ZEN IRODALOM ZEN LITERATURE
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菩提達摩 / 菩提達磨 Puti Damo
二入四行論 Erru sixing lun*
(Rōmaji:) Bodai Daruma: 二入四行论 Ninyū shigyō ron
(English:) Bodhidharma: The Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices
(Magyar:) Bódhidharma (Pu-ti Ta-mo): Er-zsu sze-hszing lun / Két út, négy gyakorlat
絶觀論 Jue guan lun**
(Japán olvasat:) Zekkanron
(English:) The Ceasing of Notions (attributed to Bodhidharma)
(Magyar:) Csüe-kuan lun / Jegyzetek a szemlélet elvágásáról
Bódhidharma négysorosa és két anekdota
Bódhidharma: Két út, négy gyakorlat
Bódhidharma: A gyakorlás alapvető részei
Bódhidharma: Út és négy gyakorlat
Jegyzetek a szemlélet elvágásáról
PDF: A véráram beszéde
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
PDF: The Earliest Text of Ch'an Buddhism: The Long Scroll
二種入 Two Types of Entrance
Four Sacred Verses of Bodhidharma
Outline For Discerning the Mahayana
A Treatise on the Ceasing of Notions
Bodhidharma the “Wall-Gazing Brahman”
Did Bodhidharma Meet Emperor Liang Wu Di? (PDF)
Why did the Patriarch Cross the River?
“One-stroke Daruma” (Ippitsu daruma zu 一筆達磨図)
Le Traité de Bodhidharma et deux lettres
BODHIDHARMA (fl. c. 480–520), known in China
as Damo and in Japan as Daruma; traditionally considered
the twenty-eighth patriarch of Indian Buddhism and the
founder of the Chan (Jpn., Zen) school of Chinese Buddhism.
THE “HISTORICAL” BODHIDHARMA. Accounts of Bodhidharma’s
life have been based until recently on largely hagiographical
materials such as the Jingde chuandeng lu (1004).
However, the discovery of new documents among the Dunhuang
manuscripts found in Central Asia at the turn of this
century has led Chinese and Japanese scholars to question
the authenticity of these accounts. The oldest text in which
Bodhidharma’s name is mentioned is the Luoyang qielan ji,
a description of Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang written in
547 by Yang Xuanzhi. In this work, a monk called Bodhidharma
from “Po-ssu in the western regions” (possibly Persia)
is said to have visited and admired the Yongning Monastery.
This monastery was built in 516 and became a military camp
after 528. Consequently, Bodhidharma’s visit must have
taken place around 520. But no other biographical details
can be inferred from this, and the aged western monk (he
was purportedly one hundred and fifty years old at the time)
bears no resemblance to the legendary founder of Chinese
The most important source for Bodhidharma’s life is the
Xu gaoseng zhuan, a work written by Daoxuan in 645 and
revised before his death in 667. It states that Bodhidharma
was a brahman from southern India. After studying the Buddhist
tradition of the Greater Vehicle (Mahāyāna), Bodhidharma
decided to travel to China in order to spread
Mahāyāna doctrine. He arrived by sea at Nanyue, in the domain
of the Liu Sung dynasty (420–479), and later traveled
to Lo-yang, the capital of the Northern Wei (386–534). In
Lo-yang, he attempted to win converts, apparently without
great success. Nonetheless, he eventually acquired two worthy
disciples, Huike (487–593) and Daoyou (dates unknown),
who studied with him for several years. He is said
to have transmitted the Lankāvatāra Sūtra, the scripture he
deemed best fitted for Chinese practitioners, to Huike. Bodhidharma
seems also to have met with some hostility and
slander. Daoxuan stresses that Bodhidharma’s teaching,
known as “wall-gazing” (biguan), or as the “two entrances”
(via “principle,” liru, and via “practice,” xingru), was difficult
to understand compared to the more traditional and popular
teachings of Sengchou (480–560). Daoxuan concludes by
saying that he does not know where Bodhidharma died. In
another section of the text, however, Daoxuan states that
Bodhidharma died on the banks of the Lo River. That Bodhidharma’s
teachings evoked hostility in China is evident
from the fact that after his death, his disciple Huike felt it
necessary to hide for a period. Since the locale mentioned is
known to have been an execution ground, it is possible that
Bodhidharma was executed during the late Wei rebellions.
Although Daoxuan’s account is straightforward, succinct,
and apparently fairly authentic, it presents some problems.
Most important, it presents two different, almost contradictory,
images of Bodhidharma—as a practicer of “wallgazing,”
intent on not relying on the written word, and as
a partisan of the Lankāvatāra Sūtra. Daoxuan clearly has
some difficulty in reconciling his divergent sources. Primarily,
he draws on the preface to the so-called Erru sixing lun
(Treatise on the two entrances and four practices), written
around 600 by Bodhidharma’s (or Huike’s) disciple Tanlin
(dates unknown) and on information concerning the reputed
transmission of the Lankāvatāra Sūtra. This latter had probably
been given to Daoxuan by Fachong (587?–665), an heir
of the tradition. In any case, at the time of Daoxuan’s writing,
Bodhidharma was not yet considered the twenty-eighth
patriarch of Indian Buddhism.
In Daoxuan’s time, a new school was developing on the
Eastern Mountain (Dongshan, in modern Hunan) around
the dhyāna masters Daoxin (580–651) and Hongren (601–
674). The latter’s disciples, Faru (638–689), Shenxiu (606–
706), and Huian (attested dates 582–709), spread this new
teaching, known as the “Dongshan doctrine,” in the region
of the Tang capitals (Ch’ang-an and Luoyang). Faru’s epitaph
and two historiographical works of this metropolitan
Chan written in the first decades of the eighth century, the
Chuan fabao ji and the Lengqie shizi ji, succeeded in linking
the Dongshan tradition to the Lan˙kāvatāra tradition. Bodhidharma
and Huike were defined in these texts as the first
two Chinese patriarchs of the Chan school and Daoxin and
Hongren were designated the fourth and fifth patriarchs.
The missing link was conveniently provided by an obscure
disciple of Huike, Sengcan (d. 606)—baptized “third patriarch.”
Having established its orthodoxy and spiritual filiation,
the new Chan school, popularly known as the Damo
zong (Bodhidharma school) or the Lengqie zong
(Lan˙kāvatāra school), quickly developed as the main trend
of Chinese Buddhism and its “founder” Bodhidharma accordingly
acquired legendary status.
THE LEGEND OF BODHIDHARMA WITHIN THE CHAN SECT.
About 150 years after Bodhidharma’s death, his legend had
already grown considerably. His Indian origin plus the very
scarcity of information available from the Xu gaoseng zhuan
seem to have been the essential factors in Bodhidharma’s
posthumous assumption of the status of “first patriarch” of
the new Chan school. In 686, Faru settled at Song Shan, near
Luoyang (in modern Henan). Song Shan was already a Buddhist
stronghold; Sengchou, Bodhidharma’s lucky rival, had
once studied under another Indian monk named Fotuo
(dates unknown) at Song Shan. Fotuo was revered by the
Northern Wei emperor, Xiaowen di (r. 471–499), who, after
moving the capital to Luoyang in 496, had the Shaolin Monastery
built for him at Song Shan. It seems that later, in
Faru’s circle, an amalgam was made of the legends of Fotuo,
Sengchou, and Bodhidharma. This may be the reason why
Bodhidharma became associated with the Shaolin Monastery.
According to the Chuan fapao ji, Bodhidharma practiced
wall-gazing at Song Shan for several years. He thus became
known as the “wall-gazing brahman,” the monk who
remained without moving for nine years in meditation in a
cave on Song Shan (eventually losing his legs, as the popular
iconography depicts him). There he also met Huike, who,
to show his earnestness in searching for the Way, cut off his
own arm. (The Chuan fapao ji severely criticizes Daoxuan for
claiming that Huike had his arm cut off by bandits.) This
tradition, fusing with the martial tradition that developed at
Song Shan, resulted in Bodhidharma becoming the “founder”
of the martial art known as Shaolin boxing (Jpn., Shōrinji
Bodhidharma’s legend continued to develop with the
Lidai fabaoji (c. 774), the Baolin (801), and the Zutang ji
(Kor., Chodangjip, 952), and reached its classical stage in
1004 with the Jingde chuangdeng lu. In the process, it borrowed
features from other popular Buddhist or Daoist figures
such as Baozhi or Fuxi (alias Fu Dashi, “Fu the
Mahāsattva,” 497–569, considered an incarnation of
Maitreya). But its main aspects were already fixed at the beginning
of the eighth century. For example, the Chuan fabao
ji contains the following account concerning Bodhidharma’s
“deliverance from the corpse” (a typical Daoist practice): On
the day of his death, he was met in the Pamir Mountains by
Songyun, a Northern Wei emissary on his way back from
India. After his arrival in China, Songyun told Bodhidharma’s
disciples of his encounter. The disciples, opening their
master’s grave, found it empty except for a single straw sandal.
Bodhidharma returning to his home in the western regions
on one sandal has become a standard motif in Chan
Another important—if somewhat later—motif is Bodhidharma’s
encounter with Liang Wudi (r. 502–549) on his
arrival in China. This story, which became a favorite theme
of Chan “riddles” or gongan (Jpn., kōan), has its prototype
in Fuxi’s encounter with Liang Wudi. In both cases, the emperor
failed to understand the eminence of the person he had
in front of him.
It is also noteworthy that many early Chan works formerly
attributed to Bodhidharma have recently been proved
to have been written by later Chan masters such as Niutou
Farong (594–657) or Shenxiu (606–706). That so many
works were erroneously attributed to Bodhidharma may be
due simply to the fact that the Chan school was at the time
known as the Bodhidharma school, and that all works of the
school could thus be considered expressive of Bodhidharma’s
thought. Whatever the case, these works have greatly contributed
to the development of Bodhidharma’s image, especially
in the Japanese Zen tradition. Further confusing the
issue is the “discovery,” throughout the eighth century, of epitaphs
supposedly written shortly after his death. In fact,
these epitaphs were products of the struggle for hegemony
among various factions of Chan.
BODHIDHARMA IN POPULAR RELIGION. The Genkōshakusho,
a well-known account of Japanese Buddhism written
by a Zen monk named Kokan Shiren (1278–1346), opens
with the story of Bodhidharma crossing over to Japan to
spread his teachings (a development of the iconographic tradition
representing him crossing the Yangtze River). In
Japan, Bodhidharma’s legend seems to have developed first
within the Tendai (Chin., Tiantai) tradition brought from
China at the beginning of the Heian period (794–1191) by
the Japanese monk Saichō (767–822) and his disciples. One
of them in particular, Kōjō (779–858), was instrumental in
linking the Bodhidharma legend to the Tendai tradition and
to the legend of the regent Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi, 574–
622), who was considered a reincarnation of Nanyue Huisi
(515–577), one of the founders of the Tiantai school (notwithstanding
the fact that Shōtoku was born before Huisi
died). In his Denjutsu isshin kaimon, a work presented to the
emperor, Kōjō mentions the encounter that took place near
Kataoka Hill (Nara Prefecture) between Shōtoku and a
strange, starving beggar—considered a Daoist immortal in
the version of the story given by the Kojiki. Kōjō, arguing
from a former legendary encounter between Huisi and Bodhidharma
on Mount Tiantai in China, and from Bodhidharma’s
prediction that both would be reborn in Japan, has no
difficulty establishing that the beggar was none other than
This amalgam proved very successful and reached far
beyond the Tendai school. Toward the end of the Heian period
a Zen school emerged from the Tendai tradition, and
its leader, Dainichi Nōnin (dates unknown), labeled it the
“Japanese school of Bodhidharma” (Nihon Darumashū).
This movement was a forerunner of the Japanese Zen sect,
whose two main branches were founded by Eisai (1141–
1215) and Dōgen (1200–1253) at the beginning of the Kamakura
period (1192–1337). This eventually led to the publication
of a Daruma sanchōden (Biography of Bodhidharma
in the Three Kingdoms [India, China, and Japan]) during
the Edo period.
But it is in popular religion that Bodhidharma’s figure
developed most flamboyantly. Early in China, Bodhidharma
not only borrowed features from Daoist immortals but became
completely assimilated by the Daoist tradition; there
are several Daoist works extant concerning Bodhidharma. In
Japan, Bodhidharma’s legend developed in tandem with that
of Shōtoku Taishi; a temple dedicated to Daruma is still to
be found on the top of Kataoka Hill. The Japanese image
of Daruma, a legless doll known as fuku-Daruma (“Daruma
of happiness”), presides over many aspects of everyday life
(household safety, prosperity in business, political campaigns,
etc.). This figure, impressed on every child’s mind,
has come to play an important role in Japanese art and
Demiéville, Paul. “Appendice sur ‘Damoduolo’ (Dharmatra[ta]).”
In Peintures monochromes de Dunhuang (Dunhuang baihua),
edited by Jao Tsong-yi, Pierre Ryckmans, and Paul Demiéville.
Paris, 1978. A valuable study of the Sino-Tibetan
tradition that merged Bodhidharma and the Indian translator
Dharmatrata into a single figure, which was subsequently
incorporated into the list of the eighteen legendary disciples
of the Buddha.
Dumoulin, Heinrich. “Bodhidharma und die Anfänge des
Ch'an-Buddhismus.” Monumenta Nipponica (Tokyo) 7, no.
1 (1951): 67–83. A good summary of the first Sino-Japanese
re-examinations of the early Chan tradition.
Sekiguchi Shindai. Daruma no kenkyu. Tokyo, 1967. An important
work, with an abstract in English, on the Chinese hagiographical
tradition concerning Bodhidharma.
Yanagida Seizan. Daruma. Tokyo, 1981. The most recent and authoritative
work on Bodhidharma. It examines the historical
evidence and the development of the legend in Chan (Zen)
and in Japanese popular religion and also provides a convenient
translation in modern Japanese of Bodhidharma’s
thought as recorded in the Erru sixing lun.
Broughton, Jeffrey L. The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest
Records of Zen. Berkeley, 1999.
Faure, Bernard. Le Traité de Bodhidharma, première anthologie du
bouddhisme Chan. Aix-en-Provence, 1986.
Faure, Bernard. “Bodhidharma as Textual and Religious Paradigm.”
History of Religions 25, no. 3 (1986): 187–198.
McRae, John. “The Antecedents of Encounter Dialogue in Chinese
Ch’an Buddhism.” In The Kōan: Texts and Contexts in
Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright,
pp. 46–74. New York, 2000.
Welter, Albert. “Mahakasyapa’s Smile: Silent Transmission and
the Kung-an (Koan) Tradition.” In The Kōan: Texts and
Contexts in Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale
S. Wright, pp. 75–109. New York, 2000.
BERNARD FAURE (1987)
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, SECOND EDITION
二入四行論 Erru sixing lun [Ninyū shigyō ron]
Discourse on the Two Entrances and the Four Practices
also known as Bodhidharma's Six Gate 少室 六門 Shaoshi liumen, the Six Aspects of [Mount] Shaoshi
1. 心經頌 Xin jing song [Shingyō ju] (Verse on the mind sutra)
2. 破相論 Poxiang lun [Hasōron] Treatise on the Cessation of Thoughts (Breakthrough Sermon)
- same as 觀心論 Guanxin lun [Kanjin ron] Treatise on Contemplating Mind
- attributed to Bodhidharma, but now known to have been written by Shenxiu (神秀 , 606?-706), the patriach of the Northern school
3. 二種入 Er zhong ru [Nishunyū] The Two Entrances (Outline of Practice)
4. 安心法門 Anxin famen [Anjin hōmon] Dharma Gate for Pacifying the Mind
5. 悟性論 Wuxing lun; [Goshōron] Treatise on Awakening to the Nature of Mind (Wakeup Sermon; Treatise on Realizing the Nature)
6. 血脈論 Xuemai lun [Ketsumyaku ron] Treatise on the Transmission (Bloodstream Sermon; Treatise on the Blood Pulse)
Four Sacred Verses of Bodhidharma
(T2008.360a24-360c12 & 2008.364c9-364c24)
達磨四聖句 dámó sì shèng jù [Daruma no Shiseiku]
教外別傳 jiào wài bié zhuàn [Kyōge betsuden]
不立文字 bú lì wén zì [Furyū monji]
直指人心 zhí zhĭ rén xīn [Jikishi ninshin]
見性成佛 jiàn xìng chéng fó [Kenshō jōbutsu]
A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing at the soul of man;
Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.
Translated by D. T. Suzuki
A special [separate] transmission outside the teachings,
do not depend on written words,
directly point to the human mind,
see one‘s nature and become Buddha.
Translated by Piya Tan
Separate transmission outside the teachings (mind to mind transmission),
not posit the letters,
direct to the mind,
penetrate the self-nature and attain the Buddhahood.
Translated by Sing Song Liu 劉興松
No postulation of any thesis in words---
Transmission outside the scriptures---
Point straight at the mind of man---
See your nature and be enlightened.
Translated by Whalen Lai
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma >
Translated by Red Pine [Bill Porter], 1987
Outline of Practice
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
Translated by Red Pine
MANY roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn't apparent because it's shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls,' the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.
To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: Suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma.
First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the Path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, "In Countless ages gone by, I've turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions. Now, though I do no wrong, I'm punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice. The sutras say "when you meet with adversity don't be upset because it makes sense." With such understanding you're in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the Path.
Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we're ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it's the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.
Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They're always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity. To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, "To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss." When you seek nothing, you're on the Path.
Fourth, practicing the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don't exist. The sutras say, "The Dharma includes no being because it's free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it's free from the impurity of self." Those wise enough to believe and understand these truths are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they're able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing the six virtues to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is what's meant by practicing the Dharma.
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
Translated by Red Pine
Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind. Hence Buddhas of the past and future teach mind to mind without bothering about definitions.
[Student:] But if they don't define it, what do they mean by mind?
You ask. That's your mind. I answer. That's my mind. If I had no mind how could I answer? If you had no mind, how could you ask? That which asks is your mind. Through endless kalpas" without beginning, whatever you do, wherever you are, that's your real mind, that's your real buddha. This mind is the buddha" says the same thing. Beyond this mind you'll never find another Buddha. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature the absence of cause and effect, is what's meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a Buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind', but such a place doesn't exist.
Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It's not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can't grab if. Beyond mind you'll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of the mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?
Buddhas of the past and future only talk about this mind. The mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the mind. Beyond the mind there's no Buddha and beyond the Buddha there's no mind. If you think there is a Buddha beyond the mind', where is he? There's no Buddha beyond the mind, so why envision one? You can't know your real mind as long as you deceive yourself. As long as you're enthralled by a lifeless form, you're not free. If you don't believe me, deceiving yourself won't help. It's not the Buddha's fault. People, though, are deluded. They're unaware that their own mind is the Buddha. Otherwise they wouldn't look for a Buddha outside the mind.
Buddhas don't save Buddhas. If you use your mind to look for a Buddha, you won't see the Buddha. As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you'll never see that your own mind is the Buddha. Don't use a Buddha to worship a Buddha. And don't use the mind to invoke a Buddha." Buddhas don't recite sutras." Buddhas don't keep precepts." And Buddhas don't break precepts. Buddhas don't keep or break anything. Buddhas don't do good or evil.
To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don't see your nature, invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking Buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good memory; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth, and making offerings results in future blessings-but no buddha.
