Buddha Question....

Does anyone know anything about the Buddhist monk Ummon?

I read a koan (a type of Buddhist proverb or riddle) by Ummon that said some pretty harsh things about Buddha. I am wondering why a Chinese Buddhist monk of Ummon's statue would denigrate the founder of his religion like this.

Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. Here is a site on Ummon:


I think I knew what you were talking about. Someone asks him, "What is the Buddha?"

"A stick of dung" (or something like that)

Here's the thing about the Zen Koan...it's not supposed to be understood in a quick manner.


Yes, Matt, that was the one I was thinking of: "Dung drying on a stick." Today, I was contemplating this saying in my meditation, and I think I am beginning to understand what Ummon might have meant. Perhaps he was saying that the Buddha nature is to be found in even the lowliest of things; the Siddartha Gautama, who we revere, was in fact, nothing particularly special (except that he was awakened to truth). Or, perhaps Ummon was trying to shift our attention away from the historical Buddha so that we would go in search of our own personal enlightenment. I understand that Zen can be pretty inconoclastic at times, teaching students not to revere the Buddha as a deity, but only as an example of what each of us might attain. There is another Zen koan that I know of which says: "If you see Buddha anywhere outside of yourself, kill him immediately."

That Zen Koan was a final exam question for my World Religion class.

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asked by Tyler

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