The Meaning of ‘Mind-made Body’ (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身) in Buddhist Cosmological and Soteriological systems
The Meaning of ‘Mind-made Body’ (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身) in Buddhist Cosmological and Soteriological systems
Sumi Lee uCLA
The ‘mind-made body (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身) is seen as a subtle body attained by a Buddhist adept during meditative practice. Previous research has elucidated this concept as having important doctrinal significance in the Buddhist cosmological system. The Pāli canonical evidence shows that the manomaya-kāya is not merely a spiritual byproduct of meditative training, but also a specific existential mode of being in the system of the three realms. Studies of the manomaya-kāya to date, however, have focused mostly on early Pāli materials, and thus do not encompass theoretical development and soteriological significance of this notion in later tradition. As a beginning step to fill this gap, this article explores the meanings of the manomaya-kāya represented in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra and the two treatises of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun, which are doctrinally based on the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra in their discussion of the manomaya-kāya. Through the observation of the manomaya-kāya in these Mahāyāna texts, this article seeks to demonstrate how the concept is used in the broader cosmological and soteriological system of Mahāyāna tradition. For this purpose, I first review the meanings of the manomaya-kāya in early Buddhist texts and then observe the cosmological and soteriological meaning of the notion by analyzing the theoretical connection between the three Mahāyāna texts.
Canonical texts from early Buddhism through to the Mahāyāna tradition make continuous reference to ‘mind-made body’ (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身), which is commonly known as a subtle body attained by a Buddhist adept during meditative practice. While the notion involves inner experiences not open to empirical checking and thus has been considered as representing the Buddhist mythological sphere, previous studies show that the manomaya-kāya has important doctrinal significance in the Buddhist cosmological system. These studies reveal that Buddhist adepts’ attainment of this special body, seen as capable of various supranormal activities, is associated with their existential advancement in Buddhist cosmological system.
The studies on the manomaya-kāya to date, however, have focused mostly on Pāli materials. While they have substantially contributed to our understanding of this notion, they do not encompass the theoretical development and soteriological significance of the manomaya-kāya in Mahāyāna tradition. This article seeks to elucidate the later development of the notion to enable our systematic understanding of it as a whole. To this end, it explores various phases of the meaning of the manomaya-kāya by connecting the previous scholarship on the Pāli sources with the doctrines in Mahāyāna scriptures and treatises. The first section will provide an overview of the previous scholarship on the meaning of manomaya-kāya presented in the Pāli sources, focusing on how or in what way the concept is related to the Buddhist cosmological system. Then, I will discuss another, distinct, meaning of the manomaya-kāya, as the mode of existence in the time between lives, as based on non-Pāli texts. The last and main section will examine the meaning of manomaya-kāya in Mahāyāna scriptures, in particular the Śrīmālā Sūtra, and related sixth and seventh century Chinese treatises, considering how the manomaya-kāya concept is used in the Mahāyāna cosmological and soteriological system.
Manomaya-kāya and meditation in Buddhist cosmology
The term manomaya-kāya appears in various contexts in the Pāli canon, which provide it with different shades of meaning. Among these meanings, the manomaya-kāya is best known as a special body attained by a Buddhist practitioner during meditative practice. The Samaññaphala Sutta (DN I 47–85; Rhys Davids 1899, 65–95) provides an archetypal depiction of the manomaya-kāya of the Pāli texts. It lists a series of ‘fruits of the life of a recluse’ in a progressive way, including the manomaya-kāya as one of the ‘fruits’ attained in the later stage of spiritual development. After gaining the ‘fruits’ of the earlier stage, such as various levels of ‘moralities’, ‘self-restraint over the senses’, ‘mindfulness and self-possession’, and ‘contentment’, the practitioner will ‘choose some lonely spot’ and ‘keeps intelligence (sati) alert and intent’. Through this procedure, the practitioner’s mind finally concentrates and enters the four meditative absorptions (P. jhāna, S. dhyāna). It is in the fourth jhāna — the stage characterized by ‘pure self-possession and equanimity, without pain and without ease’ — that the practitioner creates the manomaya-kāya:
He calls up from this body another body, having form, made of mind, having all (his own body’s) limbs and parts, not deprived of any organ. Just, O king, as if a man were to pull out a reed from its sheath. He would know: ‘This is the reed, this is the sheath. The reed is one thing, the sheath another. It is from the sheath that the reed has been drawn forth’. And similarly were he to take a snake out of its slough, or draw a sword from its scabbard. (DN I 77; Rhys Davids 1899, 87–88)
This special body has the ability to perform many supranormal activities, such as ‘having been one, becoming many’ or ‘having been many, becoming one’, ‘becoming visible or invisible’, ‘going, feeling no obstruction, to the further side of a wall or rampart or hill, as if though air’, ‘penetrating up and down through solid ground, as if through water’, ‘walking on water without breaking through, as if on solid ground’, ‘traveling cross-legged in the sky like the birds on wing’, ‘touching and feeling the sun and moon’, ‘reaching in the body even up to the heaven of Brahmā’ . (DN I 77-78; Rhys Davids 1899, 88-89). Even if the Samaññaphala Sutta appears to describe the manomaya-kāya as simply a product of meditative practice in this context, the creation of the manomayakāya during the specific meditative absorption of jhāna has a strong cosmological connotation, which is consistent with the three levels of Buddhism’s cosmological system, i.e., sensuous realm (kāma-dhātu), pure form realm (rūpa-dhātu) and formless realm (arūpa-dhātu). In the Buddhist worldview, as we will see below, the practitioners’ moral and meditative attainment in previous lives determines their existential mode in one of the realms, and ‘mind-made’ (manomaya) is considered as the existential mode of the pure form realm. In view of this worldview, we may understand the Buddhist practitioners’ attainment of meditative absorption of jhāna and the subsequent creation of the manomaya-kāya not just as a supranormal experience during meditative practice, but as a preliminary sign of their advancement to a higher existential level in the Buddhist cosmological system.
