The Light Body

The Light Body

“The light body” is one of those almost meaningless terms that float around in spiritual circles. While experiencing inner light is very nice, what is it being experienced? And does that really have anything to do with other things you’ve heard?

For example, all seven koshas (sheaths) can be experienced as “light bodies.” From the glow of consciousness right up to reflected light from physical bodies, all the sheaths can be perceived with light; from infinite and formless to cloud-like to solid form. Usually by “light body” people are talking about the prana (energy body) or an aura of it. But many are just talking limited concepts and “supposed-to’s,” not experience.

But the “light” of these different bodies is not all the same. At its essence, light is Divinity in alive flow or Shakti. The effulgence of consciousness and beyond express this. As we move through denser layers, light takes on properties and qualities like colour and intensity that are progressively more localized until we have photons – apparent particles of light. Apparent because science has found that the wave form only collapses to a particle when attention is on it*. Prior to that it is a probability.

The Yoga Sutra (3v40) tells us that with mastery of Samana, the energy of digestion, we gain effulgence. This is a natural tendency illustrated in the iconography of both eastern and western art with halos and glowing forms. It’s subtle light that’s “loud” enough to be seen physically. We might say prana that expresses into the physical light spectrum. Is this a light body?

And there is the cosmic body of all bodies which is shaped much like our manifest body and expresses through the layers to give us our human form. The cosmic is essentially an idea in the cosmic mind driven by divinity. It too can be called a “light body” that arises within the body of consciousness.

In other words, we can see the layers of creation as “bodies” or layers that culminate in specific forms and we can see the expressions of the cosmic body as “bodies” that also culminate in forms. The first gives the qualities of the layers of the “cake,” the second structures the details of the form. The 2 branches come together in the local body.

Some ascension/ ascended master material talks about gaining a light body but it’s never been clear to me what they’re talking about. I’m not sure that’s even clear to the people speaking about it.

There are also the changes to the body that develop with embodying divinity. While most of us gradually age, there is research showing markers of aging like telomere length can be reversed with long practice. There is also some talk about “rebooting” or “youthing.”

Most people I know doing very well are a blend. The hair continues to gray but perhaps the skin gets more youthful. Some are experiencing a gradual dissolution of physicality.

The later is sometimes described as a dissolution of the earth element or as the conversion of inertia (tamas) into sattva in the physiology. I’ve talked about the second quite a bit but in relation to unfolding clarity of consciousness. In this case, the transformation is moving into the physiology too.

As the body is more dense, it will tend to shift more gradually than more subtle layers. It’s good if this process takes time or we’d have to relearn how to walk. How do we move in the world if the body has little mass?

This shift means a gradual dissolving of limitations. This will bring more of the abilities described in the Yoga Sutra on-line. When the last karma completes, the last limitation falls away. We live as expressed power rather than mass.

This doesn’t mean the physical appearance dissolves or we become transparent or blazing light. It means the appearance isn’t driven by the past although it may be maintained by habit. (laughs)

I’ve written about this in other ways previously, such as in Melting the Body.

The bulk of karma is roasted with a clear awakening but the sprouted seeds continue playing out until our time of death post-enlightenment. What happens then?

The esoteric Buddhist traditions speak of a “rainbow” body. I have little expertise here but it sounds like this is widely misunderstood too. The essential idea is that once the karma is done, the physical body dissolves into light at death, expressing a rainbow of colour. Think Luke dissolving into the Force but with more of a light show. But this is a rare achievement requiring high purity akin to what I describe above. Evidently, even Buddha didn’t reach this.

More typically, eastern traditions speak of the heaven we’re able to reach after death where we can continue to evolve. We’d inherently continue in a body of light. Many of the ancient masters can be discovered this way in various places at subtle levels.

Another option would be to continue in the “physical” body post-karma. Rather than dying on schedule, we sustain the body for continued use. That’s an intriguing option – to live in form and yet not be bound by the rules of it. It would also give us more time to dissolve the inertia.

