Dear Stuart Resnick,
My name is └lex Miranda and I am currently studying at St Paul's School, Barcelona, and I just finished 1st of Bachillerato. During the next three months I will be working on my Research Project which is about what would have happened if the most influential people in history hadn't existed.
I know that you are an expert in the field of Buddha and I would like to ask if you could give me your opinion on what would have happened if Buddha had not existed, what the consequences would have been or how society would have been different.
Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Buddha was an ordinary man. He saw the suffering of the world, and made a strong decision to dedicate all his time and effort to understanding himself, understanding the world, and using whatever he found to help all beings.
Buddha was nothing special, since every one of us, without exception, can do the same thing. At any moment, we can ask "What am I?", we can try to see the present moment clearly (just as it is), and we can choose to use each situation to help others.
The historical Buddha can be a nice inspiration, a reminder of a life-direction available to us all. Just about anything can be an inspiration, depending on our intention. So if the historical Buddha had never existed, it would make no difference at all. Each of us has our own job, our own challenge to meet this moment with clarity and compassion. Our job isn't dependent on the existence of anyone else.