Stories of a Bigfoot-like creature transcend cultures and continents over millennia; but is it pure myth, an actual animal or traces of transcended beings?
I have spent the past few decades fascinated by Fortean phenomena – the paranormal, supernatural and anomalistic. This is not because I am a believer in the literal existence of these phenomena, just as I am not a believer in the literal existence of any kind of phenomena. However these experiences do say much about the shifting sands of perception and offer glimpses into a reality beyond that ascribed by naive realists.
Bigfoot has never been one of my favorite topics in this area. In fact, among Forteans, I am a bit of an obscurantist. Cryptozoology, ufology and hauntings have not been interesting to me since I really dived into hardcore anomalies. However as a younger man I did find those subjects more fascinating and held a weak belief in them and spent time trying to find evidence of my own. My failure to do so is probably just as responsible for my Fortean obscurantism as my normal day-to-day contrarianism.
As a philosophical Idealist I tend to study all kinds of things that are experienced even though they allegedly are not supposed to be. Recently I started looking into a concept I had not read about in a few years called the Rainbow Body. It is a Buddhist concept which describes the abnormal exit from existence supposedly achieved by several advanced practitioners over the last few thousand years.
In the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism the Rainbow Body may occur in three ways, depending on the level of transcendence achieved. Here are descriptions of the three levels from the RigpaWiki:
Rainbow body — fully accomplished Dzogchen practitioners can dissolve their body at the time of death.
- Through the practice of trekchö, the practitioner can attain the so-called ‘rainbow body’, in which the body becomes smaller and smaller as it dissolves, emanating rainbow light, and finally only the hair and nails are left behind.
- Through the practice of tögal, the practitioner can dissolve his or her body into the ‘Light Body’, where the body transforms into light and disappears completely into space.
- Another accomplishment of tögal practice is the ‘Rainbow Body of Great Transference’, where the master dissolves his or her body into rainbow light and lives for centuries in order to benefit others.
It is claimed that there have been hundreds – to hundreds of thousands – of examples of this phenomena throughout history, continuing into recent times where photographic evidence is alleged to support the occurrences.
Before moving on I want to be very clear that I am purely speculating, in regards to both Bigfoot and the Rainbow Body. I have no absolute belief or disbelief in either. There are too many interesting questions to carry that kind of answer baggage around.
If the Rainbow Body phenomena were inscrutably demonstrated to be ‘true’ or ‘real’ it would make a home run case for philosophical Idealism. For many it already has been demonstrated, but here in the west, far away from the phenomena, we only have accounts of believers and some inconclusive evidence to go by. But what if it were true? Would the phenomena be limited to relatively modern human beings?
The cryptozoological notion that Bigfoot is some kind of highly reclusive biped hiding out in the worlds forests is not satisfying to me for one obvious reason – the lack of Bigfoot corpses, fossils, mummies, etc. If these animals existed as primal flesh and blood creatures, there would have been some evidence of it by now. We have scratched much of the Earth’s surface, but no Bigfoot bones have ever been scattered in the mounds with the thousands of other things we have turned up, many of them far easier to miss than a giant forest dwelling biped’s bones.
Last night, in a flash of insight, I put the two ideas together – Bigfoot & the Rainbow Body!
What I find fascinating in that combo is not the idea taken literally, but what it suggests about a few things. Namely; what are the requirements of transcendence – and – why should transcendence be exclusive to humans – and – are transcendence and intelligence actually compatible?
A Dzogchen Master who attains the Rainbow Body would likely have been thought of among his peers as a very wise man. Even those of us who live within the sphere of Western influence, yet disbelieve in the Rainbow Body, might give credence to the wisdom of one so dedicated to their spiritual path. But by almost any other standard of Western values, they would not display intelligence in the ways which we value it, which tend to be analytical and often cynical. They would not have a great body of dedicated career knowledge or a grasp of historical and modern arts and literature from across the world. They would simply appear as simple mountain men who were peaceful, kind and humble; while containing a depth of spiritual wisdom, which we generally scoff at even while applauding.
On my own path to internal actualization of philosophical Idealism I have come to understand that what we generally value as knowledge are actually just abstractions which obscure our own inner selves. What I had spent my life agreeing with my culture about what intelligence is turned out just to be a very useful set of illusions. These illusions are world-building tools in the process of an interactive, always-becoming reality. However they are, in and of themselves, not true or real in the literal way those terms are usually meant.
All experiences are equally true, false, real and unreal. In the consensus reality illusion a great deal of obfuscation goes into trying to draw those lines with more certainty and absolutism.
So then if the ability for humans in Tibet to transcend the confines of the flesh illusion requires them to ignore the prescribed intellect of Western values and simplify their minds to focus on self-reflection – resulting in transcendence from their physical selves -why couldn’t an animal do it, or have done it far back in the past?
Our human exceptionalism runs deep. Because we have been a rather useful tool for the evolution of technology, we believe ourselves to be incredibly advanced. That may or may not be true. And if it is true, it may not especially be in our best interest. If our goal were to be happy we might even find that our intelligence has been a sheer burden, whose ultimate products may allow us to eventually surrender.
Maybe even a primal being like Bigfoot, noted for its occasional violence and terrorism, could transcend a merely fleshy presence if it was able to reflect upon and fully realize its own inner self. Indeed, there is hope for the rest of us yet.