Subtle beings who show up to our physical senses would be expressing as a light body but this differs from staying in the world.

Of course, much of this is speculative. I know people going through an embodiment process but I don’t know how this will unfold. I’m fascinated to see what happens – what will group consciousness and personal dharma support?

* Attention collapses the probability wave form, even in the past. Also, the speed of light is considered a constant and a maximum for our universe. Yet the speed of light being constant to every observer suggests it is outside space-time. Science suggests light does not experience itself as a particle moving but rather as simultaneous.


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  1. Michael

    HI David!

    Really enjoyed that article!! 🙂
    I like how you come to that theme from different angles and that you mention that new-age mumbo jumbo a bit too.

    Thanks for speaking about such posibilities in todays for my taste still much to dry spiritual circles where even divinity is questioned.

    I would add here just for info that the light body (here i mean disolving the physical body at death into light) is not that rare when we look into esoteric traditions. We have it in, as you already said, the esoteric buddhism practises like dzogchen and mahamudra. Also in the highest yoga tantras this is the goal. We have it in the tamil siddha tradition, in the hermetic system, some rare and secret christian desert sects and of course in the ancient northern and southern tradition of neidan (daoist internal alchemy).

    much love

    1. Hi Michael

      Thanks. It’s widespread nature does suggest a common process but I think it’s probably one of those things that’s been quite rare for awhile but now that the light is rising and more people are waking up, the potential for this to become more present again returns.

  2. Uli

    “Transformation of the Individual Consciousness Into an Indestructible Inner Body of Consciousness

    When we survey the many developments of the Diamond Approach teaching, we can recognize, in its present condition, four broad movements through which it expresses reality. Each of these can be seen as one complete turn of the teaching wheel. The first turning involves the realization and development of what I refer to as the individual consciousness, which is sometimes equated with the Western notion of soul. The soul discovers her true nature and begins to live a life imbued with the qualities of true being. As the individual consciousness’s experience of true nature deepens, she realizes, in the second turning of the wheel, the boundless nature of being. what is in the foreground here is the experience of the unity, oneness, and nonduality of reality. Since the inception of the Diamond Approach, we have been working mainly with these two turns of the teaching. Realizing true nature as our identity, waking up to the unity of existence, and learning to integrate these experiences into our daily life constitute, for a long time, the bulk of our inner work.
    The second turning of the teaching culminates in the transformation of the individual consciousness into an indestructible inner body of consciousness that can express and live nondual realization. This inner body of pure awareness, of the purity of true nature, becomes the fulcrum of the third turning. The third and fourth turnings of the wheel are related to this fulcrum, which heralds possibilities beyond the nondual unity of reality. The realization of this inner spiritual body, which I sometimes call the vajra body, reveals, in the fourth turning of the teaching, many new and unexpected wisdoms about the nature of reality. The progressive stages or degrees of realization, which characterize the first two turnings, give way to altogether different kinds of realization. Just as the first turning begins with the individual consciousness and moves, in the second turning, into the nondual dimensions of reality, the third turning starts with the vajra body instead of the individual consciousness and moves, in the fourth turning, into a reality that is neither dual nor nondual. Experiencing reality in this radically different way reveals profound new possibilities for living our realization.”

    A. H. Almaas, The Alchemy of Freedom

    1. Hi Uli
      This uses terminology quite differently than I do. It also frames it differently. To me, he is using higher language to describe lower stages.

      The second turning is equivalent to Self Realization which I do not consider a true non-dual stage, as I’ve discussed elsewhere. This “indestructible inner body of consciousness” is simply established Self Realization.

      This doesn’t seem to cover Unity, the cosmic body and other things discussed in the article.

  3. AB

    Hi David,

    Thanks have been wondering about this. For whatever its worth, the Brahma Sutra 4.4 describes something similar i.e. the soul attaining its true nature on liberation.

