Is the Buddha the Creator?

No. Orthodox Buddhism does not have the idea of a world-creator. The Buddha is an enlightened one among humans, and although he is capable of knowing all the truths in the world, he cannot change what has already occurred. And although the Buddha can help all sentient beings reach liberation, only those who make efforts can succeed. He is the best doctor to diagnose sentient beings’ suffering: anybody who takes his prescriptions will be delivered (released from adversity). But he cannot help those who are unwilling to take his medicine. He is the best guide: anyone who follows his guidelines will be liberated from the world’s sea of suffering. But he cannot help those who do not take his advice.

The Buddha never thought of himself as a creator, and he never wanted his believers merely to worship him in rituals. Anyone who lives his teachings has truly seen him and is paying him the highest respect. Otherwise, one has not truly seen the Buddha, even if he or she personally greeted him in ancient India. So we see that the Buddha is not the Creator, nor is he an omnipotent, sovereign God.

Rather, the Buddha is only an instructor who teaches people the methods to relieve themselves of suffering and gain happiness. The Buddha himself has done this, but he cannot do it for us. He is a great educator, the teacher of gods and humans, not a magician or an illusionist. He didn’t claim that he could “redeem people’s sins,” and he insisted that we are responsible for our own conduct and the consequences it brings, just like the old Chinese proverb says: “If you plant squash, you will harvest squash; if you plant beans, you will harvest beans.”

--Orthodox Chinese Buddhism, P.20

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