When I first met this monk I studied with, I would ask him a thousand questions a minute and he would often respond by give me assignments rather than just answering my questions directly.
I hated it but he has this insane ability to make you do anything for him so I diligently did the work even while I wasn’t happy about it.
One of my early assignments was to understand who the Buddha was.
I recently came across my email to him and it was pages long explaining the history and timeline of The Buddha. I was cocky in my approach, believing I had done so well.
I got a short response. “No. Try again. But first let me point you in the right direction. Buddha is often misunderstood as the name of the historical figure we all think of when we hear the word, but this is not.
Buddha is a principle, not a person.
Buddha actually means “awake.” When The Buddha was asked, “Are you a god?” Gautama, the person who became a buddha, replied, “No.” “Then what are you?” when asked again. Gautama’s answer “I am awake.”