The Central Metaphor of Buddhism

Hui-Neng,The Sixth Patriarch: 'Burning The Sūtras

The Buddha didn’t think much of ascetics, god-men, philosophers or sages.

And he preferred concrete metaphors to abstract terms like the ‘Self-Eating Expression’.

From the Diamond Sūtra:

‘My teaching of the Good Law is to be likened unto a raft. [Does a man who has safely crossed a flood upon a raft continue his journey carrying that raft upon his head?]

The Buddha-teaching must be relinquished; how much more so mis-teaching!’


To have gained the Teaching is to abandon the Teaching.

You ‘Burn the Sūtras’ once their work is done. You know of any other Tradition that demands you abandon its core Teachings as the final-stage in their proper understanding?

If you haven’t gutted the Self-Eating Expression to empty, taken it all the way back to ‘True Nothing’, you aren’t done yet.


The same point has been made by various other authentic teachers. A recent analogue to the Raft metaphor was Ramana Maharishi’s ‘the stick used for stirring the burning pyre..will itself in the end get destroyed‘. See the Post.

%d bloggers like this: