Trikaya

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The Trikaya Buddha (San Shen ) in the main hall of Shanyuan Temple (Shan Yuan Si ), Liaoning Province, China. Shan Yuan Si -2.jpg
The Trikāya Buddha (三身) in the main hall of Shanyuan Temple (善缘寺), Liaoning Province, China.

The Trikāya doctrine (Sanskrit : त्रिकाय, lit. "three bodies"; Chinese : 三身; pinyin : sānshēn; Japanese pronunciation : sanjin, sanshin; Korean pronunciation : samsin; Vietnamese : tam thân, Tibetan : སྐུ་གསུམ, Wylie : sku gsum) is a Mahayana Buddhist teaching on both the nature of reality and the nature of Buddhahood. The doctrine says that Buddha has three kāyas or bodies, the Dharmakāya (ultimate reality), the Saṃbhogakāya (divine incarnation of Buddha), and the Nirmāṇakāya (physical incarnation of Buddha). [1] [web 1]

Contents

Definition

The doctrine says that a Buddha has three kāyas or bodies:

  1. The Dharmakāya , "Dharma body," [1] ultimate reality, [web 1] "pure being itself," [web 1] Buddha nature, [2] emptiness, [2] akin to Nirguna Brahman; [2]
  2. The Saṃbhogakāya , "Enjoyment (or Bliss) body," [1] the divine Buddhas of the Buddha realms, [1] akin to Saguna Brahman; [2]
  3. The Nirmāṇakāya , "Transformation (or Appearance) Body," [1] his physical appearance in the world. [1]

Origins

The Dharmakāya doctrine was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā "The Perfection of Wisdom In Eight Thousand Verses", composed in the 1st century BCE. [3] Mahayana Buddhism introduced the Sambhogakāya, which conceptually fits between the Nirmāṇakāya (the manifestations of enlightenment in the physical world) [note 1] and the Dharmakaya. Around 300 CE, the Yogacara school systematized the prevalent ideas on the nature of the Buddha in the Trikaya or three-body doctrine. [4]

Interpretation in Buddhist traditions

Various Buddhist traditions have different ideas about what the three bodies are. [web 2] [web 3]

Chinese Buddhism

The Three Bodies of the Buddha consists of: [5] [6]

As with earlier Buddhist thought, all three forms of the Buddha teach the same Dharma, but take on different forms to expound the truth.

According to Schloegl, in the Zhenzhou Linji Huizhao Chansi Yulu (which is a Chan Buddhist compilation), the Three Bodies of the Buddha are not taken as absolute. They would be "mental configurations" that "are merely names or props" and would only perform a role of light and shadow of the mind. [7] [note 2]

The Zhenzhou Linji Huizhao Chansi Yulu advises:

Do you wish to be not different from the Buddhas and patriarchs? Then just do not look for anything outside. The pure light of your own heart [i.e., 心, mind] at this instant is the Dharmakaya Buddha in your own house. The non-differentiating light of your heart at this instant is the Sambhogakaya Buddha in your own house. The non-discriminating light of your own heart at this instant is the Nirmanakaya Buddha in your own house. This trinity of the Buddha's body is none other than here before your eyes, listening to my expounding the Dharma. [9]

Japanese Buddhism

In Tendai and Shingon of Japan, they are known as the Three Mysteries (三密, sanmitsu).

Tibetan Buddhism

Three Vajras

The Three Vajras, namely "body, speech and mind", are a formulation within Vajrayana Buddhism and Bon that hold the full experience of the śūnyatā "emptiness" of Buddha-nature, void of all qualities (Wylie : yon tan) and marks [10] (Wylie : mtshan dpe) and establish a sound experiential key upon the continuum of the path to enlightenment. The Three Vajras correspond to the trikaya and therefore also have correspondences to the Three Roots and other refuge formulas of Tibetan Buddhism. The Three Vajras are viewed in twilight language as a form of the Three Jewels, which imply purity of action, speech and thought.

The Three Vajras are often mentioned in Vajrayana discourse, particularly in relation to samaya, the vows undertaken between a practitioner and their guru during empowerment. The term is also used during Anuttarayoga Tantra practice.

The Three Vajras are often employed in tantric sādhanā at various stages during the visualization of the generation stage, refuge tree, guru yoga and iṣṭadevatā processes. The concept of the Three Vajras serves in the twilight language to convey polysemic meanings,[ citation needed ] aiding the practitioner to conflate and unify the mindstream of the iṣṭadevatā, the guru and the sādhaka in order for the practitioner to experience their own Buddha-nature.

