“If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” - Linji
It’s a shocking thing to say. It’s a shocking koan.
Kill the Buddha? What if the statement was “If you meet Jesus, kill him?”
What does it mean? I looked into Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. It is a book by the late Shunryu Suzuki that many people encounter when they first study Buddhism. The book is a collection of non-academic talks given at a California Zen center.
Suzuki says during an introduction to Zazen: “Kill the Buddha if the Buddha exists somewhere else. Kill the Buddha, because you should resume your own Buddha nature.”
Thinking about the Buddha is a delusion. It is not awakening. One must destroy preconceptions of the Buddha.