The Poṭṭhapāda Sutta has a passage that represents the correlation between the three levels of the cosmological system and three existential modes of the realms. In the text, the Buddha teaches Poṭṭhapāda about three types of ‘personality’ or ‘conventional self’ of the realms, which should be ultimately abandoned, and in this context ‘manomaya’ is addressed as one of the three existential modes of the conventional self:
The following three modes of personality [atta-paṭilābhā], Potthāpada, (are commonly acknowledged in the world): material [or ‘gross’], immaterial [or ‘mindmade’], and formless. The first has form, is made up of the four elements, and is nourished by solid food. The second has no form, is made up of mind, has all its greater and lesser limbs complete, and all the organs perfect. The third is without form, and is made up of consciousness only [saññāmayo]. (DN I 195; Rhys Davids 1899, 259–260)
This passage depicts the ‘conventional self’ of each of the realms as having the ‘gross’ (oḷārika)’, ‘mind-made’ (manomaya), and ‘formless’ (arūpa) aspect respectively. The commentary on this sutta also associates these three aspects with the sensual, pure form, and formless realm respectively by counting the three types of the ‘conventional self’ as being, respectively, those of the kāma-bhava, rūpabhava, and arūpa-bhava levels of existence (DN-a II 380; Hamilton 1996, 152). In this respect, the three types of selves must refer to the respective beings of the sensuous, pure form and formless realms. A passage of the Apaṇṇaka Sutta explicates the existential distinction of heavenly beings (devas) between the pure form and formless realms. In the text, in teaching Brahmin householders the ‘unskillfulness’ of taking one view of a topic as definitely true when one has no direct knowledge to go on, the Buddha describes the devas of the pure form realm as ‘mind-made’ (manomaya) and those of the formless realm as ‘perception-made’ (saññāmaya) as follows: Now as to the recluses and Brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘there definitely are no immaterial realms (aruppā)’, if their word is true then it is certainly still possible that I might reappear [after death] among the gods of the fine-material realms (rūpino) who consist of mind (manomayā). But as to the recluses and Brahmins who hold the doctrine and view ‘there definitely are immaterial realms’, if their word is true then it is certainly possible that I might reappear [after death] among the gods of the immaterial realms who consist of perception (saññāmayā).
(MN I 410; Ñanamoli 1995, 516). [Emphasis added]
In this passage, the Buddha clearly distinguish between the beings of the fine material/pure form and immaterial/formless realm according to their existential modes, and, this again implies that the distinction in the cosmological system is associated with the different existential modes of the beings of the realms. Furthermore, the commentary on this passage states that rebirth as a being of each realm requires a specific level of meditative attainment corresponding to the realm in a previous life; the heavenly beings (devas) of the pure form and formless realm are said to be the results of their rūpa and arūpa jhāna respectively (MN-a III 122; Hamilton 1996, 153).4 Thus it may be said that the practitioners’
4. Several scholars have discussed the connection between the Buddhist cosmological system of the three realms and meditative attainments. Rupert Gethin, for instance, provides a detailed explanation of the connection between Buddhist cosmology and the fourth ‘meditation’ (jhāna/dhyāna) in his article ‘Cosmology and Meditation: From the Aggañña Sutta to the Mahāyāna’ (Gethin 1997, 186–204); Pongsu Choe investigates the implication of the mind- attainment of a certain meditative level leads to their existential transformation, which in turn entails the change of their cosmological locus. There is another passage in the Nirodha Sutta that shows the association of the practitioners’ meditative accomplishment with their cosmological level. This passage deals with the doctrinal issue of which realm an adept will be reborn in, if the adept has attained the meditative level of ‘cessation of perception and feeling’ (saññāvedayita-nirodha), but has not attained the final knowledge in this life. When Sāriputta, one of the Buddha’s major disciples, says that the adept will ‘pass beyond the gods that feed on gross food and be reborn among the mindmade gods [viz., in the pure form realm]’, a monk named Udāyin disagrees three times. Later, when the Buddha asks him who he thinks has the manomaya-kāya, Udāyin answers that the devas who are formless and perception-made (arūpīsaññāmayā) have it, and the Buddha criticizes this answer (AN III 193–195; Bodhi 2012, 778–780; Hamilton 1996, 153–154). Although interpretation of this dispute raises some issues,5 the relevant point for the current discussion is the manner in which the meditative attainment is addressed; the meditative level of ‘cessation of perception and feeling’ is considered in this text as a direct factor of the practitioner’s rebirth in a higher cosmological level. This again represents the paralleling relationship between the practitioners’ spiritual progress and their existential level in the cosmological system. The correlation between the spiritual attainment and cosmological level, in turn, places the previously quoted description of the manomaya-kāya in the Samaññaphala Sutta in the broad context of Buddhist cosmology. When the practitioners’ spiritual attainment determines their existential level in the Buddhist cosmological system, the attainment of a certain level of jhāna and subsequent creation of a manomaya-kāya may be understood not just as aspects of a practitioners’ spiritual advancement in this life, but also as their existential transformation to a higher cosmological level in the next life. As practitioners spiritually progress, their existential mode also progresses, and the three levels of the Buddhist cosmological system may be seen as the collective reflection of the spiritual progression of individual practitioners of meditation. The manomaya-kāya, in this sense, may have a broader doctrinal connotation as an existential level of beings within Buddhist cosmology.6
made body by analyzing its connection with the three realms (Choe 1988). Donald Swearer also indicates that manomaya has not only the ‘magical’ aspects of ancient Buddhist mythology, but ethical and ontic connotations in relation with jhāna practice (Swearer 1973, 447– 452). For an explanation of Buddhist cosmological system along with other Indian ancient cosmology, see Gombrich 1975.
5. Although some scholars take this passage as evidence that the manomaya-kāya is the deva body of the pure form realm, not the formless realm, it seems also possible that the Buddha rebukes Udāyin because he has referred to the devas of the formless realms, not both the pure form and formless devas. Furthermore, the *Mahāvibhāṣā sees both the devas of the pure form realm and those of the formless realm as categories of the manomaya-kāya. Also see n. 25 below.
6. Although the saṃsāric world is divided into the three realms and the Pāli sources refer to the mind-made body as representing the existential mode of the pure form realm, this distinction, as Hamilton consistently argues, does not have the implication of ‘ontological discontinuity’, such as physical and mental, between the levels (Hamilton 1996, 138–168). Hamilton says that the different cosmological levels can be explained in terms of variation in the degree of density (from gross material form, subtle form, through to formlessness),
Manomaya-kāya as the form of a being in the intermediate existence
while the typical meaning of the manomaya-kāya in the Theravāda Pāli canon has particular relevance to the Buddhist cosmological system, another strand of canonical source provides a starkly different meaning of the manomaya-kāya. The Saṃyuktāgama (Za Ahanjing 雜阿含經), a sūtra collection belonging to another Abhidharma school, the Kāśyapīya,7 depicts the manomaya-kāya as a sort of a medium in the process of transmigration to convey one from this life to another: The Buddha said to Vaccha: ‘When a sentient being exhausts the life-force in the present life, he/she rides on a mind-made body (manomaya-kāya) to be reborn in another place. At this time, he/she takes [another life] because of craving, and stays [in the life] because of craving. Therefore [the manomaya-kāya] is said to have the remainder (S. śeṣa, C. youyu 有餘).’8
The text describes the mind-made body as what one ‘rides on’ (C. sheng 乘)9 at death in order to be reborn in another place for the next life. This description of the manomaya-kāya exactly accords with the Buddhist notion of ‘intermediate existence’ (S. antarā-bhava, C. zhongyou 中有), a transitional mode of being between death and rebirth, which comprises one of sentient beings’ ‘four existential modes’ (S. catur-bhava, C. siyou 四有), along with birth (S. upapatti-bhava, C. shengyou 生有), life (S. pūrvakāla-bhava, C. benyou 本有), and death (S. maraṇabhava, C. siyou 死有). In other words, this passage introduces the manomaya-kāya — which in the prior section had been identified as a product of the meditative practice — in the place of the between-lives antarā-bhava. The Pāli canon makes no reference to the term antarā-bhava as an individual topic or concept, even though there are some usages of ‘antarā/antarena’.10
and/or in terms of the behaviour of similarly conditioned phenomena; different modes or states, not different ‘substance’, determine the distinction between cosmological levels (pp. 149–150). Peter Harvey also discusses the issue of ontological distinction between mental and physical substance in Pāli Buddhism (Harvey 1993). For the problem of mind-body dualism in Buddhism from a psychological perspective, see Rune E. A. Johansson’s The Dynamic Psychology of Early Buddhism, especially the chapters on Perception and Feeling, Motivation, and the Intellectual Superstructure (Johansson 1979).