Speaking for the Nyingma tradition, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche perceives an identity and relationship between Buddha-nature, dharmadhatu, dharmakāya, rigpa and the Three Vajras:

Dharmadhātu is adorned with Dharmakāya, which is endowed with Dharmadhātu Wisdom. This is a brief but very profound statement, because "Dharmadhātu" also refers to Sugatagarbha or Buddha-Nature. Buddha- Nature is all-encompassing... This Buddha-Nature is present just as the shining sun is present in the sky. It is indivisible from the Three Vajras [i.e. the Buddha's Body, Speech and Mind] of the awakened state, which do not perish or change. [11]

Robert Beer (2003: p. 186) states:

The trinity of body, speech, and mind are known as the three gates, three receptacles or three vajras, and correspond to the western religious concept of righteous thought (mind), word (speech), and deed (body). The three vajras also correspond to the three kayas, with the aspect of body located at the crown (nirmanakaya), the aspect of speech at the throat (sambhogakaya), and the aspect of mind at the heart (dharmakaya)." [12]

The bīja corresponding to the Three Vajras are: a white om (enlightened body), a red ah (enlightened speech) and a blue hum (enlightened mind). [13]

Simmer-Brown (2001: p. 334) asserts that:

When informed by tantric views of embodiment, the physical body is understood as a sacred maṇḍala (Wylie: lus kyi dkyil). [14]

This explicates the semiotic rationale for the nomenclature of the somatic discipline called trul khor.

The triple continua of body-voice-mind are intimately related to the Dzogchen doctrine of "sound, light and rays" (Wylie : sgra 'od zer gsum) as a passage of the rgyud bu chung bcu gnyis kyi don bstan pa ('The Teaching on the Meaning of the Twelve Child Tantras') rendered into English by Rossi (1999: p. 65) states (Tibetan provided for probity):

From the Basis (of) all, empty (and) without cause,
sound, the dynamic potential of the Dimension, arises.
From the Awareness, empty (and) without cause,
light, the dynamic potential (of) Primordial Wisdom, appears.
From the inseparability, empty (and) without cause,
rays, the dynamic potential of the Essence, appear.
When sound, light and rays are taken (as) instrumental causes
(that) ignorance (turns into) the delusion of body, speech (and) mind;
the result (is) wandering in the circle (of) the three spheres. [15]
ཀུན་གཞི་སྟོང་པ་རྒྱུ་མེད་ལས།
སྒྲ་ནི་དབྱིངས་ཀྱི་རྩལ་དུ་ཤར།
རིག་པ་སྟོང་པ་རྒྱུ་མེད་ལས།
འོད་ནི་ཡེ་ཤེས་རྩལ་དུ་ཤར།
དབྱེར་མེད་སྟོང་པ་རྒྱུ་མེདླས།
ཟེར་ནི་ཐིག་ལེའི་རྩལ་དུ་ཤར།
སྒྲ་འོད་ཟེར་གསུམ་རྐྱེན་བྱས་ནས།
མ་རྟོགས་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་དུ་འཁྲུལ།
བྲས་བུ་ཁམས་གསུམ་འཁོར་བར་འཁྱམས༎ [15]

Barron et al. (1994, 2002: p. 159), renders from Tibetan into English, a terma "pure vision" (Wylie : dag snang) of Sri Singha by Dudjom Lingpa that describes the Dzogchen state of 'formal meditative equipoise' (Tibetan: nyam-par zhag-pa) which is the indivisible fulfillment of vipaśyanā and śamatha, Sri Singha states:

Just as water, which exists in a naturally free-flowing state, freezes into ice under the influence of a cold wind, so the ground of being exists in a naturally free state, with the entire spectrum of samsara established solely by the influence of perceiving in terms of identity.
Understanding this fundamental nature, you give up the three kinds of physical activity--good, bad, and neutral--and sit like a corpse in a charnal ground, with nothing needing to be done. You likewise give up the three kinds of verbal activity, remaining like a mute, as well as the three kinds of mental activity, resting without contrivance like the autumn sky free of the three polluting conditions. [16]

Buddha-bodies

Vajrayana sometimes refers to a fourth body called the svābhāvikakāya (Tibetan : ངོ་བོ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་སྐུ, Wylie : ngo bo nyid kyi sku) "essential body", [web 4] [17] [web 5] and to a fifth body, called the mahāsūkhakāya (Wylie : bde ba chen po'i sku, "great bliss body"). [18] The svābhāvikakāya is simply the unity or non-separateness of the three kayas. [web 6] The term is also known in Gelug teachings, where it is one of the assumed two aspects of the dharmakāya: svābhāvikakāya "essence body" and jñānakāya "body of wisdom". [19] Haribhadra claims that the Abhisamayalankara describes Buddhahood through four kāyas in chapter 8: svābhāvikakāya, [jñāna]dharmakāya, sambhogakāya and nirmāṇakāya. [20]

