Q80. What did ancient masters mean when saying, “Kill the Buddha”?

A. It is from the well-known saying in Zen, “If you want to see the Buddha, kill him if you should meet him.”
It means that you should break away the illusion of a thing when it comes to you if you are to see the essence of it. Most people have images of the Buddha although they have never seen him. It is indeed a very good example of an illusion. Illusions die hard because we are highly addicted to them, so masters employed strong language like that in order to put emphasis on eliminating illusions.

Bronze Bhudda_a_thumb

Likewise, if you are to see the essence of you, you should remove the image of you. The very typical image of you is your body, and I can tell you to kill yourself to convey my meaning that you should remove your established image of yourself, instead of telling you to ask yourself what you are when your body is not you. So “Kill the Buddha” mentioned above, means to perfectly remove the illusion of a thing in order to see the essence of it.

©Boo Ahm

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