Questioner: DavidSubject: Buddha and Bhagavatam
Dearest Jagannatha prabhu,
I wanted to ask you another question which has some relevance to my own spiritual path and will help me clarify some things.
Is the Buddha viewed as the incarnation of the supreme reality, is the supreme reality called 'Buddha' which is beyond material existence, equivelant and existant with the term 'nirvana?'
Is Buddhism a form of Eastern gnosis?
May you be overflowing with blessings...
My Reply:Hi David,I hope you had a nice holiday ;-)
In Hindu Scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.3.24) the Buddha was foretold as the 21st incarnation of Lord Visnu hundreds of years prior to his birth. Most Hindus still accept him as such.
For Buddhists however, Gautama is not seen as a god (with a couple of minor exceptions), but as an awakened ("buddha") and honored master.
It is not so much that supreme reality "is" buddha as it is that one who awakens to or realizes supreme reality is "buddha," or awakened and one with all that is. The state of being awake is "nirvana," the plane of "nir" (cessation of) all activities or continuances.
As to whether this is eastern gnosis, I'd say it depends on where one stands. I'd say it is the "transcending" of all knowledge rather than the "realization" of all knowledge, and so I'd say no, it's a different thing; BUT many people do define it thus. If one attains full gnosis then arguably one awakens... It would be truer perhaps of the Vajrayana than of Zen, Buddhism is quite broad.
Peace, Love, and Light!