Now that the Vesak 2563 is approaching, it is timely to draw the reader’s attention to who the Buddha is as explained by the Buddha himself.The mission launched by the Buddha during the 6th century B.C. after attaining the Buddhahood is the most rational, compassionate, and spiritual guidance the human being has ever witnessed. Over nearly 26 centuries, the Buddha’s teachings have influenced all major religions, philosophy, rational thought, and literature all over the world.
The Buddha expounded such an incomparable teaching by going beyond the human level. The following encounter shows that:
During one of his long journeys, the Buddha was walking along a connecting road between two cities. After travelling a certain distance on that road, he then decided to take a short rest. Having spotted a secluded and peaceful place nearby the main road, the Buddha thought it was an ideal place for him to relax. He entered that place, sat in lotus posture under a tree, and began his relaxation.
While travelling on the same road, a prominent Brahmin in that area, by the name of Dona, saw the Buddha sitting in a meditation posture under a tree. Fascinated by the Buddha’s magnificent appearance, Dona began to wonder whether the Buddha was actually a human being or a deity. As he continued watching the Buddha, all the different kinds of higher beings that he had read about in his holy texts came to Dona’s mind.
After a short while, Dona walked towards the Buddha, intending to talk to him. Dona had heard about three kinds of deities, and he wanted to know if the person sitting just in front him were one of them.
“Are you a Deva?” Dona asked the Buddha respectfully, referring to one of the deities he had heard about, and the Buddha replied, “No, I am not a Deva.” Then, Dona asked whether the Buddha was any of the other two kinds of deities, but again the Buddha said, “No.”
Finally, Dona asked, “Then, are you a human being?” and, to his utter surprise, the Buddha replied, “No, Brahmin, I am not a human being, either.”
Surprised, as well as confused, Dona said, “You are saying that you are neither a deity nor a human being. Then, who are you?”
The Buddha gave the following answer:
“Brahmin, A lotus flower or a lily flower is born in [muddy] water and grows in water, but it soon rises above water and lives untouched by water. In the same way, I was born in the human world and grew in the human world, but I have arisen above the human world [of greed, ill-will, and illusion], and I live untouched by the human world.”
Anguttara Nikaya 11: 188.8.131.52