Who is Buddha?

"The Buddha who is the founder of the Buddhist religion. Buddha Shakyamuni is the fourth of one thousand founding Buddhas who are to appear in this world during this Fortunate Aeon. The first three were Krakuchchanda, Kanakamuni, and Kashyapa. The fifth Buddha will be Maitreya." -Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

    Buddha ShakyamuniBuddha Shakyamuni

    A Buddha is a being who has completely abandoned all delusions and their imprints and who has achieved a state of everlasting freedom and supreme happiness. Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha.

    The particular Buddha who founded the Buddhist tradition in our time is called Buddha Shakyamuni.

    Buddha Shakyamuni is the founder of Buddhism in this world. In general, “Buddha” means “Awakened One” – someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are. A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions. Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha. See the life story of Buddha below.

    Medicine Buddhas Medicine Buddha

    It is impossible to describe all the good qualities of a Buddha. A Buddha’s compassion, wisdom, and power are completely beyond conception. With nothing left to obscure their mind, they see all phenomena throughout the universe as clearly as they see a jewel held in the palm of their hand.

    Through the force of his or her compassion, a Buddha spontaneously does whatever is appropriate to benefit others. A Buddha does not need to think about what is the best way to help living beings – they naturally and effortlessly act in the most beneficial way. Just as the sun does not need to motivate itself to radiate light and heat, but does so simply because heat and light are its very nature, so a Buddha does not need to motivate themself to benefit others, but does so simply because being beneficial is their very nature.


    The face of the wisdom Buddha Manjushri

    Like the reflections of a moon that effortlessly appear in any body of still water, a Buddha’s emanations spontaneously appear wherever living beings’ minds are capable of perceiving them. Buddhas can emanate in any form whatsoever to help living beings. Sometimes they manifest as Buddhists and sometimes as non-Buddhists. They can manifest as women or men, monarchs or tramps, law abiding citizens or criminals. They can even manifest as animals, as wind or rain, or as mountains or islands. Unless we are a Buddha ourself, we cannot possibly say who or what is a Buddha.

    Green Tara

    A female Tantric Buddha – a Dakini 

    Of all the ways in which a Buddha helps living beings, the supreme way is by emanating as a Spiritual Guide. Through his or her Teachings and immaculate example, an authentic Spiritual Guide leads his or her disciples along the spiritual path to liberation and enlightenment. If we meet a qualified Spiritual Guide and put into practice everything he or she teaches, we will definitely become a Conqueror Buddha. We will then be in a position to repay the kindness of all living beings by liberating them from the sufferings of samsara and leading them to the supreme bliss of Buddhahood.


    Kadampa play

    Life Story of Buddha


    Accompanied by images of the Play of Buddha’s Life performed at Manjushri KMC at the NKT-IKBU Summer Festival in Ulverston, England.

    Buddha’s Birth
    Buddha’s Early Life
    Buddha’s Renunciation
    Buddha’s Enlightenment

    For more information about Buddha…