Shinra Tensei can only be used by those who can manipulate the five basic nature transformations. The user creates a "repulsive force" (斥力, sekiryoku), which is generally used to push away everything in the vicinity. Users can narrow the repulsion's direction, only pushing away things on certain sides so that nearby allies will be unaffected. This repulsive force is most commonly created around the user as a defence, repelling nearby opponents or incoming ninjutsu; it can also be used to disperse ninjutsu that have already struck the user, such as Amaterasu. Alternatively, the repulsive force can be created away from the user, destroying whatever is at the designated location.
Shinra Tensei's strength and area of effect are determined by how much chakra is used. In its typical usage, it repels only within a few feet's distance and has enough force to destroy earthen constructs. Nagato, after cutting off control of his other Six Paths of Pain and channelling all his chakra to the Deva Path, performs a Shinra Tensei that is large enough and powerful enough to reduce Konohagakure to a deep crater; doing this shortens his life and afterwards dulls the responsiveness of his Six Paths of Pain. At its standard strength, opponents can resist Shinra Tensei by securing themselves to the ground: coating their feet with chakra to increase traction, digging in deeply enough to counter repulsion, or grouping together to minimise the repulsive force's influence. Shinra Tensei also exerts a recoil on the user. If the opponent can withstand the repulsive force and force the user to use enough force, they can turn Shinra Tensei against the user.
After Shinra Tensei is performed, there is a brief cooldown period during which it and other Deva Path abilities cannot be used. At a minimum, this cooldown is five seconds. During large-scale uses, such as the one that destroyed Konoha, the cooldown takes several minutes.
The names of Shinra Tensei and its companion ability, Banshō Ten'in, are derived from Shinra Banshō (神羅万象, literally meaning: Everything Covered by God), a Japanese four-character idiom and homophone variant of Shinra Banshō (森羅万象, literally meaning: All-Covering Forests and Ten Thousand Things), a Buddhist idiom which has come to mean "All of Nature" or "All of Creation".
- In the anime, Shinra Tensei is sometimes depicted as an orb of varying colours which surrounds the Deva Path.
- In Naruto Shippūden: Shinobi Rumble, an enhanced, "Full Throttle" version of the technique called "Shinra Tensei: Seiatsu" (神羅天征・征圧, literally meaning: Heavenly Subjugation of the Omnipresent God: Subjugating Pressure) can be performed.
- In Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Sasuke can use Shinra Tensei while he is in his Complete Body — Susanoo form.
- Jin no Sho, page 260
- Naruto chapter 420, page 6
- Naruto chapter 447, page 2
- Naruto chapter 421, page 14
- Naruto chapter 550, page 14
- Naruto chapter 429, page 10-13
- Naruto chapter 430, page 14
- Naruto chapter 429, page 1
- Naruto chapter 438, pages 5-6
- Naruto chapter 443, pages 16
- Naruto chapter 434, page 9-10