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The Trikaya Doctrine

It is said that a Buddha has three kayas or bodies, the created body of Nirmanakaya (the three aspects of Enlightenment), the astral body of Sambhogakaya (clear light), and the unmanifested body of Dharmakaya (Truth).

Thus, the historical Gautama Buddha's body is Nirmanakaya. Amida Buddha is Sambhogakaya, and Vairocana Buddha is Dharmakaya.

In the Tibetan tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, there is a fourth body, the essential body of Svabhavikakaya. It is simply the ultimate kaya, appearing in its wisdom aspect as Wisdom Dharmakaya, and appearing in its form aspect as Sambhogakaya to pure beings and as Nirmanakaya to impure beings.

According to Vajrayana Buddhist thought, the four bodies of the Buddha are metaphors for the inner reality of the mind and the outer reality of the world.

Nirmanakaya manifests physically in our reality due to the working of Sambhogakaya, which is clear light only seen by bodhisattvas; and Dharmakaya is unconditioned truth of transcendent wisdom.


Four kayas of Vajrayana Buddhism:
Three Kayas from Vajrayana point of view:
Three aspects of Enlightenment and Nirmanakaya:

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