The image of the Buddha

One of the great Mahayana innovations was seeing the Buddha not as one particular man in ancient India but as someone signifying transformation brought about by wisdom. Thus Buddha could manifest as any number of people in any number of eras and cultures. What’s most important is the Buddha’s wisdom, not so much the man who was once a prince of the Shakyas. So from the perspective of those schools that came after the Buddha, they did not repudiate the Pali canon, but set it aside for teachings from living Buddhist masters who were considered more relevant spokespeople for the awakened mind. That’s what keeps the tradition vital and evolving. Even today, the contemporary idiom of living teachers is generally considered more useful than the words of the historical Buddha. [read rest here]