Buddha is not a God, or a person's name. Instead it is a title, which means the "awakened one" in Sanskrit. A Buddha is someone who has realised enlightenment, someone who has thoroughly perceived the true nature of reality, and of himself. He is freed from the fog of illusions (impurities that cause suffering), such as greed, hatred, and ignorance. When he passed on, he will not be reborn, but instead enters the Pure Land, a transformed state of existence. In Mahayana Buddhism, it is believed that all being has the potential to become a Buddha.
Here are some of the more commonly seen Buddhas who have attained enlightenment.
1) SHAKYAMUNI 释迦摩尼佛
Shakyamuni, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is the founder of Buddhism. He is revered for his attainment of enlightenment.
Born as the crown prince of the great Shakya Kingdom in the 6th century B.C.E., the young Siddhartha Gautama was groomed to be a king in accordance with the wishes of his royal father. But as he grew older, he started to learn about the deep suffering experienced by his people. He eventually gave up his royal life that was pampered with fine garments and scrumptious meals, and embarked on a journey to find the cause of suffering and how to overcome it. After years of meditation and self-discovery, he came the Buddha. His enlightenment brought profound insights into the nature of suffering and the path to liberation.
Shakyamuni's life serves as a role model for Buddhists. His renunciation of worldly comforts, pursuit of truth, and selfless service to humanity are sources of inspiration. People look up to him to seek the strength to follow his example.
2) AMITABHA 啊弥陀佛
Amitabha is the most revered Buddha is Mahayana Buddhism. Amitabha refers to "infinite light". He is known for his great compassion and boundless love and venerated for his ability to lead his devotees to the ultimate goal of enlightenment.
According to sutras, he used to be a king, but chose to renounce his kingdom to become a monk, named Dharmakara. After countless aeons of self-cultivation and accumulation of merits, he attained Supreme Enlightenment and became the Buddha Amitabha, while establishing the Pure Land (Sukhavati), a realm of enlightenment and peace. Inspired by the teachings of Buddha Lokesvaraja, he made 48 great vows to help save all sentient beings from sufferings. The most notable vow is the 18th vow which guarantees rebirth in his Pure Land, for all beings who recite his name with sincere faith and devotion.
3) AMITAYUS 长寿佛
Amitayus, which translates to "infinite life", is a mirror representation of Amitabha. Amitabha Buddha is the form body (Nirmanakaya), while Amitayus Buddha is the apparitional body (Sambhogkaya). Amitayus, also known as the Longevity Buddha, is usually used in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism for longevity meditation. Instead of being depicted as a monk, he is visualised as a Bodhisattva, in princely attire and a 5 jeweled crown.
4) MEDICINE BUDDHA 药师佛
Medicine Buddha is revered as a symbol of healing. He is considered a manifestation of the Buddha Amitabha and is venerated for his ability to heal one's physical/mental illness and ease out one's suffering.
After attaining enlightenment, the Medicine Buddha made 12 vows, which include the commitment to help sentient beings who are sick and suffering relieve their pain and afflictions. Devotees also believe that he is able to purify negative karma and guide them in their path to enlightenment.
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