If You Meet Jesus On The Road, Kill Him
A famous old piece of Zen wisdom says: “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” There are a couple of reasons why we are called to take Buddha out. The most commonly cited reason is that the prophet in the road is not really Buddha at all, but a figment of our imaginations–a psychological projection of the person we want Buddha to be. To approach the real Buddha we have to eliminate (kill) these projections.
The other reason for killing Buddha in the road is that by doing so we drop our last crutch and begin walking our spiritual path with full freedom and independence. In other words, we kill Buddha in the road to attain Buddha-hood ourselves. By killing Buddha we honor Buddha and ironically give him life.
This teaching actually finds great resonance in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In the Gospel narratives, the disciples insist on seeing Jesus of Nazareth only through the prism of their own psychological projections, expecting him to assume the crown of an earthly king,1 all the while refusing to truly honor Jesus by accepting the kingdom of heaven within, where Christ reigns eternally.
So, today, let the Progressive Christian be the Zen Christian: If you meet Jesus on the road, kill him.
Where you want this killin’ done? God said, “Out on Highway 61.”
- Bob Dylan
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- On the following day great numbers of people who had come to the festival, hearing that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, took palm-branches, And went out to meet him, shouting as they went: “God save Him! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord: the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13 [↩]