Is Buddha a god? No. You can see all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, guardians or spirits as symbols. Things are dream-like. On such a level, we can think of Shakyamuni Buddha and the other beings as still existing.
You may have wondered what all these Buddhist gods, Buddhas, Boddhisattvas, guardians or spirits are.
Buddhists believe that there is no almighty God. But there are very different beings, like humans, demigods, animals, or hunger spirits. And there are also gods. Gods live for an incredibly long time from the point of view of human beings. But they will eventually die. From the Buddhists’ point of view, it is not desirable to be a god. Since they live in constant bliss and lack nothing, there is no reason to get out of that state and achieve final liberation – enlightenment. Therefore, living as a human being is much more desirable.
Is Buddha a God? According to the Buddhist view, he is not a god. Then what is he? In any case, he was a very real human being here on earth. And he died here on this earth as a human being.
Buddhism teaches that everything has no solid substance. A stone feels solid, it can be quite heavy, and it can also hurt when it falls on your foot. But actually it does not exist in the form in which it appears to us. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. After all, it really can fall on your foot and hurt. Buddhism says that things are dreamlike. Even in dreams, things can seem quite real. We can be afraid, perhaps even feel pain.
On such a level, we can imagine that Buddha Shakyamuni still exists. It is believed that he did not go to nirvana, but lives in an intermediate realm from which he could incarnate once again. Thus, he could be reborn on earth as a human being.
Maybe all these beings can help us. Then praying – that is nothing else than asking such beings for help – could be useful.
Those who cannot imagine that there are certain beings in an intermediate realm can see them as symbols. To imagine something like love may not be so easy. It is too abstract. It is much easier to imagine someone who embodies love. You can tell a nice story about it and create a character who embodies that feeling. For example, he can have four arms to help better. So the Medicine Buddha or Vajrasattva can stand for the healing power of all Buddhas.
You may believe this or not. But we know that we can influence our minds. These beings, even if they are just an imagination, can transform our minds. They can help to love, help to bear pain. Perhaps this is the ultimate goal of Buddhism and perhaps of any religion – to transform this mind of ours.