Because everyone has to be their own Buddha.

How paradoxical to attempt the slaying of a man who wished harm on no one, and yet, it is very much in alignment with what I understand about Buddhism. Bear with me here; I'm not an expert.

In the Kalama Sutta Buddha says, "Do not accept anything because it comes from the mouth of a respected person. Rather, observe closely and if it is to the benefit of all, accept and abide by it." Buddhism is a spiritual path that most in the Judeo Christian faith find difficult to understand. Buddhism really doesn't follow any belief structure as stringent as that of Christianity or Islam.

The Buddha taught that you were supposed to free yourself from the shackles of what you have been led to believe is true and accept that which you understand from empirical knowledge. Buddhism is built upon observation and the rebuttal of faith in tradition. The Judeo-Christian sects are built upon blind faith in the face of observed events. You would never catch a Buddhist handling a poisonous snake to prove his piety.

Zen Master Lin Chi spoke thus, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet a Patriarch, kill the Patriarch." Lin Chi isn't condoning murder, he is using a metaphor to explain the nature of Buddhism. Don't believe what some one says, no matter how holy they are, just because they say it. Listen to their words and then explore them yourself.... Kill Buddha.

Dae Kwang "Kill the Buddha" 1997, Providence Zen Center,

Will was walking the long way to class on a chilled September day when he happened upon some construction work. The men in their blue collar work clothes were making way for underground steam pipes and thus were moving tons of dirt out of a long and narrow channel about five feet deep.

Slowing his pace a bit, Will observed their work, noting the raw power required to lift out the piles of dirt and rock. The men paid him no attention, and continued to haul the dirt from the channel. He watched as the bulldozer they controlled dug, lifted, and emptied over and over at their command. But then he saw it: BUDA... It had haunted his nights of meditation, and crept in upon him now in the bright of day. The behemoth, the bulldozer, had emblazoned on its side the name, BUDA, and here he was on the road, meeting the strange beast. One thought seared through him--I must kill it! He paused, started to turn, and then, a moment of clarity--he returned to his path. Not the Buddha, not the Buddha...

How fascinatingly similar -- in both its content and its common misunderstanding -- to "God is Dead." In both cases, it's not the entity but the idea that is being "killed." The violent imagery is appropriate for some people and distracting for others, but the message is an interesting one:

The existence of a holy figure is less important than the story. And the other side of that, which is to say that destroying the story is an act of violence equal to killing the actual god.

Well. Hm.

More so even, The spirit of the statement "Kill the Buddha" cuts straight to the heart of Buddhist philosophy. Namely, in that pondering the nature of the infinite leads the ponderer to a point of catharsis where reason and logic no longer apply.

The truth of reality, that all religion strives for, is this:

God is infinite, by definition, and therefore cannot be defined. Reference C.S. Lewis, and I paraphrase; "If my mind could hold the concept of the definition of God, who defines the universe in which we live, God would be definable by a finite mind. This paradox would render the infinite wonder of the universe impossible." Put a face on God, and you have ruined you chances of understanding it. If you picture God as a wizened old bearded man on a shining throne, you have defined it in terms your finite mind can understand, and you are therefore mistaken, and worse, you have crippled your chances of understanding the infinite, which by definition cannot be understood. Hence, if you SEE the Buddha by the side of the road, kill him. Because what you are seeing is a limited definition formed by your finite mind, and by seeing a defined entity, you are missing the point of the very concept of God.

This is supported by the name of the Hebrew God itself, in the Old Testament of the Occidental Bible; when Moses climbs Mt. Sinai to meet Him, and asks God, "Who are you?" God replies: YAH-WEH. Loosely interpreted: "I AM". That is to say, "I am existence. I am Being. I am reality itself."

The very definition of religious experience requires that you ponder this enigma until you are transported into a state of divine rapture by confusion. It's why sex is considered the closest state we can come to being God - there is a moment of total release and loss of self that merges us with the infinite. And it is in this state that life is created.

