Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mahayana and the Daharmakaya

"The light of Dharmakaya is like unto the full moon..." Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism, by D.T. Suzuki.

Considering the "doctrine of Suchness," D. T Suzuki writes, "it appeared to all speculative to be of use in everyday human lives... it must pass through some practical modification before it fully satisfies our spiritual needs... this modification of pure reason is necessary from the human point of view; because mere abstraction is pointless, lifeless without tangible content; as such it cannot satisfy our spiritual cravings with empty abstraction...the truth is, religious consciousness, first of all, demands fact... on the other hand if logic be all important, then sentiment follows its trail in a dry, arid void...
The truth is, that in this life, the will predominates, and the intellect subserves... abstraction is good for the exercises of the intellect, but questions of life and death must have something more than theories... it must be a faith born of the innermost consciousness of our being... What practical transformations then has the doctrine of Suchness, in order to meet the religious demands, to suffer?"

God. Buddhism does not use the word God often, if at all. While not to be judged as atheism, Buddhist thought outspokenly acknowledges the presence in the world of a reality which transcends all limits, yet is everywhere immanent, manifesting itself in full glory, and which we live and have our being... The religious object of Buddhism is generally thought of as "Dharmakaya," "Vairochana," or "Amitabha," several of its names.

In the west, scholars very often translate the Dharmakaya to mean "body of the law." This interpretation, while in current use, is not very accurate, and often the source of serious misunderstandings by Western thinkers. Today, as the term is now used, especially by those practitioners in the Eastern regions (of its origins), often those same thinkers misunderstand too, the meaning of "Dharma." These basic misunderstandings of doctrine accounts chiefly for the failure to recognize Mahayanism as central to all developed Buddhist thought. "If we were to always translate dharma by law, it seems to me that the whole drift of our treatise would become unintelligible."
To Mahayanists, Dharma means many things, depending upon context. Words such as thing, substance, being, reality-both specific and general, are effective renderings for the dharma then. The Dharmakaya is effectively rendered as both an intelligence and a spirit. Thus terms such as God and All are not always sufficient to the original meaning.

The Dharmakaya is described by Suzuki as not exactly equivalent to suchness; "it is a soul, a willing and knowing being, one that is will and intelligence, thought and action." It is not understood as an abstract principle or a metaphysical principle like suchness, but is a living spirit, manifesting itself in nature and in thought... There is no place in the universe where this body does not prevail... It is free from all opposites and divisions, yet works in all things to lead them to enlightenment."
It is not a mere abstraction, standing apart from this world. Dharmakaya is a spiritual existence, absolutely real, true and the reason for all beings; it is the upaya, free from struggles or compulsions; it is beyond understanding. It is love; the body of all beings is the Dharmakaya and the Dharmakaya is the body of all beings...And, as we enter further into the will and spirit of the Dharmakaya, this will becomes freely our own; a realization of the free will of the Dharmakaya. We move towards the supreme goodness; every good we do is absorbed into the universal store of merits, no more or less than Dharmakaya. Every existence, a reflection of Dharmakaya, worthy of its all embracing love.

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