Kill God

06 Mar

“If You Meet (god) Buddha On The Road, Kill Him.”
– a frequently used paraphrase of a Buddhist koan (a poem used to provoke thought)

 attributed to Zen Master Linji.


It’s not from the Bible but it has some teeth.

St. Augustine said, “If you comprehend it, it is not God.”

Thomas Aquinas said, “The highest human knowledge of God is to know that one doesn’t know God.”

Something I keep relearning is that although I look intently and seem to understand more with each passing prayer, reading and struggle, in the end I don’t really know anything much about this God whom I serve.  As years pass I find errors or incomplete pictures in things I embraced, which shows how frighteningly shallow my knowledge of the divine is. I know His attributes.  I know His work.  I know the story.  I understand the church culture.  I understand the current thought.  I understand what I believe.  But I do not understand God.  I do not understand His ways.

I need to keep killing the god I create.


Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Quips from the Short Sage


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Kill God

  1. Created ~

    March 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Wow, great post. I’ve never heard that before. Something to think about.

  2. Dan Nussbaum

    March 7, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I wonder if by changing Buddha to God you don’t lose some of the impact of the original statement. You’re free to make a different meaning out of the motto, I even think it’s a good idea to do so, but the Buddha in early Buddhism isn’t God, he’s a great teacher and philosopher. To say “If you meet God on the road, kill Him” is to suggest something absurd. How can anyone kill God? It doesn’t have the impact of, “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him” which is a shocking statement, not only implying blasphemy but violence, the killing of a person.

    I think it’s fine to transpose this saying from one religion to another but wonder if it became, “If you see Jesus on the road, kill him” then you would capture the force of the original. That would be a radical, shocking, provocative statement. Perhaps one even more provocative in a Christian context than a Zen one, because in Zen Buddhism outrageous comments are typical.

    As a Buddhist, for me the meaning of the original isn’t about the incomprehensibility of God. It’s more about the futility of seeking awakening anywhere outside of my own experience. Buddha literally means “awake.” There’s no Buddha out there on the road, only in my own mind and heart.

    • Kris

      March 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Dan, I appreciate your insight into what this poem would mean to a Buddhist. If I understand correctly, a Buddhist would want to kill (with indifference likely, not violence) a ‘Buddha’ (not necessarily Gautama) if he were ‘found’ because it would be outside of himself and would thus lead to a false enlightenment (-or awakening-I’m unsure of which term to use).

      By suggesting the word ‘god’ in place of ‘Buddha’, I was trying to covey the same thing but in the context of Christianity. I believe the creative force behind all life is an unchanging and eternal God. Since He is the creator, He is also the source of all meaning, enlightenment, peace, salvation etc. and as such, He is what I seek to know and be aligned with. My point was that if we should ‘find him’ (that is think we have comprehended him as he is fully) we need to kill that image in our mind because it is an impossibility. His being, His ways, are beyond our understanding and thus any notion we have of God is incomplete.

      The idea of killing Jesus (or Gautama) was not what I was trying to suggest as that would indeed be utterly evil. It is killing the imperfect ideas we have of the perfect-killing the false god we create in our mind as we try to understand what the true God is like.

      I am glad you stopped by and took the time to comment! Thanks!

  3. Geraldine Van Biljon

    March 21, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Revelations 19:6 – ”And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth..”

    It is so wonderful that we cannot fully comprehend our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth – it gives us something to look forward to when we meet Him face to face in heaven! 🙂

    • Kris

      March 21, 2013 at 3:09 am

      I am loving your heart the more I learn of it! I wish we could meet for coffee!

      • Geraldine Van Biljon

        March 21, 2013 at 4:07 am

        We feel the same … my husband says your work is that of an artist!

  4. Carl Gustaf

    March 25, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Keep killing the god you create? Well, I get what you mean, yet it seems you may wish to discontinue trying to understand God so much and simply relate to Him based on what He has revealed of Himself. Create a relationship based on what you’ve read, believe, prayed about; mix in a little faith and continue in His Word, and perhaps you’ll find the need to “understand” Him does not carry the same importance as simply following Him. I can’t recall anywhere in scripture where we are asked to understand Him. To the contrary, He spoke in parables because he knew His disciples would not understand Him. Remember, it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship. Trust without need to understand, and He’ll do the rest. You may find yourself then referring to the God that created you instead of the god you create. 😉

    • Kris

      March 25, 2013 at 3:18 am

      Agreed. Perhaps you have misread my intention. Even the most consecrated souls build concepts and paradigms in their mind about this God we have a most blessed relationship with…Of course, my friend, we cannot understand Him, that was the point of the post, but we forever try, don’t we? Whenever we assert that the understanding is plain, (except for the straight forward matters of our faith), we are in perilous waters. Though our zeal in the moment consumes us and our love overwhelms us, yet we are found so often in error. I think I understand your heart, and for it, I am glad!

  5. Carl Gustaf

    March 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Very well put… with much appreciated clarity.

  6. godcrazzzy

    March 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Honestly glad I ran into this post…. ah Lord! *gigantic smile*

    • Kris

      March 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      You just gave me one too! Nice to meet you!

      • godcrazzzy

        March 27, 2013 at 12:21 am

        smile. The same sentiment is shared Kris. 🙂

  7. Dianne

    July 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    We stumbled over here different web address and thought I might
    as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.

    Look forward to exploring your web page yet again.

    • Kris

      July 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Glad our paths crossed Dianne! Thanks for taking the time to let me know how you found me. I hope that you may find something in Kingsgrass’ posts useful and encouraging. Blessings.


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