Teacher of Gods and Men
Teacher of Gods and Men The historical Buddha seems to have presented himself not as a god or savior, but as a teacher capable of guiding sentient beings out of samsara. Nevertheless, many forms of Buddhism do recognize savior-type figures. The technical differences between Buddhas, bodhisattvas, dharmapalas (protector deities), yidams ("tutelery deities"), and "gods" (Sanskrit deva, Tibetan lha) often blur in practical devotion. Nonetheless, all are seen within the mainstream Buddhist context as being empty of inherent existence, a quality no theistic religion would ascribe to its "god". Certain teachings of the Buddha in a number of Mahayana sutras, however, vigorously oppose the idea that even the Buddha (in his ultimate Trikaya Dharmakaya mode) is not truly and eternally Real (see "Eternal Buddha" section below): according to this less widespread doctrine, only the realm of samsara has no enduring essence, whereas to assert the same of the Buddha is to commit a grave offence and to stray dangerously from the path of authentic Dharma (see Nirvana Sutra).