BuddhasIn Theravada doctrine, a person may awaken from the "sleep of ignorance" by directly realizing the true nature of reality; such people are called arahants and occasionally buddhas. After numerous lifetimes of spiritual striving, they have reached the end of the cycle of rebirth, no longer reincarnating as human, animal, ghost, or other being.

They are classified into three types:
1. Sammasambuddha, usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others.
2. Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others.
3. Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha.
In the Mahayana doctorine, the Buddha tends not to be viewed as merely human, but as the earthly projection of a beginningless, endless and omnipresent who is beyond the range and reach of thought.
Celestial Buddhas are individuals who no longer exist on the material plane of existence, but who still aid in the enlightenment of all beings.
Nirvana came to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nirvana. Bodhi became a higher attainment that eradicate delusion entirely.

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