7. The Kāśyapīya school is doctrinally close to the Sarvāstivāda school. The latter school particularly accepted the notion of ‘intermediate being’ (S. antarā-bhava, C. zhongyou 中有) and understood this notion of ‘intermediate being’ in terms of the manomaya-kāya.
8. 佛告婆蹉：眾生於此處命終，乘意生身生於餘處，當於爾時，因愛故取，因愛而住，故說有餘 (雜
阿含經T99:02.244b02–05). Based on this passage, Fukuhara Ryōgon raises a possibility that the mind-made body may be considered as the subject of transmigration, but he also indicates that the Sarvāstivāda school uses the concept of manomaya-kāya in a limited sense, viz., only applying it to the sentient beings within the three realms, not to the body of bodhisattvas beyond the realms as well. In this respect, he concludes, this concept cannot be referred to as the subject of transmigration in a broad sense (Fukuhara 1960, 53). In any case, it is more likely to be simply the form that a being temporarily takes between lives. Also see Radich 2007, 275–277. I will discuss more about the mind-made body as the body of bodhisattvas in the section 3 below.
10. Somaratne suggests that the earliest Buddhist community recognized the idea of antarābhava, even though the term antarā-bhava as a concrete concept starts to appear only in the Abhidharma period; he points as the evidence to the concept of ‘gandhabba’ in the Pāli nikāyas,
Scholars have also demonstrated that the antarā-bhava was a controversial notion among the Abhidharma schools and not all the Abhidharma schools accepted this notion. The term generally appears in Sarvāstivādin texts, such as the *Mahāvibhāṣā, and in later Mahāyāna texts, especially the works of the Yogācāra school, which doctrinally inherited many ideas of the Sarvāstivāda school.12 The Sarvāstivāda school’s subscription to this notion of antarā-bhava also explains the fact that ‘Northern Buddhism’, the same doctrinal line as the Sarvāstivāda school, accepts the notion of antarā-bhava, while ‘Southern Buddhism’, the tradition developed on the basis of the Theravādin school, does not. As is well known, ‘Southern Buddhism’ generally conserved most features of ancient Buddhism in the Pāli nikāyas during the Abhidharma period, while ‘Northern Buddhism’ went through consistent evolution until it finally developed into Mahāyāna Buddhism. This genealogical development of the school lineage explains why the Mahāyāna tradition, especially the Yogācāra school and the Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition, employed the notion of antarā-bhava.
The Sarvāstivādins present the theory of ‘one who obtains nirvāṇa midway
[viz., in the state of antarā-bhava]’ (P. antarā-parinibbāyin, S. antarā-parinirvāyin, C. zhongban 中般) as authoritative evidence of the existence of the antarābhava. The antarā-parinibbāyin is one of the five types of ‘non-returners’ (P. and S. anāgāmin, C. buhuan不還), along with ‘one who obtains nirvāṇa soon [after rebirth]’ (P. upahacca-parinibbāyin)’/ ‘one who obtains nirvāṇa at rebirth’ a being coming into the mother’s womb for a new conception. He also indicates that the term ‘antarā/antarena’ was used in the meaning of ‘in-between’ or ‘intermediate state’ of existence in the earliest period (Somaratne 1999, 149–152). In fact, the Sarvāstivādin *Mahāvibhāṣā gives gardharva (P. gandhabba) as one of the names of antarā-bhava (see n. 22 below). Harvey (1995, 98–108) also discusses a range of evidence indicating acceptance of a between-lives existence in the Pāli nikāyas.
(S. upapadya-parinirvāyin, C. shengban 生般), ‘one who obtains nirvāṇa without effort’ (P. asaṅkhāra-parinibbāyin, S. anabhisaṃkāra-parinirvāyin, C. wuxing ban 無行般), ‘one who obtains nirvāṇa with effort’ (P. sasaṅkhāra-parinibbāyin, S. sābhisaṃkāra-parinirvāyin, C. youxing ban 有行般), and ‘one who goes upstream to the highest abode’ (P. uddhaṃsota akaniṭṭha-gāmin, S. ūrdvasrotas akaniṣṭa-gāmin, C. shangliu ban 上流般). The concept of the antarā-parinibbāyin appears in Pāli texts, along with a listing of the five types of the anāgāmin. The Pāli texts state the term anāgāmin as the third of the four levels of ‘noble person’ (ārya-pudgala), i.e., ‘stream-enterer’ (sotāpanna), ‘once-returner’ (sakadāgāmin), ‘non-returner’ (anāgāmin), and ‘worthy-one’ (arhat), and also refers to the antarā-parinibbāyin quite a few times. Based on such textual testimonies, the Sarvāstivādins interpret the antarā-parinibbāyins as those who obtain nirvāṇa in the state of the antarābhava as follows:
You should know that there are beings of the intermediate existence (antarā-bhava). … Why? Because it is what the Buddha said. As the Buddha said, the seven advantages of the great man (sapta satpuruṣa-gataya) include the ‘nirvāṇa [obtained in the state of the] intermediate [[[existence]]]’. If there were no intermediate existence, there would be no nirvāṇa [obtained in the state of the] intermediate [[[existence]]]. If they [viz., those who do not agree] say that there are ‘intermediate devas’, and, accordingly, [it is called] the [[[intermediate]]] nirvāṇa, it is not right because [the intermediate devas] are not stated as one of the deva-destinies. … The rest [of kinds of the non-returners] also would not make sense. When they say ‘nirvāṇa [obtained] during birth’, would there be further what is named as ‘birth devas’?
The above passage confirms that the Abhidharma schools were not in agreement regarding the problem of exactly what the term antarā-parinibbāyin refers to, which accords with the extent that there were different viewpoints among the schools on the existence of the antarā-bhava. The schools that accepted the existence of the antarā-bhava interpreted antarā-parinibbāyin as those who attain nirvāṇa during the antarā-bhava, but some other schools viewed the antarāparinibbāyin in terms of ‘intermediate devas’. However, as Somaratne says, in spite of the Theravādins’ refusal, some Pāli texts appear to assume the existence of an intermediate state, at least for the antarā-parinibbāyin. Since the antarāparinibbāyin, who will not be born again after their physical death, should be still in saṃsāra, they must exist in some state — such as the state of ‘intermediate being’ — when they attain nirvāṇa (Somaratne 1999, 148–149). In any case, the Sarvāstivādin interpretation of the antarā-parinibbāyin became dominant in the Northern Buddhist tradition, and the idea of the intermediate state also appears to have enjoyed consistent development in this tradition.
