For followers of traditional Christian teachings the death and eventual resurrection of primary religious figures forms a key element to the religions central tenets.
Indeed, even for non-Christians the story of the reappearance of Christ in the form of a body of light – just three days after his death on the cross, is a remarkably fascinating and mysterious tale.
It is, however, also one that is far from being a unique spiritual experience.
A Cloak of Light
The body of light is said to emerge or manifest within days following the death of a holy, or super-enlightened person and is generally referred to as the ‘Rainbow Body’.
In his book Rainbow Body and Resurrection Francis V. Tiso describes the rainbow body in the following way.
“I am defining the rainbow body in general terms: the shrinkage and disappearance of a human body within a short time after death accompanied by paranormal phenomena such as unusual emanations of light and altered atmospheric conditions in the locality of the deceased.”
In his book Tiso focuses his research upon the case of Khenpo A Cho, a Gelugpa monk of Khams in eastern Tibet who passed away in 1998.
Following the death of Khenpo there were reports of strange paranormal events many felt were directly connected to his passing – including the strange disappearance of his corpse within a week of his dying.
After providing the reader with a brief account of the life of Khenpo, the author describes how the monk spent six years from the age of seventy onwards practising yoga until he attained the rainbow body state.
Prior to his death an actual rainbow appeared in the sky above the village in which Khenpo died. It was seen by locals as an omen of the monks passing.
Journey to Tibet
Fascinated by the stories that he was hearing regarding Khenpo’s death Tiso traveled to Tibet and to his home village to investigate them further. There he met with those who had known Khenpo during his life as well as those who worked and studied at his hermitage.
He also managed to meet with, and interview members of Khenpo’s immediate family – some of whom had been present at the gurus’ deathbed.
Later on, in 2001, he traveled to India and interviewed two young monks who had been eyewitnesses to the phenomena surrounding Khenpo after his death.
Resurrection in Early Christianity
From his examination of Tibetan burial practice and funerary customs Viso expands his investigation into the rainbow body by looking at the story of the Resurrection that developed within the early Christian church. here he references not only the story of Christ as an example of spiritual transformation but also that of Enoch, Elijah and Moses.
The also considers whether the Turin Shroud might offer some physical evidence of transformation into the light body.
The attainment of the rainbow body – as understood by the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, is always connected to the practice of the great perfection, or dzogchen.
In chapter four of his book Tiso writes of the early history of dzogchen and how it has evolved since the fourteenth century. In doing so he traces its history and those who have been instrumental in its development.
In the final part of his book Tiso considers the research that he has done and the threads of spiritual philosophy that he has traced through the book’s earlier pages.
Here he asks pertinent questions regarding the resurrection and the forming of the rainbow – the sort that a reader might naturally be considering having read this work.
Our Review of ‘Rainbow Body and Resurrection’ by Francis V Tiso
Father Francis V Tiso is, from what I gather from his bio, a writer with great academic pedigree. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Columbia University. This is a book that demonstrates the degree of knowledge and understanding he holds regarding his chosen topic.
The result is that this book is purely a theological work – one that examines the phenomena surrounding the rainbow body with reference to ancient texts and religious doctrine.
It is not a book on contemporary metaphysics nor is it one that explores the many occult traditions regarding the astral body, the aura or the body-double. I feel I should mention this not as a criticism of the authors scholarly work but as an observation of the fact that it is a publication that will be of greater interest to theologians than occultists.
As for the book itself, whilst somewhat dry and tense in its style of writing, it remains an enjoyable read.
Peppered with photos taken in the authors travels to Tibet – including the people he met and the places he visited in researching the mystery of Khenp’s death, their inclusion lifts the book above that of being a pure academic or theological study.
In particular the summerization of the authors research at the closing was a really clever and fascinating piece of writing. I wish more researchers would take such time and care in assessing the validity of their own for in this way.
As for the case of resurrection and transmutation the author did not assert that this was a provable phenomena and I feel that he did not make the case for the phenomenon. Reference to ancient writings as a source of unsubstantiated evidence is always a danger in my mind.
However, in a sense, this does not matter for it is the principle of the existence of the rainbow body and its significance in religious teachings within both the east and the west that figures most strongly in this book. On that basis alone it is a well-presented and expertly-argued concept that opens doors to a great deal of further theological discussion.
Rainbow Body and Resurrection opens a debate that has long been ignored in theological circles. It is a book that celebrates the highest and most fascinating of all religious teachings – as found to exhibit itself across several continents and many millenia.