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


"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


"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


"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


"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


"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.

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