Is Buddha a God, a Man, or Something Inbetween?


A few weeks back now I received a comment on another article of mine in which I stated that ‘Buddha is Thailand's most beloved Deity’, that went something a little like this: ‘I’d just like to point out to the culturally challenged writer that Buddha is not a God...’, and so on, by a visitor I’d either upset with my more poetic than encyclopedic observation, or by someone who was just seeking an opportunity to be smug, and self righteous.

However, while I knew their comment to be true, in the sense that Buddha is not considered to be a God in the same way as those of other religions, there is some confusion surrounding just exactly what Buddha is.

In my own simplified understanding of the situation I’ll admit to thinking of Buddha, or the Buddhas, as a little like the Jedi Knights of Star Wars fame. As enlightened beings who like the Jedi elevate themselves through their dedication to a chosen path, to become more than just man.
Buddha never claimed to be a God. He lived, he ate, he died. Or at least his physical form did. But that hasn’t prevented him from being revered in the same manner as the omnipotent Deities of monotheistic religions. In Thailand Buddha is everywhere. From the towering statues and monuments found within temples to the small figurines on the dashboards of taxis. Fighting for space with pictures of the King of Thailand, few corners are left untouched from this feast of adoration.
And prayer to the Buddha is as common as to that of other Gods, with Thai people praying for anything from good health and long life, protection, and peace of mind, through to a winning lottery ticket. Making it difficult for the outsider to perceive any real difference between the Buddha, and any other divine being.
Is Buddha a God?
So Buddha is the teacher, the enlightened one, and a soul who never claimed to be anything more than a mere mortal, just like the rest of us. Suggesting that we too over lifetimes of dedication to the search for Nirvana could become a Buddha also. However, could it be that over the years since his passing, through the passion of all those who unquestioningly follow his teachings, that despite any protests the Buddha himself might have made, he has become a God to his people, for all intents and purposes?

5 comments:

  1. It is a difficult one. I believe that to most Thai Buddhists that Buddha is as close to a God as you could get. This statement too is too simplistic without bringing in animism and the spirits in the rocks and trees and more which pre-date the Buddha. To the Western Buddhist uncomplicated by these things then Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life and the Buddha is what they aspire towards.

    Enjoyed yout thought provokinh hub. Thanks.

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  2. When I saw the title to this, I figured it was based on that comment. I have been thinking about it too..even tho the guy was kind of a jerk, it did make me think about deities, and religion, God and Gods. The conclusion I came to (without actually opening a dictionary..sorry wiki-lovers) is that God is somewhat based on the beliefs of the individual. I know that some will claim there is only one true God, whether you believe in him or not. But Buddha is clearly worshiped like a God by people around the globe. So whether or not a dictionary defines him as a deity, or not, I would say that he is a God to his followers.

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  3. Buddha is a state of highest consciousness. If you have read the power vs force, that would be at 1000. The Lord Buddha said that everyone is buddha, it's just that we have not discovered the truth self yet. Like you said, we are all in the journey to attain enlightenment or nirvana. Buddhism is never a pure religion but a mix of life philosophy and religion, Dalai Lama has even spoken about that. God is never mentioned in the teaching of Buddhism.

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  4. Buddha was a man who found the key to finding the God in all of us. As Dogen said "God is the Universe, the Universe is God." All you have to do is look in your heart and you will know it is true.

    or something :)

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  5. If christ can be god, then budha can be grand father of GOD.
    You can find fault in christ's behaviour or killing animals and eating meat, being alchoholic by drinking wine.

    But u can't find a single fault in budha. Do your research before comparing.

    Budha's spiritual power was so high that it took just 48 days for him to do tapasya and see BRAHMA directly with his own eyes.

    Budha was the only one in last 5000 years(after Krishna) to have seen Brahma directly face to face.

    He prevented so many wars whereas christian missionaries have very good track record of slaughtering natives in americas, australia, middle east , raping them, converting them using bribes and black magic, then spreading diseases to kill non-whites across continents . All these atrocities were done in the name of so called christ.

    Do you expect us to love and respect christ for this bloodshed?

    If christ wouldn't have come, chrsitianity wouldn't have been theere in first place and all these missionary animals wouldn't have killed so many non-western people in other continents.

    Budhdha is eternal and definitely GOD's manifestation. Unlike Krishna, he is not direct GOD, but he is amsha of GOD which is no less than GOD.

    I'm not budhist, still i bow my head when i see budha because he is perfect and simply magnificent in character, soul, purity and universal wisdom and love.

    Being a hindu, i'm proud that indians had the great luck of living at the time of budhdha and had a chance to see him 2600 years ago.

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