- Paperback: 408 pages
- Publisher: North Atlantic Books (January 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1583947957
- ISBN-13: 978-1583947951
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
Rainbow Body and Resurrection: Spiritual Attainment, the Dissolution of the Material Body, and the Case of Khenpo A Chö Paperback – January 26, 2016
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“A sensitive, beautifully written book that brings the contemporary Westerner into a close encounter with the heart of Tibetan Buddhism, while providing a deep and productive reflection on the relationship between Tibetan spirituality and the author's own Christian religious background. This book deserves to be read widely, not only by Tibetan and Buddhist scholars, but by all those interested in the meaning and relevance of religion within human society.” —Geoffrey Samuel, director, Body, Health and Religion (BAHAR) Research Group, professor emeritus, Cardiff University
“Francis Tiso has written an astonishing work of broad and deep scholarship that blends a personal spiritual journey, erudition, and on-the-ground interviews with witnesses of the rainbow body to reveal a conversation that began long ago in Central Asia about postmortem transformations of the body in a variety of religious traditions. He has delved deeply into esoteric texts and carefully reviewed recent scholarship to present a detailed history and explanation of practices leading to the attainment of the rainbow body as well as the doctrine of the resurrection in Christianity. General readers and scholars alike will find much of interest in [this book].” —Serinity Young, PhD, professor, Queens College, research associate, American Museum of Natural History, author of Body & Spirit: Tibetan Medical Paintings
“This study by Rev. Francis V. Tiso, PhD, combines solid scholarship and profound spiritual insight. Based on many years of study of the original Tibetan texts and fieldwork in Tibet, a coherent presentation of the phenomenon of the rainbow body is presented to Western readers for the first time, explored in the multireligious historical context of Central Asia and opening vistas on inter-faith dialogue and the meaning of death, bodily dissolution, and resurrection.” —Per Kværne, professor emeritus, University of Oslo, member, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo, and Accademia Ambrosiana, Milano
“The right medicine for people who forgot how they used to wonder about the afterlife. Stories about this and other boundary crossings are found here and told well. Many will learn to welcome the author’s discomforting approach to normalizing the paranormal, and his bold yet entertainable historical claims linking Tibetan Dzogchen with Central Asian Christianity.” —Dan Martin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“I have read with great pleasure Tiso’s magnificent work and have truly appreciated his reading and interpretation of the Chinese text, Zhixuan anle jing (The Book of Profound Peace and Joy). Here, finally, I am seeing a theological study of the text, which makes me very happy. I greatly appreciate your contextualization of this text in its grounding in the theology and spirituality of the Syriac Church of the East. I would like to thank Tiso very much for having pioneered this fascinating and difficult work of interpretation.” —Matteo Nicolini-Zani, monk of Bose
"Rainbow Body and Resurrection is a work of scholarship, dedication and vision. In comparing the spiritual practices of the early Tibetan Bon & Buddhist dzogchen teachings and that of Syrian Christianity, Father Tiso explores the possibility that both traditions mutually benefitted from their encounters along the Silk Route in the 8th century especially with reference to the dzogchen attainment of the rainbow body and the Christian doctrine of the resurrection. There is much to be learned from this erudite yet intriguing research in which the author elucidates both the principal dzogchen teachings and some mysteries of the early Byzantine Church. A thought-provoking read!" —Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Praise for Liberation in One Lifetime
“Francis Tiso in this book fulfills an urgent need in Tibetology that has been so long overlooked because gTsang Smyon Heruka’s version of Milarepa’s teaching and biography, though composed several centuries after Milarepa’s life, has been almost universally received without question. Fr. Tiso, after doing much research in Tibet and Nepal, supplies us his translations of biographical material—from oral traditions and from biographies that much precede Heruka’s—and accompanies them with very helpful explanations of the pertaining Kagyu spirituality.” —Robert Magliola, PhD, retired professor, National Taiwan University and Assumption University (Thailand)
About the Author
Father Francis V. Tiso holds an AB in Medieval Studies from Cornell University, a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University, and a doctorate from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary where his specialization was Buddhist studies. He also has a degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures from the Istituto Universitario Orientale in Naples. He was Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2004 to 2009, where he served as liaison to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Sikhs, and Traditional religions as well as the Reformed confessions. He is the author of Liberation in One Lifetime (North Atlantic Books, 2014), which includes his translations of several early biographies of the Tibetan yogi and poet, Milarepa.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-8 of 21 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book begins with a wonderfully lucid 21 page introduction where Tiso lays out the groundwork of his thesis; that the resurrection of Christ as a body of light is in fact the birthright of all humans with bodies (since Jesus had a body just like everyone) - if we are willing to be receptive to the enlightening influence of our spiritual nature through direct realization and repeated familiarity in practice. In other words these descriptions of bodies literally shrinking and fully dissolving without a trace at death are the real phenomena of the ordinary body becoming en-light-ened through absorption of and transmutation by light - the result of a long lifetime of sustained direct mystical experience. Tiso's approach is inclusive, recognizing that these practices (at least as claimed in the historical record) are shared by a diversity of cultures where mystical traditions have flourished (Syriac and Coptic Christians, Shaivite Tamil Siddhas, Chinese Taoists and Tibetan Buddhists and Bonpos), and that perhaps there is also a historical connection between these traditions connected as they were by the ancient Silk Route.
