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 zenandtheartof
Joined: 3/2/2006
Msg: 1
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
Does anyone have any insight on this famous zen quote? Buddhist, non-buddhist opinions welcome.
 twobits45
Joined: 12/4/2005
Msg: 2
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 10:03:05 AM
There's an old saying, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

Who's that Buddha? What does it mean to "meet" the Buddha? What does killing the Buddha imply?

The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, on attaining enlightenment, is said to have realized that all beings, just as they are, are Buddhas. If that's so, meeting a Buddha on the road should be a pretty commonplace event! So should being a Buddha on the road! But that's where the word "meeting" comes in. It implies encountering something or someone outside or other than oneself. We all come to practice carrying around images or ideals of who we should be and what we imagine a Teacher or Buddha should look like. And we may chase after individuals that for a while seem like they live up to our image, ignore those who do not, and generally treat ourselves with contempt for not living up to the standards set by our imaginary inner "Buddha." All this may keep us pretty busy, but it has nothing to do with real practice, which is an awareness of who and what we actually are, not the pursuit of some ideal of who we think we should be. So "killing the Buddha" means killing or wiping out this fantasy image, and "the road" is two fold: the road outside where we look outside ourselves for the ones who have all the answers, and the inner mind road, where we set up all the "shoulds" we must obey to turn ourselves into the Buddhas we don't believe we already are, but think we must become.

http://www.ordinarymind.com/koan_killing.html
 zentral
Joined: 10/30/2005
Msg: 3
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If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 10:36:01 AM
There is no self. There is no other. Self and other are dualistic - which is illusion. All things "inter-are" - the principle of inter-being.

We cannot "meet" the Buddha - we are the Buddha. On the road is, perhaps, the road to enlightenment, which implies we have not realized it (achieved it?) because we are still on the path. But the concept of Buddha and non-Buddha is dualistic, so kill the concept and return to oneness.
 defenestrate_me
Joined: 2/16/2006
Msg: 4
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If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 10:41:01 AM

Does anyone have any insight on this famous zen quote? Buddhist, non-buddhist opinions welcome.

If you meet Buddha on the road then kill him, because it is a fake Buddha, because the real Buddha is inside you.
 zenandtheartof
Joined: 3/2/2006
Msg: 5
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 12:08:17 PM
Outstanding gentleman, top notch but isn't there more.............
 sidheanwwyn
Joined: 12/13/2004
Msg: 6
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 4:04:49 PM
part of the point behind the saying is that you must seek inside for your own answers, because your truth will not be the same as someone else's. it is not enough to know the buddha's teachings - you must find your own path to enlightenment.
 nightlord
Joined: 1/24/2006
Msg: 7
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 5:55:00 PM
OR, it could be interpreted as such.
Buddah, the being who has found perfect enlightenment. Therefore, if someone you pass on your travels claims to be this "Perfect" being, kill him. If you can't, you have therefore found the perfect being. Otherwise, he'll die just like the rest of us and you won't have to worry about following a fake god. :)
 sidheanwwyn
Joined: 12/13/2004
Msg: 8
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 8:54:20 PM
nightlord - uh, no. not even close.
 nightlord
Joined: 1/24/2006
Msg: 9
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/8/2006 9:21:53 PM
^^
Uh... were you there?
Neither was I... interpret it your way, and -I- mine.
 dorkfully geekalicious
Joined: 1/14/2006
Msg: 10
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/10/2006 6:38:22 PM
I don't think the word 'kill' in this saying should be taken literally as buddhists are non-violent. And that's all I have to say right now cause I lost my train of thought :/


Ok I got it back haha

Buddha is total enlightenment right? The top level..there is nothing higher right? Well, if while walking down the road (road meaning your internal road [I hope you get what I mean because the word wont' come out right]) and you think you have come upon the buddha (the end, the highest level) kill it (that thought) because then you will stop learning about yourself and everything around you. You'll stop being open minded and peaceful and will become greedy and close minded and all the things opposite what a buddhist is.