If you don't understand by yourself, you'll have to find a teacher to get to the bottom of life and death. But unless he sees his nature, such a person isn't a teacher. Even if he can recite the Twelvefold Canon he can't escape the Wheel of Birth and Death. He suffers in the three realms without hope of release.
Long ago, the monk Good Star was able to recite the entire Canon. But he didn't escape the Wheel, because he didn't see his nature. If this was the case with Good Star, then people nowadays who recite a few sutras or shastras and think it's the Dharma are fools. Unless you see your mind, reciting so much prose is useless.
To find a Buddha all you have to do is see your nature. Your nature is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the person who's free: free of plans, free of cares. If you don't see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you'll never find a buddha. The truth is there's nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a teacher and you need to struggle to make yourself understand. Life and death are important. Don't suffer them in vain. There's no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open. But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize then that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.
If you don't find a teacher soon, you'll live this life in vain. It's true, you have the buddha-nature. But the help of a teacher you'll never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher's help.
If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn't need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you're so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you'll understand.
People who don't understand and think they can do so without study are no different from those deluded souls who can't tell white from black." Falsely proclaiming the Buddha-Dharma, such persons in fact blaspheme the Buddha and subvert the Dharma. They preach as if they were bringing rain. But theirs is the preaching of devils not of Buddhas. Their teacher is the King of Devils and their disciples are the Devil's minions. Deluded people who follow such instruction unwittingly sink deeper in the Sea of Birth and Death.
Unless they see their nature, how can people call themselves Buddhas they're liars who deceive others into entering the realm of devils. Unless they see their nature, their preaching of the Twelvefold Canon is nothing but the preaching of devils. Their allegiance is to Mara, not to the Buddha. Unable to distinguish white from black, how can they escape birth and death?
Whoever sees his nature is a buddha; whoever doesn't is a mortal. But if you can find your buddha-nature apart from your mortal nature, where is it? Our mortal nature is our buddha nature. Beyond this nature there's no Buddha. The Buddha is our nature. There's no buddha besides this nature. And there's no nature besides the buddha.
[Student:] But suppose I don't see my nature, cant I still attain enlightenment by invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, observing precepts, Practicing devotions, or doing good works?
No, you can't.
[Student:] Why not?
If you attain anything at all, it's conditional, it's karmic. It results in retribution. It turns the Wheel. And as long as you're subject to birth and death, you'll never attain enlightenment. To attain enlightenment you have to see your nature. Unless you see your nature, all this talk about cause and effect is nonsense. Buddhas don't practice nonsense. A Buddha free of karma free of cause and effect. To say he attains anything at all is to slander a Buddha. What could he possibly attain? Even focusing on a mind, a power, an understanding, or a view is impossible for a Buddha. A Buddha isn't one sided. The nature of his mind is basically empty, neither pure nor impure. He's free of practice and realization. He's free of cause and effect.
A buddha doesn't observe precepts. A Buddha doesn't do good or evil. A Buddha isn't energetic or lazy. A Buddha is someone who does nothing, someone who can't even focus his mind on a Buddha. A Buddha isn't a Buddha. Don't think about Buddhas. If you dont see what I'm talking about, you'll ever know your own mind.
People who don't see their nature and imagine they can practice thoughtlessness all the time are lairs and fools. They fall into endless space. They're like drunks. They can't tell good from evil. If you intend to cultivate such a practice, you have to see your nature before you can put an end to rational thought. To attain enlightenment without seeing your nature is impossible.
Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn't exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty committing evil isn't wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception.
[Student:] But if our every movement or state, whenever it occurs, is the mind, why don't we see this mind when a person's body dies?
The mind is always present. You just don't see it.
[Student:] But if the mind is present, why don't I see it?
Do you ever dream?
[Student:] Of course.
When you dream, is that you?
[Student:] Yes, it's me.
And is what you're doing and saying different from you?
[Student:] No, it isn't.
But if it isn't, then this body is your real body. And this real body is your mind. And this mind, through endless kalpas without beginning, has never varied. It has never lived or died, appeared or disappeared, increased or decreased. Its not pure or impure, good or evil, past or future. It's not true or false. It's not mate or female. It doesn't appear as a monk or a layman, an elder or a novice, a sage or a fool, a Buddha or a mortal. It strives ‘for no realization and suffers no karma. It has no strength or form. It's like space. You can't possess it and you can't lose it. Its movements can't be blocked by mountains, rivers, or rock walls. Its unstoppable powers penetrate the Mountain of Five Skandhas and cross the River of Samsara." No karma can restrain this real body. But this mind is subtle and hard to see. It's not the same as the sensual mind. Every I one wants to see this mind, and those who move their hands and feet by its light are as many as the grains of sand along the Ganges, but when you ask them, they can't explain it. They're like puppets. It's theirs to use. Why don't they see it?
The Buddha said people are deluded. This Is why when they act they fall into the river of endless rebirth. And when they try to get out they only sink deeper. And all because they don't see their nature. If people weren't deluded why would they ask about something right in front of them? Not one of they understands the movement of his own hands and feet. The Buddha wasn't mistaken. Deluded people don't know who they are. A Buddha and no one else know something so hard to fathom. Only the wise knows mind, this mind call nature, this mind called liberation. Neither life nor death can restrain this mind. Nothing can. It's also called the Unstoppable Tathagata," the Incomprehensible, the Sacred Self, the Immortal, the Great Sage. Its names vary but not its essence. Buddhas vary too, but none leaves his own mind.
The mind's capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is your entire mind. At every moment, where language can't go, that's your mind.
The sutras say, "A Tathagata's forms are endless. And so is his awareness." The endless variety of forms is due to the mind. Its ability to distinguish things, whatever their movement or state, is the mind's awareness. But the mind has no form and its awareness no limit. Hence it's said, "A Tathagata's forms are endless. And so is his awareness."
A material body of the four elements" is trouble. A material body is subject to birth and death. But the real body exists without existing, because a Tathagata's real body never changes. The sutras say, "People should realize that the buddha-nature is something they have always had." Kashyapa only realized his own nature.
Our nature is the mind. And the mind is our nature. This nature is the same as the mind of all Buddhas. Buddhas of the past and future only transmit this mind. Beyond this mind there's no Buddha anywhere. But deluded people don't realize that their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside. They never stop invoking Buddhas or worshipping Buddhas and wondering Where is the buddha? Don't indulge in such illusions. Just know your mind. Beyond your mind there's no other Buddha. The sutras say, "Everything that has form is an illusion." They also say, "Wherever you are, there's a Buddha." Your mind is the Buddha. Don't use a Buddha to worship a Buddha.
Even if a Buddha or bodhisattva" should suddenly appear before you, there's no need for reverence. This mind of ours is empty and contains no such form. Those who hold onto appearances are devils. They fall from the Path. Why worship illusions born of the mind? Those who worship don't know, and those who know don't worship. By worshipping you come under the spell of devils. I point this out because 1 afraid you're unaware of it. The basic nature of a Buddha has no such form. Keep this in mind, even if something unusual should appear. Don't embrace it, and don't fear it, and don't doubt that your Mind is basically pure. Where could there be room for any such form? Also, at the appearance of spirits, demons, or divine conceive neither respect nor fear. Your mind is basically empty. All appearances are illusions. Don't hold on to appearances.
If you envision a Buddha, a Dharma, or a bodhisattva" and conceive respect for them, you relegate yourself to the realm of mortals. If you seek direct understanding, don't hold on to any appearance whatsoever, and you'll succeed. I have no other advice. The sutras say, "All appearances are illusions." They have no fixed existence, o constant form. They're impermanent. Don't cling to appearances and you'll be of one mind with the Buddha. The sutras say, "'That which is free of all form is the buddha."
[Student:] But why shouldn't we worship Buddhas and bodhisattvas?
Devils and demons possess the power of manifestation. They can create the appearance of bodhisattvas in all sorts of guises. But they're false. None of them are Buddhas. The Buddha is your own mind. Don't misdirect your worship.
Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, arching your brows blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, its all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path. And the path is Zen. But the word Zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it's not Zen.
Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a Buddha. The true Way is sublime. It can't be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can't read a word. Someone who sees his nature is a Buddha. And since a Buddha's body is intrinsically pure and unsullied, and everything he says is an expression of his mind, being basically empty, a buddha can't be found in words or anywhere in the Twelvefold Canon.
The Way is basically perfect. It doesn't require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound. It's subtle and hard to perceive. It's like when you drink water: you know how hot or cold it is, but you can't tell others. Of that which only a Tathagata knows men and gods remain unaware. The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as ,they're attached to appearances, they're unaware that their minds are empty. And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things they lose the Way.
If you know that everything comes from the mind, don't become attached. Once attached, you're unaware. But once you see your own nature, the entire Canon becomes so much prose. Its thousands of sutras and shastras only amount to a clear mind. Understanding comes in midsentence. What good are doctrines?
The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They're not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are illusions. They're no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages, forested parks or lakeside ‘lions. Don't conceive any delight for such things. They're all cradles of rebirth. Keep this in mind when you approach death. Don't cling to appearances, and you'll break through all barriers. A moment's hesitation and you'll be under the spell of devils. Your real body is pure and impervious. But because of delusions you're unaware of it. And because of this you suffer karma in vain. Wherever you find delight, you find bondage. But once you awaken to your original body and mind," you're no longer bound by attachments.
Anyone, who gives up the transcendent for the mundane, ill any of its myriad forms, is a mortal. A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad. Such is his power that karma can't hold him. No matter what kind of karma Buddha transforms it. Heaven and hell are nothing to him. But the awareness of a mortal is dim compared to that of a Buddha who penetrates everything inside and out.
If you're not sure don't act. Once you act, you wander through birth and death and regret having no refuge. Poverty and hardship are created by false thinking. To understand this mind you have to act without acting. Only then will you see things from a Tathagata's perspective.