The *Mahāvibhāṣā, the encyclopedic treatise of the Sarvāstivāda school, in fact provides a list of four terms with the same referent as antarā-bhava, i.e., antarā-bhava (C. zhongyou 中有), gandharva (C. qiandafu 揵達縛), ‘birth-seeker’ (S. saṃbhavaiṣin, C. qiusheng 求生), and manomaya (C. yicheng 意成). This list, by including the gandharva (P. gandhabba), a concept that appears in the Pāli nikāyas as the beings coming into the mothers’ womb for a new conception (MN I 265– 266; Harvey 1995, 105–106), reveals the Sarvāstivādins’ identification of the gandharva as the antarā-bhava. This concept, although also known to the Theravādins, was not accepted as a being in the antarā-bhava by them. Furthermore, the inclusion of the concept of ‘birth-seeker’ (saṃbhavaiṣin) in the list confirms that the Sarvāstivādins considered the notion of antarā-bhava as applying to all unenlightened sentient beings, not just to such special beings as antarā-parinibbāyins, because unenlightened sentient beings are obviously all destined to ‘seek birth’ for the next life in saṃsāra. In another place, the *Mahāvibhāṣā divides the mind-made beings into several types, including the two types of the manomaya-kāya discussed above, that is, the manomaya-kāya as one of the existential modes and the kind of body in the intermediate existence. The text categorizes sentient beings into four groups in terms of their birth type, and explains ‘mind-made’ as one of the four birth types, viz., ‘birth complying with mind’. There are four groups in this ‘mind-made’ birth type, i.e., pertaining to the beings at the beginning of kalpas, in the intermediate existence (antarā-bhava), the devas of the pure form and the formless realms, and the ‘transformative bodies’, as seen below:
Question: Why is intermediate existence (antarā-bhava) also named mind-made (manomaya) [[[body]]]? Answer: It is because [[[beings]] in the antarā-bhava] are born complying with mind. As for all sentient beings,  some are born complying with the mind;  some with their karmas (C. ye 業);  some with the matured results [of their karma] (S. vipāka, C. yishou 異熟);  some with their sexual desire.  Those who are born complying with the mind refer to the beings at the beginning of kalpas, all the beings of the intermediate existence (antarā-bhava), [the devas of] the pure form realm (rūpa-dhātu) and the formless realm (ārūpa-dhātu), and the transformative bodies (S. *pariṇāma-kāya, C. bianhua shen 變化身);  those who are born complying with the karmas refer to [the beings] of hell, as the scriptures say that the sentient beings of hell are bound by their karma and cannot be freed from it, and [they are] born according to their karma, not to what the mind is pleased with;  those who are born complying with the matured results [of their karma] refer to all flying birds, ghosts and sprits, and so on. Since the strength of the matured results [of their karma] (vipāka) are light and strong, they can fly in the air, and in some cases walls or obstacles cannot obstruct them;  those who are born complying with sexual desire refer to the six levels of devas of the sensuous realm (kāma-dhātu) and human beings. Since the body of all the intermediate beings is born complying with the mind and acts while riding on the mind, they are called mind-made [[[body]]]. [Emphasis and numbers added]
Besides the two types of the manomaya-kāya previously observed, the above passage presents two more categories of the manomaya-kāya, i.e., ‘beings at the beginning of the kalpas’ and ‘transformative bodies’. The Pāli texts make several references to the ‘beings at the beginning of kalpas’. The Kosala Sutta, for instance, says that when the cosmos devolves between kalpas, beings are generally reborn as beings of ‘Streaming Radiance (ābhassara-)’, and they remain ‘mind-made (manomaya), feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the skies, living in glory’ (AN V 59–60; Bodhi 2012, 1380). From their description, these beings of Streaming Radiance do not seem to have much difference in their existential mode from the devas of the heaven of Streaming Radiance (P. ābhassara, C. guangyin tian 光音天), the uppermost of the second group of heavens among the four of the pure form realm. The very next sentences, moreover, describe them as devas of Streaming Radiance. This identifies these beings as a particular group of devas, who existed even at the beginning of kalpas (DN III 84–85). This passage, however, gives little information about the meaning of the fourth type of the manomaya-kāya, ‘transformative bodies’. Mahāyāna scriptures, such as the Śrīmālā Sūtra and the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, though, give their own ideas on the concept of ‘transformative bodies’ in association with the notion of the body of Buddhist saints, as I shall discuss in the following section.
Manomaya-kāya in the Mahāyāna cosmological system
Mahāyāna literature presents a new rubric of the manomaya-kāya that is distinct from those examined above through the Pāli sources and other Abhidharma materials. The Śrīmālādevī (Siṃhanāda) Sūtra describes the manomaya-kāya as the body of three types of Buddhist saints, i.e., arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and ‘bodhisattvas-of-great-power’ (S. vaśitā-prāpta bodhisattva, C. dali pusa 大力菩薩), and other Mahāyāna canonical texts, such as the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, the Foxing lun 佛性論, the *Anuttarāśraya Sūtra (Foshuo wushangyi jing 佛說無上依經), and the *Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi Śāstra (Cheng weishi lun 成唯識論), also discuss the manomaya-kāya on the basis of the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra’s scheme. Besides these texts, the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra explains the manomaya-kāya in association with three types of bodhisattva body on different levels of the bodhisattva path, and the
Ghanavyūha Sūtra (C. Dasheng miyuan jing 大乘密嚴經) mentions ten types of manomaya-kāya.30 Rather than reviewing all these texts addressing the concept of manomaya-kāya, I will focus on the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra and also the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun 佛性論, treatises which are based on the Śrīmālādevī
Sūtra’s explanation of the manomaya-kāya with close similarity in their contents.31
In describing the manomaya-kāya as the special body of the three types of beings, i.e., arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-of-great-power, the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra says that these beings are subject to a special type of death, ‘inconceivable transformative death’ (S. acintya-pāriṇāmikī-cyuti, C. busiyi bianyi si 不思議變易死), whereas ‘the sentient beings who have reconnection (S. pratisaṃdhi) [of their lives]’ (viz., the sentient beings who are subject to rebirth) are subject to ‘discontinuous death’ (S. pariccheda-cyuti, C. fenduan si 分段死), the death that happens repetitively in the revolution of lifetimes of restricted length.
There are two types of ‘death’. What are the two? They are [the ordinary] ‘discontinuous death’ (S. pariccheda-cyuti, C. fenduan si 分段死) and ‘inconceivable transformative death’ (S. acintya-pāriṇāmikī-cyuti, C. busiyi bianyi si 不思議變易死). The discontinuous death belongs to the sentient beings who have reconnection (S. pratisaṃdhi); the inconceivable transformative death belongs to the mind-made
explanation of the passages in the context of the texts, see Tokiwa 1995. Also see Radich 2007, 281–283.
