The Buddha on the road

Lao Tzu (or someone like him) once said: “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

I puzzled over this for a long time. It’s pretty counterintuitive—”Wait, we like the Buddha. Why should we kill him just because he’s on the road?” But as the years have gone by, I think I’ve gotten a decent handle on what he was talking about.

When you’re traveling, life seems so much easier. Well, unless things are going horribly wrong on the road; but when you’re moving along nicely your problems seem distant, everything seems possible, and every once in a while you get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, you finally have this whole life thing figured out.

Which is a nice feeling. But then, eventually, you come home again, and there are all those problems, right where you left them. Things that seemed like solutions when you were on the road rarely pan out. Or is it just me? I’d be curious to hear what other people think.

Anyway, I think now that Lao Tzu (or someone like him) was cautioning us against looking for answers outside ourselves: in a distant locale, or in some self-help book, or in something you found on the Internet. You can get useful clues that way, but the real answers are found inside, i.e. at home.

At least that’s what I’m thinking right now, here, today.