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]] Buddha (Skt. Buddha; Tib. སངས་རྒྱས་, Sangyé; Wyl. sangs rgyas), usually refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, the Indian prince Gautama Siddhartha, who reached enlightenment in the sixth century B.C., and who taught the spiritual path followed by millions all over Asia, known today as Buddhism. Buddha, however, also has a much deeper meaning. It means anyone who has completely awakened from ignorance and opened to his or her vast potential for wisdom. A buddha is one who has brought a final end to suffering and frustration and discovered a lasting and deathless happiness and peace.


The Tibetan term for Buddha, སངས་རྒྱས་, Sangyé, is explained as follows:

:སངས་, Sang means ‘awakening’ from the sleep of ignorance, and ‘purifying’ the darkness of both emotional obscurations and cognitive obscurations. :རྒྱས་, Gyé means ‘opening’, like a blossoming lotus flower, to all that is knowable, and ‘developing’ the wisdom of omniscience—the knowledge of the true nature of things, just as they are, and the knowledge of all things in their multiplicity.

The Seventy Verses on Taking Refuge says:

:One who sleeps no more in ignorance, :And in whom genuine wisdom is brought forth, :Has truly awoken as an awakened buddha, :Just as one wakes from ordinary sleep.

As it says, ‘awakened’ means that ending the slumber of ignorance is like waking from sleep. And:

:Their minds have opened to all that is knowable, :And they have overcome the tight seal of delusion, :So the awakened have blossomed like lotus flowers.

As it says, they are like ‘blossoming’ lotus petals in the sense that through their genuine wisdom they have overcome the tendency to ‘shut down’ through lack of knowledge, and their minds are open to all that can be known.

Kayas & Wisdoms

Buddha Samantabhadra]] Buddhas are spoken of in terms of the kayas and wisdoms.

Three Kayas

The three 'bodies' of a buddha. They relate not only to the truth in us, as three aspects of the true nature of mind, but to the truth in everything. Everything we perceive around us is nirmanakaya; its nature, light or energy is sambhogakaya; and its inherent truth, the dharmakaya.

Five Wisdoms

Sogyal Rinpoche writes: :You can also think of the nature of mind like a mirror, with five different powers or 'wisdoms.' Its openness and vastness is the wisdom of all-encompassing space [or dharmadhatu], the womb of compassion. Its capacity to reflect in precise detail whatever comes before it is the mirror-like wisdom. Its fundamental lack of any bias toward any impression is the equalizing wisdom [or wisdom of equality]. Its ability to distinguish clearly, without confusing in any way the various different phenomena that arise, is the wisdom of discernment. And its potential of having everything already accomplished, perfected, and spontaneously present is the all-accomplishing wisdom. <ref>The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, p. 157</ref>

These five wisdoms may be condensed into two:

  • ‘the wisdom that knows the nature of all phenomena’ which comprises the wisdom of the dharmadhatu, mirror-like wisdom and the wisdom of equality; and
  • ‘the wisdom that knows the multiplicity of phenomena’ which comprises discriminating and all-accomplishing wisdom.

They can all be condensed into a single wisdom: the wisdom of omniscience.

Twelve Deeds

of a Buddha]] Supreme nirmanakaya buddhas display the twelve deeds:

  1. the descent from Tushita, the Joyous pure land (dga' ldan gyi gnas nas 'pho ba),
  2. entering the mother’s womb (lhums su zhugs pa),
  3. taking birth<ref>In the case of Buddha Shakyamuni, this was in the Lumbini garden.</ref> (sku bltams pa),
  4. becoming skilled in various arts (bzo yi gnas la mkhas pa),
  5. delighting in the company of royal consorts (btsun mo'i 'khor dgyes rol ba),
  6. developing renunciation and becoming ordained (rab tu byung ba),
  7. practicing austerities for six years (dka' ba spyad pa),
  8. proceeding to the foot of the bodhi tree (byang chub snying por gshegs pa),
  9. overcoming Mara’s hosts (bdud btul ba),
  10. becoming fully enlightened (mngon par rdzogs par sangs rgyas pa),
  11. turning the wheel of Dharma (chos kyi 'khor lo bskor ba), and
  12. passing into mahaparinirvana <ref>In the case of Buddha Shakyamuni, this was in the city of Kushinagara.</ref> (mya ngan las 'das pa)


Eight Qualities of a Buddha

, the future Buddha]] The qualities of a Buddha are immeasurable. Yet according to Maitreya's Uttaratantra Shastra, they can be condensed in eight qualities of the two-fold benefit of self and others:

Benefit of self:<br> 1) Self-arisen wisdom<br> 2) Unconditioned body<br> 3) Spontaneously perfect<br>

Benefit of others:<br> 4) Knowledge<br> 5) Love<br> 6) Power<br>

And 7) the benefit of self and 8) the benefit of others.

