Assuming that in a hypothetical multitude of so-called "enlightened masters", a future Buddha would actually arise and we were alive at that time, how would we be able to recognize him? The question could also be valid for acknowledging an Arahant or any enlightened person not necessarily a Samma Sambuddha, but would be much more interesting to answer it in the context of just before a new Sangha is formed, assuming a person declared that the Dhamma has been discovered again.

2 Answers 2


the teaching of a perfectly enlightened being would be always in line with the three marks of existence, the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. in other words, an arahant or a buddha would be completely and permanently objective and selfless and with no other interest than what is conducive to suffering (dukkha), what is the common cause of all suffering (dukkha samudaya), what is the absence of suffering (dukkha nirodha) and what is the method for attaining the absence of suffering (dukkha nirodha gamini patipada).

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    thank you for the comment, it makes sense to use the essence of the Dhamma as a filter, since it is timeless. and especially when compared to other teachings where personal and relative views are encouraged, while the correct doctrine should be completely objective and absolutely selfless in both its expression and its pursuit, agreed.
    – Minerva
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 2:30
  • the word 'ehipassiko' does not mean 'timeless'. in respect to time, the word means 'without delay' or 'immediately effective'. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 3:01
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    no one seems to have mentioned it, but since you bring it up, actually, ehipassiko means "come and see", from the verb passati. it is the quality of Buddha Dhamma that invites to scrutiny, investigation and direct experience.
    – john-doe
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 3:19

The Dhamma cannot be discovered by a new Buddha again while the Pali Suttas remain existing in the world & known to humanity. The Suttas (MN 115) say there can only be one Buddha in a world system. A new Buddha can only arise when the Dhamma has been undiscovered or has been lost. The Suttas say:

Mendicants, whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles... A Realized One understands this and comprehends it, then he explains, teaches, asserts, establishes, clarifies, analyzes and reveals it...

AN 3.136 & SN 12.20

Since most Buddhists, let alone most people, have not understood the Pali Suttas over the last 2,600 years; it is unlikely if a future Buddha were to arise, most people would acknowledge him as perfectly enlightened. Instead, most Buddhists & most people would regard fakes as perfectly enlightened. This appears why most Buddhist take refuge in all of the myriad gurus, commentators & scholars.

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    thank you for the attempt at answering, but it is contradictory and imprecise. firstly, can the Dhamma be lost or does it persist? your statement is contradicted by your quote. secondly, the last Buddha rejected the scriptures of his time, so their existence is not relevant. and lastly, the Pali Canon is believed to have been compiled some 500 years after the passing away of Buddha. the purpose of the question was to provide an explanation for how could an enlightened being be identified as such, even an Arahant if not a Buddha.
    – Minerva
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 1:44
  • Of course the Dhamma can be unknown or lost to humanity, which is why the quote says a Realized One reveals it... Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 1:50
  • the title has been modified for more precision with regard to the purpose of the question
    – Minerva
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 1:54
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    it is still unclear why one would mention the existence of scriptures as an argument in this regard. didn't the Buddha reject the Vedas? and in this regard, was he not seen as an outlaw by the scholars of the time ?
    – Minerva
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 2:34
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    the Vedas are not the Pali Suttas. Your comments here appear to support my answer, that now, today, there are people who cannot identify what Buddhism really is; therefore they won't know a Buddha when a Buddha arises. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 3:03

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