31. Since the passage on the manomaya-kāya in the *Anuttarāśraya Sūtra’s (佛說無上依經 T 669 472a24–b05) is relatively short and mostly included in the equivalent part of the Foxing lun, I will confine my research to the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun among these three related texts. body (manomaya-kāya) of arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-of-greatpower, up to their reaching ‘the ultimate supreme enlightenment’ (C. jiujing wushang puti 究竟無上菩提).
The sūtra continues to say that the reason why the manomaya-kāya of the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-of-great-power are subject to the ‘inconceivable transformative death’ is because they still have uneliminated defilements. In other words, the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra describes the manomaya-kāya of these special beings as a sort of remaining undesirable existence resulting from the non-completion of their spiritual development. Indeed, the sūtra connects the manomaya-kāya with a specific type of defilement, that is, ‘entrenched ignorance’ (S. avidyāvāsa-bhūmi, C. wuming zhudi 無明住地), the most fundamental type of defilement, whereas it associates the beings of the three realms with the defilement of ‘grasping’ (S. upādāna, C. qu 取):
With grasping as condition and contaminated activities (S. sāsrava-karma, C. youlou ye 有漏業) as cause, there arise [[[existence]] in] the three realms. In the same way, with entrenched ignorance as condition and uncontaminated activities (S. anāsrava-karma, C. wulou ye 無漏業) as cause, there arise the three types of the manomaya-kāya belonging to the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-ofgreat-power.
Here the mode of being of the three types of beings — arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-of-great-power — is described in contrast with existence in the three realms, and thus we may say that they are the beings who are freed from the three realms. These beings, however, are depicted as still imperfect, due to being still affected by ignorance.
Such a view in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra of the manomaya-kāya as the ‘body’ of a spiritually developed but still imperfect being is also explicated in the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra. Associating the manomaya-kāya with the four kinds of ‘impediments’ (S. paripantha), the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra describes the manomaya-kāya of the three types of beings as a defective mode of existence, which has not obtained the four kinds of ‘supreme virtue’ (S. guṇa-pāramitā) of the Dharma-body of the Tathāgata:
[F]or the acquisition of these four kinds of supreme virtue (S. guṇa-pāramitā, C. gongde boluomi 功德波羅蜜) of the Dharma-body of the Tathāgata, there are four ‘impediments’ (S. paripantha, C. zhang 障) even in case of the arhats, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas-of-great-power, though they are abiding in the ‘uncontaminated sphere’ (S. anāsrava-dhātu, C. wulou jie無漏界). …  ‘Phenomenon of condition’ (S. pratyaya-lakṣaṇa, C. yuanxiang緣相) means ‘entrenched ignorance’. [The ‘entrenched ignorance’ is the condition for ‘karmic activities’ (S. saṃskāra, C. xing 行) for the three types of beings,] just as ‘ignorance’ (S. avidyā, C. wuming 無明) is [the condition] for ‘karmic activities’ (S. saṃskāra, C. xing 行) [for ordinary people].  ‘Phenomenon of cause’ (S. hetu-lakṣaṇa, C. yinxiang 因相) means the ‘uncontaminated activities’ (S. anāsrava-karma, C. wulou ye 無漏業) conditioned by the ‘entrenched ignorance’ [as the cause of the manomaya-kaya], [and it is to be] compared with the ‘karmic activities’ [[[conditioned]] by the ‘ignorance’ of the ordinary beings].  ‘Phenomenon of origination’ (S. saṃbhava-lakṣaṇa, C. shengxiang 生相) means the origination of the three types of mind-made body (S. manomayātmabhāva), conditioned by the ‘entrenched ignorance’ and caused by the ‘uncontaminated activities’, just as the origination of the three realms (S. tribhava) is conditioned by four kinds of ‘grasping’ (S. upādāna, C. qu 取) and caused by the ‘contaminated activities’ (S. sāsrava-karma, C. youlou ye 有漏業).  ‘Phenomenon of destruction’ (S. vibhava-lakṣaṇa, C. huaixiang壞相) means ‘inconceivable transformative death’ (S. acintya-pāriṇāmikī-cyuti, C. bukesiyi bianyi si 不可思議變易死) conditioned by the origination of the three types of manomaya-kāya. It corresponds to ‘aging and death’ (S. jarā-maraṇa, C. laosi 老死) [of the existence of the three realms, which is] conditioned by the birth (S. jāti, C. sheng 生).
In this passage, ‘entrenched ignorance’ and ‘uncontaminated activities’, which are described as the condition and cause of the manomaya-kāya in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra, are referred to as the first and second of the four types of ‘impediments’, i.e., the ‘phenomenon of condition’ and the ‘phenomenon of cause’, and the origination and the death of the manomaya-kāya as the third and fourth type of the impediments respectively, i.e., the ‘phenomenon of origination’ and the ‘phenomenon of destruction’. Further, these four types of impediments are also compared with four types of phenomena in the ‘contaminated sphere’ (S. sāsravadhātu, C. youlou jie 有漏界), i.e., ‘ignorance’, ‘karmic activities’, origination of the three realms, and ‘aging and death’ [of the existence in the three realms].
