We perceive and understand the world through concepts. We have given labels to almost anything and everything. Take any topic, any notion, any idea, any thought, any religion, any philosophy, any fact; be it Hinduism, Christianity, Atheism, Veganism, Vegetarianism, Cannibalism, Sexism, feminism etc. But all the concepts tend to a little hazy. Everyone seems to have their own definition and his own understanding of any particular concepts. However, the concept of something and the actual truth or experience are not the same. For example, the concept of feminism and being a feminist are not identical. Same goes for Veganism, Racism, sexism or any religion. They can not possess the exact attitude, the exact thought and all the understanding and belief that the concept of the same includes.
Likewise, enlightenment is also the same. No one really knows or understands what it is like to be an enlightened being. Tons and tons of doctrines, dogmas, teachings, examples have been written and passed on to next generation but not everyone attains and experiences enlightenment.
Buddha said ‘To make an unenlightened person understand what is enlightenment is as same as making a blind man understand what is light.’
No matter how perfectly you put in words, you won’t be able to make a blind man understand what is light. For him, it is next to impossible to comprehend unless he sees and experience light himself. He will only have a concept of light in his mind according to his own understanding and knowledge. Whereas, the person who has eyes, does not need to be told about light at all. He knows it as he has experienced it and even if he does not know how to explain, still he understands the truth of light. Thus, the concept of light and truth of light are not identical.
Sometimes we become prisoners of our own knowledge and prejudice. We believe in the concept so much that it becomes our truth. Then even if we meet the truth, we deny it, we don’t accept it and we don’t try to understand it. If the attachment with the concept of something is so strong it becomes Ego, the matter of pride, the only truth. Then letting it go is not the option, looking from a different perspective is not the option, traveling to a different path to reach the destination is not the option anymore.
Zen master Lin-chi once said, “If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha, if you meet the Patriarch, kill the Patriarch.” When you meet Buddha, you are meeting the concept of being Buddha, thinking that this person has achieved something and he will show you the same path where he has traveled to attain his Buddhahood or enlightenment. You will be dependent on him. You will do whatever he says. But you, being a blind person will only have the concept, not the truth. He can not teach you the truth. He can only teach you its concept. To realise the truth, you have to experience it yourself. By listening to him, you are walking someone else’s path but comprehending it with your understanding and beliefs. You won’t be walking your path anymore and who knows that the path that you have abandoned would have taken you to your destination.
And thus, if any Zen master says to you “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him” You know what is he talking about (so don’t kill someone literally).
I have been reading books on Buddhism and by Buddhist monks for quite a while. I try to incorporate the simple lifestyle, understanding and wisdom from them. Buddhism is not a religion, anyone can be benefited by it, it is a simple psychology, experimentations, and common sense.
I got an idea to write about this blog from the book – Zen Keys by Thich Nhat Hanh. here are few of my recommendations to you if you like this blog.