The French call it a "Little Death" - and death is your ultimate destination. Death is not such a big change. You just sort of slip off the planet, and stop changing.

The goal of every Buddhist, every Christian, indeed, every human,  is to prepare for that change. The Buddhist believes he is preparing himself so that he will barely notice that final change; but rather perceive that everyone else changes, ever so slightly.

And so, the ultimate fear is conquered. Death, where is thy sting? Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani? Tetelestai. äà îùìí. Cthulhu fhtagn! It is accomplished.

I like to describe myself as a secular Buddhist, sometimes at least. Other times I am an atheist, or a Pastafarian. I have been Sikh in the past.

I am also a good example of how not to kill the Buddha.

Since I am mostly a Buddhist, I meditate. Also, since I am not a very good Buddhist, I don't meditate regularly. It is more of an on and off affair for me. I drink and smoke. I also eat meat, but I think it is wrong.

A few months ago, I bought myself a meditation cushion. Then I needed relaxation music so I downloaded Zen flute meditation music on my iPad. Indeed, I went back to meditating after I bought the cushion. I improved greatly in my meditation practice and made a point to practice mindfulness more consciously in my daily life.

About three weeks after I'd bought the cushion, it occurred to me that I needed a Buddha figurine on my desk at work to remind me to be mindful of things during the day. I also decided I needed a small sized Buddha statue for my bedroom. In my search for the right one, I came across the most spectacular Buddha statue that I had ever seen. It was on a website that sold other companies’ merchandise and it was up for sale for two days only. Sadly, I couldn't order it in time. I spent the rest of that week searching for Buddha statues online. None of them were like the one I had seen. I sure didn't want a reclining or a laughing Buddha. I wanted a serious Buddha that wasn't too morose looking. I wasn't sure if I wanted a fat Buddha. I wanted that first Buddha that I’d seen. That was what I wanted.

After days of looking for the one Buddha that I had really grown attached to by this time, I was able to find the contact information of its importers. I called them. They said these Buddhas weren't distributed to individual stores and that I would have to write to the website that had them on sale, and inquire if they had plans to do another campaign for the Buddha that I loved. Also at this time, I set my eyes on a Buddha figurine that a co-worker, Fatma is her name, had on her desk. Although not as perfect as the one I wanted, this one looked very lovable. I asked her to give her Buddha to me. She refused, saying it was a gift from a friend, which was something I already knew. I reasoned with her. I said,"Look, give me the Buddha. You are not even a Buddhist. He will remind me to be mindful sitting right in front of my monitor. There is nothing He can give you." Fatma then, did a very Buddhist thing. She said, "Okay, you can have it." So I took the almost perfect new Buddha and put it on my desk. By this time, I had stopped meditating entirely. I was still after the bigger Buddha for my bedroom. Once I got it, I would start again. The little Buddha would only be there to remind me to be mindful throughout the day. Even if I didn't meditate, I could still practice mindfulness during the day. Sadly though, a few days after my forceful seizure of the figurine, I noticed that I rarely noticed that the little Buddha was even on my desk. He was there of course. But I was living my life as mindlessly as before. I thought maybe because this tiny bronze figurine was very close to my monitor stand in color, it was unable to capture my attention. I moved it to the left of my monitor, where it would be sitting on the white surface of my desk. In all his bronzeness, he remained equally invisible to me against the white background. The work-place Buddha was not capturing my attention.

Then something wonderful happened. That shopping website had the same Buddhas again. I ordered a medium sized Buddha – the perfect Buddha – and a number of Buddha candles. I still haven’t gotten them. They are supposed to arrive one of these days. I am waiting. All I do is wait. This is where my idolatrous Buddha obsession has gotten me. The tiny almost perfect workplace Buddha is invisible to me, even though he is there all day. If they built a Taliban-destroyed-Buddha sized Buddha next to my house, I might notice that one. Maybe not. Killing the Buddha is much easier said than done. As an indicator of my spiritual development, I hope to obsess about killing the Buddha once I get my mail-order Buddha.

