Posted by Zolla (188.8.131.52) on October 12, 2000 at 19:13:09:
In Reply to: Living Buddhas posted by Remmy on October 10, 2000 at 00:12:25:
Depending on which school you follow. But there are some common misconceptions about attaining Nirvana and Buddhahood.
Those who choose to liberate as students are called Arhats, they also attain Nirvana, but they are not Buddhas.
Those who choose to liberate as teachers and liberate others are Bodhisattvas, but, depending on which school you follow*, they have not yet reached Nirvana. When they attain Nirvana, they are Buddhas (*according to Pali Canon: i) once a Buddha enter final Nirvana, they will never come back, ii) a teacher cannot be at the same time a student, and iii) it is impossible that more than one Buddha exist at the same time, even paccebuddhas have to enter Nirvana when a Buddha appears in the world. But certain Mahayana sutras say that certain Bodhisattvas are actually Buddhas, they just choose to come back as Bodhisattvas in order to help other beings).
When Bodhisattvas enlighten as Buddhas, they are also Arhats, because they receive the final fruit of the path.
Here, what depends on differents interpretation of different schools, is that whether or not there has been any Buddha nowaday. I believe all authentic schools (Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan...) would agree that the next Buddha will be Maitreya.
It is said that there are still people who can attain Nirvana (but very few) these days, but they aren't Buddha. So what kind of people have attained Nirvana these days? Bodhisattva? There are two types of Bodhisattvas, one being those who had enlightened already but just came back, for example Avalokiteshavra, another type being a sentient being who vowed to become a Buddha but they haven't yet attain Nirvana--in the later case, when a Bodhisattva attains Nirvana, he is a Buddha. Another case is the case of Arhats. I believe there are some Arhats. One contemporary Arhat I have heard of is the Theravada master Sunlun Sayadaw, who has already passed away.
In the Tibetan tradition, we see our gurus as real Buddhas. However, I believe there are some deeper meanings in it.
Hope this help.
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