What is the difference between the Buddha and other humans who attain enlightenment?  

Expert Answers
justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no difference between what the Buddha attained and what other human beings attain in the form of enlightenment.

Enlightenment, which is a final awakening and an understanding of the true causes of suffering, can be achieved by anyone who strives towards it with all body, mind and soul. Those that are enlightened attain freedom from desire, ignorance and suffering. They are also freed from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

According to teachings of the Buddha himself, achieving enlightenment is the same as attaining Buddha-hood. The only difference between the two is that the Buddha is one that attains enlightenment on his own, while others attain it by following the path shown by the Buddha and others who are spiritually superior.

In his teachings, the Buddha always claimed that he was not the first Buddha, there were others before Him who had achieved enlightenment on their own and after him, there would be others who would achieve the same on their own.

gopikrishna | Student

Hindu philosophy enlightenment is the ultimate goal of spiritual transformation. It’s the realization that our true Self is pure spirit, created from the infinite field of intelligence that gives rise to every creation in the universe. At the moment of enlightenment, we realize that we’re not isolated and separate, but completely connected to everyone and everything. This is the birth of unity consciousness.True enlightenment is different from an intellectual understanding that all is one, or even the occasional glimpse of the interconnectedness of the universe. Achieving perpetual unity consciousness is a monumental transformation of every dimension of awareness that can require energy, time, and courage.

Although the enlightened state of the seers and prophets, including Jesus Christ and Buddha, may seem far out of reach for most of us, we always have the potential to expand our awareness of our true spiritual nature and the inseparability of all things. The journey toward enlightenment in itself offers innumerable gifts. As we become aware of the underlying spirit that connects all things, we realize that even the smallest events have great meaning.

lalithareddy | Student

People that attain enlightenment are know as Arahunts. Arahunts are enlightened by following the teachings of Buddha (aka Dhamma) to dissolve their ego. Hence, without the Dhamma, the Arahunts do not have the constructs to attain enlightenment.

A Buddha is being that contemplates suffering and discovers through insight the practices to end all suffering. This practice is described through the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the precepts, karma and rebirth, meditation and teachings documented in the dhammapada. Thus, the Buddha creates the Dhamma as a path for others to follow.