法身 – Chinese philosophy and culture

fǎshēn 法身

Dharmakāya / Body of Dharma

佛法的聚集。“身”义为聚合。佛教常从不同的方面理解觉悟者,而有“二身”“三身”乃至“十身”之说。比如,“色身”或“生身”指具体有形的存在,强调物质的方面;“法身”指无形的、智慧的聚合,强调觉者的本质。此外还有“应身”,特指为了能够教化众生,根据需要变化显现的形式。中国佛教各宗各派对法身的阐释各有千秋,但都重视法身的清净圆满、功用无穷。

Dharmakāya refers to the corpus of the Buddha’s teachings. The word shen (身body) means collection in this context. The multifaceted nature of the Buddha inspires the idea of “two bodies,” “three bodies,” and even “ten bodies.” Among them, rūpakāya (the body of form or the begotten body) refers to the physical dimension of the Buddha, which features earthliness; dharmakāya (the body of dharma) refers to the collection of invisible wisdom, highlighting the inherent nature of the Buddha; and  (the body of transformation) refers to the doubles of the Buddha who is able to teach the dharma by all means to all sentient beings. Buddhist interpretations on dharmakāya vary from school to school, but all of them emphasize its perfect purity and endless functions.

引例 Citations:

◎法身菩萨断结使,得六神通;生身菩萨不断结使,或离欲得五神通。(《大智度论》卷三十八)

(作为法身的菩萨已经断除了各种烦恼,获得了六种神通;而作为生身的菩萨并未断除烦恼,有些远离贪欲的,则有五种神通。)

Bodhisattvas in their body of dharma have eliminated afflictions of all kinds and attained the six types of higher knowledge, while bodhisattvas in their begotten body have not yet eliminated all afflictions. Of the latter, those who stay away from desire may attain five types of higher knowledge. (The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom)

◎然叡公《维摩疏》释云:所谓一法性生身,二亦言功德法身,三变化法身,四虚空法身,五实相法身,详而辩之,即一法身也。何者言其生?则本之法性,故曰法性生身。二推其因,则是功德所成故,是功德法身。三就其应,则无感不形,是则变化法身。四称其大,则弥纶虚空,所谓虚空法身。五语其妙,则无相无为,故曰实相法身。(释澄观《大方广佛华严经随疏演义钞》卷四)

(僧叡的《维摩疏》解释道:所谓第一法性生身,第二功德法身,第三变化法身,第四虚空法身,第五实相法身,仔细考察辨析,其实都是同一个法身。在什么意义上说“生”?因为建立在法性的根基上,所以说是法性所生的法身。其二,推究法身产生的条件,则是由各种善行积累成就的,所以叫功德法身。其三,就法身的感应而言,没有它不能感受的,也没有它不能显现的,所以叫变化法身。其四,为了称扬它的广大,它充斥统摄整个虚空,所以叫虚空法身。其五,为了道出它的微妙,即它自身没有相状、没有造作,所以称其为实相法身。)

In The Exegesis of The Teachings of Vimalakīrti, the Buddhist monk Seng Rui explains, “It is said that there are five types of body of dharma: (1) the begotten body of dharma, (2) the beneficent body of dharma, (3) the transformative body of dharma, (4) the empty body of dharma, and (5) the suchness body of dharma. However, if one scrutinizes them closely, one will find out that all these bodies are just different perspectives of the same body of dharma. First, what does ‘begotten’ mean here? Since the essence of dharma begets the body, it is called ‘the begotten body of dharma.’ Second, the body is attained by accumulating beneficence, so it is called ‘the beneficent body of dharma.’ Third, since the body can perceive and manifest everything, it is called ‘the transformative body of dharma.’ Fourth, the body is so vast that it predominates the entire void. Therefore, it is called ‘the empty body of dharma.’ Fifth, the body features extreme delicacy with no form or condition, and so it is called ‘the suchness body of dharma.'” (Shi Chengguan: The Further Exegesis of the Flower Garland Sutra)

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