“On the Buddha’s birthday, as he sprang from the side of his mother, I hit him once and killed him, and fed him to a hungry dog. The whole world was at peace.” (Yun-men, Chinese Zen Master)
This blatant, cold and cruel statement startles us. It is beyond our imagination that such a cruel, action, and admittance could ever be conceived within the mind of a human being. To stoke the outrage more, lets put the statement closer to home, “If you see Christ along the road, kill the Christ and bring peace to the world.”
This is typical of Zen teaching, making straight forward and outrageous statements, leading the student to finally see through the outrageous to a more clear spiritual meaning. In line with this method of teaching is what is called a “koan.” A mind puzzle, usually non-sense, but made to seem reasonable, i.e. “You know the sound of two hands clapping. What is the sound of one hand clapping?” (I am kind of sorry, for giving you the koan because I expect some of you might be up all night trying to figure it out).
Gautama the Buddha is recorded as saying, “Be lamps unto your self.” This simple statement opens the door to understanding Yun-Men’s saying. Buddha did not mean that physical you is the intellectual light that can enlighten and liberate you. His meaning was based upon his enlightenment. He knew that there is a non-modifing consciousness, that remains unaffected and pure through out our varying interactions with the physical, sensual, mental, astral, and spiritual, planes of our being. This non-modifing consciousness can not be defined, for Its essence lies beyond duality and abides within the realm of infinity. We humans, consciously stuck in duality, can only reason by measuring and judging one thing or condition against another thing or condition. However, our essential core is pure consciousness. We are the spark of the Infinite; we are It and It is us.
It is this spark of infinity that Buddha meant when he said, “Be lamps unto your selves.” This Spark is where all truth and wisdom resides. If we are aware and connected with It, we need no doctrines, teachings, rituals, ceremonies. It is the Light of lights.
Yun-Men is referring to the same Spark of Infinity. His meaning is, do not become attached to the spiritual master who speaks universal or non-modifed truths; don’t let the master become the object of worship, for such attachment only keeps us in the consciousness of duality. Become your infinite Self by directing your consciousness towards devotion to the universal truths he or she represents.