Judging from such a parallel explanation of the ordinary beings and the three types of beings with manomaya-kāyas as belonging to two distinct spheres, i.e., the contaminated and uncontaminated sphere, it seems likely that these beings constitute two different abodes within the Mahāyāna cosmological system. The ordinary beings and the beings with manomana-kāyas are both described as spiritually imperfect beings bound by the four types of impediments respectively inside and outside the three realms, and each of them is said to be subject to a specific type of life cycle with a specific type of existential mode. In this respect, it seems that the manomaya-kāya described in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra and the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra should be understood as one of the two types of existence in the Mahāyāna cosmological system, along with the ordinary beings of the three realms. Manomaya-kāya in the Mahāyāna soteriological system The Foxing lun, a treatise that is partially based on the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, contains a passage that discusses the manomaya-kāya in an exactly parallel way to that of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, which we just have observed above. The two equivalent passages have overall the same structure and similar contents. Just like the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, the Foxing lun states that it is because of the four types of ‘inimical impediments’ (C. yuanzhang 怨障) that the three types of saints (S. ārya, C. shengren 聖人) — arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvasof-great-power — who are abiding in the uncontaminated sphere outside of the three realms, cannot (prior to becoming perfect Buddhas) attain the four types of supreme virtues of the Dharma-body of the Tathāgata. The Foxing lun, however, replaces the four types of phenomena of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, i.e., the phenomena of condition, cause, origination, and destruction, with ‘four types of birth-and-death’ (C. sizhong shengsi 四種生死): ‘birth-and-death of skilful means’ (C. fangbian shengsi 方便生死); ‘cause and conditions’ (C. yinyuan shengsi 因緣生死); ‘with a [remaining] lifetime’ (C. youyou shengsi 有有生死); and ‘with no [remaining] lifetime’ (C. wuyou shengsi 無有生死). Then the Foxing lun continues to explain each of these birth-and-death cycles as follows:
 The ‘birth-and-death of skilful means’ refers to [the phenomenon that] ‘entrenched ignorance’ (C. wuming zhudi 無明住地) creates new ‘uncontaminated activities’ (C. wulou ye 無漏業). It is compared to [the ordinary beings’ phenomenon that] ‘ignorance’ (C. wuming 無明) creates ‘karmic activities’ (C. xing 行). …  The ‘birth-and-death of cause and conditions’ refers to [the phenomenon of] the ‘uncontaminated activities’, which have been created by ‘entrenched ignorance’, and these activities [as a whole] are named the ‘birth-and-death of cause and conditions’. It is compared to the [[[ordinary beings]]’ phenomenon of] ‘karmic activities,’ which have been created by ‘ignorance’. …  The ‘birth-and-death with a [remaining] lifetime’ refers to [the phenomenon of the origination of] the manomaya-kāya of the three types of saints, which have ‘entrenched ignorance’ as skilful means (S. upāya, C. fangbian 方便)47 and the ‘uncontaminated activities’ as cause. It is compared to [the ordinary beings’ phenomenon of] the origination of the bodies in the three realms conditioned by the four ‘graspings’ (C. qu 取) and caused by ‘contaminated activities’ (C. youlou ye 有漏業). …  The ‘birth-anddeath with no [remaining] lifetime’ refers to [the phenomenon of] the ‘inconceivable regression and fall’ (C. buke siwei tuiduo 不可思惟退墮) conditioned by the last manomaya-kāya of the three types of saints.48 It is compared to [the ordinary beings’ phenomenon of] ‘aging and death’ conditioned by ‘origination’ (C. sheng 生).49 [Numbers added] The Foxing lun’s explanation of the four types of impediments as the four types of birth-and-death cycle appears to imply that each type of impediment constitutes a particular type of birth-and-death cycle of a particular group of beings,
一方便生死者 … 或因煩惱方便。生同類果。名為因緣。如無明生不善行。若生不同類果。但名方便。如無明生善行。不動行故。今無明住地生新無漏業亦爾。或生同類。或不同類生福行。名為同類。以同緣俗故。生智慧行。 名不同類 以智是真慧故。 是名方便生死 (佛性論 T 1610 799a10–17).
Conversely, the ‘birth-and-death of cause and conditions’, the second type of the birth-anddeath, is called this since the uncontaminated activities only create the results that are of the same kind as that of the uncontaminated activities; wholesome deeds only produce delightful results, whereas unwholesome deeds only cause painful results; 二因緣生死者 … 但感同類不生不同類果。善行但生樂果。 不善但招苦報。故名因緣生死 (佛性論 T 1610 799a17–20).
47. Since the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra mentions the ‘condition’ instead of the ‘skilful means’, it seems that the ‘skilful means’ may be seen as the condition, which may produce the results that are of a different kind from that of the cause. The first birth-and-death, ‘birth-and-death of skilful means’, then may be the birth-and-death of the ‘condition’, and this in turn resonates with the ‘phenomenon of condition’, the first impediment of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra.
48. It is not certain whether ‘the last manomaya-kāya of the three types of saints’ (三聖意生最後身) merely refers to the three types of saints’ manomaya-kāya at their last moment as bodhisattvas, or has also the implication that the perfect Buddhas no longer have the manomaya-kāya as their existential mode. This is associated with the issue of whether or not, or how, a Buddha’s existential mode is related with the manomaya-kāya. This issue is particularly important because, as Radich points out, the manoamaya-kāya has been very often regarded as a possible precursor of a Buddha’s ‘transformative body’ (S. nairmāṇika-kāya, C. huashen 化身) (Radich 2007, 224). Some scholars, such as Frank E. Reynolds, connect it with ‘dharma body’ (S. dharma-kāya) as well (Reynolds 1977, 383–387). Radich also problematises this tendency by indicating that the Mahāyāna texts frame the manomaya-kāya primarily as the body of spiritual beings other than the Buddha, such as the three types of saints, who are soteriologically inferior to the Buddha (Radich 2007, 283-84). In the context of the given passage, however, it appears that we should keep an open mind regarding this issue.
49. 一方便生死者。是無明住地。能生新無漏業。譬如無明生行 … 二因緣生死者。是無明住地所生無漏業。是業名為因緣生死。譬如無明所生行是業 … 三有有生死者。是無明住地為方便。無漏業為因。三種聖人是意所生身。譬如四取為緣。有漏業為因三界內生身 … 四無有生死者。是三聖意生最後身為緣。是不可思惟退墮。譬如生為緣。老死等為過失 (佛性論 T 1610 799a10–29).
not just referring to a hindering factor or reason to prevent the Buddhist saints from attaining the supreme virtues of the Buddha. Indeed, the Foxing lun starts the discussion on the four types of impediment of the three types of saints, which we have just observed above, by saying that ‘[the bodhisattvas on] the ten stages of the bodhisattva path have not yet attained the four supreme virtues because of the four types of impediments. It is not until they attain the adamantine mind (C. jingangxing 金剛心)[viz., ‘adamantine absorption’ (S. vajra-upama-samādhi), the final stage at the end of the tenth stage] that they attain them. Therefore it should be known that …’. In other words, the Foxing lun draws in the discussion of the four types of impediments of the three types of saints in order to explain the case of the bodhisattvas on the ten stages: they have these impediments until Buddhahood is attained. Further, in the She dashenglun shi 攝大乘論釋, Paramārtha’s translation of Vasubandhu’s Mahāyānasaṃgrahabhāṣya, the four types of birth-and-death are attributed respectively to four soteriological divisions of the bodhisattvas on particular ranges of the bodhisattva stages, i.e.,  bodhisattvas on the first through fourth stages;  the fifth through seventh stages;  the eighth through tenth stages; and  the stage of tathāgatagarbha (C. rulai di 如來地, S. tāthāgata-bhūmi) respectively.
Moreover, the Foxing lun compares the first three types of birth-and-death of the bodhisattvas to respective groups of those practicing the two vehicles on particular soteriological stages in terms of the similarity of their soteriological implication of each scheme of path to liberation. This also implies that the four types of birth-and-death are associated with particular soteriological groups of beings with particular types of lifecycle. The three groups of those practicing the two vehicles compared to the first three types of birth-and-death are as follows:  The ‘birth-and-death of skilful means’ [of the bodhisattva path] is compared to the stage of ordinary beings (C. fanfu 凡夫) [of the path of the two vehicles], and  the ‘birth-and-death of cause and conditions’ [of the bodhisattva path] is compared to [the stage of] ‘stream-enterer’ (S. sotāpanna, C. xutuohuan 須陀洹) and above [of the path of the two vehicles].
