In other words, to what extent does your practice depend on the existence of the historical Buddha?
I tried to post this earlier this morning but FreeSangha at my homework. Here's the short version;I have some friends whom I trust and respect (http://senshin.dk). These friends have never lied to me but their ways sometimes confuse me. For instance, they insist they are from a place called Denmark. I have never been to Denmark and I have no physical evidence that Denmark exists. All I have to rely on is the testimony of my friends, some recordings of the very vowelly Danish language, some butter and furniture and shoes that may have been designed by people from Denmark, some comments from Hamlet on the subject of rot: nothing hard and fast.However, I have also come to understand that there is a way for me to see Denmark first hand. I will need to apply myself diligently to the task of swimming, sailing, or flying (three vehicles...); I may have to accept some formal practices that seem a bit bureaucratic; I may have to accept a temporary layover in an implausible bardo state such as Iceland or, worse, Heathrow; and I have to accept that my friends know the way. In short, I need to trust people who have more first-hand knowledge than I have, and I need to trust the guidebooks they suggest to me. Since I have an open invitation to visit Denmark and see for myself, what do I have to lose if I try?Buddhahood is like Denmark in this analogy. (Danish readers: Find a different analogy.) It is not something you can get a handle on in ordinary terms. You need to experience it first hand, and in order to experience it, you need to put some trust in your guide and your friends. You have to take a chance on it. This means you must admit that you don't have all the answers before you start to learn. Beginner's mind! And as it happens, you will find as you proceed that you had the potential in you all along to visit this Denmark place, that Denmark is fundamentally the same place you have always been all along.you can get the total burrito here at the blog.http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2010/08/buddhism-with-no-buddha.html
The foundations of Mahayana, on the other hand, are steeped in mythology about secret teachings and gods and nagas, and the historical Buddha's life story is already regarded as an illusion conjured up for the sake of unenlightened beings -- he only "appeared" to grow up in the royal palace, only appeared to be seeking enlightenment, etc. So if none of it turned out to be literally true, why would it matter?