What Is Buddha?
We have all heard of and know “The Buddha” but isn’t “Buddha” just a term and can’t anyone be a “Buddha?”
The word Buddha simply means, “One who is awake.” Theoretically, there have been infinite buddhas. The most well known, Siddhartha Gautama, is often referred to as the Buddha to avoid confusion. It is to this reference that most early sutras are attributed. The Buddha did not write anything down, but the Tipitaka (and many others) all begin with a proclamation that the speaker heard this teaching come from the Buddha.
But, and here is where things may get muddled, a teaching can be attributed to the eternal buddha, the tathagatagarbha that resides in all. Since this is the same essence or existence as the Buddha, any teaching that emanates from an awakened one is equal to a teaching from the Buddha. The dharmadatu is boundless and not confined to any single individual. It is for this reason that the Buddhist canon is still open. As such, buddha-nature is still actively teaching. Buddha is still teaching, but not THE Buddha. He has physically passed to Nirvana.
Peace and Love, Jim