 ‘With a [remaining] lifetime’ [of the ‘birth-and-death with a [remaining] lifetime’ of the bodhisattva path] means that one has only one remaining lifetime for the future, and this is called ‘with a [remaining] lifetime’. It is compared to the ‘non-returners going upstream’ (S. ūrdvasrotas akaniṣṭha-gāmin, C. shangliu anahanren 上流阿那含人; viz. shangliu ban 上流般)] who attains nirvāṇa during the second [viz., next] lifetime, because [for both groups] there is one remaining lifetime. Therefore it is called ‘with a [remaining] lifetime’. [Numbers added]
In this passage, the first level of birth-and-death of the bodhisattvas is compared to the stage of the ordinary beings of the two vehicle path in that both groups are in the stages of initial cultivation for their own paths; the second to stream-enterers in that both are in the established stage of cultivation in their own process of enlightenment; the third to the non-returners going upstream who attain nirvāṇa, i.e., become arhats, during the next lifetime in that they both in the final stage of their own practice. Among these, the Foxing lun mentions the reason why the third level of the bodhisattvas is compared to the third level of those practicing the two vehicles: it is because both groups have only one remaining lifetime since they reach their respective final goals, i.e., Buddhahood and arhatship, during their next lifetime. In other words, the bodhisattvas in the birthand-death with a [remaining] lifetime and the non-returners going upstream who attain nirvāṇa during their next lifetime are both said to live their last lifetime as bodhisattvas proper and those training for arhatship respectively.
The comparison between those practicing the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas on the ten stages in terms of the similarity of their lifecycles and soteriological implications may be summarized in the chart below: Table 1.
Although we may compare the soteriological implications of the cultivation process between those aiming at the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas in a parallel way, we should note that the former may be explained within the scheme of the latter from the Mahāyāna perspective, which is also the perspective of the Foxing lun. Since the manomaya-kāya of the three types of saints corresponds to the third type of birth-and-death according to the scheme seen in the above passage of the Foxing lun, and the third level of birth-and-death is explained as the birth-and-death with only one single remaining lifetime as shown in Table 1 (opposite), we may say that from the perspective of the Mahāyāna texts discussed here, the three types of saints are the beings who live their last lifetime prior to
Those practicing the two vehicles
Non-returners going upstream
Bodhisattvas on 5th through 7th stages
Table 1 Comparison between those practicing the two vehicles and bodhisattvas in terms of their soteriological implications and lifecycles on the basis of the Foxing lun and the She dashenglun shi by Paramārtha
the Mahāyāna spiritual culminations, that is, Buddhahood. In addition, the chart show us that the bodhisattvas-of-great-power among the three types of the saints of the third level of birth-and-death refer to the eighth through tenth stages.
What should be noted here is that although those practising the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas have similar features as regards to their soteriological implications and lifecycles, this does not mean that their existential modes are also identical to each other. For instance, although the third groups of the two vehicles and the advanced bodhisattvas commonly have one remaining lifetime, as discussed above, the bodhisattvas on this level have the manomaya-kāya, as one of the three types of the saints, while those practising the two vehicles on this level, the non-returners going upstream, do not have the manomaya-kāya in the way that it is said arhats do. The Foxing lun (and the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra) clearly says, as observed above, that the manomaya-kāya, associated with the third type of impediment, belongs to the three types of saints, i.e., the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas-of-great-power, and thus the bodhisattvas on this level have the same existential mode as that of the arhats, not that of the non-returners. It seems then that the commonality of the soteriological implication between those practicing the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas and their existential modes are two distinct matters. Now we may say that there are two aspects to the comparison between the soteriological levels of those practicing the two vehicles and bodhisattvas:  one based on the common features in their soteriological implications and lifecyles, and  the other based on their existential modes in the cosmological system. From the perspective of the first way of explanation, we may say that the first and second levels of those practicing the two vehicles and bodhisattvas are still subject to at least two rebirths, given that the third level of those practicing the two vehicles and bodhisattvas have only one remaining lifetime. From the perspective of the second way of explanation, we may say that the beings on the stages below the three types of saints, viz., those practicing the two vehicles below the stage of the arhats or the pratyakabuddhas, and the bodhisattvas below the stage of the bodhisattvas-of-great-power, still have a mortal body that is subject to the type of birth and death experienced in saṃsāra of the three realms (viz., in the contaminated sphere), since the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and Foxing lun state that the manomaya-kāya is the body of the three types of saints, who are at least free from the saṃsāric birth and death outside of the realms (viz., in the uncontaminated sphere).
The Foxing lun, however, describes the ‘saints’ (S. ārya, C. shengren 聖人)58 as beings ‘out of the realms’ (C. chushi 出世) on the one hand59 and also defines the bodhisattvas on the first and above stages as the ‘saints’ on the other hand,60 hence implying that the bodhisattvas on the first and above stages are subject to the manomaya-kāya out of the realms. This statement seems contradictory to what we have just discussed above from the perspective of the second way of explanation. The seeming contradiction between the two positions, both of which are derived from the Foxing lun (and the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra), may be resolved by considering the group at issue as beings who are subject to both the mortal body of the three realms and the manomaya-kāya out of the realm. In other words, the
the bodhisattva path is superimposed on the third and fourth of the old scheme — with the first stage of the bodhisattva path being analogous to the third stage, the path of seeing (S. darśana-mārga, C. jiandao 見道), which is re-termed as the stage of proficiency (*prativedhaavasthā) in the Mahāyāna; and the second up to the tenth stage of the bodhisattva path is analogous to the fourth stage, the path of cultivation (S. bhāvanā-mārga, C. xiudao 修道), which is similarly renamed as the state of cultivation (S.*bhāvana-avasthā, C. xiuxi wei 修習位) (Gethin 1998 194–98; 229–31). However, the path of cultivation, the fourth stage of the old scheme, is not exactly comparable to the fourth one of the Mahāyāna, that is, the state of cultivation: while the fourth stage of the Mahāyāna refers to the second up to the tenth level of bodhisattva path, as mentioned before, the fourth stage of the old scheme corresponds to the second up to the seventh (or sixth) level of the bodhisattva path. In other words, the bodhisattva stages from the eighth (or seventh) and above do not have any analogue in the old scheme. The implication is that the arhatship, the final state of the old scheme, corresponds to the eighth (or seventh) level of bodhisattva path. It seems likely that the Mahāyāna scheme of the five stages, although having a similar structure as the old one, represents a more comprehensive soteriological structure. Also see Table 2 below.
58. See n. 43 above.
59. 有二種學人。一凡夫。二聖人。此惑在學道凡夫相續中。無始已來未曾見理。因初出世聖道所破名為見諦。(佛性論 T 1610 807a28–b01).
60. 聖人者。初地以上 (佛性論 T 1610 807b12).
bodhisattvas on the first through the seventh stages, viz., the bodhisattva group between the ordinary beings and the bodhisattvas-of-great-power, should range both within and beyond the realms in the middle section of the path from the contaminated to the uncontaminated sphere.
