When the historic Buddha died, he left behind two bodies, the Form Body and the Dharma Body. The former was his physical vehicle and, by extension, included those material objects closely connected to it, such as his robe or begging bowl. For his surviving followers, these items were regarded as a vital link to the Enlightened One and became objects of veneration.
The Dharma Body, on the other hand, was far less material. This Body was comprised of the teachings of the Buddha. However, the idea that the Dharma Body was merely a collection of Sutras misses the point. The Sutras are an expression of the Enlightenment of the Buddha and, therefore, the Dharma Body is that very Enlightenment Itself.
Because this is the case, veneration of objects or the so-called “Form Body” may seem a bit absurd. After all, the Enlightenment of the Buddha has declared that Form is Void.
However, that same Enlightenment also declared that Void is Form. Yet if this true, we may ask if some Forms are more Void than others. And then we might as well just sit down and take the brass knuckles of the Buddha’s Fist square in the jaw. It’s ALL Void, from the scrap of loincloth supposedly worn beneath the Bodhi Tree to the Chicken Nuggets handed out through a drive-through window in a bag made from 90% recycled paper.
I find it quite ironic that Zen Patriarch Hui Neng communicated all of this so clearly and yet his followers mummified his body to worship!
If you cannot understand your own flesh and blood as the Form Body of the Buddha, you will never touch the Form Body…which is also the Void Body….which is No Body, at all.
The Lifespan Chapter of the Lotus Sutra lays out the situation. The historic Buddha (Shakyamuni, Guatama, Siddartha etc), was not THE Buddha but simply a Spacetime Manifestation of the Thus Come One who has endured from countless ages past. When the Thus Come One reveals his Lifespan in the Lotus Sutra, we understand “Buddha” to mean something much more than a historical personage. “The Buddha” is the True Entity of Life Itself which must be present in All Life. As the T’ien T’ai school teaches the Oneness of Life and its Environment (and Environment also encompasses the subjectivity of perception), we seek in vain for a Realization of the Buddha outside ourselves.
This simplicity, however, seems to be too much for most people and, as a result, we find humans venerating other humans as somehow superior to themselves. True Teachers attempt to guide the hungering souls around them into this Wisdom but it’s all but impossible. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard human parrots talking about how “Swami X wants us to think for ourselves.”
Of course, Swami X would be put out of business and have to resort to the begging bowl if his followers ever did just this. You can’t have an Ashram full of Gurus.
Hence, the Invisibles, the “Trashman Grand Master” ala Hesse’s Journey to the East, The Rosicrucians (who aren’t wont to advertise themselves). You can’t find them out and they won’t be replying to your Facebook comments.
There is only one way to make contact and that is by becoming one of them. Yet almost all “Aspirants” seem to think that contacting them is essential to becoming them. I knew a fellow who drove all over the West Coast looking for a Guru. Apparently, it was the place to find one. Decades passed and the guy is still as lost as ever. Of course, Swami X will just rephrase Tolkien’s “Not all who wander are lost,” pass the collection plate and keep the game going.
Guruyoga is a very subtle art. Once skill is therein achieved, an outside observer wouldn’t be able to identify Guru or Chela.
I know of one young man who entered fully into this field. There was no speaking to him of his Teacher, his Guru. There was only speaking-and speaking from the heart. If this sounds like a warm and fuzzy interchange, you’d be sadly mistaken. The Fire of Spirit Illumines the Way, it is true. It also burns down all that is not Itself.
The Dharma Body is what gives the Form Body its FORM.
Without this Knowing, the loincloth of the Buddha is just another pair of dirty Depends.