These next two blogs will focus on the realization that the Buddha’s true embodiment is the Dharmakaya; and this Dharmakaya is an “adamant body” (vajrakaya) and absolutely incorruptible.
The Buddha is completely immortal, and that his immortality is reflected in his embodiment in an utterly indestructible substance (Skt. vajra, Ch. jin’gang 金剛, “adamant”). (Radich, Immortal Buddhas and their indestructible embodiments)
When the original disciples of Gautama Buddha were languishing around his deathbed, they are assured that the dying process is an apparent (docetic) one:
O good man! The body of the Tathāgata is an eternal body, an indestructible body, an adamant body (vajrakāya); it is not a body sustained by various kinds of food. That is to say, it is the Dharma Body (dharmakāya).
Do not say now that the body of the Tathāgata is soft, can easily be broken, and is the same as that of common mortals. O good man! Know now that for countless billions of kalpas, the body of the Tathāgata has been strong, firm, and indestructible. It is neither the body of a man nor of a god; it is not a body susceptible to fear; nor is it a body sustained by various kinds of food…
[T]he Tathāgata’s body [is] the eternal dharmakāya, the body of peace and bliss (安樂之身)…Yes, indeed, the Tathāgata’s Dharma-Body is adamant and indestructible. (Passages from the MPNMS)
It is best to include now a fuller account from the Vajrābhedakāya Chapter of the MPNMS (Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra); the translation is by Mark L Blum:
At that time the World-Honored One once again addressed Kāśyapa, saying: Good man, the body of a tathāgata is a permanently abiding body, an indestructible body, an adamantine body; it is not a body sustained by food of any sort. In other words, it is a dharma body.
The bodhisattva Kāśyapa said to the Buddha: World-Honored One, I do not see anything like the bodies that you have just enumerated. All that I can see is a body that is impermanent, destructible, made up of atoms, which consumes different foods, and so forth. Why? Because the Tathāgata is about to enter nirvana.
The Buddha said:
Kāśyapa. Now you must not say that the Tathāgata’s body is not solid, that it is subject to destruction like the body of an ordinary person. Good man, you should be aware of the fact that the body of a tathāgata has become hardened and difficult to destroy over an immense period of time-hundreds of millions of kalpas. It is not like the body of a human or a god, nor is it a body bound by fear, nor is it a body that consumes any sort of food.
The tathāgata body is a body and is not a body. It was not born and it will not cease to exist. It does not learn and it does not practice. It is immeasurable and boundless. It leaves no footprints. It does not discern things and has no forms to discern. It is utterly pure. It has no movement. It is neither passive nor active. It is nonabiding and nonbecoming. It is unflavored and unmixed. It was not created (saṃskṛta). It has no karma and no karmic fruit. It does not move. It does not disappear. It is not a thought, nor is it a number. It is inconceivable and it will always be inconceivable. It has no consciousness in the usual sense. Its thoughts are impartial, neither separate nor not separate. It is not and it is. It has neither coming nor going, and yet it does come and go. It cannot be destroyed, damaged, removed, or cut off. It does not come into existence and it does not go out of existence. It does not dominate and yet it is dominant. It is not being and it is not nonbeing. It is not realized and it is not observed. It cannot be put into words and yet it is not nonlinguistic.
It is neither definite nor indefinite. It cannot be seen yet it is clearly visible. It is without any location and yet it is located. It is without any residence and yet it resides. It is without darkness and without light. It has no quiescence and yet it is quiescent. It possesses nothing.
It does not receive and it does not give. It is pure and without stain. It has no disputes, having cut off disputation. It resides without any place of residence. It neither takes nor falls into [a samsaric existence]. It is neither a dharma nor a non-dharma. It is neither a field of merit nor not a field of merit. There is no exhausting it, it cannot be exhausted, and it is totally separate from all ways of being exhausted. It is empty and yet dissociated from emptiness. Although it does not permanently reside anywhere, there is no cessation of its thought-stream. It has no stains. It is without words, existing apart from words. It is not voice, it is not speech, and it does not learn. It does not weigh and it does not measure.
