In the Quran of Islam, to give your primary allegiance to material pursuits or to put complete trust in something other than God is considered to be shirk, or idolatry, which is the greatest sin a Muslim can fall into. In the Zen Buddhist tradition, idols and illusions of every sort are to be overcome — whether they include one's dependence on the ego, one's ambitions, too much adherence to a rigid doctrine, or even too much reliance on the Buddha himself. In the ninth century, a Buddhist master named Tan-hsia T'ien-jan was so intent on breaking free of any idolatry that, as the story is told, on a cold night he warmed his bare backside at a fire which he made with a wooden image of the Buddha. This story has been repeated for centuries to remind people that not the external objects but the sincerity of one's spiritual practice brings fulfillment.

Leonard Felder, The Ten Challenges