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The Three Personalities Of The Buddha









When the Blessed One had passed away into Nirvana, the disciples
came together and consulted what to do in order to keep the
Dharma pure and uncorrupted by heresies.

And Upali rose, saying:

"Our great Master used to say to the brethren: 'O bhikkhus! after
my final entrance into Nirvana you must reverence and obey the
law. Regard the law as your master. The law is like unto a light
that shines in the darkness, pointing out the way; it is also
like unto a precious jewel to gain which you must shun no
trouble, and be ready to bring any sacrifice, even, should it be
needed, your own fives. Obey the Dharma which I have revealed to
you; follow it carefully and regard it in no way different from
myself.'

"Such were the words of the Blessed One.

"The law, accordingly, which the Buddha has left us as a precious
inheritance has now become the visible body of the Tathagata. Let
us, therefore, revere it and keep it sacred. For what is the use
of erecting dagobas for relics, if we neglect the spirit of the
Master's teachings?"

And Anuruddha arose and said:

"Let us bear in mind, O brethren, that Gotama Siddhattha has
revealed the truth to us. He was the Holy One and the Perfect One
and the Blessed One, because the eternal truth had taken abode in
him.

"The Tathagata taught us that the truth existed before he was
born into this world, and will exist after he has entered into
the bliss of Nirvana.

"The Tathagata said:

"'The truth is omnipresent and eternal, endowed with excellencies
innumerable, above all human nature, and ineffable in its
holiness.'

"Now, let us bear in mind that not this or that law which is
revealed to us in the Dharma is the Buddha, but the entire truth,
the truth which is eternal, omnipresent, immutable, and most
excellent.

"Many regulations of the Sangha are temporary; they were
prescribed because they suited the occasion and were needed for
some transient emergency. The truth, however, is not temporary.

"The truth is not arbitrary nor a matter of opinion, but can be
investigated, and he who earnestly searches for the truth will
find it.

"The truth is hidden to the blind, but he who has the mental eye
sees the truth. The truth is Buddha's essence, and the truth will
remain the ultimate standard by which we can discern false and
true doctrines.

"Let us, then, revere the truth; let us inquire into the truth
and state it, and let us obey the truth. For the truth is Buddha
our Master, our Teacher, our Lord."

And Kassapa rose and said:

"Truly thou hast spoken well, O brother Anuruddha. Neither is
there any conflict of opinion on the meaning of our religion. For
the Blessed One possesses three personalities, and every one of
them is of equal importance to us.

"There is the Dharma Kaya. There is the Nirmana Kaya. There is
the Sambhoga Kaya.

"Buddha is the all-excellent truth, eternal, omnipresent, and
immutable. This is the Sambhoga Kaya which is in a state of
perfect bliss.

"Buddha is the all-loving teacher assuming the shape of the
beings whom he teaches. This is the Nirmana Kaya, his
apparitional body.

"Buddha is the all-blessed dispensation of religion. He is the
spirit of the Sangha and the meaning of the commands which he has
left us in his sacred word, the Dharma. This is the Dharma Kaya,
the body of the most excellent law.

"If Buddha had not appeared to us as Gotama Sakyamuni, how could
we have the sacred traditions of his doctrine? And if the
generations to come did not have the sacred traditions preserved
in the Sangha, how could they know anything of the great
Sakyamuni? And neither we nor others would know anything about
the most excellent truth which is eternal, omnipresent, and
immutable.

"Let us then keep sacred and revere the traditions; let us keep
sacred the memory of Gotama Sakyamuni, so that people may find
the truth; for he whose spiritual eye is open will discover it,
and it is the same to every one who possesses the comprehension
of a Buddha to recognize it and to expound it."

Then the brethren decided to convene a synod in Rajagaha in order
to lay down the pure doctrines of the Blessed One, to collect and
collate the sacred writings, and to establish a canon which
should serve as a source of instruction for future generations.





Next: The Purpose Of Being

Previous: The Buddha's Final Entering Into Nirvana



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Buddha's Gospels