I came across a quote from the fictional author Jed McKenna today, where he said that “Buddhism had produced plenty of Buddhists, but no Buddhas.” I thought it was interesting to debate, because on the one hand the sutras are full of monks becoming arhats, but on the other very few of them become full-fledged teachers in their own right.
You would almost say that in order to truly become a Buddha-like teacher, it would be necessary for a Buddhist to step outside the mantle of buddhism, otherwise you would always be needing to adhere to the teachings of the historical Buddha. As an example take Adyashanti, who was a student of Zen before he started to teach as an independent spiritual teacher, saying “the Truth I point to is not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, but is open to all and found within all.”
Personally, I think that any truly enlightened person is going to produce a different and unique view on the world. I am beginning to suspect that “enlightenment by recipe” leads to something much more sedate, like a Buddhist teacher steeped in learning. The best of them, like Atisha, produce a few gems which are treasured down the ages, but not a whole new movement.