Wow I sure hope that makes sense..it does in my head but I think it may have lost a lot when it came out my fingers haha
 froggywoggle
Joined: 5/4/2006
Msg: 11
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/10/2006 8:51:49 PM
While I am not a buddhist, I appreciate buddhism, because of it's internal intellectual struggle. I like the obscurantism.

You've probably got a good bit of it right there. What point is there in searching for the ultimate, the greatest thing, if you meet it then either (a) it isn't the greatest thing ever, or (b) the rest of your life is going to be an epilogue, and this moment is the last good thing that will ever happen to you.

Kind of like, if you could *KNOW* that today is the last day you will ever be happy. Today you will kiss someone, and wish you could be with that person the rest of your life, and unfortunately, you'll never meet that person ever again, and you'll never fall in love. You'll never read another book that makes you weep. You'll never watch another movie and feel the stirring of something within you that says *YES* that is what makes life worth living.

From today forward, you will follow the course of your boring little life, and nothing interesting or new will ever happen to you. You will watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset at least 100 more times in this life, but that's as close to real sparks as you'll ever get.

Also, you should try to kill the buddha, because if you do, you get a +12 Rod of Smiting. Wicked.


-Warren-
 zenandtheartof
Joined: 3/2/2006
Msg: 12
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/11/2006 1:36:52 PM
Awesome answers everyone, everyone has gained insight from that quote and my favorite part is that most of you have put your own understanding to it not just repeating someone else's words. I guess I will share my own understanding it may end up being long winded but I will do my best.

Firstly it must be understood that a Practioner of Zen has no use for anything outside the realm of his own experience. To sit and practice and learn of himself and his own being is the way of satori. While on this path a thosand and one distractions will arise, feelings of, oneness with exsistence, emptiness, fear, enlightenment or buddhahood. To become that which you are (which is not Buddha it is simlpy you!) one must drop all the inauthentic things inside of you to see things as they really are, not as you would like see them. This process has nothing to do with buddha even though he can point the way, you must make the journey yourself.

This Koan has several meanings that are important in my practice: If I met Buddha on my travels and he spoke his wisdon to me and I heard it fully, I would become enamoured with its wisdom and that would be the end of my practice and the begining of the worship of buddha. Secondly a pre-occupation with Buddhahood or enlightenment may arise and that very desire will become a stumbling block to my awakeining. So for my practice to continue the death everything else that isn't authentically me including the teachings of buddha must occur.
 sidheanwwyn
Joined: 12/13/2004
Msg: 13
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/11/2006 3:42:58 PM
zen is only the finger pointing at the moon. it is not the moon, and cannot bring the moon down.
 mizladyluck
Joined: 1/6/2006
Msg: 14
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 5/11/2006 6:48:49 PM

Who's that Buddha? What does it mean to "meet" the Buddha? What does killing the Buddha imply?[\unquote]


Sounds like the Crucifiction. Sounds like a questionable patent.
 Midwest Man
Joined: 1/21/2007
Msg: 15
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/25/2007 9:07:41 PM
In this statement Buddha is being used as a figure of speech. Even the Buddha would teach "Follow your own heart."

I am doing a study on cults, and this statement is referring to Charismatic leaders, political groups, self-help gurus.

Read the books
1) Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless by Steve Salerno
2) One Nation Under Therapy by Christina Hoff Sommers

Trust you head and heart....In other words: "You be the judge."
 cagliostro
Joined: 4/30/2006
Msg: 16
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/25/2007 11:04:52 PM
The saying is a form of Zen koan - the purpose of these is to lead one towards enlightenment. This is the reason they are nonsensical and contradictory, hence "show me your face before you were born" or similar.

The structure is such that the logical (ie non-Buddha mind) will struggle to rationalize and 'explain' the saying, to 'bring it under control'. On meditating on these koans the mind will struggle - sometimes for years - to make sense of it. At some point something may 'click' and the mind will 'collapse' - therefore the answer to a koan given to one's master can be anything - a slap, a laugh, a scream - or nothing at all. The master will know when you are speaking from non-mind.

So such sayings must be meditated on and not attempted to be 'explained' - I think the OP knows this and is posing a 'trick question' and mostly everyone has fallen into the trap and is trying to 'explain' it. This is not wrong, incorrect or a mistake; it is normal and as it should be.