    There are other traditions that speak about obtaining a spiritual body which one then uses in samadhi to serve the Divine without going through the dying process.

    Speaking about light, Isha Upanishad 15 & 16 seem to speak about this effulgence and the need to reduce it. What is this effulgence in reality that needs to be reduced to see the Divine?


    1. Hi AB
      Yes, the Brahma Sutra talks some of the progression through the heavens, etc but it’s not a light text and the available translations don’t help.

      Theres a process of jiva merging with Atman and Atman with Brahman. Also of the form merging with the cosmic and the cosmic with the Divine yet also the Divine descending into the form. So theres a lot of ways it may be described.

      Actually, thats quoted at the bottom of this web site. My take is the gold effulgence is sattva guna. We have to go beyond the play of the 3 gunas to discover Divinity.

    1. Hi Andoni
      I’m not familiar. He’s from a Tamil lineage. If you consider the Yoga Sutra, it sounds like he became a siddha, perfected while in the body. Then perfected the physical body. Once perfected, it can fall back into a more subtle body. In other words, an appearance is there but it cannot be touched as it’s no longer physical. And so forth to the bliss body.
      In the kosha model, there is 5 layers from the physical to the bliss body, suggesting 5 transformations.
      Such beings have been relatively rare for quite some time so there are few examples to note. But the texts do describe that potential. We’ll see if it becomes more common as many wake up and more evolved beings take bodies.

      1. Andoni

        It seems like the Tibetans have been able to do it relatively consistently.

        I wonder what practices they do…

        Ramalinga also known as Vallalar mentions a mantra supposedly given by Siva. Aruth Perum Jothi… I dont know what to think about that. The only person who really speaks about this is a teacher called Dattatreya Siva Baba or Dr Pillai on youtube, he claims he is a Siddha from the Tamil language and reincarnation of Ramalinga. I do not know what to think about him. He was in charge of the TM movement in Tamil Nadu and he does not give me the vibe he is lying. He is way to focused on promoting manifestation techniques which makes me a little uneasy.

        1. Hi Andoni
          I know little of the Tibetan traditions. I suppose it depends on your goals. To me, body transformations are a side effect of embodying higher stages and purifying. I don’t see it as a goal itself.
          In large part, it’s unclear to me what is meant by “light body” and “rainbow body” in other traditions. It’s pretty vague. Our prana/emotional body is a rainbow of light – what many call the aura – but we all have it.
          Shiva gave me some instruction as he has with many others. He’s also given us Sanskrit. Just because he gives someone a mantra doesn’t mean it was meant for anyone else. Mantras should be taken through proper initiation or instruction, not played with.
          I’d stay away from Dattatreya. Thats all about self-promotion and selling stuff. Understand that India is full of players and YouTube has given some a larger audience. They may not be “lying” per se, just saying things that may be a little hollow. For example, someone who practices the siddhi’s is referred to as a siddha. Someone who claims to be Kalki may well have experienced becoming Kalki. But thats a very common experience at some point. It doesn’t mean they are Kalki in manifestation. Manifestation techniques are commonly used to “prove” ability and attract the gullible.
          True teachers point to the source and offer reliable means. they don’t distract with bafflegab.

          1. Andoni

            I usually have a good eye to recognize what is true and honest and whats not. Dattatreyas teachings are as you say hollow.

            I also have a question. Do you think that there are saints that are more miraculous than others when you pray or maybe more engaged or active? I usually dont pray asking for stuff but it is a question that has been on my mind.

            1. I would also say his energy has become corrupted in some way.
              As with people, different beings have different skills (embody different laws) and we’ll resonate with some more than others. So you favour those you resonate with or those that can help you. Ganesh is a ‘remover of obstacles’ for example. St. Christopher is the saint of travelers. And so on. It’s not about the image. More the archetype.
              Here’s something on miracles. It’s not just poetry but the lived experience.
              When we become aware of the hand of the Divine and the heart opens, praying becomes a very different thing. Here’s an article on 2 kinds:

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