But when you first embark on the Path, your awareness won't focused. But you shouldn't doubt that all such scenes come from your own mind and nowhere else.
If, as in a dream, you see a light brighter than the sun, your remaining attachments will suddenly come to an end and the nature of reality will be revealed. Such an occurrence serves as the basis for enlightenment. But this is something only you know. You can't explain it to others.
Or if, while you're walking, standing, sitting, or lying in a quiet grove, you see a light, regardless of whether it's bright or dim, don't tell others and don't focus on it. It's the light of your own nature.
Or if, while you're walking, standing, sitting, or lying in the stillness and darkness of night, everything appears as though in daylight, don't be startled. It's your own mind about to reveal itself.
Or if, while you're dreaming at night, you see the moon and stars in all their clarity, it means the workings of your mind are about to end. But don't tell others. And if your dreams aren't clear, as if you were walking in the dark, it's because your mind is masked by cares. This too is something of you know.
If you so your nature, you don't need to read sutras or invoke buddhas. Erudition and Knowledge are not only useless but also cloud your awareness. Doctrines are only for pointing to the mind. Once you see your mind, why pay attention to doctrines?
To go from mortal to Buddha, you have to put an end to karma, nurture your awareness, and accept what life brings. If you're always getting angry, you'll turn your nature against the Way. There's no advantage in deceiving yourself. Buddhas move freely through birth and death, appearing and disappearing at will. They can't be restrained by karma or overcome by devils.
Once mortals see their nature, all attachments end. Awareness isn't hidden. But you can only find it right now. It's only now. If you really want to find the Way, don't hold on to anything. Once you put an end to karma and nurture your awareness, any attachments that remain will come to an end. Understanding comes naturally. You don't have to make any effort. But fanatics don't understand what the Buddha meant. And the harder they try, the farther they get from the Sage's meaning. All day long they invoke Buddhas and read sutras. But they remain blind to their own divine nature, and they don't escape the Wheel.
A buddha is an idle person. He doesn't run around after fortune and fame. What good are such things in the end? People who don't see their nature and think reading sutras, invoking Buddhas', studying long and hard, practicing morning and night, never lying down, or acquiring knowledge is the Dharma, blaspheme the Dharma. Buddhas of the past and future only talk about seeing your nature. All practices are impermanent. Unless they see their nature people who claim to have attained unexcelled, complete enlightenment are liars.
Among Shakyamuni's ten greatest disciples, Ananda was foremost in learning. But he didn't know the Buddha. All he did was study and memorize. Arhats don't know the Buddha. All they know are so many practices for realization, and they become trapped by cause and effect. Such is a mortal's karma: no escape from birth and death. By doing the opposite of what lie intended, Such people blaspheme the Buddha. Killing them would not be wrong. The sutras say, "Since icchantikas are incapable of belief, killing them would be blameless, whereas people who believe reach the state of Buddhahood."
Unless you see your nature, You shouldn't go around criticizing the goodness of others. There's no advantage in deceiving yourself. Good and bad are distinct. Cause and effect are clear. Heaven and hell are right before your eves. But fools don't believe and fall straight into a hell of endless darkness without even knowing it. What keeps them from believing is the heaviness of their karma. They're like blind people who don't believe there's such a thing as light. Even if you explain it to them, they still don t believe, because they're blind. How can they possibly distinguish light?
The same holds true for fools who end up among the lower orders of existence or among the poor and despised. They can't live and they can't die. And despite their sufferings, if you ask them, they say they're as happy as gods. All mortals even those who think themselves wellborn, are likewise unaware. Because of the heaviness of their karma, such fools can't believe and can't get free.
People who see that their mind is the Buddha don't need to shave their head" Laymen are Buddhas too. Unless they see their nature, people who shave their head are simply fanatics.
[Student:] But since married laymen don't give up sex, bow can they become Buddhas?
I only talk about seeing your nature. I don't talk about sex simply because you don't see your nature. Once you see your nature, sex is basically immaterial. It ends along with your delight in it. Even if some habits remain', they can't harm you, because your nature is essentially pure. Despite dwelling in a material body of four elements, your nature is basically pure. It can't be corrupted. Your real body is basically pure. It can't be corrupted. Your real body has no sensation, no hunger or thirst', no warmth or cold, no sickness, no love or attachment, no pleasure or pain, no good or bad, no shortness or length, no weakness or strength. Actually, there's nothing here. It's only because you cling to this material body that things like hunger and thirst, warmth and cold, sickness appear.
Once you stop clinging and let things be, you'll- be free, even of birth and death. You'll transform everything. You'll possess Spiritual powers " that cant be obstructed. And you'll be at peace wherever you are. If you doubt this, you'll never see through anything. You're better off doing nothing. Once you act, you can't avoid the cycle of birth and death. But once you see your nature, you're a Buddha even if you work as a butcher.
[Student:] But butchers create karma by slaughtering animals. How can they be buddhas?
I only talk about seeing your nature. I don't talk about creating karma. Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us. Through endless kalpas without beginning, its only because people don't see their nature that they end up in hell. As long as a person creates karma, he keeps passing through birth and death. But once a person realizes his original nature, he stops creating karma. If he doesn't see his nature, invoking buddhas won't release him from his karma, regardless of whether or not he's a butcher. But once he sees his nature, all doubts vanish. Even a butcher's karma has no effect on such a person.
In India the twenty-seven patriarchs only transmitted the imprint of the mind. And the only reason I've come to China is to transmit the instantaneous teaching of the Mahayana This mind is the buddha. I don't talk about precepts, devotions or ascetic practices such immersing yourself in water and fire, treading a wheel of knives, eating one meal a day, or never lying down. These are fanatical, provisional teachings. Once you recognize your moving, miraculously aware nature. Yours is the mind of all Buddhas. Buddhas of the past and future only talk about transmitting the mind. They teach nothing else if someone understands this teaching, even if he's illiterate he's a Buddha. If You don't see your own miraculously aware nature, you'll never find a Buddha even if you break your body into atoms.
The Buddha is your real body, your original mind. This mind has no form or characteristics, no cause or effect, no tendons or bones. It's like space. You can't hold it. Its not the mind or materialists or nihilists. Except for a Tathagata, no one else- no mortal, no deluded being-can fathom it.
But this mind isn't somewhere outside the material body of four elements.Without this mind we can't move. The body has no awareness. Like a plant or stone, the body has no nature. So how does it move? It's the mind that moves.
Language and behavior, perception and conception are all functions of the moving mind. All motion is the mind's motion. Motion is its function. Apart from motion there's no mind, and apart from the mind there's no motion. But motion isn't the mind. And the mind isn't motion. Motion is basically mindless. And the mind is basically motionless. But motion doesn't exist without the mind. And the mind doesn't exist without motion. Theres no mind for motion to exist apart from, and no motion for mind to exist apart from. Motion is the mind's function, and its function is its motion. Even so, the mind neither moves nor functions, the essence of its functioning is emptiness and emptiness is essentially motionless.
Motion is the same as the mind. And the mind is essentially motionless. Hence the Sutras tell us to move without moving, to travel without traveling, to see without seeing, to laugh without laughing, to hear without hearing, to know without knowing, to be happy, without being happy, to walk without walking, to stand without standing. And the sutras say, "Go beyond language. Go beyond thought." Basically, seeing, hearing, and knowing are completely empty. Your anger, Joy, or pain is like that of puppet. You search but you won't find a thing.
According to the Sutras, evil deeds result in hardships and good deeds result in blessings. Angry people go to hell and happy people go to heaven. But once you know that the nature of anger and joy is empty and you let them go, you free yourself from karma. If you don't see your nature, quoting sutras is no help, I could go on, but this brief sermon will have to do.
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
Translated by Red Pine
The essence of the Way is detachment. And the goal of those who practice is freedom from appearances. The sutras say, Detachment is enlightenment because it negates appearances. Buddhahood means awareness Mortals whose minds are aware reach the Way of Enlightenment and are therefore called Buddhas. The sutras say, "Those who free themselves from all appearances are called Buddhas." The appearance of appearance as no appearance can't be seen visually but can only be known by means of wisdom. Whoever hears and believes this teaching embarks on the Great Vehicle and leaves the three realms.
The three realms are greed, anger, and delusion. To leave the three realms means to go from greed, anger, and delusion back to morality, meditation, and wisdom. Greed, anger, and delusion have no nature of their own. They depend on mortals. And anyone capable of reflection is bound to see that the nature of greed, anger, and delusion is the buddha-nature. Beyond greed, anger, and delusion there is no other buddha-nature. The sutras say, "Bu as have only become buddhas while living with the three poisons and nourishing themselves on the pure Dharma." The three poisons are greed, anger, and delusion.
The Great Vehicle is the greatest of all vehicles. It's the conveyance of bodhisattvas, who use everything wit out using anything and who travel all day without traveling. Such is the vehicle of buddhas. The sutras say, "No vehicle is the vehicle of buddhas."
Whoever realizes that the six senses aren't real, that the five aggregates are fictions, that no such things can be located anywhere in the body, understands the language of Buddhas. The sutras say, "The cave of five aggregates is the hall of Zen. The opening of the inner eye is the door of the Great Vehicle." What could be clearer?
Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen. To know that the mind is empty is to see the Buddha. The Buddhas of the ten directions" have no mind. To see no mind is to see the buddha.
To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. To transcend motion and stillness is the highest meditation. Mortals keep moving, and Arhats stay still." But the highest meditation surpasses both that of mortals and that of Arhats. People who reach such understanding free themselves from all appearances without effort and cure all illnesses without treatment. Such is the power of great zen.
Using the mind to look for reality is delusion. Not using the mind to took for reality is awareness. Freeing oneself from words is liberation. Remaining unblemished by the dust of sensation is guarding the Dharma. Transcending life and death is leaving home. Not suffering another existence is reaching the Way. Not creating delusions is enlightenment. Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom. No affliction is nirvana. And no appearance of the mind is the other shore.