In dzogchen teachings, "dharmakaya" means the buddha-nature's absence of self-nature, that is, its emptiness of a conceptualizable essence, its cognizance or clarity is the sambhogakaya, and the fact that its capacity is 'suffused with self-existing awareness' is the nirmanakaya. [21]

The interpretation in Mahamudra is similar: When the mahamudra practices come to fruition, one sees that the mind and all phenomena are fundamentally empty of any identity; this emptiness is called dharmakāya. One perceives that the essence of mind is empty, but that it also has a potentiality that takes the form of luminosity.[ clarification needed ] In Mahamudra thought, Sambhogakāya is understood to be this luminosity. Nirmanakāya is understood to be the powerful force with which the potentiality affects living beings. [22]

In the view of Anuyoga, the Mind Stream (Sanskrit: citta santana) is the 'continuity' (Sanskrit: santana; Wylie: rgyud) that links the Trikaya. [web 1] The Trikāya, as a triune, is symbolised by the Gankyil.

Dakinis

A ḍākinī (Tibetan : མཁའ་འགྲོ་[མ་], Wylie : mkha' 'gro [ma]khandro[ma]) is a tantric deity described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy. The Sanskrit term is likely related to the term for drumming, while the Tibetan term means "sky goer" and may have originated in the Sanskrit khecara, a term from the Cakrasaṃvara Tantra . [3]

Ḍākinīs can also be classified according to the trikāya theory. The dharmakāya ḍākinī, which is Samantabhadrī, represents the dharmadhatu where all phenomena appear. The sambhogakāya ḍākinī are the yidams used as meditational deities for tantric practice. The nirmanakaya ḍākinīs are human women born with special potentialities; these are realized yogini, the consorts of the gurus, or even all women in general as they may be classified into the families of the Five Tathagatas. [web 7]

See also

Notes

  1. Formerly called Rupakaya
  2. Lin-ji yu-lu: "The scholars of the Sutras and Treatises take the Three Bodies as absolute. As I see it, this is not so. These Three Bodies are merely names, or props. An old master said: "The (Buddha's) Bodies are set up with reference to meaning; the (Buddha) Fields are distinguished with reference to substance." However, understood clearly, the Dharma Nature Bodies and the Dharma Nature Fields are only mental configurations." [8]

Related Research Articles

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Padmasambhāva 8th-century Buddhist Lama

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The dharmakāya is one of the three bodies (trikāya) of a buddha in Mahāyāna Buddhism. The dharmakāya constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (acintya) aspect of a buddha out of which buddhas arise and to which they return after their dissolution. Buddhas are manifestations of the dharmakāya called the nirmāṇakāya, "transformation body".

Buddha-nature

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Samantabhadra (Bodhisattva)

Samantabhadra is a bodhisattva in Buddhism associated with practice and meditation. Together with Gautama Buddha and the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, he forms the Shakyamuni Triad in Mahayana Buddhism. He is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva. In Chinese Buddhism, Samantabhadra is known as Pǔxián and is associated with action, whereas Mañjuśrī is associated with prajñā. In Japan, this bodhisattva is known as Fugen, and is often venerated in Tendai and Shingon Buddhism, and as the protector of the Lotus Sutra by Nichiren Buddhism. In Sri lanka, he is known as Sumana Samana Deviyo and is regarded as the guardian of the island of Sri Lanka.

Dakini Type of sacred female spirit in Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism

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Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism

The Nyingma school is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Vajrayana revealer Guru Padmasambhava. "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Ngangyur, "school of the ancient translations" or "old school". The Nyingma school is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Old Tibetan in the eighth century, during the reign of King Trisong Detsen. The Tibetan alphabet was created for this endeavour, and the classical variety of the Tibetan language standardised.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Ngöndro refers to the preliminary, preparatory or foundational practices or disciplines common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also to Bon. They precede deity yoga.

Vajradhara Buddha

Vajradhāra is the ultimate primordial Buddha, or Adi Buddha, according to the Sakya, Gelug and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Saṃbhogakāya is the second mode or aspect of the Trikaya.

Adi-Buddha

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Ādi-Buddha, is the "First Buddha" or the "Primordial Buddha." Another common term for this figure is Dharmakāya Buddha.

Longchen Nyingthig

Longchen Nyingthig is a terma, revealed scripture, of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives a systematic explanation of Dzogchen. It was revealed by Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798).

Dharmadhatu (Sanskrit) is the 'dimension', 'realm' or 'sphere' (dhātu) of the Dharma or Absolute Reality.

In Vajrayāna Buddhism, esoteric transmission is the transmission of certain teachings directly from teacher to student during an empowerment (abhiṣeka) in a ritual space containing the mandala of the deity. Many techniques are also commonly said to be secret, but some Vajrayana teachers have responded that secrecy itself is not important and only a side-effect of the reality that the techniques have no validity outside the teacher-student lineage.

