Buddhism as a religion and a philosophical system is filled with subtle complexities. One of them is the concept and role of a “creator-like” god. Unlike other major world religions, Buddhism does not have just one god, though “the Buddha” is often mistaken for one.
Sittartha Guatama, the historical founder of Buddhism and the future Buddha, is an elusive figure. Researchers agree that Sidharta lived in north India around 563 BCE, born to a noble family.
His mother, Maha Maya, had a prophetic dream that an elephant entered her womb. In ten moons, Siddharta emerged from under her right arm. Siddharta lived a life of extreme luxury in his family’s palace, protected from the external world and its ugliness. He married the princess Yashodhara at sixteen, and she bore him a son.
How did Siddartha Guatama live his life?
One day, when he was twenty-nine, he went on a carriage ride outside his palace’s walls and witnessed in bafflement the ghastly sufferings of the world. He saw hunger, anger, greed, arrogance, evil, and so much more, and was left wondering what was the cause of these sufferings and how they could be alleviated.
At that point, going against his father’s wishes, he renounced his life of luxury, power, and prestige and set out on a journey to discover an enduring cure to human suffering.
His first step was to become an aesthetic, one who denies themselves all worldly pleasures, including food. But he soon realized that this did not produce true happiness either.
And since he had already lived a life of tremendous material wealth and luxury, he knew this too wasn’t the way. He decided that true happiness must lie somewhere in between, a doctrine now known as “The Middle Way.”
How Did Guatama Become the Buddha?
Through meditation and introspection, Gautama searched for a cure to human happiness. Then, one day, while sitting under a tree, he realized his true nature and awoke to the truth of all reality, which turned him into an enlightened being capable of living a truly happy and peaceful life.
From there, the Buddha began sharing his experience, spreading his wisdom, and helping others escape their own suffering. He developed doctrines such as The Four Noble Truths, which describe the causes of human suffering and the way to alleviate them, as well as the Eightfold Path, which is essentially a code for living that makes it possible to confront the pain of life and live happily.
Is Siddartha Guatama a Buddhist God?
His wisdom and enchanting personality caused many to believe he was a god, but Guatma routinely insisted that he was not and that he should not be worshiped as such. Nevertheless, many people did, and after his death, his many followers disagreed on how to proceed.
This led to the creation of many different “sects” of Buddhism, all of which incorporated the Buddha’s teachings in different ways, and which gave rise to a number of different entities that many now call Buddhism gods.
Maitreya is the prophesied Buddha that will appear on Earth and accomplish complete enlightenment. Maitreya is to remind humans of the forgotten Dharmas. The Dharma is a fundamental concept in several religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent and can be understood as cosmic law.
In Sanskrit, Maitreya can be translated as friend. For the Theravada followers, Maitreya is striving to achieve enlightenment. In the earliest iconographic representations, Maitreya appears most frequently alongside Gautama. Depicted seated with his feet on the ground or crossed at the ankles, Maitreya typically dresses as a monk or royalty.
One of the primordial Buddhas, Vairocana is the first manifestation of Gautama and embodies the supreme illumination of wisdom. He is believed to be a universal buddha, and from him, all the others emanate. Considered to be the direct embodiment of the historical Siddhartha himself, Voiracana as the Primordial Buddha appears in several Buddhist texts as one of the most revered versions of Gautama. Statues of Vairocana represent him sitting in the lotus position in deep meditation. Noble materials like gold or marble are commonly used to represent him.
Akshobhyia represents consciousness as an element stemming from reality. Akshobhyia appears in the oldest mentions of the Buddhas of Wisdom. Written records tell that a monk wished to practice meditation.
He vowed not to feel anger or malice towards any being until he completed his enlightenment. And when he succeeded, he became the Buddha Akshobhya. Meaning immovable in Sanskrit, those devoted to this buddha meditate in complete stillness. Sided by two elephants, his images and sculptures represent him in a blue-black body, with three robes, a staff, a jewel lotus, and a prayer wheel.
Equanimity and equality are associated with Rathnasambhava. His mandalas and mantras endeavor to develop these qualities and eliminate greed and pride.
Associated with feelings and senses and its connection with consciousness, Rathnasambhava promotes Buddhism by perfecting knowledge.
He’s also connected with jewels, like his name Rathna indicates. That is the reason he sits in the yogi position of giving. It means that those who live in abundance should give out to those who don’t. Depicted in yellow or gold, he embodies the element earth.