What is a Buddha? #1 of 2

The purpose of this post is to give you some idea of where you are heading when you start to practice this Buddhism.

Traditional Beliefs

People tend to look at statues of a plump Buddha with hands in a meditation position and think that is the Buddha, as if there is only one. Some traditions tend to look up to the Buddha as a superhuman being who stands way above an everyday person.

In other branches of Buddhism, there is also a common perception that to become enlightened requires a long, arduous journey encompassing many lifetimes.

Anyone Can Become Enlightened

In one of his final verbal teachings, The Lotus Sutra, Shakayamuni Buddha, the original historical Buddha, said that every single one of us has the potential to become a Buddha. In the Lotus Sutra, he says that you have the Buddha nature, or the innate potential to become enlightened, in this lifetime, in your present form.

The Path to Buddhahood

When you come in as a beginner, you are taught to chant, to connect with the enlightened level of Buddhahood in your life, your universal self. Initially you are taught to chant for goals for yourself. At the beginning they might be quite specific, things that are needed for your life. In the process faith grows and your life becomes more connected with the universe.

In time you will overcome many of the issues which were creating problems in your life and you’ll find yourself becoming happy. Then naturally a shift begins to take place, where your desires change and become more altruistic. You want to share the practice with other people, so they may become happy as you have. You have begun manifesting the compassion of the world of Buddhahood.

As your life condition becomes more and more established in the higher worlds of Bodhisattva and Buddhahood, you find yourself deriving joy from supporting and caring for others. The main thrust of your life starts incrementally to shift from self-absorption to altruism and caring for others. You have begun the work of a Buddha, bringing forth your own potential through challenging yourself in Bodhisattva practice and also inspiring others to do the same.

What is Attaining Buddhahood?

So what does attaining Buddhahood mean? In Nichiren Buddhism, it doesn’t mean you suddenly turn into a Buddha, a God, a transcendental being standing way above ordinary people. It means you have securely entered the path of Buddhahood. It nmeans you continue to advance along the path of absolute happiness.You will come to live a life where you savor a state of happiness and complete peace of mind, while living with your earthly desires just as they are.

Remember the Ten Worlds, those ten internal states of life within each of us? Buddhahood is the highest of the ten worlds. You tend to go in and out of all of them every day. That means you might be functioning at the highest level for a while and then slip into one of the lower worlds and then maybe return. What does happen is that over time that level of life becomes more established and is expressed in compassionate, altruistic behavior focused on enabling other people to become happy.

In a Nutshell…

Buddhahood is not some superhuman transcendental state. Anyone has the potential to become a Buddha. You will come to live a life of unshakeable happiness and peace of mind.

Next Post: What Does the Life State of a Buddha Look Like?

  • Wayne says:

    Hi Margaret ,what a fantastic and clear explanation thank you

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