It is neither unified nor differentiated. It is neither an image nor a characteristic, though it is adorned with external characteristics. It is neither bravery nor fear. It has no quiescence, it does not become quiet. It has no heat, it does not warm. It is not visible, it has no external form…
It is not a body and yet it is not a nonbody; there is no way to fully communicate this. Aside from one dharma characteristic, [its virtues] cannot be enumerated. When it enters the final parinirvāṇa, it does not enter parinirvāṇa. The dharma bodies of tathāgatas have all accomplished innumerable subtle and virtuous qualities such as these. Kāśyapa, there is no one other than a tathāgata who understands this; it is not something understood by either śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas.
Kāśyapa, a tathāgata body that has achieved virtuous qualities such as this is not a body sustained by eating of any sort. Kāśyapa, as the virtuous qualities in the true body of a tathāgata are such, how could it also be subject to illness or stress, as vulnerable and fragile as an unfired pot? Kāśyapa, the reason the Tathāgata manifests illness is in order to tame living beings. Good man, by now you should understand that the body of a tathāgata is an adamantine, vajra body. From this day forth you should always focus your thoughts on this meaning. Do not think of it as a body sustained by eating. Moreover, you should explain to others as well that the Tathāgata’s body is in fact a dharma body.
Thus this dharmakāya-cum-vajrakāya is the True Deathless and Imageless Body of the Tathāgata. Radich argues that the Dharmakāya-cum-Vajrakāya is the positive, docetic corollary to the impermanent, flesh and blood, narratives of the Buddha’s body:
Dharmakāya is thus the first instance in MPNMS itself of what I am calling positive corollaries to docetic Buddhology – that is, it reinforces the docetic denial of the Buddha’s ordinary humanity, through the articulation of a positive alternative to the embodiment denied. In fact, I believe, it can be demonstrated that dharmakāya doctrine is also presented as such a positive corollary to docetic Buddhology in other key contexts, such as LAn and the Aṣṭasāharikā prajñāpāramitā (“Aṣṭa”), and this feature is key to explaining the elaboration of dharmakāya doctrine per se. (Radich, The Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra and Tathāgatagarbha Doctrine, pg. 132)
Once again, the soteriological-impetus and principle that originates within the Dharmakayic-womb of the Tathāgatagarbha is the sole transcendent alternative to traversing kalpa after kalpa garnering one’s “pound of flesh” over and above putting on the salvific Unborn Buddha Mind. What therefore liberates empowers one to SEE with absolute assurance through the self-same eyes of the Tathāgatakaya the blessed Dharma-fields of Bhutatathata. As the MPNMS “states most strikingly, ‘In this manner, the seeds of the dharmakāya are in my body.’” (ibid, pg. 139) The MPNMS also proclaims that once receiving the noble realization that is fostered inside the Tathāgatabarbha, a special supra-position concerning the trikaya itself occurs:
Those with faith in this sūtra are themselves the three refuges, and certainly have a refuge within them, so that they do not need the three refuges. This is because they reflect on the fact that they have the tathāgatagarbha-buddhadhātu [Tib uses both terms in conjunction: de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po sangs rgyas kyi khams], and say, “I have the buddhadhātu in my body.” Rather than going to the three refuges, they themselves become the Dharma and Saṃgha refuges, and objects of worship for Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas; and thus, they set out in the Mahāyāna. In this manner, the buddhadhātu, the thirty-two major marks, and the eighty minor marks are inconceivable. (ibid, pg. 140)
Of course, from a Lankavatarian perspective, this “special form of a body” that gestates within the Tathāgatagarbha is the Bodhi-child, the only one who can assume a Right-Position within the Trikaya. The Bodhi-seed, not a defiled skandhic-one, is the rightful heir to the kingdom of the Dharmakaya.