If the Parinirvana of Buddhas is
the end of re-manifestations to help more beings,
they would not be ones with perfect compassion…
Parinirvana is just the end of physical imperfections;
it is not the end of spiritual perfections.
— Stonepeace | Get Books
Now the question of what happens to a buddha when he ‘dies’ takes us to the heart of Buddhist philosophical thinking. Here Buddhist thought suggests that we must be very careful indeed about what we say, about how we use language, lest we become fooled. The Buddha cannot be [conventionally] reborn in some new form of existence, for to exist is, by definition, to exist at some particular time and in some particular place and so be part of the unstable world of conditions.
If we say that the Buddha exists, then the round of rebirth continues for the Buddha and the quest for an end to suffering has not been completed. On the other hand, to say that the Buddha simply does not exist is to suggest that the Buddhist quest for happiness amounts to nothing but the destruction of the individual being — something which is specifically denied in the texts. (Majjhima Nikaya i. 140) Here the strict formulation of Buddhist texts is this: one cannot say that the Buddha exists after death, one cannot say that he does not exists, and one cannot say that he both exists and does not exist. (e.g. Samyutta Nikaya i. 380-4)
One cannot say more here without exploring certain other aspects of Buddhist metaphysics and ontology… The important point is that a Buddha is understood as a being who has in some way transcended and gone beyond the round of rebirth. He is a Tathagata, one who, in accordance with the profoundest way of things, has come ‘thus’ (tatha) and gone ‘thus’. [Sumangala-Vilasin 59-67 gives an elaborate traditional explanation of Tathagata, see Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), The Discourse on the All-Embracing Net of Views: The Brahmajala Sutta and its Commentaries (Kandy, 1978), 331-4.]
The Foundations of Buddhism
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