Meeting the Buddha

There is a saying, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!’, implying that the Buddha is already within us, and that we ought to eliminate any deification projected onto external gods/men/things. I don’t know if it is an old Buddhist saying or a more recent manifestation, but the phrase was also popularised as the title of a book by psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp, first published in 1972.

I’m not sure if that is a very Buddhist way of going about things. I always thought we are taught not to polarise our feelings and judge our thoughts, even the unskilful ones. I offer here a poem by a friend of mine which I think resonates much more profoundly.

Oedipus Simplex
– Gwee Li Sui

Who’s the idiot who says
if you meet Buddha on the road
kill him?

If you meet Buddha on the road
leave him alone,
don’t kill anyone,
and don’t listen to stupid advice.


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