It is said that Buddhas never actually enter into parinirvāṇa, because they are completely identical to and interfused with the dharmadhātu (of all dharmas; 如來皆入一切法界)(Radich, Immortal Buddha’s and their indestruction). Once interfused with the Dharmadhātu—the Realm of Suchness Itself, what need to enter into something further after death? “Even the apparent parinirvāṇa of Buddhas like Dīpaṃkara was merely a docetistic show, an expedient means manifested by Śākyamuni himself.” (Radich, ibid) Moreover, anyone who fervently upholds the Buddhadharma is already equipped with the Dharma-realm and, as such, is eternally in the presence of the Living Buddha. Suzuki writes in his Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra:
For instance, the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka marks the epoch in the history of Buddhism when Sakyamuni ceased to be conceived of as a historical personage subject to the fate of all transient beings; for he is no more a human Buddha but one who lives through eternity for the benefit of all creatures. All that he is recorded to have done in history is no more than one of his “skillful means” (upaya) to save mankind. So we read:
” I show the place of extinction, I reveal to all beings a device (upāya) to educate them, albeit I do not become extinct at the time, and in this very place [that is, Mount Gṛidhrakuta] I continue preaching the Dharma. Here I rule myself as well as all beings…
And I speak thus to them in this very place: I was not completely extinct at the time; it was but a device of mine, monks; repeatedly am I born in the world of the living I see how the creatures are afflicted, but I do not show them my proper being. Let them first have an aspiration to see me; then I will reveal to them the true Dharma.” (Suzuki, Studies in the Lanka, pgs. 91-92)
Any true adherent of the Authentic Buddhadharma knows (and experiences) themselves being in the presence of the eternally abiding Buddha every time the Sutras are read; their spirit undergoes a form of Sambhogakayic transformation, they are Right There, in the hallowed setting of where the Sutra is being proclaimed. This also reinforces the docetic emphasis, since one’s apparent, skandhic body, is absent as the authentic Spirit and Realm takes precedence. The adamantine nature of the Tathāgata also comes into play here, as Radich includes in one of his footnotes that IT is best translated as, “[the one] gone to the Thusness of dharmas.” As the Buddha declared to Kāśyapa in our previous blog post:
O good man! The body of the Tathāgata is an eternal body, an indestructible body, an adamant body; it is not a body sustained by various kinds of food. That is to say, it is the Dharma Body.
As the Buddhadharma endured after the dissolution of Śākyamuni’s apparent corpse, just so is the Dharma-body of the Tathāgata sustained due to ITS imperishable Vajra-Like endurance in the Dharmakāya. Metaphorically, it is also stated (Taishō shinshū daizōkyō) that it is the Tathāgata’s will that “this adamantine body of the Tathāgata be ground up [into grains as small] as mustard seeds, and spread throughout the worlds (ages), in order that in future times, believing donors will still be able to make offerings even without seeing the bodily form (rūpa) of the Tathāgata” (Radich). A vivid example of this was portrayed in the short bodhifilm, Terma: A Mind Film by Vajragoni, wherein Bodhi-seeds are mystically issued forth from the mouth the Yogin-Bodhi Shaman as he releases them via the energy of the clasped Vajra and Phurpa.
As these preternatural seeds are distributed, some will take auspicious root in meritorious fashion within the soil of a most astute adept of the Buddhadharma.
After an appropriate period of cultivation, those thus re-born in the Family of Buddhas will receive adamantine bodies of Unborn Light.
It is also important to note that the MPNMS expounds that those who uphold the sacred teachings contained within the sutra, will be spiritually empowered to be blessed with the vajrakāya. To sum-up, all of this can be considered a type of prajnakaya, a docetic Body of Gnosis, one that says “the phenomenal world is illusory (connected to the doctrine of emptiness), and that the only reality is the Mahāyāna “absolute” variously conceived (dharmadhātu, dharmakāya (inclusion mine), dharmatā, Thusness etc.). (Radich)
Over the course of this series, “A Docetic Assessment,” we hopefully have discovered the intrinsic value within a Docetic Buddhology, one that clearly articulates how the apparent physical properties of a Tathāgata are inherently deceptive. Buddhas are thus not some psychophysical beings conceived and born from a defiled womb, but instead emanate from a Noble Womb (Tathāgata-garbha) and hence are wholly spiritual in essence. This realization radiates a most profound soteriological import in that all former karmic associations and attachments are rendered void once one “Puts-on the Unborn Buddha Mind” and no longer makes any further provisions for the flesh. The REAL Buddha-body is the Truth Body, or Dharmakāya; this Transcendent Corpus is an adamantine one: Vajrakaya. The Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra (Nirvana Sutra) is the main embodiment of sacred text within the Mahayana that first accentuated these Noble Principles.