Who Was the Buddha?
“Buddha” means “one who is awake.” The Buddha who lived 2,600 years ago was not a god. He was an ordinary person, named Siddhartha Gautama, whose profound insights inspired the world.
Buddha is not a name, but a title. It is a Sanskrit word that means “a person who is awake.” What a buddha is awake to is the true nature of reality.
Simply put, Buddhism teaches that we all live in a fog of illusions created by mistaken perceptions and “impurities” — hate, greed, ignorance. A buddha is one who is freed from the fog. It is said that when a buddha dies he or she is not reborn but passes into the peace of Nirvana, which is not a “heaven” but a transformed state of existence.