I might not have killed the Buddha, but I know I have really let him down. And that is something.

It speaks to the levels of spiritual development and how so many become trapped at the most basic level.

At the most basic level of spiritual development one is at a juvenile stage. It speaks to the only way in which spiritual symbols and stories can be related to children who are not developed enough to comprehend metaphor and symbolism. We tell children about Santa Claus as if he is an actual person because the broader concept that fuels the image of Santa Claus as a symbol of giving is not one they can truly understand. So it becomes a literal story about a literal person who flies around on a sled getting involved in home invasions and never getting shot by anyone. It is the same with the symbolism that conceals core meanings in religion. At first they are told as literal stories about actual people and actual events rather than what they are. Most people generally have a hard time forming a belief system out of thin air and need a starter kit, which is what organized religion provides. What happens is that a majority of people get trapped at this stage and never advance beyond it. Instead of moving towards the within, where the true bastion of spiritual life is, they seek the without, interpreting mythical figures and events as that which they must strive to develop a relationship with. The real purpose is to develop a relationship with oneself to bring about change from within.

This level most commonly endures because of the fellowship that comes from being part of an organized religion. Others support and promote the belief system on a literal level. One becomes part of the machine that does just that. One is never shown any way to move beyond these limitations. The biggest problem here, aside from the obvious, is that a personification of a deity is not a deity. It is an effort to put a human face on a concept that is too difficult to explain and understand without doing so. One can never truly know the unknowable, by definition and design, and comprehending that can be exhausting for those unprepared to accept what it actually means.

The second level of spirituality comes from extrapolating your own personal experiences and interpretations to an existing belief system, or creating your own belief system based on personal experience. In the second case you cannot help but to incorporate existing symbols and metaphors. It is all but impossible to create a belief system out of nothingness. Existing symbols, rituals and personifications naturally become the foundation for any personal mythology.

The personal spiritual experience is far more meaningful than learning holy books and rites by rote. It is colored by your own experiences with religion and whatever else manages to find its way in. For those who are devoted to a strict interpretation of the spiritual through the lens of a single religion, the experience is bound to be colored exclusively to be viewed via that lens. If you expect to see Jesus on your spiritual journey, you will. If you expect to see Dog Boy the Leper King, you will. It all depends on what holds meaning for you because what these things represent is a symbolic interpretation of that which cannot be understood or known. It requires translation through a sort of dumbing down matrix so that we can begin to comprehend the path we are travelling on, a path I am quite convinced goes on eternally and does not have a destination.

We are each travelers on a journey that can be filled with much adventure. Each of us has a unique adventure. Every aspect of life can be turned into an adventure, but many people wallow in the sort of misery that comes from fighting meaningless battles over trivial matters. And often they translate these trivial matters into The Big Thing because it fills the emptiness of their lives. And then they seek justification for the importance of those matters.

The third level of spiritual development is this: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Once your symbols, your personifications, become real to you on the road of spiritual life you must destroy them. When they become real they are no longer metaphors, they are no longer symbols calling on you to seek deeper within yourself, they have become It. And embracing It is a very dangerous path because it stops our spiritual development in its tracks.

Translating faith in the unknowable into concrete forms, into literal figures to be taken as historical realities, makes your belief system about defending absurdities and disarming faith by convincing yourself it is science and history. It separates you from the universal experience. It puts you into immediate conflict with any who do not accept your professed truths. The personifications and forms are like training wheels on a bicycle. If you never take them off, are you really ever riding a bike?

Faith is the inward journey, not the outward interpretation of the world around you. It is about becoming one with all things, about becoming able to hear the song of the universe and to enable ourselves to move in tune with it. It is about knowing we are all part of that song and that our real conflicts are not with others but within ourselves.

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