Let’s briefly explore how the Supreme has appeared through the ages in various traditions. In the Bible, God is the all-powerful, loving father. He appeared as a burning bush to enlighten Moses, as a pillar of fire to save the Israelites from pharaoh’s army, as a thunderous voice to proclaim the Ten Commandments, and, allegorically, as a youthful lover in the Old Testament book, Song of Songs. In the New Testament he appears through Jesus Christ, who through his teachings and sacrifice showered infinite grace on the world. In the Holy Koran he is Allah, the Supremely Great and Merciful One who manifested his message of truth through the Prophet Muhammad.
In the Vedas, written in Sanskrit, he is called Vishnu, or Krishna, the transcendent, all-knowing Lord of all beings, who by infinite kindness incarnates into the material world again and again. Each descent of the One God is called an avatar (meaning “one who descends”). These same ancient scriptures foresaw the descent of the Buddha; Buddha is considered an avatar of the Supreme Being come specifically to personify compassion toward all beings.