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26May2017

The Rainbow Pill

‘Even though the moon is reflected in a thousand different pools, its original form never leaves the night sky.’ Likewise from the view of ultimate reality, enlightened beings remains in the Dharmakaya, while at the same time manifesting themselves in the infinite forms of Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya to benefit all mother sentient beings, according to the needs of the times and the store of each sentient beings karma and individual capacity. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past, present and future vow that they would manifest unceasingly even if there is just one single sentient being left in the suffering ocean of samsara. It is therefore extremely difficult for the ordinary mind truly to comprehend the numerous compassionate manifestations of an enlightened being's body, speech and mind.

A manifestation of any Buddha or Bodhisattva is not restricted to animate forms such as that of a human or a deity. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can also manifest themselves as inanimate objects which confer blessing and enlightenment by sight such as holy relics and statues, by hearing such as hearing the oral transmission of Bardo Thoe Drol and by taste such as consuming the blessing pills.

The holy grass called Tsa Lu du Dorje, found in Tsari, the sacred abode of Chakrasamvara in remote Tibet, is considered to be rarest and most precious for realizing liberation by taste. It is well-known that in Tsari when some wild animal die, miraculous rainbow would appear over their bodies. It is thus believed that these wild animals must have had the good karma to consume the holy grass and to take direct rebirth in the pure land.

In our Drukpa Lineage, the very same holy grass is used as one of the main ingredients to prepare the Rainbow Pill or Jatsuk Rilbu (meaning the pill which grants the attainment of the rainbow body). The legend holds that this grass can only be found by the reincarnations of the Gyalwang Drukpa as they are the incarnations of Avalokiteshvara. Therefore, the Rainbow Pill is uniquely a treasure of the Drukpa Lineage. The other important ingredient used in concocting the Rainbow Pill is the precious relics of the past Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

In the practice of the Six Paramitas, Bodhisattvas accumulate great merit by various means such as giving away their material possessions and even their lives, for the sake of all the beings.

Not only while alive, but also after they pass away, their remains will continue to benefit beings. This is why the forms of deities, mani syllables and relics appear on the mortal remains of great masters. These manifestations would generate in beings a profound respect for the law of karma and would support their development of devotion, understanding and progress on the path.

The concoction of the Rainbow Pill requires many sacred objects: the holy grass known as Tsa Lu due Dorje, the sacred relics of enlightened beings, nectar from Guru Padmasambhava and numerous other holy items, all mixed together and consecrated with the extensive ritual based on the deity Chakrasamvara (Demchok Khorlo) for a certain period of time, until the signs of accomplishment emanate from the pills such as bright lights, fragrant scents and flames.

It is proclaimed in the sacred text that if one consumes or wears the Rainbow Pill with complete devotion, one will realize the Ultimate Truth of Mahamudra or Shunyata. It is also a cure for sicknesses, protection from poisons and weapons and purification of the senses and provides inconceivable benefit in various other ways which includes prevention of rebirth in the three lower realms.

The efficacy of the Rainbow Pill depends on the level of devotion and understanding. The blessing of the pills is based on the truth of interdependence. One cannot close all the doors and windows and still expect the sunray to shine through.

Traditionally, the Rainbow Pill is only given at the death bed. The regret that a dying person feels for the utter uselessness of his or her lifelong activities along with the empathy of compassion for those of similar fate and the experience of devotion generated by the teachings and holy objects combine to develop a very powerful positive karma. This can result in being born in the pure land created by the Buddha's prayer. Therefore in the past in Tibet, people from near and far sought the Rainbow Pill or the Drukpa Rainbow Pill at any cost. Those who had the fortune to consume it died in

peace and with the confidence that they would not be reborn in the lower realms.

The Rainbow Pills are very rare, only the 4th and the 9th Gyalwang Drukpa were qualified to concoct them and the pills cannot multiply. As such only limited number of mother pills is now available. In order to ensure that the benefits accrued from the pill are equally distributed to all those who seek it, many masters of the Drukpa Lineage who inherited the mother pills from their predecessors or from their own masters would mix a small portion of one original mother pill with other holy pills so as to concoct what is known as the baby pills.