Sunday, May 24, 2015

The three bodies (aspects) of Amida Buddha

           
Amida Buddha
  1. Dharmakaya (Hosshin) or Dharma-Body
This is the aspect of ultimate Reality or the Absolute Truth. It is beyond forms, unchanging, inconceivable, without beginning and no end. All Buddhas share the same Dharmakaya when they attain perfect Enlightenment; this is why it is said that all Buddhas, including Amida, have the same essence. Not only Amida Buddha, but His Pure Land too, has the same Dharmakaya aspect. This is evident from this and many other similar passages in the sacred texts:

My land, being like Nirvana itself,
Will be beyond comparison.”[1]

  1. Sambhogakaya (Hojin) or Recompensed Body
This is Amida Buddha and His Pure Land in transcendental form, as a result of Dharmakara’s practices and Vows. It is called, the “Body of Recompense” because it is the effect, or the “recompense” of His practices and virtues. Thus, when Dharmakara became Amida Buddha, His 48 vows have become effective methods of salvation, and His Pure Land came into existence. To Amida in Sambhogakaya form, did Shakyamuni refer to when He said to Ananda:

“Bodhisattva Dharmakara has already attained Buddhahood and is now dwelling in a Western Buddha- land called ‘Peace and Bliss,’ a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here.’
[…] Since He attained Buddhahood about ten kalpas have passed.”[2]

or when He said to Sariputra:

“The Buddha then said to Elder Sariputra: ‘If you travel westward from here, passing a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha-lands, you will come to the land called Utmost Bliss, where there is a Buddha named Amitayus. He is living there now, teaching the Dharma’”.[3]

and also when He described the two aspects of Amida (“Amitabha” – “Infinite Light” and “Amitayus” –  “Infinite Life”):

“For what reason, Sariputra, do you think that Buddha is called Amitabha? Sariputra, the Buddha’s light shines boundlessly and without hindrance over all the worlds of the ten directions. It is for this reason that He is called Amitabha. Again, Sariputra, the lives of the Buddha and the people of His land last for innumerable, unlimited, and incalculable kalpas. It is for this reason that the Buddha is called Amitayus.”[4]

These aspects are also described in Amida’s 12th Vow:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhalands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”
(the 12th Vow)

and the 13th Vow:

“If, when I attain Buddhahood, my life-span should be limited, even to the extent of a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”

The Infinite (Unlimited) Light of Amida is a transcendent (Sambhogakaya) manifestation capable to go anywhere in the universe. This is why He said that if His “light should be limited “ then He will not attain Buddhahood. This Light embraces, protects and brings the wisdom of faith (shinjin) into the hearts and minds of people who are open to His message of salvation. Through His Light, Amida tries permanently to influence beings and make them accept His salvation contained in the Primal Vow (18th). It is like an immense magnet attracting all beings to Him. Some become opened to it sooner, while others will do so in the future, but Amida will continue sending it until all hells are empty and all beings will become Buddhas.

The Infinite (Unlimited) Life of Amida simply means that His transcendent (Sambhogakaya) manifestation will last forever for the benefit of all beings. This is why He said that if His “life-span should be limited”, then He will not attain Buddhahood. Thus, the Sambhogakaya aspect of Amida Buddha has a beginning, when He attained Buddhahood, and no end (no limit), because He is the Buddha of Infinite (Unlimited) Life[5].

Also the Infinite (Unlimited) Life of Amida means that He will have enough patience and enough time to help all beings. This Vow is in accord with the well known Mahayana verse:

“As long as space endures and unenlightened beings exist,
may I too remain to dispel the miseries of the world”.

So, Amida’s Infinite (Unlimited) Life stands for Infinite Compassion. He will make no discrimination among those to be saved, and He will endlessly work to save all beings, without the small break in His activity, as He himself promised:

“If I should not become a great benefactor
In lives to come for immeasurable kalpas
To save the poor and the afflicted everywhere,
May I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”[6]

  1. Nirmanakaya  – Accomodated (Ojin) or Transformed Body (Keshin)
According to Shinran Shonin, this is Amida Buddha as the object of the 9th contemplation (contemplation on the True Body) in the Contemplation Sutra. In that contemplation, Shakyamuni describes Amida with a  definite measurement or size of the body:

