There is an old Zen koan that says, “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” Koans are mini mysteries meant for us to relax into and ponder the deeper meanings of. Eventually, someday, when we’re ready, the riddle will reveal its answer. This whole process is meant to wake us up to greater depths of understanding. With this in mind, SPOILER ALERT: the meaning of “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him” is that if you encounter your expectations on the road to enlightenment, see through them as an illusion. Be free of spiritual knowledge and those who claim to be masters of it.
Now that we get it, let’s go deeper into the koan. Let us understand that people often literally see their expected or wanted deities when they explore the depths of themselves in search of the chimera called, “enlightenment.” They may see deities in their mind’s eye while meditating, for example. They may interpret light that emanates internally as a spirit being. They may meet spirit beings in dreams or even have a vision in the external world. And when these encounters happen, the experiencer is prone to treat them like angelic guardians or cosmic teachers.
However, these formless awarenesses we meet are not guardian spirits, angels, demons, buddhas—they are not helping us toward enlightenment or keeping us from it. They are engaging us right where we are and our participation in that is what binds us to where we are, or else brings us to the next level, the next level, and forever and ever the next level. Much like the physicist will always have something else to see when she applies her eye to the microcosm, so too does the mystic when applying the third eye to interior domains. (Or any eye, for that matter.)
Because you can’t see nothing, there will be something for you to see. Since there isn’t anything legitimately there, you will project something, a vibrant figment of your imagination, or else call upon an archetype–a living figment of the collective imagination–for when you explore the depths of yourself as if they are places separate from you, entities will populate them. And they are also you. You dreaming of a better you. You trying to help you along or challenge you to make you stronger. But never you transcending yourself, for to kill the Buddha is to kill you. To live Truth-as-self is to not experience Truth as an “it” divorced from you, guiding and teaching you as a separate being.
To understand all of this is to see through it. It is finished. You are finished and therefore so are the higher beings.
Your road ends here.