A central idea within Mahayana Buddhism is the Dharmakaya, the universal body of the Buddha — the whole universe is the body of the Buddha.
Although this is quite difficult for us, it’s a perspective which is fairly constant within Chinese Buddhism. It appears in various forms.
For example,in the Huayan school, the foundational idea is derived from the proposition that everything’s empty. And because, like space, emptiness is one, there’s not a billion, billion pieces of emptiness.
And because that is so, each thing is all things and each thing is identical with each other thing. Identical, because different.
There is a striking resemblance with Spinoza’s idea that there is nothing which is not God.
What this supports – and this is the real point – is the insight that our liberation is not transcendent. There is not some other special place that we need to go to—it’s not attainment.
It is understanding that our true nature and the nature of this world is not separate. The perspective is immanent rather than transcendent. That changes everything.
The dharmakaya is ‘virtual’ in the Deleuzian sense: it only appears through individual things. These individual things are both in their particular dharma position, but also, in their emptiness, they escape from that particularity.
We’re not confined within the boundaries either of our own skin or of the feeble stories we tell ourselves.
The dharmakaya, erroneously thought of as a proposition about the nature of reality, is quite abstract. Huayan makes it brilliantly real. The whole universe, like a body, is whole, integrated, diverse and alive—each part is its own part and is also whole.
We need to understand that the door is always open.