The first 65 pages give a brief but detailed description of the life and death of Khenpo A Cho a Tibetan monk who lived from 1918 to 1998 and achieved the rainbow body in his 81st year, as well as the author's research expedition to Eastern Tibet (Kham) in the summer of 2000, and to India in 2001 to gain first hand accounts. There are several remarkable things worth mentioning about A Cho's biography. First of all from a very young age he studied and practiced extensively in both the Gelug and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism (occupying as they do polar opposite, and often antagonistic, approaches this was highly unusual both then and even today). When he was 20 years old he studied at Sera Monastery near Lhasa where one of his teachers was Trijang Rinpoche who was also the junior tutor of the present 14th Dalai Lama. When he was 26 he became a close student of Dudjom Rinpoche, one of the greatest lamas of the 20th century. It was from Dudjom Rinpoche that Khenpo received the Nyingma dzogchen teachings of thregchod and thodgyal which specifically deal with attainment of the rainbow body. The second remarkable part of A Cho's life story is the intense degree of devotion and energy he practiced with. He never left Tibet after the final Chinese invasion in '59 and so had to practice for the second half of his life in secret. Basically from the age of 7 to 81 he lived a life of full time practice and in addition to doing the wide range of intensive retreat practices common to Vajrayana Buddhism he is reported to have done 2.5 million full prostrations and over 400 million mani-mantra recitations! However, the story of his resulting rainbow body is one that ultimately requires faith as it rests upon circumstantial evidence. Yes, he was a great holy man, and yes many sublime phenomena attended his passing (specifically rays and rainbows of light manifesting externally), but in the end all that can be said is after 7 days his body had disappeared. Objectively we don't know where it went. It could have dissolved into light as the tradition claims is possible, or it could have been taken and disposed of - out of respect or in the service of a hoax. The same thing can ultimately be said about Jesus' passing.
The bulk of the book (250 pages) goes on to present background information on the specifics of dzogchen history, philosophy and practice as well as the possible roots of those mystical practices in Middle Eastern Christianity - along with the wide variety of influences mentioned earlier in this review. The chapter summarizing the later development of Dzogchen and its integration into the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Tibetan Buddhism is particularly perceptive, being both detailed and succinct (based on the writings of the 14th century master Longchenpa along with the oral teachings of the current master Namkhai Norbu). The chapters on the early Syriac Christian mystical traditions and early Tibetan dzogchen traditions are particularly interesting since they cover less well documented aspects of these esoteric histories.
Overall this knowledgable and well written study although somewhat academic in nature is also syncretic, fresh, radical and real enough to keep it stimulating and even fascinating. I think it will appeal to students of comparative mystical traditions (in both anthropological and occult aspects), and specifically to dzogchen practitioners, and really presents a ground breaking approach for understanding mysticism in the 21st century. Such a study doesn't take the place of doing the actual spiritual work, but it definitely broadens the scope and context of it, you could say making it more universal - appropriate enough coming from a Catholic priest.
I found all of these aspects of the book interesting and well done. However, the combination of themes presented put me in suspense, with the false and unwarranted expectation that the author would ultimately come to a surprise conclusion. So, for me this book became a kind of cliff-hanger. For example, I thought there might be an absolutely unimpeachable first-hand witness account that would be disclosed at the end. (This is not a criticism of the book: Upon hindsight I wonder what I'd consider unimpeachable evidence in this case, since the eye witness accounts documented in the book did not convince me? Would anyone's account convince me? Would I have been convinced if I'd been an eye-witness myself?)
The author has, I feel, done a masterful job of presenting what he knows. All he can do, I think, is present what his research has found as best he can and let his readers draw conclusions as they see fit. This book is worth re-reading...
In my opinion, this is an excellent book for anyone who is spiritual, perhaps even agnostics. I am a spiritual person who believes in the tenets of compassion, enlightenment and rebirth. I believe in Christ, too, but perhaps in a different way than most in Christianity. I share this because someone in a similar place might enjoy this book, too.
The surprise to me concerned the fact that Christian sources (among about five others) could have contributed to the development of Dzogchen literature and traditions.
An excellent source of historical developments and beliefs in Central Asia from roughly 750-1000 AD.