The same issue and resolution apply to the case of those practicing the two vehicles. Given that the first group of those practicing the two vehicles is described as the ordinary beings in the Foxing lun, as seen in Table 1, the second and third groups may theoretically seem to be the beings out of the realm, but stream-enterers, once-returners and non-returners are known to be on the way to leaving the three realms, but they have not yet done so. Further, according to what has been discussed from the perspective of the second way of explanation above, the second and third groups are subject to the mortal body in the saṃsāra of the three realms since they are on the stages below that of arhatship. In the same vein, the seeming contradiction between the theoretical presumption and the actual evidences is again resolved by considering those on the second and third level as those who still have a saṃsāric body in the three realms at some times and the manomaya-kāya during other times on the process of the spiritual advancement from the contaminated to the uncontaminated sphere. Beside the saints outside the three realms and the ‘semi’-saints who range both within and beyond the realms, the Foxing lun also explains about ordinary beings. In the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, ‘those who undergo training [on the Buddhist path]’, or ‘learners’, (S. śaikṣa, C. xueren 學人) are categorized into two groups, i.e., the ordinary beings and the saints. In explaining this passage, the Foxing lun subdivides each of the groups into the small vehicle (S. hīnayāna, C. xiaosheng 小乘) (viz., the two vehicles) and the great vehicle (S. Mahāyāna, C. dasheng 大乘). In the case of the small vehicle, the Foxing lun says that the ordinary beings on the stage of ‘learners’ consist of the four stages, which is generally known as the stages of ‘four roots of the wholesome’ (S. catuṣ-kuśala-mūla, C. si shangen 四善根) or ‘aids to penetration’ (nirvedha-bhāgīya) — the stage of ‘heat’ (S. uṣma-gata, C. nuan 煖), ‘summit’ (S. mūrdhan, C. ding 頂), ‘acquiescence’ or ‘receptivity’ (S. kṣānti, C. ren 忍), and ‘highest worldly dharmas’ (S. laukika-agra-dharma, C. shi fa/shi diyi fa 世法/世第一法) — whereas in the great vehicle, the ordinary beings on the stage of ‘learners’ refer to those on the ‘stage of ten faiths (C. shixin 十信), and the like’.
Cosmological sphere Those practicing the two Bodhisattvas vehicles
Within & beyond the three realms (contaminated & uncontaminated sphere) Stream-enterers (sotāpanna) up to non-returners going upstream (ūrdvasrotas akaniṣṭha-gāmin) towards their the last lifetime Bodhisattvas on the 1st through 7th stages Beyond the three realms (uncontaminated sphere) Arhats Bodhisattvas on the 8th through 10th stage
Stage of Tathāgata
Table 2 Comparison of between those practicing the two vehicles and bodhisattvas in terms of their soteriological stages and cosmological system on the basis of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra, the Foxing lun, and the She dashenglun shi by Paramārtha. The soteriological levels of those practicing the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas on the basis of their existential modes in the cosmological sphere may be summarized as in Table 2.
This table shows that the Buddhist cosmological system is divided into three spheres according to the existential mode of the beings belonging to the respective spheres in association with their soteriological levels. The contaminated sphere is the abode of the ordinary beings who are subject to incessant transmigration (saṃsāra) in the three realms with a mortal body, whereas the wholly uncontaminated sphere is the locus of the Buddhist saints who are completely freed from the saṃsāra of the realms and have a manomaya-kāya instead of a saṃsāric mortal body. In between the two spheres, there is another sphere of the beings who belong both within and beyond the realms and thus are subject to both a saṃsāric mortal body and the manomaya-kāya. The beings in this sphere may be viewed as those who abide in the three realms but can temporarily experience transcendence of the saṃsāra of the realms until they are completely freed from the saṃsāra by advancing to the stage of the saints beyond the realms. Conclusion This article has sketched out a range of meanings of the manomaya-kāya presented in the early tradition focusing on the Pāli materials and the Mahāyāna sources of
and the ten bodhisattva stages, and there is another stage of ‘dry insight’ (S. *śukla-vipaśyanābhūmi, C. ganhui di 乾慧地) before the four groups of ten stages of ordinary beings. See also Kawamura 2004, and Chŏn and Mujinjang 1988. While the ‘saints’ on the stage of ‘learners’ of the small vehicle are not clearly identified in the Foxing lun, those of the great vehicle are indicated as the bodhisattvas on the first and above stages of the bodhisattva path, as already discussed above (see n. 60 above).
the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra and two other treatises, the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun, which are in part based on the Śrīmālādevī Sutra. The previous research on this notion within Pāli materials has clarified that the manomaya-kāya has the meanings of a subtle body produced on the basis of jhāna and the existential mode of beings in the pure form level of the Buddhist cosmological system, and another direction of study on the manomaya-kāya outside the Pāli materials has disclosed a new meaning of the manomaya-kāya, that is, the existential mode during the intermediate existence (antarā-bhava) between one’s death and rebirth. Such Mahāyāna texts as the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra, the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun (which may represent particularly Paramārthā’s view: see note 51) present another distinct scope of meaning of the manomaya-kāya: the body of three types of Buddhist saints, namely arhats, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattvasof-great-power. The nature of this body and how it is seen to be used is a matter for further research.
The different meanings of the manomaya-kāya, which have distinct doctrinal significances in their own contexts, suggest that the manomaya-kāya is a sort of functional concept that is applicable to various levels of ‘mind-made’ phenomena in different categories. There seems to be a connection, however, between these several types of ‘body’ termed manomaya-kāya, although they have no direct relationship that shows apparent connection between them. We may describe the four types of the manomaya-kāya from a collective perspective on three ascending planes, i.e., (1) the existential mode during the intermediate existence (antarābhava), (2) the existential mode of the beings of the pure form or formless realm and related jhānic states, and (3) the body of the three types of Buddhist saint.
The existential mode during the antarā-bhava represents the basic and spiritually lowest level of the manomaya-kāya, since, even if the mind directs it, the antarā-bhava refers to merely a transitional existence between death and the next rebirth, that all unenlightened beings go through. For the antarā-bhava, no special effort or training is necessary in terms of the Buddhist path of cultivation. The second type of manomaya-kāya, however, is that of spiritually advanced beings, because practitioners attain this kind of body when they are born in the pure form or formless realm as the result of their attainment of advanced level of spirituality in their previous life, and may also experience it as a subtle body based on jhāna during that life. Nonetheless, this type of manomaya-kāya is still a temporal body, because although it is released from a coarse physical body, it is still bound to the saṃsāra of the three realms. In the body of the three types of Buddhist saints, they attain the freedom from the restriction of the mortal body of the three realms. When the practitioners are liberated from the saṃsāra of the three realms and advance to attain a manomaya-kāya, they become Buddhist saints. The manomaya-kāya of the saints obviously belongs to the highest spiritual level among the three types of manomaya-kāya, since this body is directed by the saints’ mind, which is entirely freed from all karmic fetters.
DN Dīgha Nikāya
T 1595 She dashenglun shi 攝大乘論釋
T 1610 Foxing lun 佛性論
T 1611 Jiujing yisheng baoxing lun 究竟一乘寶性論
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