Dharmakāya / Body of Dharma
Dharmakāya refers to the corpus of the Buddha’s teachings. The word shen (身body) means collection in this context. The multifaceted nature of the Buddha inspires the idea of “two bodies,” “three bodies,” and even “ten bodies.” Among them, rūpakāya (the body of form or the begotten body) refers to the physical dimension of the Buddha, which features earthliness; dharmakāya (the body of dharma) refers to the collection of invisible wisdom, highlighting the inherent nature of the Buddha; and (the body of transformation) refers to the doubles of the Buddha who is able to teach the dharma by all means to all sentient beings. Buddhist interpretations on dharmakāya vary from school to school, but all of them emphasize its perfect purity and endless functions.
Bodhisattvas in their body of dharma have eliminated afflictions of all kinds and attained the six types of higher knowledge, while bodhisattvas in their begotten body have not yet eliminated all afflictions. Of the latter, those who stay away from desire may attain five types of higher knowledge. (The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom)
In The Exegesis of The Teachings of Vimalakīrti, the Buddhist monk Seng Rui explains, “It is said that there are five types of body of dharma: (1) the begotten body of dharma, (2) the beneficent body of dharma, (3) the transformative body of dharma, (4) the empty body of dharma, and (5) the suchness body of dharma. However, if one scrutinizes them closely, one will find out that all these bodies are just different perspectives of the same body of dharma. First, what does ‘begotten’ mean here? Since the essence of dharma begets the body, it is called ‘the begotten body of dharma.’ Second, the body is attained by accumulating beneficence, so it is called ‘the beneficent body of dharma.’ Third, since the body can perceive and manifest everything, it is called ‘the transformative body of dharma.’ Fourth, the body is so vast that it predominates the entire void. Therefore, it is called ‘the empty body of dharma.’ Fifth, the body features extreme delicacy with no form or condition, and so it is called ‘the suchness body of dharma.'” (Shi Chengguan: The Further Exegesis of the Flower Garland Sutra)