Linji Yixuan (臨濟義玄) was the founder of the Linji school of Zen and he was highly iconoclastic, leading students to awakening by hitting and shouting in order to free them from words or concepts. As well as the shouting and hitting he also said many things that would have shocked students who tended to deify the Buddha. Among the shocking things he said were:

“Followers of the Way” not to “take the Buddha to be some sort of ultimate goal. In my view he’s more like the hole in a privy.” [ZT 76]

“Whether you’re facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.” [ZT 52]

“Bodhisattvas and arhats are all so many cangues and chains, things for fettering people.” [ZT 76]

“If you seek the Buddha, you’ll be seized by the Buddha devil. If you seek the patriarchs, you’ll be fettered by the patriarch devil. As long as you seek something it can only lead to suffering. Better to do nothing.” [ZT 47]

“things like the Three Vehicles and the twelve divisions of the scriptural teachings — they’re all so much old toilet paper to wipe away filth.”

1993, Lin-chi, The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi: A Translation of the Lin-Chi Lu, Boston and London: Shambhala. [ZT] 

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