What does the phrase "If you meet the Buddha in a road, kill him" mean?

I can't understand what this means. This actually is a Buddhist saying, not an anti-Buddhist one.

18 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    My understanding is that it's more an admonition not to worship the Buddha. It's not an actual call to kill him (since killing is wrong in Buddhism), but rather to jar you into realizing the Buddha is no different from you.

  • 6 years ago

    It means that you are still very unenlightened, since the Buddha needs to be inside oneself, not outside -- it's the ego projecting what the Buddha means and represents onto another. If you "see" the Buddha, the unseen, you have a long ways to go!

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually, it's "If you meet the Buddha 'on the' road, kill him". The meaning is that life and death are the same. Whether the Buddha is living or dead makes no difference, because all is enclosed within the eternal 'now'.

  • It's a kōan. It's for like, during meditation if you meet the Buddha on your spiritual "road" to awakening, then you are thinking about him. This is a distraction and a preconception of the Buddha so you must destroy it.

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  • 7 years ago

    I'm aware this thread is ancient, but for the benefit of those who may be directed here in the future:

    I think the more accurate answer is that when one thinks he or she has found "The Answer" (symbolized by the Buddha) he has missed the point that Enlightenment a transient impermanent path and he or she is obviously in error and must do away with his false image of self righteousness.

  • 1 decade ago

    It's symbolic, not literal.

    I believe it's from the Zen tradition.

    Zen Buddhists believe any attachment is negative. Labeling things distort them. They believe in making silence within the mind, not in attaching to concepts and doctrines. (They are a lot like Taoists in this regard. Zen and Tao were very influenced by one another).

    So if you encounter the Buddha, or what you think is the Buddha, don't attach to that either.

    Discard it. Make way for the void.

    (The Taoists use the metaphor of the vase: A vase is useful when it is empty. Then it can carry things when needed.)

  • 7 years ago

    If you meet the Buddha as a discrete "person" then s/he is just another manifestation of your own ego. Like all such illusions it must be "killed."

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Kill any Buddha who is not you. We all have Buddha nature.

  • 5 years ago

    Do not let yourself become a blind follower of any mystic, Buddha, Mohamed or JC.

  • 6 years ago

    It means you are your own Buddha. Beware of gurus.

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