Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

Breaking Free from Dogma: Transcending the Buddha and the Dharma

Buddhism is about personal enlightenment, not clinging to the Buddha, his teachings, and the trappings of the religion.

Hey there, it’s Fuyu! If you’re like me, you may have been initially drawn to Buddhism for external reasons. However, as we delve deeper into Buddhism, it is crucial to realize that Buddhism is not about the Buddha, it’s about you! It is about YOUR enlightenment and YOUR liberation. 

In this article, I will talk about what it means to go beyond the Buddha and Buddhism and why developing a personal philosophy that aligns with your beliefs and values is important. So, let’s get started on this journey toward personal growth and liberation!

Buddhism Is Not About The Buddha, It Is About You!

The statement “Buddhism is not about the Buddha, it is about you” highlights a fundamental principle of Buddhism: the focus on inner transformation rather than external factors.

 Although the Buddha is revered as the founder and the teacher of Buddhism, the essence of the religion lies in the teachings he imparted, which are aimed at helping individuals achieve enlightenment and liberation from suffering.

It is common for people to become attached to external factors of Buddhism, such as statues, temples, and texts. While these artifacts and symbols can be useful in fostering a sense of community and providing a conducive environment for practice, they are not the essence of Buddhism. The true essence of Buddhism lies in the teachings themselves, designed to help individuals understand the nature of reality and overcome the root causes of suffering.

Buddhism is not a religion that can be practiced through blind faith or devotion to external factors. Rather, it is a path of self-discovery and self-transformation that requires individuals to cultivate mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion through their own efforts. The Buddha himself emphasized this point when he said, “You should be your own lamp, your own refuge, and seek no other refuge but yourself”.

Killing The Buddha

In Zen Buddhism, the phrase “killing the Buddha” represents the idea that one must let go of any attachment or dependence on external factors, including religious or spiritual figures. 

The saying comes from a story of a monk searching for enlightenment and being told to “kill the Buddha” if he were to meet him on his journey. This is not a call for literal violence but a metaphorical instruction to release the idea of the Buddha as an external guide or ultimate authority

It encourages individuals to trust in their own inner wisdom and intuition rather than relying solely on external sources for enlightenment and spiritual growth.

A Way Of Liberation, Not Spiritual Slavery

Buddhism has the potential to liberate and transform individuals, but it can also lead to spiritual enslavement if one becomes too attached to Buddhist concepts, teachings, or the Buddha himself. Instead of relying solely on external guides, we should trust our inner wisdom and let go of our attachment.

Recognizing and avoiding this potential trap in our pursuit of personal enlightenment is essential. While Buddhism provides valuable teachings and practices, we must interpret and apply them meaningfully and beneficially. 

“To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.”

– Shunryu Suzuki

By cultivating a personal philosophy beyond external systems, we can better understand ourselves and the world around us, leading to greater personal growth and development.

Recognizing the Traps Of Buddhism

Buddhism is often viewed as a path toward self-discovery and personal growth. However, it’s crucial to recognize that blindly following the Buddha’s teachings without understanding their true meaning can lead to traps that hinder our personal development. Here, we’ll explore the importance of recognizing these traps of Buddhism and how doing so can help us cultivate a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

  • What Are the Traps of Attaching to the Buddha and Buddhism? Buddhism’s primary trap is fixating on the Buddha instead of the teachings. This attachment creates an unhealthy dependence on him as a guide, hindering our spiritual journey. It’s vital to remember that the Buddha was a person who achieved profound insight into reality. Similarly, focusing on teachings, rituals, and objects can distract from inner transformation. Buddhism emphasizes self-awareness and direct experience, not external authority or dogma, as the path to understanding and liberation. This applies to all religions and thought systems.
  • How Can These Traps Hinder Personal Growth and Development? It is important to cultivate self-reliance to achieve true transformation. Relying on external guides, practices, and objects can hinder personal growth by limiting our agency and overlooking our inner wisdom. Fixating external practices can also lead to spiritual bypassing, which avoids confronting our limitations and impedes growth. Ultimately, true personal development requires recognizing these potential traps and committing to the difficult work of self-exploration and growth.
  • Why Is It Important to Recognize These Traps and Seek Deeper Understanding? To develop a genuine and satisfying spiritual practice, it’s crucial to identify Buddhism’s pitfalls. Recognizing the risks of following external teachings without reflection leads to a more nuanced and self-examining approach to growth. By seeking a deeper understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, we can create a more direct and personal relationship with them, utilizing them to transform ourselves. This way, we connect more deeply with the genuine essence of the teachings rather than depending solely on outside guidance.

