Three buddha statues symbolizing the Three Bodies. DharmaFlower Temple, Huzhou, Zhejiang province, China
(Sanskrit, literally "Three bodies";
Chinese; Tam thân Vietnamese:
, Japanese: sanjin,Tibetan:
) is an MahayanaBuddhist teaching on both the nature of reality and the natureof a Buddha.
The doctrine says that a Buddha has three
which embodies the veryprinciple of enlightenment and knows no limits orboundaries;2.The
body of mutual enjoyment
which isa body of bliss or clear light manifestation;3.The
which manifests in time and space.
Even before the Buddha's Parinirvāṇa the term Dharmakāya was current. Dharmakāya literally means
.In the Pāli Canon the Buddha tells Vasettha that the Tathāgata (the Buddha) was Dharmakāya, the 'Truth-body' orthe 'Embodiment of Truth', as well as Dharmabhuta, 'Truth-become', 'One who has become Truth'
The Buddha is equated with the Dhamma:... and the Buddha comforts him, "Enough, Vakkali. Why do you want to see this filthy body? Whoever seesthe Dhamma sees me; whoever sees me sees the Dhamma."
, the "decomposing" body, is distinguished from the eternal
body of the Buddha and theBodhisattva body.
The Dharmakāya-doctrine was possibly first expounded in the
(The Perfection of Insight In Eight Thousand Verses), composed in the 1st century BCE.Mahayan Buddhism introduced the Sambhogakāya, which conceptually fits between the Nirmāṇakāya
and theDharmakaya. The Sambhogakaya is that aspect of the Buddha, or the Dharma, that one meets in visions and in deepmeditation. It could be considered an interface with the Dharmakaya.The Trikaya-doctrine and the Tathagatagarbha bring the transcendental within reach, by placing the transcendentalwithin the plane of immanence.Around 300 CE, the Yogacara school systematized the prevalent ideas on the nature of the Buddha in the Trikaya or