When you're deluded, this shore exists. When you wake tip, it doesn't exist. Mortals stay on this shore. But those who discover the greatest of all vehicles stay on neither this shore nor the other shore. They're able to leave both shores. Those who see the other shore as different from this shore don't understand zen.
Delusion means mortality. And awareness means Buddhahood. They're not the same. And they're not different. It's ‘List that people distinguish delusion from awareness. When we're deluded there's a world to escape. When we're aware, there's nothing to escape.
In the light of the impartial Dharma, mortals look no different from sages. The sutras say that the impartial Dharma is something that mortals can't penetrate and sages can't practice. The impartial Dharma is only practiced by great bodhisattvas and Buddhas. To look on life as different from death or on motion as different from stillness is to be partial. To be impartial means to look on suffering as no different from nirvana,, because the nature of both is emptiness. By imagining they're putting an end to Suffering and entering nirvana Arhats end up trapped by nirvana. But bodhisattvas know that suffering is essentially empty. And by remaining in emptiness they remain in nirvana. Nirvana means no birth and no death. It's beyond birth and death and beyond nirvana. When the mind stops moving, it enters nirvana. Nirvana is an empty mind. When delusions dont exist, Buddhas reach nirvana. Where afflictions don't exist, bodhisattvas enter the place of enlightenment
An uninhabited place is one without greed, anger, or delusion. Greed is the realm of desire, anger the realm of form, and delusion the formless realm. When a thought begins, you enter the three realms. When a thought ends, you leave the three realms. The beginning or end of the three realms, the existence or nonexistence of anything, depends on the mind. This applies to everything, even to such inanimate objects as rocks and sticks.
Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn't exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists. And Arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn't exist. But bodhisattvas and Buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. This is what's meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist. The mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist is called the Middle Way.
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both. Those who don't understand don't understand understanding. And those who understand, understand not understanding. People capable of true vision know that the mind is empty. They transcend both understanding and not understanding. The absence of both understanding and not understanding is true understanding.
Seen with true vision, form isn't simply form, because form depends on mind. And mind isn't simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other. That which exists exists in relation to that which doesn't exist. And that which doesn't exist doesn't exist in relation to that which exists. This is true vision. By means of such vision nothing is seen and nothing is not seen. Such vision reaches throughout the ten directions without seeing: because nothing is seen; because not seeing is seen; because seeing isn't seeing. What mortals see are delusions. True vision is detached from seeing.
The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn't stir inside, the world doesn't arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is true vision. And such understanding is true understanding.
To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding.
True vision isn't just seeing seeing. It's also seeing not seeing. And true understanding isn't just understanding understanding. It's also understanding not understanding. If you understand anything, you don't understand. Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding. Understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding.
The sutras say, "Not to let go of wisdom is stupidity." When the mind doesn't exist, understanding and not understanding are both true. When the mind exists, understanding and not understanding are both false.
When you understand, reality depends on you. When you don't understand, you depend on reality. When reality depends on you, that which isn't real becomes real. When you depend on reality, that which is real becomes false. When you depend on reality, everything is false. When reality depends on you, everything is true. Thus, the sage doesn't use his mind to look for reality, or reality to look for his mind, or his mind to look for his mind, or reality to look for reality. His mind doesn't give rise to reality. And reality doesn't give rise to his mind. And because both his mind and reality are still, he's always in samadhi.
When the mortal mind appears, buddhahood disappears. When the mortal mind disappears, buddhahood appears. When the mind appears, reality disappears. When the mind disappears, reality appears. Whoever knows that nothing depends on anything has found the Way. And whoever knows that the mind depends on nothing is always at the place of enlightenment.
When you don't understand, your wrong. When you understand, you re not wrong. This is because the nature of wrong is empty. When you don't understand right seems wrong. When you understand, wrong isn't wrong, because wrong doesn't exist. The sutras say, "Nothing has a nature of its own." Act. Don't question. When you question, you're wrong. Wrong is the result of questioning. When you reach such an understanding, the wrong deeds of your past lives are wiped away. When you're deluded, the six senses and five shades are constructs of suffering and mortality When you wake up, the six senses and five shades are constructs of nirvana and immortality.
Someone who seeks the Way doesn't look beyond himself. He knows that the mind is the Way. But when he finds the mind, he finds nothing. And when he finds the Way, he finds nothing. If you think you can use the mind to find the Way, you're deluded. When you, re deluded, buddhahood exists. When you're aware, it doesn't exist. This is because awareness is buddhahood.
If you're looking for the Way, the Way won't appear until your body' disappears. It's like stripping bark from a tree. This karmic body undergoes constant change. It has no fixed reality. Practice according to your thoughts. Don't hate life and death or love life and death. Keep your every thought free of delusion, and in life you'll witness the beg- inning of nirvana and in death you'll experience the assurance of no rebirth.
To see form but not be corrupted by form or to hear sound but not to be corrupted by sound is liberation. Eyes that aren't attached to form are the gates of Zen. In short, those who perceive the existence and nature of phenomena and remain unattached are liberated. Those who perceive the external appearance of phenomena are at their mercy. Not to be subject to afflictions is what's meant by liberation. There's no other liberation. When you know how to look at form, form doesn't give rise to mind and mind doesn't give rise to form. Form and mind are both pure.
When delusions are absent, the mind is the land of Buddhas. When delusions are present, the mind is hell. Mortals create delusions. And by using the mind to give birth to mind they always find themselves in hell. Bodhisattvas see through delusions. And by not using the mind to give birth to mind they always find themselves in the land of Buddhas. If you don't use your mind to create mind, every state of mind is empty and every thought is still. You go from one buddhaland to another. If you use your mind to create mind, every state of mind is disturbed and every thought is in motion. You go from one hell to the next. When a thought arises, there's good karma and bad karma, heaven and hell. When no thought arises, there's no good karma or bad karma, no heaven or hell.
The body neither exists nor doesn't exist. Hence existence as a mortal and nonexistence as a sage are conceptions with which a sage has nothing to do. His heart is empty and spacious as the sky.
[Student:] That which follows is witnessed on the Way. It's beyond the ken of Arhats and mortals.
When the mind reaches nirvana, you don't see nirvana, because the mind is nirvana. If you see nirvana somewhere outside the mind, you're deluding yourself.
Every suffering is a buddha-seed, because suffering impels mortals to seek wisdom. But you can only say that suffering gives rise to Buddhahood. You can't say that suffering is Buddhahood. Your body and mind are the field. Suffering is the seed, wisdom the sprout, and Buddhahood the grain.
The buddha in the mind is like a fragrance in a tree. The Buddha comes from a mind free of suffering, just as a fragrance comes from a tree free of decay. There's no fragrance without the tree and no Buddha without the mind. If there's a fragrance without a tree, it's a different fragrance. If there's a buddha without your mind, it's a different buddha.
When the three poisons are present in your mind, you live in a land of filth. When the three poisons are absent from your mind, you live in a land of purity. The sutras say, "if you fill a land with impurity and filth, no Buddha will ever appear." Impurity and filth refer to on and the other poisons. A Buddha refers to a pure and awakened mind.
There's no language that, isn't the Dharma. To talk all day without saying anything is the Way. To be silent all day and still say something isn't the Way. Hence neither does a Tathagata speech depend on silence, nor does his silence depend on speech, nor does his speech exist apart from his silence. Those who understand both speech and silence are in samadhi. If you speak when you know, Your speech is free. If you're silent when you don't know, your silence is tied. If speech isn't attached to appearances its free. If silence is attached to appearances, it's tied. Language is essentially free. It has nothing to do with attachment. And attachment has nothing to do with language.
Reality has no high or low. If you see high or low, It isn't real. A raft isn't real. But a passenger raft is. A person who rides such a raft can cross that which isn't real. That's why it's real.
According to the world there's male and female, rich and poor. According to the Way there's no male or female, no rich or poor. When the goddess realized the Way, she didn't change her sex. When the stable boy awakened to the Truth, he didn't change his status. Free of sex and status, they shared the same basic appearance. The goddess searched twelve years for her womanhood without success. To search twelve years for ones manhood would likewise be fruitless. The twelve years refer to the twelve entrances.
Without the mind there s no Buddha. Without the Buddha there is no mind. Likewise, without water there's no ice, and without ice there is no water. Whoever talks about leaving the mind doesn't get very far. Don't become attached to appearances of the mind. The sutras say, "When you see no appearance, you see the buddha." This is what's meant by being free from appearances of the mind.
Without the mind there's no buddha means that the-buddha comes from the mind. The mind gives birth to the Buddha. But although the Buddha comes from the mind, the mind doesn't come from the Buddha, just as fish come from water, but water doesn't come from fish. Whoever wants to see a fish sees the water before lie sees the fish. And whoever wants to see a Buddha sees the mind before he sees the Buddha. Once you've seen the fish, You forget about the water. And once you've seen the Buddha, you forget about the mind. If you don't forget about the mind, the mind will confuse you, just as the water will confuse you if you don't forget about it.
Mortality and Buddhahood are like water and ice. To be afflicted by the three poisons is mortality. To be purified by the three releases" is Buddhahood. That which freezes into ice in the winter melts into water in summer. Eliminate ice and there's no more water. Get rid of mortality and there's no more Buddhahood. Clearly, the nature of ice is the nature of water. And the nature of water is the nature of ice. And the nature of mortality is the nature of Buddhahood. Mortality and Buddhahood share the same nature, just as Wutou and Futzu share the same root but not the same season. It's only because of the delusion of differences that we have the words mortality and buddhahood. When a snake becomes a dragon, it doesn't change its scales. And when a mortal becomes a sage, he doesn't change his face. He knows his mind through internal wisdom and takes care of his body through external discipline.