How a Buddha teaches

When the teacher is a fully enlightened buddha, he teaches through his three types of miraculous ability. <ref>Patrul Rinpoche, Preliminary Points To be Explained when Teaching the Buddha's Word or the Treatises, translated by Adam Pearcey.</ref>



Further Reading

Key Terms Buddhas and Deities Three Jewels

Siddhattha Gotama (Pali), also: Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit) was a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism and is known as Buddha. It is generally accepted by the majority of historians that he lived approximately from 563 BCE. to 483 BCE.

The Buddha Title

Buddha is a title meaning ‘Awakened One’ which Siddhattha Gotama called himself and was called by others after he attained enlightenment. More than an individual, a Buddha is a type, a human who has reached the apex of wisdom and compassion and is no longer subject to rebirth. A Buddha attains enlightenment entirely on his own whereas an arahat does it as a result of listening to and practicing the teachings of a Buddha. The Buddha of our present era is Siddhattha Gotama but tradition says that there were other Buddhas in previous eras just as there will be Buddhas in future eras. When the truth of Dhamma becomes lost or obscured, someone will sooner or later rediscover it and such a person is called a Buddha.

Other types of fully enlightened people are as follows:

  • Sama-sam-buddha = One who rediscovers the teachings and teaches the masses as the historical Buddha did (Siddhattha Gotama).
  • Paccekabuddha = A silent buddha. One who attains full enlightenment, but does not teach others.
  • Arahant = Fully enlightened person, who might teach others, but not as the one who rediscovered the teachings, just as one who learned it from a current dispensation.

According to Buddhism, all three types of buddha listed above are attained by study, meditation, morality, concentration, tranquility, hard work, and wisdom and all are fully enlightened saints who attain nibbana (nirvana).

Life of Buddha

Siddhattha Gotama, later to be called the Buddha, was born into a ruling family in the small northern Indian state of Sàkya. Brought up in luxury, he was married and had a son. Despite his life of privilege and comfort Siddhattha was not happy and became deeply concerned about the suffering he saw all around him. Eventually, following the convention of the time, he renounced the world and took up the life of a wandering ascetic. He studied at the feet of different teachers, practised severe self-mortification but eventually, after six years, decided that such things did not work. After resting and strengthening himself with decent food he sat at the foot of a particular tree vowing not to move until he had penetrated the truth. Over the next forty years, the Buddha travelled throughout India teaching to others the truths he had realised and finally passed away at Kusinàrà at the age of eighty. He was the first person to teach a religion for all humankind rather than for a specific group or tribe.

Contrary to what some non-Buddhists believe, the Buddha was not a god, but a normal human being who became awakened; a state which anyone can attain (see: Arahant and also Misconceptions about Buddhism).

What the Buddha looked like

There is enough incidental information in the Tipitaka to get a good idea about the Buddha’s physical appearance.

He was about six feet tall (S.I,62) and when young, before his renunciation, had long black hair and a beard (M.I,163). All sources agree that he was particularly good-looking. The brahman Sonadaõóa described him as ‘handsome, of fine appearance, pleasant to see, with a good complexion and a beautiful form and countenance’ (D.I,114). These natural good looks were further enhanced by his deep inner calm.

Another person, Doõa, described him as ‘beautiful, inspiring confidence, calm, composed, with the dignity and presence of a perfectly tamed elephant’ (A.II,36). Concerning his complexion Ananda said of him; ‘It is wonderful, truly marvellous how serene is the good Gotama’s presence, how clear and radiant is his complexion. Just as golden jujube fruit in the autumn is clear and radiant…so too is the good Gotama’s complexion’ (A.I,181). The Buddha probably had the typical color of any Asian Indian living back then, which would be somewhat similar to the color seen today. He certainly was not white and certainly not black, as some (on other sites) have suggested.

Although, it is possible that he may have been more toward a medium to dark brown, since he spent much time outdoors in meditation and teaching and the sun would certainly darken the color a little. The image to the left may not be that far off and is probably very close to the skin color of the Buddha.

But most importantly, the color is meaningless and the Buddha was perhaps the first known religious teacher to teach against slavery, caste, racism, and nationalism.

What the Buddha Taught

The Buddha taught that the unenlightened life is suffering; but that there is a way out of suffering. To those who have attained to high levels of insight there is little to no suffering.

What the Buddha ate

, made from barley meal and honey]]

The Buddha ate a vegetarian diet or if not completely vegetarian, it was at least 95 percent vegetarian. He ate what was freely offered to him by generous lay people, but spoke out against killing or causing to kill.

Further reading

See also

buddha.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/20 19:54 by

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