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Diamond Sūtra Discussion

The Dharmakāya is without appearance 法身非相分

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The Dharmakāya is without appearance 法身非相


須菩提云何可以三十二相如來?」 須菩提:「如是如是三十二相如來。」 佛言:「須菩提三十二相如來轉輪聖王則是如來。」 須菩提白佛:「世尊三十二相如來。」

“Subhūti, what do you think? Can the Tathāgata be observed by means of the Thirty-two Marks [lakṣaṇa]?” Subhūti replied, “Thusly, thusly, with the Thirty-two Marks [lakṣaṇa] the Tathāgata is to be observed.” The Buddha said, “Subhūti, if the Tathāgata could be observed by means of the Thirty-two Marks [lakṣaṇa], then a cakravartin king would be a tathāgata.” Subhūti addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, thus do I explain the meaning of what the Buddha has said. One should not observe the Tathāgata by means of the Thirty-two Marks [lakṣaṇa].”

Sanskrit: tatkiṃ manyase subhūte-lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyaḥ ? subhūtirāha-no hīdaṃ bhagavan| yathāhaṃ bhagavato bhāṣitasyārthamājānāmi, na lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyaḥ| bhagavānāha-sādhu sādhu subhūte, evametatsubhūte, evametadyathā vadasi| na lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyaḥ| tatkasya hetoḥ ? sacetpunaḥ subhūte lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyo'bhaviṣyat, rājāpi cakravartī tathāgato'bhaviṣyat| tasmānna lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyaḥ| āyuṣmān subhutirbhagavantametadavocat-yathāhaṃ bhagavato bhāṣitasyārthamājānāmi, na lakṣaṇasaṃpadā tathāgato draṣṭavyaḥ||


This is the fourth time that the Buddha asks Subhūti this question. The first time was in Section 5, then Section 13, then Section 20. A cakravartin king (Chinese 轉輪聖王) is a sage-king who chariot is not impeded by borders. At the time of the Buddha such a king was expected to be born in the world sometime soon and when the sage Asita saw the Buddha when he was born he predicted that he would either be a cakravartin or a Buddha. (Red Pine 2009, p 381)

The Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom says,

Thus, there are two kinds of path. The first leads beings to cultivate the path of merit. The second is the path of wisdom. Because of the path of merit, we speak of the thirty-two attributes. Because of the path of wisdom, we speak of no attributes.
(Red Pine 2009, p 380 quoting Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom 大智度論, T 1509)

In the Sanskrit text the Buddha replies, 'sādhu, sādhu' (Excellent! Excellent!), which is ommitted from the Chinese and English text.



,  音聲

邪道,  不能如來

At that time [atha khalu], the Bhagavān spoke a gāthā, saying:

If one perceives me in forms,

If one listens for me in sounds [ghoṣeṇa],

This person practices a deviant path

And cannot see the Tathāgata.

Sanskrit: atha khalu bhagavāṃstasyāṃ velāyāmime gāthe abhāṣata-

Sanskrit: ye māṃ rūpeṇa cādrākṣurye māṃ ghoṣeṇa cānvaguḥ|

Sanskrit: mithyāprahāṇaprasṛtā na māṃ drakṣyanti te janāḥ||1||

Sanskrit: dharmato buddho draṣṭavyo dharmakāyā hi nāyakāḥ|

Sanskrit: dharmatā ca na vijñeyā na sā śakyā vijānitum||2||26||


This is a four line gāthā of the form that has been mentioned previously. There are two in Sanskrit but only one in Chinese and English. The Chinese is only loosely related to the Sanskrit.

In the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra the Buddha said to Kāśyapa,

O Good man! The body of the Tathāgata is one that is eternal, one that is indestructible, one that that is adamantine, one that is not sustained by various kinds of food. It is the Dharma body.
(Yamamoto 2008, p. 41)

If we do not see the Buddha through his physical body then how should we see him? The Sarvāstivādin Ahbidharma describes three bodies: (1) the physical body (Sanskrit: rūpakāya, Chinese: 色身), (2) Transformation Body (Sanskrit: nirmāṇakāya, Chinese: 應身), which the Buddha can use to transform into emanations, and (3) Dharma Body (Sanskrit: dharmakāya, Chinese: 法身). The Dharma Body or Truth Body is needed by a bodhisattva to transform into a Buddha. The Dharma Body is eternal, unchanging, and omnipresent (Conze 2013, ch. III.1.8).

Notice the chiasmic symmetry between this chapter and chapter 6.

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