Friday, January 31, 2014

Finding Buddha in the Road - #fridayflash

This is a re-post from a few years ago. As I type this on Thursday night I am sick as a dog and not sure if I'll even get up tomorrow. Please excuse the redux, and if you can, giggle at it.

My teacher always said, “You’re not supposed to have teachers. The truth is already in you.”

But I kept visiting him, so he wound up saying other things. On that day, the thing that came to mind was, “If you find Buddha in the road, help dig him out.”

It came to mind because I saw a rotund man in an orange robe flailing his arms. He was buried up to his navel in gravel. I took him by the hands and jerked with all my might, but he would not budge. I thought him too hefty to pull free, but he explained.

“A nasty old philosopher stuck me in here. Said the only way out was the way that could not be known.”

“I didn’t think you were the sort to get into fights,” I said. “Or call people nasty.”

He folded his hands together. “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.”

“Oh, I don’t!” This was the first impression I wanted to make. “I mean, I think you are what you are, not what I think you are.”

“Then you think I am what I think I am. I am still bound within what you think of me.”

“But I only think you are what you think you are.”

“Do you think you know what I think I am?”

“No. That can’t be known.”

“Then why do you think I am whatever I think I am?”

“You shouldn’t be bound by other people’s conceptions. It’s your internal existence.”

I don’t think the Buddhism I’d picked up from a master who wanted me out of his house impressed this man very much. He started playing with rocks.

“What if I think I am whatever a third person thinks I am? If I then invest my identity in another, am I any longer what you think I am?”

“I swear, I don’t think I know who you are. You’re just the Buddha.”

“Now I believe you don’t know who I am, regardless of what you think. My name’s Qi Wei, not Buddha.” He scratched next to his eye, perhaps idle motion, perhaps drawing attention to his distinctly Asian features. “You know, he was Indian.”

It makes you feel very guilty, when you want to punch a man who is buried to his navel in gravel. I curled a fist, then released it and turned to walk away. Qi Wei let me get five paces before imparting something.

“But if I am the Buddha internally, and not Qi Wei as I espouse externally, then I am what you admire without you thinking it, and you would have met Buddha in the road and done nothing more than walk away. Can you live with that?”

“You said you weren’t him!”

“I also said not to believe in anything simply because you have heard it.” He picked a stone out of his belly button. “I’ve said that one more than once, over the years.”

A year later I read some Chinese philosopher commanding that if you found Buddha in the road, “kill him.” He must have met this guy, too.


  1. I never new Buddah could be so annoying ^_^ but zen who knows ;)

  2. Ha your payoff was were my thoughts had got to, 'bet the last guy who met him got so exasperated he was the one who wedged him in the tarmac! This was fun

  3. That last line made me laugh. I would've punched him as well.

  4. Be willing to challenge everything. The last line reminded me of the axiom regarding adverbs. I guess it applies to other redundant items as well... like smiley faces and peace signs and...

  5. LOL, very nice. I'm sure Siddharta would have approved! :D

  6. Haha!! If this guy thinks about what others are thinking, and that his thoughts on their thinking is what they think he is thinking about, then...

    Oooer, all this thinking has given me a headache. :)

  7. Ha! Love the end! Buddha or no Buddha, if you want someone to pull you out of the ground, you should probably be a bit less obnoxious.

    The Warrior Muse

  8. Not only is this story hillarious, but it's also very thought provoking. I loved it!

  9. What a conversationalist, that Buddha. Good fun, John, thanks for the redux and feel better.

  10. You have a great knack for writing stories that send me to YouTube, looking for the songs they remind me of. This time it's by Shriekback:

    Someday the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy will have an entry called, "So What's So Great About Enlightenment Anyway?" and quote this story.


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