Gankyil

The Gankyil or "wheel of joy" is a symbol and ritual tool used in Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism. It is composed of three swirling and interconnected blades. The traditional spinning direction is clockwise, but the counter-clockwise ones are also common.

In Dzogchen, rainbow body (Tibetan: འཇའ་ལུས་, Wylie: 'ja' lus, Jalü or Jalus) is a level of realization. This may or may not be accompanied by the 'rainbow body phenomenon'. The rainbow body phenomenon is a topic which has been treated fairly seriously in Tibet for centuries past and into the modern era. Other Vajrayana teachings also mention rainbow body phenomena.

Three Jewels and Three Roots Outer, inner, secret, and ultimate Buddhist refuge formulations

In Buddhism, the Three Jewels, Triple Gem, or Three Refuges are the supports in which a Buddhist takes refuge by means of a prayer or recitation at the beginning of the day or of a practice session.

Samantabhadri is a dakini and female Buddha from the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. She is the consort and female counterpart of Samantabhadra, known amongst some Tibetan Buddhists as the 'Primordial Buddha'. Samantabhadri herself is known as the 'primordial Mother Buddha'. Samantabhadri is the dharmakaya dakini aspect of the Trikaya, or three bodies of a Buddha. As such, Samantabhadri represents the aspect of Buddhahood in whom delusion and conceptual thought have never arisen. As font or wellspring of the aspects of the divine feminine she may be understood as the 'Great Mother'. Seen differently, Samantabhadri is an aspect of Prajnaparamita.

<i>Akaniṣṭha</i>

In classical Buddhist Cosmology, Akaniṣṭha is the highest of the Pure Abodes, and thus the highest of all the form realms. It is the realm where devas like Maheśvara live.

View (Dzogchen)

In Dzogchen, the view is one of the Three Dharmas of the Path of Dzogchen. The other two dharmas of the path are practice (gompa) and conduct (chöpa).

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Snelling 1987, p. 100.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Griffin 2018, p. 278.
  3. 1 2 Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN   9780691157863.
  4. Snelling 1987, p. 126.
  5. Xing, Guang (2004-11-10). The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203413104. ISBN   978-0-203-41310-4.
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  7. Schloegl 1976, p. 19.
  8. Schloegl 1976, p. 21.
  9. Schloegl 1976, p. 18.
  10. '32 major marks' (Sanskrit: dvātriṃśanmahāpuruṣalakṣaṇa), and the '80 minor marks' (Sanskrit: aśītyanuvyañjana) of a superior being, refer: Physical characteristics of the Buddha.
  11. As It Is, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Rangjung Yeshe Books, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 32
  12. Beer, Robert (2003). The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols. Serindia Publications. ISBN   1-932476-03-2 Source: (accessed: December 7, 2007)
  13. Rinpoche, Pabongka (1997). Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment. Wisdom Books. p. 196.
  14. Simmer-Brown, Judith (2001). Dakini's Warm Breath: the Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Boston, USA: Shambhala. ISBN   1-57062-720-7 (alk. paper). p.334
  15. 1 2 Rossi, Donatella (1999). The philosophical view of the great perfection in the Tibetan Bon religion. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. p. 65. ISBN   1-55939-129-4.
  16. Lingpa, Dudjom; Tulku, Chagdud; Norbu, Padma Drimed; Barron, Richard (Lama Chökyi Nyima, translator); Fairclough, Susanne (translator) (1994, 2002 revised). Buddhahood without meditation: a visionary account known as 'Refining one's perception' (Nang-jang) (English; Tibetan: ran bźin rdzogs pa chen po'i ranźal mnon du byed pa'i gdams pa zab gsan sñin po). Revised Edition. Junction City, CA, USA: Padma Publishing. ISBN   1-881847-33-0, p.159
  17. In the book Embodiment of Buddhahood Chapter 4 the subject is: Embodiment of Buddhahood in its Own Realization: Yogacara Svabhavikakaya as Projection of Praxis and Gnoseology.
  18. Tsangnyön Heruka (1995). The life of Marpa the translator : seeing accomplishes all. Boston: Shambhala. p. 229. ISBN   978-1570620874.
  19. Williams, Paul (1993). Mahayana Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations (Reprinted ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN   978-0-415-02537-9.
  20. Makransky, John J. (1997). Buddhahood embodied : sources of controversy in India and Tibet. Albany, NY: State Univ. of New York Press. p. 115. ISBN   978-0791434314.
  21. Reginald Ray, Secret of the Vajra World. Shambhala 2001, page 315.
  22. Reginald Ray, Secret of the Vajra World. Shambhala 2001, pages 284-285.

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