Going Beyond Systems

As we explore the teachings of Buddhism, it’s crucial to understand the role of external systems in our personal growth and development. While these systems can provide useful guidance and support, they can also hinder personal enlightenment. This section will examine why going beyond external systems, including Buddhism, is vital to achieving true personal transformation.

  • Why Can Religious Systems, Including Buddhism, Become Hindrances to Personal Enlightenment? Religious systems, including Buddhism, can hinder personal enlightenment when we become too reliant on them. We may believe that following a particular system is enough to achieve enlightenment, neglecting that true transformation must come from within. Additionally, external systems can sometimes limit our understanding of ourselves and the world, as we may become trapped in rigid frameworks and beliefs.
  • What Is the Role of External Systems in Personal Growth and Development? While external systems can provide valuable guidance and support, it’s essential to recognize their limitations. They can offer useful tools and practices, but it’s up to us to apply them in our lives in a way that aligns with our personal goals and values. Ultimately, personal growth and development require introspection, self-reflection, and self-awareness.
  • How Can One Go Beyond External Systems and Cultivate Inner Understanding? Going beyond external systems and cultivating inner understanding requires continually questioning our beliefs and assumptions. It means engaging in daily self-reflection, mindfulness, and meditation to gain insight into our thoughts, emotions, and actions. By doing so, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, free from the limitations of external systems. Additionally, it’s essential to develop a sense of self-reliance, trusting our own inner wisdom and intuition to guide us on our path to personal transformation.

Cultivating a Personal Philosophy

While Buddhism offers valuable insights into the nature of reality and the human condition, it is ultimately up to each individual to cultivate their path toward personal enlightenment. This section explores the importance of cultivating a personal philosophy and how it can help individuals surpass external systems’ limitations.

  • Why Is It Important to Develop a Personal Philosophy? Developing a personal philosophy is essential for those seeking personal growth and enlightenment. With a clear understanding of one’s values and beliefs, navigating life’s complexities and making meaningful progress toward one’s goals can be easier. By cultivating a personal philosophy, individuals can gain a deeper sense of purpose and direction and create a framework for making important decisions.
  • How Can One Cultivate a Personal Philosophy? Cultivating a personal philosophy requires introspection and self-reflection. It involves examining one’s beliefs and values and reflecting on how they align with one’s experiences and world observations. Meditation and mindfulness practices can be useful tools for gaining greater self-awareness and insight into one’s thought patterns and behaviors.

Transcending Religious Systems

This section will discuss the benefits of going beyond religious/spiritual systems, including Buddhism. While these systems may guide and support personal growth and development, it is important to recognize that true enlightenment can only be achieved through inner understanding and wisdom.

  • How Does Going Beyond Buddha and Buddhism Contribute to Personal Growth and Development?Going beyond Buddha and Buddhism means letting go of external sources of guidance and relying on one’s inner wisdom. This can lead to greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding of the world around us. Individuals can experience personal growth and development unique to their journey by cultivating a personal philosophy and embracing personal enlightenment.
  • How Can It Lead to a Deeper Understanding of Oneself and the World Around Us? By going beyond external systems and embracing personal enlightenment, individuals can develop greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This can also lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of the world as we learn to see things from a broader perspective.
  • What Are the Benefits of Going Beyond External Systems and Embracing Personal Enlightenment? The benefits of going beyond external systems and embracing personal enlightenment are numerous. This includes greater self-awareness, personal growth, and a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around us. It can also lead to a greater sense of inner peace as individuals learn to trust their inner wisdom and let go of external sources of stress and anxiety.

Additionally, going beyond external systems can allow individuals to cultivate a personal philosophy unique to their own journey rather than simply following the teachings of others. This can lead to greater personal fulfillment and purpose as individuals align their actions and beliefs with their inner values and principles.


As we conclude this article, reflecting on the key takeaways is important. Buddhism is not about the Buddha or external systems but about cultivating inner understanding and personal enlightenment. 

Going beyond the confines of Buddhism can liberate us from spiritual slavery and empower us to discover our true selves. As practitioners, we must question our attachment to Buddhism and its concepts and go deep within ourselves to cultivate our personal philosophy and understanding. 

So, let us take a step back from the confines of Buddhism and embrace a lifelong pursuit of personal enlightenment. Let us question our attachment to external systems and cultivate our inner understanding. It is only through this journey that we can truly discover our own path to liberation.