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Who is Buddha?

Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

Buddha is a person who has achieved the spiritual state of bodhi. The word buddha literally means "the awakened one" – someone who has no ignorance and can see the universe as it really is. People who have achieved this state can be called a buddha. There are many buddhas, and no one has the right to say, "I am the one and only buddha."

The religion of Buddhism takes its teaching from spiritual guidance. It holds that everything in the universe is linked and related, but it is to ourselves that we must ultimately answer. If we harm another person, we are harming ourselves, because everything is linked. This is also where the idea of karma comes into play; what we give out, we shall receive, and vice versa.

Anyone who has become "awakened" can be called "buddha."
Anyone who has become "awakened" can be called "buddha."

Siddattha Gotama, an Indian prince, is considered the original teacher of Buddhism. During his lifetime, he reached an enlightened state. Until his 29th birthday, Siddattha led a luxurious life, as befits royalty. Slowly, up until that age, he began to realize that everything in the universe will eventually die. Sorrow and pain are a prelude to death. Siddattha decided to find a cure for humanity's sorrow and became a seeker of peace.

An Indian prince, Siddattha Gotama, is considered the first teacher of Buddhism.
An Indian prince, Siddattha Gotama, is considered the first teacher of Buddhism.

On his travels, Siddattha learned the teachings and philosophies of the most prominent thinkers and spiritual wisemen of the time, but none of the answers he gained satisfied him. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. Siddattha soon joined a group of five pupils of a former teacher. They tried to become in touch with their senses through abstinence and penance.

Siddattha practiced this form for six years. He abstained until his body became shrunken and withered. His veins protruded from his skin, which had dried up. For the six years he suffered, he eventually realized the absolute futility of complete abstinence and penance.

Taking guidance from all his findings, Siddattha came upon the Middle Path of thinking, or the Majjhima Patipada. Sitting under a Bodhi tree in deep meditation, he attained enlightenment and became buddha. Buddha taught that suffering was due to the selfishness of clinging to life and its passions. As buddha, Siddattha taught his philosophy until the age of 80, when he passed into Nirvana.

Buddha was therefore a man, and anyone who has attained enlightenment can be buddha. A buddha exists to teach and to point out the path of salvation. Buddha teaches people to rely on themselves and no one else. Depending on others for salvation is negative, while depending on oneself is positive. According to Buddhism, anyone can reach a state of perfection and enlightenment. The concept is far more spiritual than religious.

Discussion Comments


Buddha was a nepali prince. I hate those people who advertise false info.


Buddha is Prince Siddhartha.


The definition of Buddha is one who is awake.

it's interesting buddha said he is not the first buddha nor will he be the last. In the future a new buddha shall rise known as Maitreya, also known as a prophet or messiah (jesus!) in every other major religion.


The difference between "religious" and "spiritual" is what, exactly?


Buddha was born in Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Nepal and got enlightened in Bodgaya, India. So he is not an Indian prince. The palace of Buddha is still found there so how can he be an Indian prince?


@pleats -- Although there are a lot of different kinds of Buddha statues, it seems like you might have seen a statue of Guan Yu, a Chinese god/legendary figure who is actually a bodhisattva in Buddhist tradition.

He is the protector of those who go to battle with respect and righteousness, though some people mistake him for a god of war, which is incorrect.

I can see how you might mistake Guan Yu for a Buddha though -- he's a little portly sometimes. If you saw a red statue with a long beard that looked kind of angry, it's probably Guan Yu, rather than Buddha, since Buddha usually smiles.


I saw a really cool Buddha figure the other day at a yard sale of all places, but it wasn't like any Buddha I had ever seen before -- it was red, and had a long beard and pointy eyebrows.

What kind of Buddha is that? Is it some kind of Tibetan Buddha statue or something?


If you ever go to Hong Kong, you have to visit the big Buddha statue in Tai O. It is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, and it is so cool.

You can go there either by bus or cable car, both of which will deposit you in a small fakey-old Chinese town with a bunch of tourist shops. They also have a vendor who will sell you the largest cotton candy in existence. As in, two times larger than your head. No kidding.

But the Buddha is the real attraction, up a hill of over 200 stairs. It is a really amazing feeling of trekking up those stairs with the Buddha staring down at you the whole time. And when you get to the top and look down on the monastery, you feel like you could be that Buddha, since everything looks so small beneath you.

Of course it also gives you an opportunity to buy great Buddha gifts for your buddies -- like any tourist attraction, there are takeaways -- little Buddha head masks, and bronze Buddha figurines.

I would definitely recommend anybody in HK to be sure and see it though -- it is an experience you'll never forget.


There are lots of versions of Buddha. Probably the most common two are the fat Buddha and the thin buddha. The fat Buddha, or jolly Buddha, is the Chinese Buddha named Pu-Tai. The thin or skinny buddha is the "historical Buddha:" Siddhatta Gotama in Pali.

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    • Anyone who has become "awakened" can be called "buddha."
      By: jackmicro
      Anyone who has become "awakened" can be called "buddha."
    • An Indian prince, Siddattha Gotama, is considered the first teacher of Buddhism.
      By: audy_indy
      An Indian prince, Siddattha Gotama, is considered the first teacher of Buddhism.