Friday, December 22, 2006

Not Killing the Buddha When You Meet Him

“Followers of the Way, if you wish to see this Dharma clearly, do not let yourselves be deceived. Whether you turn to the outside or to the inside, whatever you encounter, kill it. If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha; if you meet the patriarchs, kill the patriarchs; if you meet Arhats, kill Arhats; if you meet your parents, kill your parents; if you meet your relatives, kill your relatives; then for the first time you will see clearly. And if you do not depend on things, there is deliverance, there is freedom!” (Zen Teaching of Rinzai, pp. 43-44)

This outrageous statement was made in the 9th century by the Chinese Buddhist teacher Lin-chi. The purpose of this statement was not to encourage homicide, or even worse, parricide or buddhacide. Lin-chi was challenging the complacency and fixations of his disciples. He was challenging them to get past their daydreams of enlightenment and their dependence on custom, ceremony and traditional piety so that they could see the Dharma directly for themselves.

--Clinging to the Buddha by Ryuei Michael McCormick

I would never have guessed that one of my blogging nemesis, Ken Blanchard, at S.D. Politics, was also interested in Buddhism and is a practitioner of zazen. We have both been on each other's shit about stuff. He's a conservative, I'm a liberal.

But we've come to appreciate the work of the other. And now, I find out he too is interested in "The Way."

I didn't expect to see the Buddha in Ken. But yet, there he is. The Buddha is a cagey fellow, full of surprises.

So, in this instance, I will not "kill the Buddha when I meet him (or one of his fellow babies)," but I will say "hmmmm" and embrace him (ok, not literally, but figuratively.)

Ken, I bow to the Buddha in you.

1 comment:

"James" said...

Another way of saying, "kill the Buddha" is, "ditch the raft" once you've crossed the stream.