kill the Buddha

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A teaching ascribed to the Chinese Ch'an master Lin-chi I-hsüan (d. 866). In full, his teaching reads, ‘If you meet the Buddha.kill the Buddha; if you meet the patriarchs.kill the patriarchs; if you meet an Arhat.kill the Arhat; if you meet your parents, kill your parents… in this way, you attain liberation.’ (Taishō.vol. 47, p. 500b). According to the Ch'an tradition, his intention was to shock students into realizing that they themselves were Buddhas, patriarchs, Arhats, and so on, and that they had no need to depend upon, mistakenly objectify, or inordinately revere figures external to themselves.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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