Saturday, November 13, 2010

If You See The Buddha, Kill Him

For 300 years after Buddha's death there were no Buddha images. The people's practice was the image of the Buddha, there was no need to externalize it. But in time, as the practice was lost, people began to place the Buddha outside of their own minds, back in time and space. As the concept was externalized and images were made, great teachers started to reemphasize the other meaning of Buddha. There is a saying: "If you see the Buddha, kill him." Very shocking to people who offer incense and worship before an image. If you have a concept in the mindof a Buddha outside yourself, kill it, let it go. . . . Gotama Buddha repeatedly reminded people that the experience of truth comes from one's own mind.

It actually comes from an old koan attributed to Zen Master Linji, (the founder of the Rinzai sect). It’s a simple one... If you meet the Buddha, kill him.‚

Whatever your conception is of the Buddha, it’s WRONG! Now kill that image and keep practicing. This all has to do with the idea that reality is an impermanent illusion. If you believe that you have a correct image of what it means to be Enlightened, then you need to throw out (kill) that image and keep meditating.

(Buddha quote: Rahula, Walpola. "What The Buddha Taught." Grove Press, New York, 1959. Pg. 11.)

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