. The Feathered Serpent. Something woven through my life through seemingly unrelated experiences. Things I would have never pieced together before, had it not been for the help of that teacher and the many powerful spirits that move with him and through him.
In the years since, as I stripped away more and more of the obstacles to living a life devoted to this spiritual warrior’s path, that energy has come into being and into clarity in my life in more ways than I can count. In the brilliance that is the way that one thing links to the next although they may seem worlds apart, I have learned that for the toltecs, there was also something akin to attaining the rainbow body.
When the energetic centers, what we have been referring to as stages of development, are functioning optimally, meaning they are clear of obstructions, attachments, and full of energy, then the awareness of the individual consciousness unites with the luminous consciousness that weaves together all things, and ascends to the seventh stage of development, Tecpatl, the Obsidian Blade. What happens beyond this threshold cannot be put into words. It can’t be touched by human understanding or awareness.
It is said that those that reach this place and move past the threshold of it become a luminous form that streaks across the sky on the voyage out to infinity. That they become a being of light that somewhat resembles a huge serpent. With feathers.