Mortals liberate Buddhas and Buddhas liberate mortals. This is what's meant by impartiality. Mortals liberate Buddhas because affliction creates awareness. And Buddhas liberate mortals because awareness negates affliction. There can't help but be affliction. And there can't help but be awareness. If it weren't for affliction, there would be nothing to create awareness. And if it weren't for awareness, there would be nothing to negate affliction. When you're deluded, Buddhas liberate mortals. When you're aware, mortals liberate Buddhas. Buddhas don't become Buddhas on their own. They're liberated by mortals. Buddhas regard delusion as their father and greed as their mother. Delusion and greed are different names for mortality. Delusion and mortality are like the left hand and the right hand. There's no other difference.
When you're deluded, you're on this shore. When you're aware, you're on the other shore. But once you know your mind is empty and you see no appearances, you're beyond delusion and awareness. And once you're beyond delusion and awareness, the other shore doesn't exist. The tathagata isn't on this shore or the other shore. And he isn't in midstream. Arhats are in midstream and mortals are on this shore. On the other shore is buddhahood.
Buddhas have three bodies: a transformation body a reward body, and a real body. The transformation body is also called the incarnation body. The transformation body appears when mortals do good deeds, the reward body when they cultivate wisdom, and the real body when they become aware of the sublime. The transformation body is the one you see flying in all directions rescuing others wherever it can. The reward body puts an end to doubts. The Great Enlightenment occurred in the Himalayas suddenly becomes true. The real body doesn't do or say anything. It remains perfectly still. But actually, there's not even one buddha-body, much less three. This talk of three bodies is simply based on human understanding, which can be shallow, moderate, or deep.
People of shallow understanding imagine they're piling up blessings and mistake the transformation body for the Buddha. People of moderate understanding imagine they're putting an end to Suffering and mistake the reward body for the Buddha. And people of deep understanding imagine they're experiencing Buddhahood and mistake the real body for the Buddha. But people of the deepest understanding took within, distracted by nothing. Since a clear mind is the Buddha they attain the understanding of a Buddha without using the mind. The three bodies, like all other things, are unattainable and indescribable. The unimpeded mind reaches the Way. The sutras say, " Buddhas don't preach the Dharma. They don't liberate mortals. And they don't experience Buddhahood." This is what I mean.
Individuals create karma; karma doesn't create individuals. They create karma in this life and receive their reward in the next. They never escape. Only someone who's perfect creates no karma in this life and receives no reward. The sutras say, "Who creates no karma obtains the Dharma." This isn't an empty saying. You can create karma but you can't create a person. When you create karma, you're reborn along with your karma. When you don't create karma, you vanish along with your karma. Hence, wit karma dependent on the individual and the individual dependent on karma, if an individual doesn't create karma, karma has no hold on him. In the same manner, "A person can enlarge the Way. The Way can't enlarge a person."
Mortals keep creating karma and mistakenly insist that there's no retribution. But can they deny suffering? Can they deny that what the present state of mind sows the next state of mind reaps? How can they escape? But if the present state of mind sows nothing, the next state of mind reaps nothing. Don't misconceive karma.
The sutras say, "Despite believing in Buddhas, people who imagine that Buddhas practice austerities aren't Buddhists. The same holds for those who imagine that Buddhas are subject to rewards of wealth or poverty. They're icchantikas. They're incapable of belief."
Someone who understands the teaching of sages is a sage. Someone who understands the teaching of mortals is a mortal. A mortal who can give up the teaching of mortals and follow the teaching of sages becomes a sage. But the fools of this world prefer to look for sage a away. They don't believe that the wisdom of their own mind is the sage. The sutras say, "Among men of no understanding, don't preach this sutra. And the sutras say, "Mind is the teaching." But people of no understanding don't believe their own mind or that by understanding this teaching they can become a sage. They prefer to look for distant knowledge and long for things in space, buddha-images, light, incense, and colors. They fall prey to falsehood and lose their minds to insanity.
The sutras say, "When you see that all appearances are not appearances, you see the tathagata." The myriad doors to the truth all come from the mind. When appearances of the mind are as transparent as space, they're gone.
Our endless sufferings are the roots of illness. When mortals are alive, they worry about death. When they're full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty. But sages don't consider the past. And they don't worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. And from moment to moment they follow the Way. If you haven't awakened to this great truth, you'd better look for a teacher on earth or in the heavens. Don't compound your own deficiency.
The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
Translated by Red Pine
[Student:] IF someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method he can practice?
The most essential method, which includes all other methods, is beholding the mind.
[Student:] But how can one method include all others?
The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It's like the root of a tree. All a tree's fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don't understand the mind practice in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.
[Student:] But bow can beholding the mind be called understanding?
When a great bodhisattva delves deeply into perfect wisdom, he realizes that the four elements and five shades are devoid of a personal self. And he realizes that the activity of his mind has two aspects: pure and impure. By their very nature, these two mental states are always present. They alternate as cause or effect depending on conditions, the pure mind delighting in good deeds, the impure mind thinking of evil. Those who aren't affected by impurity are sages. They transcend suffering and experience the bliss of nirvana. All others, trapped by the impure mind and entangled by their own karma, are mortals. They drift through the three realms and suffer countless afflictions and all because their impure mind obscures their real self.
The Sutra of Ten Stages says, "in the body of mortals is the indestructible buddha-nature. Like the sun, its light fills endless space, But once veiled by the dark clouds of the five shades, it's like a light ‘inside a ‘at, hidden from view." And the Nirvana Sutra says, "All mortals have the buddha-nature. But it's covered by darkness from which they can't escape. Our buddha-nature is awareness: to be aware and to make others aware. To realize awareness is liberation," Everything good has awareness for its root. And from this root of awareness grow the tree of all virtues and the fruit of nirvana. Beholding the mind like this is understanding.
[Student:] You say that our true Buddha-nature and all virtues have awareness for their root. But what is the root of ignorance?
The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion. These three poisoned states of mind themselves include countless evils, like trees that have a single trunk but countless branches and leaves. Yet each poison produces so many more millions of evils that the example of a tree is hardly a fitting comparison.
The three poisons are present in our six sense organs as six kinds of consciousness or thieves. They're called thieves because they pass in and out of the gates of the senses, covet limitless possessions, and mask their true identity. And because mortals are misled in body and mind by these poisons or thieves, they become lost in life and death, wander through the six states of existence, and suffer countless afflictions. These afflictions are like rivers that surge for a thousand miles because of the constant flow of small springs. But if someone cuts off their source, rivers dry up. And if someone who seeks liberation can turn the three poisons into the three sets of precepts and the six thieves into the six paramitas, he rids himself of affliction once and for all.
[Student:] But the three realms and six states of existence are infinitely vast. How can we escape their endless afflictions if all we do is behold the mind?
The karma of the three realms comes from the mind alone. If your mind isn't within the three realms, it's beyond them. The three realms correspond to the three poisons- greed corresponds to the realm of desire, anger to the realm of form, and delusion to the formless realm. And because karma created by the poisons can be gentle or heavy, these three realms are further divided into six places known as the six states of existence.
[Student:] And bow does the karma of these six differ?
Mortals who don't understand true practice and blindly perform good deeds are born into the three higher states of existence within the three realms. And what are these three higher states? Those who blindly perform the ten good deeds and foolishly seek happiness are born as gods in the realm of desire. Those who blindly observe the five precepts and foolishly indulge in love and hate are born as men in the realm of anger, And those who blindly cling to the phenomenal world, believe in false doctrines, and pray for blessings are born as demons in the realm of delusion. These are the three higher states of existence.
And what are the three lower states? They're where those who persist in poisoned thoughts and evil deeds are born. Those whose karma from greed is greatest become hungry ghosts. Those whose karma from anger is greatest become sufferers in hell. And those whose karma from delusion is greatest become beasts. These three lower states together with the previous three higher states form the six states of existence. From this you should realize that all karma, painful or otherwise, comes from your own mind. If you can just concentrate your mind and transcend its falsehood and evil, the suffering of the three realms and six states of existence will automatically disappear. And once free from suffering, you're truly free.
[Student:] But the Buddha said, "Only after undergoing innumerable hardships for three asankhya kalpas did I achieve enlightenment," Why do you now say that simply beholding the mind and over-coming the three poisons is liberation?
The words of the Buddha are true. But the three-asankhya kalpas refer to the three poisoned states of mind. What we call asankhya in Sanskrit you call countless. Within these three poisoned states of mind are countless evil thoughts, And every thought lasts a kalpa. Such an infinity is what the Buddha meant by the three asankhya kalpas.
Once the three poisons obscure your real self, how can you be called liberated until you overcome their countless evil thoughts? People who can transform the three poisons of greed, anger, and delusion into the three releases are said to pass through the three-sankhya kalpas. But people of this final age are the densest of fools. They don't understand what the Tathagata really meant by the three-asankhya kalpas. They say enlightenment is only achieved after endless kalpas and thereby mislead disciples to retreat on the path to buddhahood.
[Student:] But the great bodbisattvas have achieved enlightenment only by observing the three sets of precepts"' and practicing the six Paramitas, Now you tell disciples merely to behold the mind. How can anyone reach enlightenment without cultivating the rules of discipline?
The three sets of precepts are for overcoming the three poisoned states of mind, When you overcome these poisons, you create three sets of limitless virtue, A set gathers things together-in this case, countless good thoughts throughout your mind. And the six paramitas are for purifying the six senses. What we call paramitas you call means to the other shore. By purifying your six senses of the dust of sensation, the paramitas ferry you across the River of Affliction to the Shore of Enlightenment.
[Student:] According to the sutras, the three sets of precepts are, "I vow, to put an end to all evils. I vow to cultivate all virtues. And I vow to liberate all beings." But now you say they're only for controlling the three poisoned states of mind. Isn't this contrary to the meaning of the scriptures?
