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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
46 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 1 5 On the nirmanakaya level, the enlightened emanations don’t have the five certainties of the sambhogakaya; in fact, they actually have five uncertainties: those of place, form, teachings, entou- rage, and time. There are an infinite multitude of places of nirmanakaya emanation, and the place is uncertain in the sense that it can be either pure or impure. The place may be either a nirmanakaya pure realm or an impure realm anywhere in the three worlds of samsara. Just as the rainbow only manifests where the conditions come together, there is no fixed place or time the nirmanakaya manifests, and thus it is said that the nirmanakaya manifesta- tions are not certain or fixed. The nirmanakaya form of the teacher is uncer- tain in the sense that it can manifest in myriad forms according to sentient beings’ fortune and capacity, due to the presence of the necessary causes and conditions. There is an endless variety of the forms of emanations in the impure worlds to train beings, and yet all are of an illusory nature. The entourage is uncertain, as the disciples are ordinary sentient beings. The teachings are uncertain because they expound the relative, provisional meaning in addition to the ultimate meaning taught in the sambhogakaya buddha fields. According to the general way of explanation given for ordinary beings, it is not taught that Bud- dha Shakyamuni was in fact already enlightened and emanated into this world as a nirmanakaya buddha in order to benefit sentient beings. Rather, it is taught in many of the general sutra teachings that Shakyamuni was an ordinary sentient being who gradually attained enlightenment through a series of lifetimes spread out over aeons of time. These sutras tell us that aeons before he became a buddha, Shakyamuni was born in a worldly realm as an ordinary sentient being. At that time, there was a buddha known as Shakya Mahamuni dwell- ing in the world. Shakyamuni made offerings to the buddha, praying that he would be able to fol- low him, attain enlightenment, and greatly benefit sentient beings. At another point after many life- times, Shakyamuni was able to be reborn in the hell realms for the purpose of making further prayers there to be able to benefit and liberate sentient beings. Then, after countless more lifetimes over aeons of time, Shakyamuni was born in this world and finally attained buddhahood under the bodhi tree at Bodhgaya in India. However, according to the point of view of Dzogchen, Buddha Shakyamuni was enlightened in the primordial ground, the wisdom mind of Samantabhadra. In this view, we see everything as manifesting from above to below, from the dharmakaya Samantabhadra downward, from the absolute to the relative. When we speak of the Bud- dha’s unfolding from the absolute, we say that our teacher the Buddha was enlightened in the expanse of the dharmakaya. From that realization there arose the display of the infinity of lights of the limit- less sambhogakaya buddha fields. From there, the incalculable nirmanakaya emanations appear, such as Shakyamuni Buddha and so many others beyond measure. In contrast, according to the general teach- ings, the Buddha was a sentient being who became enlightened in Bodhgaya, and his awakening pro- ceeded from the relative to the ultimate. So there are these different perspectives, since one speaks In order to benefit beings the dharmakaya Buddha emanates in a form that can be perceived and experienced by them. The rupakaya, or “body of form,” refers to both the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya buddha emanations.