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3 Kayas

vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
edited August 2018 in Buddhism Basics

Am I correct that the 3 Kayas are primarily a Mahayana concept? I don't remember anything about this in Theravada.

Is it in other schools of Buddhism besides Mahayana?


  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    According to Mahayana Buddhism, the human form of Shakyamuni Buddha we all know represents only one of the three bodies, or kayas, of the buddhas. These three bodies are different manifestations of enlightened mind, and they are also the true nature of all sentient beings. In fact, the transformation of conventional body, speech, and mind into the three kayas is the basis of the Vajrayana path.

    From here:

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    There is quite a lengthy Wikipedia article on it which explains a few things, here...

    I’ve found the buddhist material on Wikipedia to be sometimes useful, it often has at least an eye to what schools believe what, even if articles from Lions Roar or Tricycle may be more integrated and authoritative sounding.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited August 2018

    Here's some controversial knowledge:

    Saṃbhogakāya bodies do not appear in older Mahāyāna scriptures. This is because they are theorized, rather than having been directly taught.

    A teacher named Venerable Maitreyanātha was the first to theorize the existence of what he referred to as "saṃbhogabuddhāḥ", or "bliss buddhas".

    Scriptures of his school, dating from after 300AD, contain references to saṃbhogakāya bodies, but scriptures from before then lack this term, since traditional Mahāyāna before him only had a twofold Buddhology, a dvakāya instead of a trikāya: dharmakāya & rūpakāya.

    Of course, Ven Maitreyanātha came up with this theory from reading Buddhavacana. So I suppose it could be right. But it could also be wrong. It all depends on the Venerable in question.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited August 2018

    I'm not personally experience this but I have read that the 1st Bhumi of 10 in the Bodhisattva path is characterized by Great Joy due to being able to help sentient beings and being closer to enlightenment. And I have heard that joy is to do with Sambhoghakaya "bliss body". So until that time in the path that body not experienced in the same way. The word "Bhumi" here means foundation for good qualities and foundation to go further.

    This as described in the Lam Rim (gradual) teachings in Tibetan Buddhism which are a preliminary to the wisdom of emptiness and vajrayana vehicle I think. This text I guess talks about the complete path of all of the vehicles but the text is categorized as a Lam Rim text and reading it I guess is part of preliminary learnings? So in other words it is one thing to read about the 10 brumes in a few pages and a different matter over several kalpas to practice as a bodhisattva :)

    Prior to the 1st Bhumi is the beginner path and the devoted action path. The beginner path is a path of accumulation because it matures one's previously immature mind. The devoted action is a path of application because one is strongly devoted to the meaning of emptiness.

    ~From Jewel Ornament of Liberation

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