The sutras of the Buddha are true. But long ago, when that great bodhisattva was cultivating the seed of enlightenment, it was to counter the three poisons that he made his three vows. Practicing moral prohibitions to counter the poison of greed, he vowed to put an end to all evils. Practicing meditation to Counter the poison of anger, he vowed to cultivate all virtues. And practicing wisdom to counter the poison of delusion, he vowed to liberate all beings. Because he persevered in these three pure practices of morality, meditation, and wisdom, he was able to overcome the three poisons and reach enlightenment. By overcoming the three poisons he wiped out everything sinful and thus put an end to evil. By observing the three sets of precepts he did nothing but good and thus cultivated virtue. And by putting an end to evil and cultivating virtue lie consummate all practices, benefited himself as well as others, and rescued mortals everywhere. Thus he liberated beings.
You should realize that the practice you cultivate doesn't exist apart from your mind. If your mind is pure, all buddha-lands are pure. The sutras say, "if their minds are impure, beings are impure. If their minds are pure, beings are pure," And "To reach a buddha-land, purify your mind. As your mind becomes pure, buddha-lands become pure." Thus by overcoming the three poisoned states of mind the three sets of precepts are automatically fulfilled.
[Student:] But the sutras say the six Paramitas are charity, morality, patience, devotion, meditation, and wisdom. Now you say the paramitas refer to the purification of the senses. What do you mean by this? And why are they called ferries?
Cultivating the paramitas means purifying the six senses by overcoming the six thieves. Casting out the thief of the eye by abandoning the visual world is charity. Keeping out the thief of the ear by not listening to sound is morality. Humbling the thief of the nose by equating smells as neutral is patience. Controlling the thief of the mouth by conquering desires to taste, praise, and explain is devotion. Quelling the thief of the body by remaining unmoved by sensations of touch is meditation. And taming the thief of the mind by not yielding to delusions but practicing wakefulness is wisdom, These six paramitas are transports. Like boats or rafts, they transport beings to the other shore. Hence they're called ferries.
[Student:] But when Sbakyamuni was a bodhisattva, he consumed three bowls of milk and six ladles of gruel prior to attaining enlightenment. If he bad to drink milk before be could taste the fruit of buddhahood, how can merely beholding the mind result in liberation?
What you say is true. That is how he attained enlightenment. He had to drink milk before he could become a Buddha. But there are two kinds of milk. That which Shakyamuni drank wasn't ordinary impure milk but Pure Dharma-talk. The three bowls were the three sets of precepts. And the six ladies were the six paramitas. When Sbakyamuni attained enlightenment, it was because he drank this pure dharma-rnilk that he tasted the fruit of Buddhahood. To say that the Tathagata drank the worldly concoction of impure, rank-smelling cow's milk is the height of slander. That which is truly so, the indestructible, passionless Dharma-self, remains forever free of the world's afflictions. Why would it need impure milk to satisfy its hunger or thirst?
The sutras say, "This ox doesn't live in the highlands or the lowlands. It doesn't eat grain or chaff. And it doesn't graze with cows. The body of this ox is the color of burnished gold." The ox refers to Vairocana. Owing to his great compassion for all beings, he produces from within his pure Dharma-body the sublime Dharma-milk of the three sets of precepts and six paramitas to nourish all those who seek liberation. The pure milk of such a truly pure ox not only enabled the ‘tathagata to achieve buddhahood but also enables any being who drinks it to attain unexcelled, complete enlightenment.
[Student:] Throughout the sutras the Buddha tells mortals they can achieve enlightenment by performing such meritorious works as building monasteries, casting statues, burning incense, scattering flowers, lighting eternal lamps, practicing all six periods" of the day and night, walking around stupas, observing fasts, and worshipping. But if beholding the mind includes all other practices, then such works as these would appear redundant.
The sutras of the Buddha contain countless metaphors. Because mortals have shallow minds and don't understand anything deep, the Buddha used the tangible to represent the sublime. People who seek blessings by concentrating on external works instead of internal cultivation are attempting the impossible.
What you call a monastery we call a sangbarama, a place of purity. But whoever denies entry to the three poisons and keeps the gates of his senses pure, his body and mind still, inside and outside clean, builds a monastery.
Casting statues refers to all practices cultivated by those who seek enlightenment. The Tathagata's sublime form can't be represented by metal. Those who seek enlightenment regard their bodies as the furnace, the Dharma as the fire, wisdom as the craftsmanship, and the three sets of precepts and six paramitas as the mold. They smelt and refine the true buddha-nature within themselves and pour it into the mold formed by the rules of discipline. Acting in perfect accordance with the -Buddha's teaching, they naturally create a perfect likeness. ‘Me eternal, sublime body isn't subject to conditions or decay. If you seek the Truth but dont learn how to make a true likeness, what will you use in its place?
And burning incense doesn't mean ordinary material incense but the incense of the intangible Dharma, which drives away filth, ignorance, and evil deeds with its perfume. There are five kinds of such Dharma-incense. First is the incense of morality, which means renouncing evil and cultivating virtue. Second is the incense of meditation, which means deeply believing in the Mahayana with unwavering resolve. Third is the incense of wisdom, which means contemplating the body and mind, inside and out. Fourth is the incense of liberation, which means severing the bonds of ignorance. And fifth is the incense of perfect knowledge, which means being always aware and nowhere obstructed. These five are the most precious kinds of incense and far superior to anything the world has to offer.
When the Buddha was in the world, he told his disciples to light such precious incense with the fire of awareness as an offering to the Buddhas of the ten directions. But people today don't understand the Tathagata's real meaning. They use an ordinary flame to light material incense of sandalwood or frankincense and pray for some future blessing that never comes.
For scattering flowers the same holds true. This refers to speaking the Dharma, scattering flowers of virtue, in order to benefit others and glorify the real sell. These flowers of virtue are those praised by the Buddha. They last forever and never fade. And whoever scatters such flowers reaps infinite blessings. If you think the Tathagata meant for people to harm plants by cutting off their flowers, you're wrong. Those who observe the precepts don't injure any of the myriad life forms of heaven and earth. If you hurt something by mistake, you suffer for it. But those who intentionally break the precepts by injuring the living for the sake of future blessings suffer even more, How could they let would-be blessings turn into sorrows?
The eternal lamp represents perfect awareness. Likening the illumination of awareness to that of a lamp, those who seek liberation see their body as the lamp, their mind as its wick, the addition of discipline as its oil, and the power of wisdom as its flame. By lighting this lamp of perfect awareness they dispel all darkness and delusion. And by passing this Dharma on to others they're able to use one lamp to light thousands of lamps. And because these lamps likewise light countless other lamps, their light lasts forever.
Long ago, there was a Buddha named Dipamkara, or lamplighter. This was the meaning of his name. But fools don't understand the metaphors of the Tathagata. Persisting in delusions and clinging to the tangible, they light lamps of everyday vegetable oil and think that by illuminating the interiors of buildings they're following the Buddha's teaching. How foolish! The light released by a Buddha from one curl between his brows can illuminate countless worlds. An oil lamp is no help. Or do you think otherwise?
Practicing all six periods of the day and night means constantly cultivating enlightenment among the six senses and persevering in every form of awareness. Never relaxing control over the six senses is what's meant by all six periods.
As for walking around stupas, the stupa is your body and mind. When your awareness circles your body and mind without stopping, this is called walking around a stupa. The sages of long ago followed this path to nirvana. But people today don't understand what this means. Instead of looking inside they insist on looking outside. They use their material bodies to walk around material stupas. And they keep at it day and night, wearing themselves out in vain and coming no closer to their real self.
The same holds true for observing a fast. It's useless unless you understand what this really means. To fast means to regulate, to regulate your body and mind so that they're not distracted or disturbed. And to observe means to uphold, to uphold the rules of discipline according to the Dharma. Fasting means guarding against the six attractions on the outside and the three poisons on the inside and striving through contemplation to purify your body and mind.
Fasting also includes five kinds of food. First there's delight in the Dharma. This is the delight that comes from acting in accordance with the Dharma. Second is harmony in meditation. This is the harmony of body and mind that comes from seeing through subject and object. Third is invocation, the invocation of Buddhas with both your month and your mind. Fourth is resolution, the resolution to pursue virtue whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. And fifth is liberation, the liberation of your mind from worldly contamination. These five are the foods of fasting. Unless a person eats these five pure foods, he's wrong to think he's fasting.
Also, once you stop eating the food of delusion, if you touch it again you break your fast. And once you break it, you reap no blessing from it. The world is full of deluded people who don't see this. They indulge their body and mind in all manner of evil. They give free rein to their passions and have no shame. And when they stop eating ordinary food, they call it fasting. How absurd!
It's the same with worshipping. You have to understand the meaning and adapt to conditions. Meaning includes action and nonaction. Whoever understands this follows the Dharma.
Worship means reverence and humility it means revering your real self and humbling delusions. If you can wipe out evil desires and harbor good thoughts, even if nothing shows its worship. Such form is its real form.
The Lord wanted worldly people to think of worship as expressing humility and subduing the mind. So he told them to prostrate their bodies to show their reverence, to let the external express the internal, to harmonize essence and form. Those who fail to cultivate the inner meaning and concentrate instead on the outward expression never stop indulging in ignorance, hatred, and evil while exhausting themselves to no avail. They can deceive others with postures, remain shameless before sages and vain before mortals, but they'll never escape the Wheel, much less achieve any merit.
[Student:] But the Bathhouse Sutra says, "By contributing to the bathing of monks, people receive limitless blessings." This would appear to be an instance of external practice achieving merit. How does this relate to beholding the mind?
