The Buddha is not a god. He’s just a guy. He’s a guy who figured some important things out and who then dedicated his life to teaching that information, but he’s just a guy nonetheless.
Historically, the person referred to as the Buddha was Siddhartha Gautama, a Nepalese prince, who lived some time around the 400′s BCE. The term “Buddha” means “awakened one” or “enlightened one”. So, the Buddha is more of an honorific than a metaphysical state in his case.
In the buddhist teachings, every one of us has a buddha nature and is capable of achieving the state of awakeness or enlightenment. This is fundamentally contrary to the idea of having a specific anthropomorphic God that lords over all of creation, but which is completely physically and energetically separate from us. It is this feature, however, that imposes upon us the ultimate responsibility for how we relate to the world and emphasizes our energetic connectedness to all other beings and the Power of God itself.
In translated terms, the buddha nature is something like the Holy Spirit that lives within each of us. All of us have it and it is our responsibility to care for it, develop it and nurture it. When we do, not only are we more joyful in our lives, but we end up contributing to making all other beings’ lives joyful as well.
So, what it comes down to is this: Siddhartha Gautama is a guy, who figured out how to whole-heartedly develop his holy spirit. When he did this people called him the “awakened one” and he spent the rest of his life teaching others how to do this.
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