One That Has Come
The One That Has Come (S. Tathagata, C. Ju-Lai, J. Nyorai) - This refers to the One That Has Come down into this world from the realm of the absolute spiritual reality (S. Tathata) to enlighten living beings and then reenters Nirvana, returning back to that absolute reality. It is the embodiment of the eternal Buddha, the nature of enlightenment. More specifically, it refers to the innate threefold body (life) of enlightement.
Chih-I's Prose and Verse of the Lotus Sutra (C. Fa-Hua Wen-Chu, J. Hokke Mongu) says:
The name ‘The One That Has Come’ (S.
Tathagata) has a great deal of meaning - we will now clarify the idea of the two Tathagatas and the
three Tathagatas - this will make other illustrations easier to understand.
The Two Tathagatas:
The Discourse on Attainment (Satyasiddhi Sastra) says:
“The vehicle that comes from the path of absolute reality as-it-is and attains enlightenment (in this world) is called 'The One That Has Come' (S. Tathagata)”.
Upon being awakened to the meaning of the path, there is a vehicle that comes
from the path of absolute reality and attains enlightenment. This is called ‘The Spiritual
of The One That Has Come’ (Dharma-kaya Tathagata).
Because of the wisdom of absolute reality, the vehicle is on the path of absolute reality. It comes and is born into the three existences (the past, present & future, that is, this world) and is revealed (manifested) as having become truly enlightened. This is called ‘The Body of Response of The One That Has Come’ (Nirmana-kaya Tathagata).
The Three Tathagatas:
The Great Discourse (Maha Prajna Paramita Sastra) says:
“In understanding according to the Dharma and teaching according to the Dharma we speak of The One That Has Come (S. Tathagata).”
A. The Absolutely True Object:
Being neither cause nor effect, with or without a Buddha enlightened to it, its nature and aspect are always as they are, being the same everywhere in all places. Therefore is it called ‘The One That Is As-It-Is’ (S. Tatha, C. Ju, J. Nyo).
It is unchanging but upon appearing (in this world) it is called ‘Come’ (S. Agata, C. Lai, J. Rai).
This indicates the Spiritual Body of The One That Has Come (Dharma-kaya Tathagata).
B. The Absolutely True Wisdom:
The wisdom that comes from the absolutely true path of reality attains the wonderful enlightenment. This wisdom is called ‘according to the principle (of reality)’.
From the principle it is called ‘The One That Is As-It-Is’
From the wisdom it is called ‘Come’
This is the Body of the Reward of The One That Has Come (Sambhoga-kaya Tathagata).
Therefore The Discourse says:
“In understanding according to the Dharma…we speak of The One That Has Come”
C. By means of the absolutely true object and wisdom being blended, one is here and there able to reveal that which has truly become enlightened. Quicksilver is blended with gold, with which one can paint images of many colors. Merits and virtues are refined with the Spiritual Body (Dharma-kaya), which here and there respond, manifest and go away. So there are the eight signs of attaining enlightenment1 and the turning of the wheel of the Wonderful Dharma.
This is the Body of the Response of The One That Has Come (Nirmana-kaya Tathagata).
Therefore The Discourse says:
“In teaching according to the Dharma we speak of The One That Has Come"
Also see Nichiren's interpretation of the threefold life of The One That Has Come (S. Tathagata).
1. Eight signs of attaining enlightenment: #1 Descent into the Tusita Heaven #2 Entry into the Mother’s womb #3 Birth #4 Leaving home #5 Conquering the Devil #6 Attaining Enlightenment #7 Teaching the Dharma (Turning the Whel of the Law) #8 Entry into Nirvana
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