The Three Kayas
THE THREE KAYAS ARE ACTUALLY ASPECTS OF ENLIGHTENED BEING. They are the Buddha reflected in three
different ways in order to help sentient beings. The meaning of the Sanskrit word Buddha is awakened or fully realized one. What is realized? The original nature is realized perfectly as it is, with nothing changed or exaggerated but as it is at both the relative and absolute levels or as relative and absolute truth. One who is awake to this understanding is a Buddha. This realization involves the complete transcendence of obscurations. We haven’t fully awakened to our true nature because of these obscurations whereas Buddha Shakyamuni realized the original nature perfectly because he was purified of obscurations.
The word ‘buddha’ refers to all realized beings. It is not that only one particular enlightened being is known as Buddha. Those who realized their true nature in the past are known as buddhas, those who realize it now may be called buddhas, and those who come to this realization in the future will be known as buddhas. “Buddha” is a general term which does not merely refer to a single individual but to every realized being.
The whole purpose of enlightened beings is to benefit sentient beings. In order to do this, they appear in many different forms or bodies. The principle emanations are known as the three kayas: dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. There are even four and five kayas, divided further to qualify other manifestations of enlightened being, but it is all one Buddha. Kaya is a Sanskrit word that means “body,” in the sense of many qualities gathered together, joined and united as one. Kaya here refers to the embodiments of loving-kindness, compassion, wisdom, and skillful
means which appear in the world to help sentient beings… (Continued in downloadable PDF)
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