The Buddha on the Road


This will be the last “On the Road” prompts.  Thank you very much to everyone who followed the site and for the wonderful poems you have written in response to prompt.

This week I’ve been really struggling to write a prompt.   I’ve had lot of ideas but can’t seem to get traction on any of them.   Searching for inspiration I came across the three vows of the Japanese haiku poet Santoka –

Do not attempt the impossible.

Do not feel regret for the past.

Do not berate oneself.

I feel like I am attempting the impossible in trying to keep things going here beyond this week.   The idea for the site grew out of online conversations with another haiku poet.   I was under the impression she wanted to be involved and was interested in creating some prompts.    What actually happened was that when I let her know the site was published she unfriended me on Facebook and stopped replying to emails!

Taking Santoka ‘s advice I shall not regret what happened or berate myself  for not having the energy to keep the site going by myself.   Instead I’ll offer you this last prompt.   I had written most of it already and saved it as a draft.


Since I began writing these prompts I have been remembering songs, poems and quotes that make reference to roads and being on them.  One that popped into my mind is the strange Zen koan attributed to the Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

This koan has puzzled me for a long time.  The contemporary Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön  offers this explanation –

““When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha” means that when you see that you’re grasping or clinging to anything, whether conventionally it’s called good or bad, make friends with that. Look into it. Get to know it completely and utterly. In that way it will let go of itself.” – buddha on the road

Jack Kerouac expressed a similar idea when he wrote:-

‘When you’ve understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can’t understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.’ – from “On the Road”.

The freedom Kerouac is insisting on seems to me to be very like the freedom of spirit Kikusha-Ni embodied.  (See last week’s prompt for more information here)

Writing a haiku or haibun about mental freedom and the koan “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” does seem particularly hard.   That’s why the post was still in my draft file.   Still  if you are inspired leave a link to your work in the comment thread.  

I’ve loved all the work that has been linked to this site and really appreciate your support.   Thanks again.



29 thoughts on “The Buddha on the Road

  1. I am sorry to hear this Suzanne and I have enjoyed your prompts, especially last week’s introduction to Kikusha-Ni. I am on a short blogging break at the moment and just want to thank you for the love and work you have put into On The Road Prompts. You can let this bird fly if you feel it will set you free ☺💜 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Kill the Buddha 1 and 2 | method two madness

  3. Pingback: Killing the Buddha on the Road | Collages

  4. When one’s heart is not into the journey anymore, it’s time to say adieu. There are many roads to travel in life and I’m glad I did meet you. Sorry to here this ‘Road’ was not meant to be. I will not be contributing to this prompt. I don’t want to kill the buddha. Ha ha! See you in “Collages’. Loved it while it lasted!

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just the word “kill” that disturbed me. Any synonym would have been easier to deal with like extinguish or eliminate. Anyways, c’est la vie. No sorries. My sensitivities! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Olga, I was quoting a Zen Koan – it wasn’t my choice of word. The prompt is about a Buddhist concept that is very hard to grasp. I am sorry it offended your sensitivities. This is why I have decided to end these prompts – they are straying into complex territory that I barely understand myself. All the best to you – I hope you understand I was quoting a Zen koan and that the commentary I gave was from Prem Chodron – a well known and highly respected contemporary Buddhist nun.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Suzanne …I am sorry this is ending or going into indefinite hiatus. You had much courage to launch it and created beautiful prompt posts, this one being no exception and despite the odd disappearance of your collaborator. I have a feeling I will have something to write for this one….just need to let it steep….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janice. What a wonderful comment. You and a couple of other contributors really made me think twice about quitting these prompts. It’s nearly Friday – I’ll see if I can come up something this week. If not I’ll keep the site up and hope that inspiration returns before too long. Maybe I’m like you – I just need to let it steep for a while. Thanks again for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Journey to freedom – Ontheland

  7. Hi Suzanne,
    I enjoyed considering the koan … actually relying heavily on Pema Chodron’s explanation and the related thought from Kerouac that you offered….and used my growing beans to help me say something in haiku form … now I’ll take a look at your new prompt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry I haven’t been following your prompts. They’ve just slipped through the net. It is hard work keeping this kind of thing going and I don’t blame you for wanting to take a breather. As Janice says, you can always toss out a challenge now and again as the fancy takes you, under no obligation to grind one out every week. I’ll be looking out for the next one 🙂


    • Hi Jane, nice to hear from you. It is hard to keep up with all the internet haiku and haibun prompts, I agree. After my meltdown of the other week I did find a way to keep writing prompts that should help me sustain a regular flow. I hope you find one that interests you from time to time. I enjoy reading your work.


      • Thanks Suzanne. I’ll try to keep up with you. Your blog is one that WP refuses to send notifications from. I get them from blogs I hardly know, and never look at, but it seems very hit or miss. I’m sorry you had an overdose. I stopped my challenges too after just under a year. It was too time consuming, and it was stressful finding nice things to say about every single piece. Take it easy. It isn’t worth the hassle.


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