The question is not whether one is 'right' (for we are all 'wrong') but whether we are using it as a tool to reach enlightenment or not. and then again we don't have to. We can do what we like with it.
 cagliostro
Joined: 4/30/2006
Msg: 17
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/25/2007 11:31:50 PM
Following from the idea of koans I mentioned above, it is interesting that all systems of 'enlightenment' or human development (a term that is preferable I think)make use of such mechanisms.

Personally I am involved in Sufism and we have a tradition with a figure called Mulla Nasrudin who embodies this nonsensical/contradictory aspect. He is at once both enlightened and an utter fool and one is supposed to meditate on his stories. Here is one where you will see a similarity to a koan:


Nasrudin sat on a river bank when someone shouted to him from the opposite side:
"Hey! how do I get across?"
"You are across!" Nasrudin shouted back.
The man on the other side sat puzzled.


Also sometimes they are 'scandalous' in the sense of the 'kill Buddha' one:


Mulla Nasrudin had been calling on his girlfriend for over a year. One evening the girl's father stopped him as he was leaving and asked, "Look here, young man, you have been seeing my daughter for a year now, and I would like to know whether your intentions are honorable or dishonorable?" Nasrudin's face lit up. "Do you mean to say, sir," he said, "That I have a choice?"

===============

Mulla Nasrudin's mother, worrying about her son's safety, said to him: "Didn't I say you should not let that girl come over to your room last night? You know how things like that worry me." "But I didn't invite her to my room," said Nasrudin. "I went over to her room. Now you can let her mother do the worrying."


Wiki on Nasrudin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasreddin

Collection of some of the stories:

http://nasrudin.wordpress.com/

Another idea: imo, many orthodox religions contain ideas and beliefs which are in fact also 'koans' but have been taken literally. Many of these have become articles of dogma but many are also in the Qur'an and Bible - the story of Solomon and the baby and many sayings of Jesus as well as the Qur'anic 'Satanic Verses' for example - imo, these have all been deliberately out there.

Certainly in the case of the Qur'an, Muhammad said that every verse has a hidden inner meaning apart from the literal. One might also cite Hassidic Jewish tales in regard to this also.
 Love_on_fire
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 18
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/25/2007 11:59:15 PM
What this means, is that anything that relates to an intellectual understanding or perception of something such a dogma or reading something or even the concept of something, does not do justice to the REAL experiance. So what that Koan said (sarcastically like they all do) is, if you see the buddha, don't get caught up in him and what he said as a doctrine, but rather try to have a direct experiance of it in yourself and make it happen by itself. If you go too much by what " he said" or " she said" that will throw you off, because you want to focus internally and not get caught up in what a specific person says when it comes to being the be all end all of your enlightenment experiance.

So for example , if you are meditating and you are in real deep meditation, and you feel you are being more awake and all, the last thing you want is for someone to come up to you , and interrupt you and say "hey....I just have to say ....you shouldn't do it like that.....instead do it like this....."

Does that seem clear.? That is something to avoid. You continue with your meditation and realize enlightenment personally and don't rely on any legalistic instruction or let alone commands from someone else on this matter and in this context.

"Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass."

-Dogen

"Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."
-Dogen



 AwP
Joined: 12/31/2006
Msg: 19
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If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/26/2007 12:43:04 AM

This Koan has several meanings that are important in my practice: If I met Buddha on my travels and he spoke his wisdon to me and I heard it fully, I would become enamoured with its wisdom and that would be the end of my practice and the begining of the worship of buddha. Secondly a pre-occupation with Buddhahood or enlightenment may arise and that very desire will become a stumbling block to my awakeining. So for my practice to continue the death everything else that isn't authentically me including the teachings of buddha must occur.


This is closest to how I see it, it's about breaking attachment. If one was walking down the road and met Buddha (the real original one), one would be tempted to follow him around and try to absorb his wisdom. Trying to absorb someone elses wisdom, even Buddha's, would make it more difficult to awaken your own. Much like zenandtheartof said.
 UrbanX
Joined: 10/26/2006
Msg: 20
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 1/26/2007 4:33:02 PM
Buddha had a remarkable effect on poultry. They avoided him. If he's standing in the road, the chickens cannot cross, and humour as we know it would end.

As humour is essential to Buddhism and enlightenment in general, the obvious answer is to kill him.

Cheers,
Mike (If only one man laughs in a crowded room, did anything funny happen at all?)
 ultimatrix
Joined: 1/12/2009
Msg: 21
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 2/16/2009 8:29:56 AM
All interesting takes on a koan I thought I had figured out...I understood this to mean that idolatry in any form is antithetical to Buddhist tradition (I am lumping them all together). Anyone claiming to be the Buddha is not revealing truth, but instead distracting you from the pursuit of it. Of course, I don't believe the 'killing' is literal, because this too is antithetical to what I understand Buddhism to be about.
I am an (informal) Buddhist, and on the daily Buddhism thread to which I belong, someone posted an interesting question. They do not believe in reincarnation, nor nirvana and asked if they can still be considered a Buddhism. I would be interested in anyone's opinion on this issue.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 22
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If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 2/17/2009 6:18:48 AM
No-one genuinely says they are your friend. If you are friends, they show it in everything they do, and it's obvious to both of you. If someone says "We're friends, aren't we? Lend us a tenner", they usually aren't your friend, in that they want a tenner, but have no intention of giving it back.

No-one genuinely claims to be Buddha. If they are Buddha-like, enlightened, then they don't NEED to tell you. They live enlightened. It shows in everything they do, and it's obvious. If someone says "I'm Buddha. So trust me that I have your best interests at heart. Give me your all money for it will enlighten you. Have sex with me for it will enlighten you", they are not Buddha, because they have no intention of enlightening you. They just want to scam you.

Such people will take everything you have, and then leave you with nothing. They will not stop until you are so weak, you cannot hope to wreak vengeance on them, even in the future. But they cannot do that, without leaving you destitute, with no life to live, not now, not in the future. They want to take your life. What is more, they want to take everyone else's lives too. They are a blight on humanity.

With such people, mercy is an evil to them, for they store up a level of karma that, when it will eventually come back to haunt them, will be of a size so big, that they cannot possibly hope to rectify it, without several years of hard effort and suffering. To even give such people an inch, is to enable them, and that will bring them terrible pains when their karma finally comes back on them. For such people, real mercy is tough love. Kill what they consider to be themselves, their terrible desire to con people out of everything they have, and leave them for dead.

When you meet (someone who claims to be the Buddha), (know that he is your mortal enemy and know that the best thing you can do for him is to) kill him (not literally, but push him hard, that he does not con you, and that he is dissuaded from conning others, for his sake as much as the world's).
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 23
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 2/17/2009 10:56:45 AM
I am not a Buddhist, but lately I've been farting around and looking at some of Buddhisms teachings. I get the impression the point of the saying is to assert that you can't reach enlightenment on a path that is still shackled by preconceptions.
You could probably think of it as 'If you see Buddha on your path, destroy him.'
I have no certainty on that though.

His teachings seemed to help condition the mind to destroy our preconceptions of everything. Probably to help one to know the uncreated. There is no creator god in Buddhism. Existence is considered to be auspicious by nature, because the uncreated is obligated to create form.

There lies that which cannot be, yet there can be no other... this generates the frequency.
Gone, gone, gone beyond. Gone completely beyond. An awakening, so be it.
Aaooommm.
Namu, namu, namu, namu!

Ignore me. I'm full of sausage.
 VVendy
Joined: 6/7/2008
Msg: 24
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 2/22/2009 7:39:46 PM
Truth is truth and the truth is if you are on the path and you turn back you are not worthy and should die. To meet yourself you must have come to the piont of turning it is only by dieing that you can continue. Paul said "I die daily" I am Christian not Buddist but Sidhartha and Jesus spoke a lot of the same things I went with Jesus only because I believe in His path more.
 JoyfilledJoanie
Joined: 8/29/2008
Msg: 25
If you meet Buddha on the road kill him?
Posted: 2/26/2009 9:39:15 PM
That was the title of a book about psychiatry
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