– quoting Jed McKenna –
What does “Kill the Buddha” and “further” means?
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”. That is a travel direction. It’s not a priceless pearl of wisdom. It’s just a simple piece of advice like one traveler who’s been on a particular place might offer another who is going there.
On the road to enlightenment, there is one magic word. It’s your mantra, your battle cry. The word is further. Very important. There are times in the process of waking up when those who have traveled the path before you can come to your aid and provide a clue as to your next step. That’s really all that any teacher or teaching can really provide -the occasional signpost. It may be in a big general way, like the word further, or it may be in a small specific way, like the kill-the-Buddha thing.
“Kill the Buddha” is one of these signs that has been left by a previous traveler. It has a very specific application. The time comes when you’re there and the next thing you’re supposed to do isn’t exactly clear to you. In fact, the wrong thing seems quite correct and is extremely tempting. And then, as if from nowhere, this absurd little phrase about killing the Buddha pops into your head and your heart swells with inexpressible gratitude, and you know what to do.
It means further. Get up! You’re not there yet, keep moving. You think you’re there but you’re not. Whoever it is, whatever it is -is just another projection of your own bullshit. Kill the thing and keep going. That’s what it means.
What to do with the flowery trappings? (Makyo)
Makyo is a very practical Zen thing. In Zen, no one is interested in spiritual growth. They’re not trying to become better people or happier people. They are following a wake-the-hell-up path. They’re completely focus on the hot and narrow pursuit of enlightenment. There’s no consolation prize, no secondary objective.
The Tao warns us to beware the flowery trappings of the path. During zazen meditation, the student can experience a sort of amazing experiences only to have the master splash him with cold water by calling it “makyo”. When a Zen master uses the term makyo, he’s telling his student that the precious gem they’re stopping to pick up or the pretty flowers they are pausing to collect only have value or beauty in the world they’ve chosen to leave behind.
The Tao says “beware the flowery trappings because, in order to posses them or benefit from them, you must cease your journey and stay in the dream.” Breaking free of delusion takes everything you have. The price of truth is everything. Everything. That’s the rule and it’s inviolable.