Killing the Buddha

Killing the Buddha

Killing the Bud­dha Manifesto

Killing the Bud­dha is a reli­gion mag­a­zine for peo­ple made anx­ious by church­es, peo­ple embar­rassed to be caught in the “spir­i­tu­al­i­ty” sec­tion of a book­store, peo­ple both hos­tile and drawn to talk of God. It is for peo­ple who some­how want to be reli­gious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good rea­sons are not and do not. If the reli­gious have come to own reli­gious dis­course it is because they alone have had places where reli­gious lan­guage could be spo­ken and under­stood. Now there is a forum for the sup­pos­ed­ly non-reli­gious to think and talk about what reli­gion is, is not and might be. Killing the Bud­dha is it. 

The idea of “killing the Bud­dha” comes from a famous Zen line, the con­text of which is easy to imag­ine: After years on his cush­ion, a monk has what he believes is a break­through: a glimpse of nir­vana, the Bud­dhamind, the big pay-off. Report­ing the expe­ri­ence to his mas­ter, how­ev­er, he is informed that what has hap­pened is par for the course, noth­ing spe­cial, maybe even dam­ag­ing to his pur­suit. And then the mas­ter gives the stu­dent dis­may­ing advice: If you meet the Bud­dha, he says, kill him. 

Why kill the Bud­dha? Because the Bud­dha you meet is not the true Bud­dha, but an expres­sion of your long­ing. If this Bud­dha is not killed he will only stand in your way. 

Why Killing the Bud­dha ? For our pur­pos­es, killing the Bud­dha is a metaphor for mov­ing past the com­pla­cen­cy of belief, for strug­gling hon­est­ly with the idea of God. As peo­ple who take faith seri­ous­ly, we are end­less­ly amazed and enraged that reli­gious dis­course has become so blood­less, parochial and bor­ing. Any God worth the name is none of these things. Yet when peo­ple talk about God they are talk­ing main­ly about the Bud­dha they meet. For fear of seem­ing intol­er­ant or uncer­tain, or just for lack of think­ing, they talk about a God too small to be God.

Killing the Bud­dha is about find­ing a way to be reli­gious when we’re all so self-con­scious and self-absorbed. Know­ing more than ever about our­selves and the way the world works, we gain noth­ing through nos­tal­gia for a time when belief was sim­ple, and even less from insist­ing that now is such a time. Killing the Bud­dha will ask, How can we be reli­gious with­out leav­ing part of our­selves at the church or tem­ple door? How can we love God when we know it does­n’t mat­ter if we do? Call it God for the god­less. Call it the search for a God we can believe in: A God that will not be an embar­rass­ment in twelve-thou­sand years. A God we can talk about with­out qualifications. 

Killing the Bud­dha insists that if reli­gion mat­ters at all it mat­ters enough to be tak­en to task. We believe it’s high time for a new canon to be cre­at­ed, and that the Web is just the place to col­lect it. We refuse to accept the inter­net as a world wide shop­ping mall. We know intu­itive­ly it can be a sort of Tal­mu­dic cathe­dral, a tool of tran­scen­dence made of words. We’re here to build it. If the end result looks more like Babel than the City of God, so be it. Babel, after all, came close.

Thanks for reading. 

Cur­rent Mood: 🙂impressed
Cur­rent Music: Fire­fly direc­tors’ track in the next room
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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