According to Buddhist tradition, many Buddhas and Bodhisattva are said to have come to this World at different times to help the people of their time to realize their spiritual goals. If only one Buddha or Bodhisattva could have helped all the human being seeking enlightenment through the ages, there would have no reason for a second Buddha or Bodhisattva to come to this World. We know that patients of today cannot receive treatment from past physicians, however proficient they may have been.
Likewise the spiritual seekers of different times can obtain help and guidance only from the Buddha or Bodhisattva of their own time.
People always need practical training in the discipline and active guidance in their spiritual practice. All this necessitates a continuous chain of living teacher and disciples. As Patrul Rinpoche says:
“Every meditation practice and training for the mind is passed on from teacher to student, and then internalized till it becomes an integral part of that’s person personal experience. A truly qualified spiritual teacher must have actually attained realization, this lineage has been passed on unbroken, from one realized teacher to the next, until the present day.”
Buddhism clearly indicates that the spiritual path or Dharma is not the invention or the creation of a particular Buddha. The Dharma is ancient and eternal. Gautam Buddha only discovered it and then taught it to others so that, by following it, they also could realize what he himself had realized. Many Buddha came before him and many will come in the future.
Thus the spiritual path of Dharma not dependent on any particular Master, and no master claims to create or reinvent a new path or Dharma. The Buddha clearly says:
“I have, monks, seen an ancient path, an ancient way traveled by Enlightened Ones of former times.“