“His (Amida’s) body is as glorious as a thousand million kotis of nuggets of gold from the Jambu River of the Yama Heaven and that His height is six hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of yojanas multiplied by the number of the sands of the Ganges River”.[7]

Thus, in chapter VI of his Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran said:

„As I reverently reveal the Transformed Buddha and Land, the Buddha is as described in the
Sutra on Visualisation of the Buddha of Infinite Life [Contemplation Sutra], namely the ‘Buddha in the contemplation on the True Body’”.[8]

" In this aureole reside transformed 
Buddhas numbering as
 many as a million kotis of nayutas multiplied by
 the number of the sands of the Ganges." 
Contemplation Sutra (9th Contemplation)
-Taima Mandala-
In the same section with the 9th contemplation, the aureole of Amida Buddha is said to contain many “transformed Buddhas numbering as many as a million kotis of nayutas multiplied by the number of the sands of the Ganges River”.
These transformed (accommodated) bodies of Amida Buddha, who emerge from His Sambhogakaya aspect, and who vary in sizes and forms, according to the needs and characteristics of beings (this is what is meant by “Accomodated Body”), are sent toward all those in the ten directions of Samsara who entrust to Him, as it is clear from the section 21 of the Contemplation Sutra:

“Amitayus, exercising supernatural powers at will, can freely manifest His various forms in the lands of the ten directions. At times He may appear as a large figure, filling the whole sky; at other times as a smaller figure, only sixteen or eight feet high. The figures that He manifests are all of the color of pure gold. The transformed Buddhas and jeweled lotus flowers in the aureole of each manifested form are like those described above.”[9]

The same is described within this passage:

“Buddha Amitayus possesses eighty-four thousand physical characteristics, each having eighty-four thousand secondary marks of excellence. Each secondary mark emits eighty-four thousand rays of light; each ray of light shines universally upon the lands of the ten directions, embracing and not forsaking those who are mindful of the Buddha. It is impossible to describe in detail these rays of light, physical characteristics, and marks, transformed Buddhas, and so forth.”[10]

Shinran Shonin also believed that one of the many Nirmanakayas or Transformed Bodies of Amida Buddha is Shakyamuni Buddha himself:

“Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.”[11]


*

In the conclusion of this presentation of Trikaya doctrine, we can say that Amida Buddha is beyond any form in His Dharmakaya aspect, dwells with His transcendent form (Sambhogakaya) in the Pure Land, and in the same time He is here with us, people who have genuine faith in Him, in His various Accomodated and Transformation Bodies (Nirmanakayas). Wherever we are, in our room, on the street, alone or with friends and family, etc, Amida Buddha is always accompanying us.

When we ourselves will attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land, we’ll have access to the ultimate reality beyond forms (Dharmakaya), we’ll dwell forever in transcendent form (Sambhogakaya) in Amida’s Pure Land, and in the same time we’ll go in all the places of the universe in various Bodies of Accomodation or Transformation (Nirmanakayas) to save all beings. 






[1] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.9-10
[2] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.23-24.
[3] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.103.
[4] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.104-105.
[5] I make a difference between „eternal” and „unlimited”. Only the Dharmakaya aspect of Amida Buddha is eternal, because it has no begining and no end, while His  Sambhogakaya aspect has a begining, but will have no end – will be „unlimited”, as the sutra said. Shinran Shonin too, emphasized this aspect of unlimitedness of Amida as Sambhogakaya:

„The life of Amida is infinite, no measure can be taken”  
(Hymn of the Nembutsu and True ShinjinPassages on the Pure Land Way - The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 304)

„Since attainment of Buddhahood, ten kalpas have passed;
The Buddha’s life indeed has no measure.
Shining on the blind and ignorant of the world; hence, I bow in homage”.
(Hymns of the Pure Land - The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p. 321)

[6] Larger Sutra, chapter 8.
[7] Idem. p. 86.
[8] Shinran Shonin, Kyogyoshinsho, cf with Kyogyoshinsho – On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, translated by Hisao Inagaki, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 233. and Kygyoshinsho, Ryukoku Translation Series, Ryukoku University, Kyoto, 1966, p. 161.
[9] Idem. p. 91
[10] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 87
[11] Shoshinge. The Way of Nembutsu-Faith: A Commentary on the Shoshinge, by Hisao Inagaki, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1996.


0 comentarii: