The Difference between Buddhism, Buddhas,and Sakyamuni Buddha
Buddhism means the teachings conveyed by a Buddha. But then who is a Buddha? A Buddha is “the one who has obtained enlightenment.” On the path of enlightenment, there are 52 levels from bottom to top. Each level has a particular name and description, but only the supreme enlightenment is called “Buddhahood.” Each level is said to be a higher state of wisdom. Gaining one level of wisdom is like advancing from the consciousness of an insect to a human being. So you can easily imagine how vast and virtuous Buddhahood would be after 52 of these levels.
Then, what really is “enlightenment”? It is to acknowledge and understand the truth within the universe. There are many kinds of truth such as mathematical truth or scientific truth, but only Buddha’s enlightenment obtains the truth that can make each and every person achieve true lasting happiness. Our material life has improved, and our lifestyle has changed greatly. But have we really become any happier than we were before?
Back in the old days, people were living in larger households. The relationship between brides and mothers-inlaw became another name for the agony experienced within a difficult relationship. Nowadays, families are more nuclear, so young mothers are not suffering from their mothers-inlaw anymore. Instead they are suffering from stress from their jobs, childcare, or other pressures of modern life. Even though Japan is now in a time of peace, more people have committed suicide than those who were killed in the current Iraq war.
Buddhas are then the only ones who have obtained the truth that solves the root cause of human suffering and makes all people obtain happiness equally. Let us compare achieving a level of enlightenment to mountain climbing. The higher you climb up the rocks, the wider your vista becomes, but only when you reach the mountain’s peak can you finally see in all directions. Only a Buddha who has achieved Buddhahood can obtain the supreme truth of the universe.
Sakyamuni Buddha is the only person who has achieved Buddhahood on this earth up until now. Sakyamuni was born about 2,600 years ago in India. He attained Buddhahood at age 35 and preached for 45 years as a Buddha until he passed away at the age of 80. His teachings now compose what we call Buddhism today.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #09 | 2011, What does the word Buddhism mean?
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