Twenty-nine: No Footprints
“And again, O Subhuti, whoever says that the Tathagata goes, or comes, or stands, or sits, or lies down does not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why? Because the word Tathagata means one who does not go to anywhere, and does not come from anywhere; such a one is called the Tathagata, arhat, and fully enlightened.”
This passage should help to put to rest that the meaning of Tathagata implies some surface-level understanding as ‘thus come, thus gone.’ Indeed, as the sutra stresses, if anyone embraces this definition then they are poorly misinformed. Tathata is aligned with suchness and as such, such a Tathagata is fully aligned with Wisdom’s Perfection; it’s a total assimilation of Self and the Absolute and undifferentiated Dharmakaya. In this sense, the Tathagata is the Dharmakaya robed in Absolute Self-Perfection.
The following is from an earlier Blog post, “Out on a Limb, Part 1”. It is reproduced here to articulate a fuller realization of Tathagata:
“The noble Tathagata-kaya (body of a Tathagata) rips-apart all dichotomous associations. The Tathagata-kaya is beyond the three times (past, present, future); it is neither marked nor unmarked; it cannot be comprehended by the skandhas or by any elements of consciousness itself. Thus, a Tathagata is nothing conceivable nor perceivable. The foot of a Tathagata is neither on this shore or the other shore, neither within nor without, nor anywhere in-between. The Tathagata is also non-relational with any moral or unmoral attributes. The truth behind the Tathagata-kaya is certainly not truth in the conventional sense of the word. Thus come, thus gone essentially means that the Tathagata has not gone, will not go and does not go; he has not come, will not come and does not come. Anyone reading this with “conventional eyes” will say, “Well, then, what the hell is a Tathagata????” Such is the body of a Tathagata that it is not perceivable or conceivable through conventional lens. It is seen through imageless eyes and is therefore beyond thingness and no-thingness . One who sees the Tathagata through imageless eyes sees correctly (samyak paśyati); anyone vainly trying to see the Tathagata through conventional eyes does so in vain (mithyā paśati).”