Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Chuongli, Formosa, February 25, 1989
(Originally in Chinese)
Q: Master, what are the manifestation body, the reward body (the physical body), and the dharma body in Buddhism? How do we attain the three-fold body?
M: The dharma body is the Truth or the Tao, the True Self, the Heavenly Kingdom, God, or Creator. It exists eternally. It has never been born and will never perish. It is indivisible, neither good nor bad, compassionate nor wicked. The manifestation body comes from the dharma body - that, which is neither good nor bad, has never been born and will never perish. Therefore, the manifestation body is also the dharma body. We sentient beings pray a lot because we suffer much anguish. These prayers form a kind of atmosphere, which can transform itself and move to some place, where it emits a beam of light. This light is the manifestation body. It originates from that huge Source of Light that has never been born and will never perish, which is dazzlingly brilliant and nameless, has no upper limit, and does not move. We can say that the beam of light thus transmitted from this huge Source is the manifestation body. It becomes denser as it descends and takes a form. At the higher level, this form is light,
transparent light, and is intangible. It can be seen, though not by the physical eyes. However, sometimes it is visible to the physical eyes as well. As the beam of light descends further, it becomes denser and changes into a physical body of flesh. The physical body looks just like the brilliant, transparent body above, except that the brilliant body is more beautiful, attractive, better-looking to the eye, and more powerful because it is not confined by this silly tool of flesh. So, this is the meaning of the dharma body, the manifestation body, and the physical body.
A person who has attained the Truth should be able to use his three-fold body. We, who have not attained the Truth, have only the physical body. We are always falling ill. We are helpless, unable to help ourselves, or take care of ourselves or others. A person who has attained the three-fold body through the unity of the physical body, the manifestation body, and the dharma body is able to do anything. His physical body is connected to the manifestation body, which, in turn, is linked to the highest Power in the universe - that which exists forever, has never been born, and will never perish. Therefore, the three are together in oneness. Catholics speak of this as the Trinity. This is the meaning of the three-fold body of the Buddha in Buddhism. A person with a three-fold body is an Enlightened Master, a Buddha, a Bodhisattva, a Christ, a Saint, or one who has attained the Truth.