Here, the bathing of monks doesn't refer to the washing of anything tangible. When the Lord preached the Bathhouse Sutra, he wanted his disciples to remember the Dharma of washing. So he used an everyday concern to convey his real meaning, which he couched in his explanation of merit from seven offerings. Of these seven, the first is clear water, the second fire, the third soap, the fourth willow catkins, the fifth pure ashes, the sixth ointment, and the seventh the inner garment He used these seven to represent seven other things that cleanse and enhance a person by eliminating the delusion and filth of a poisoned mind.
The first of these seven is morality, which washes away excess just as r water washes away dirt. Second is wisdom, which penetrates subject and object, just as fire warms water. Third is discrimination, w1udi gets rid Of evil practices, just as soap gets rid of grime. Fourth is honesty, which purges delusions, just as chewing willow catkins purifies the breath. Fifth is true faith, which resolves all doubts, just as rubbing pure ashes on the body prevents illnesses. Sixth is patience, which overcomes resistance and disgrace, just as ointment softens the skin. And seventh is shame, which redresses evil deeds, just as the inner garment covers up an ugly body. These seven represent the real meaning of the sutra. When he spoke this sutra, the Tathagata was talking to farsighted followers of the Mahayana, not to narrow-minded people of dim vision. It's not surprising that people nowadays don't understand.
The bathhouse is the body. When you light the fire of wisdom, you warm the pure water of the precepts and bathe the true Buddha nature within you. By upholding these seven practices you add to your virtue. The monks of that age were perceptive. They understood the Buddha's meaning. They followed his reaching, perfected their virtue, and tasted the fruit of Buddhahood. But people nowadays can't fathom these things. They use ordinary water to wash a physical body and think they're following the sutra. But they're mistaken.
Our true buddha-nature has no shape. And the dust of affliction has no form. How can people use ordinary water to wash an intangible body? It won't work. When will they wake up? To clean such a body you have to behold it. Once impurities and filth arise from desire, they multiply until they cover you inside and out. But if you try to wash this body of yours, you have to scrub until it's nearly gone before it's clean. From this you should realize that washing something external isn't What the Buddha meant.
[Student:] The sutras say that someone who wholeheartedly invokes the Buddha is sure to be reborn in the Western Paradise. Since is door leads to Buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind?
If you're going to invoke the Buddha, you have to do it right. Unless you understand what invoking means, you'll do it wrong. And if you do it wrong, you'll never go anywhere.
Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might. This is what's meant by invoking. Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language.
To invoke the Buddha's name you have to understand the Dharma of invoking. If it's not present in your mind, your mouth chants an empty name. As long as you're troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the Buddha and you'll only waste your effort. Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it's called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won't find a thing. Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech.
This mind is the source of all virtues. And this mind is the chief of all powers, The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest. Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind. The mind is the door to every world and the mind is the ford to the other shore. Those who know where the door is don't worry about reaching it. Those who know where the ford is don't worry about crossing it.
The people I meet nowadays are superficial. They think of merit as something that has form. They squander their wealth and butcher creatures of land and sea. They foolishly concern themselves with erecting statues and stupas, telling people to pile up lumber and bricks, to paint this blue and that green. They strain body and mind, injure themselves and mislead others. And they don't know enough to be ashamed. How will they ever become enlightened? They see something tangible and instantly become attached. If you talk to them about formlessness, they sit there dumb and confused. Greedy for the small mercies of this world, they remain blind to the great suffering to come. Such disciples wear themselves out in vain. Turning from the true to the false, they talk about nothing but future blessings.
If you can simply concentrate your mind's Inner Light and behold its outer illumination, you'll dispel the three poisons and drive away the six thieves once and for all. And without effort gain possession of an infinite number of virtues, perfections, and doors to the truth, Seeing through the mundane and witnessing the sublime is less than an eye-blink away, Realization is now. Why worry about gray hair? But the true door is hidden and can't be revealed. I have only touched upon beholding the mind.
Great Master Bodhidharma's Outline For Discerning the Mahayana
Entering the Way By Four Practices and Contemplation
By Bodhidharma, (d. circa 532)
The Twenty-Eighth Ancestral Founder of the Dhyana Lineage of the Ekayana School of Southern India
The First Ancestral Founder of the Zen Lineage of China
Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel © 2008/2012
Man enters the Way by many roads. But in summary we speak of not going beyond two kinds of cultivating. The first is entering by principle. The second is entering by practice.
That which is "entering by principle" designates awakening to the lineage by relying on the teaching with profound faith that holds the one true nature of beings is the same. However, as a traveler is actually concealed by the dusts of false conceptions and is unable to show completely, even so, if one renounces the false, returns to the true, firmly abides in contemplation of the walls--without self and without other, with the ordinary and the sacred one and the same--solidly abides in the immovable, and furthermore, does not depend on written teachings, then one immediately takes part in a deep accord with principle without having discriminations. Being peaceful in this way is non-doing ( wuwei ) and has the name of "entering by principle."
"Entering by practice" designates four practices, and of those remaining various practices, in all cases one enters within these [four]. What are the four classes? First, the practice of retribution for wrongs. Second, the practice of according with conditioned causes. Third, the practice of nothing to seek. Fourth, the practice of corresponding to Dharma. What can be said?
“The practice of retribution for wrongs” designates a person who is practicing cultivating the Way. If at the time of receiving suffering, we face ourselves and recall the words, “I've gone through past innumerable aeons ( kalpas ) abandoning the root and following the tips, existing in the various currents and waves, hating the many arising wrongs, and disregarding harms without limit. Now, although I'm without offenses, indeed my former misfortunes have ripened as the fruit of evil karma, and neither heavenly beings ( devas ) nor humans are actually able to see where they are given out. With a willing mind I willingly receive it, all without complaint of wrongs.” A Sutra says, “On running into suffering do not grieve," Because how can you use it? Because consciousness transcends it. At the time this is born in the mind you take part in agreement with principle. In their essence, wrongs are progress in the Way. Therefore I articulate the words, "the practice of retribution for wrongs”
Second, is that which is "the practice of according with conditioned causes." The multitude of beings are without self and are unified with the karma of the conditioned causes that turn them. Suffering and joy are received together, and in every case follow the conditioned causes of beings. If we are able to win the rewards of honor and rank in affairs, it is our previous left over causes that are perceived. Now in this manner the gains of our conditioned causes are exhausted, and there is no going back. What then do we have of happiness? While gain and loss follow conditioned causes, the mind is without increase or decrease. The winds of joy do not stir the deep smooth flowing in the Way. This is therefore the articulation of the words "the practice of according with conditioned causes."
Third, is that which is "the practice of nothing to seek." Worldly people, so long in confusion, desire attachments everywhere. It goes by the name of seeking. Someone who is wise awakens to the truth, and principle will then flip-flop with the customary. With the non-doing of the tranquil mind, forms follow the turns of fortune. The myriad existences are thus empty, and the resolve for nothing is joy. Virtuous merit and darkness always follow and chase each other. As long dwelling in the Three Realms is like a house on fire, having a body in all cases is suffering. Who gains peace accordingly? Completely reaching this point one therefore renounces the various existences and stops conceptualizations to have nothing to seek. The sutra says, "If there is seeking, everyone suffers. If there is no seeking, then joy." To discern and comprehend without seeking is a true act of the practice of the Way. Therefore the words, "the practice of nothing to seek."
Fourth, is that which is "the practice of corresponding to Dharma." The Dharma is the activity of seeing the principle of the purity of the nature. By this principle the multitude of characteristics are thus empty, without taint, without attachment, without this, and without that. The sutra says, “In the Dharma there is no multitude of beings, because it is free from the defilements of the multitude of beings. In the Dharma there is no existing self, because it is free from the defilements of a self." If those who are wise are able to have faith in and expound this principle, then they are necessarily corresponding to Dharma and practicing accordingly. In the essence of the Dharma there is no stinginess. By the almsgiving ( dana ) charity of the practice of body, life, and wealth the mind is without parsimony, and one escapes and releases the three-fold emptiness [of giver, gift, and receiver]. When one is not dependent and is not attached, and only acts to leave defilements, one corresponds to converting the multitude of beings yet does not grasp at appearances. This is practicing for oneself to repeatedly be able to benefit others, and likewise be able to dignify the Way of Enlightenment. Since [the Paramita of] Almsgiving ( dana ) is like this, the remaining Five [Paramitas] are likewise just so. For eliminating delusions, one cultivates and practices the Six Paramitas, yet nothing is practiced. This is doing "the practice of corresponding to Dharma."
The end of Great Master Dharma's "Four Practices and Contemplation"
This translation is of the version at Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA). http://w3.cbeta.org/result/X63/X63n1217.htm
The Six Paramitas are the Six Transcendences or practices for crossing over the ocean of worldly confusion. In the Mahayana they are the practices of Charity ( dana ), Morality ( sila ), Patience ( kshanti ), Effort ( virya ), Meditation ( dhyana ) and Wisdom ( prajna ). As indicated by Bodhidharma, in accordance with the One Vehicle (Ekayana), the Six are manifested simultaneously in the practice of corresponding to the Dharma.
The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen > Scanned PDF
by Jeffrey L Broughton
University of California Press, 1999
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Abbreviations and Conventions 1 Introduction 1 2 Translation of the Seven Texts of the Bodhidharma Anthology 8 3 Commentary on the Biography, Two Entrances, and Two Letters 53 4 Commentary on the Records 76 App. A The Stratigraphy of the Tun-Huang Ch'an Manuscripts 96 App. B Toward a Literary History of Early Ch'an 105 Notes 119 Glossary of Chinese Logographs 165 Works Cited 169 Index 175
In the early part of this century, the discovery of a walled-up cave in northwest China led to the retrieval of a lost early Ch'an (Zen) literature of the T'ang dynasty (618-907). One of the recovered Zen texts was a seven-piece collection, the Bodhidharma Anthology . Of the numerous texts attributed to Bodhidharma, this anthology is the only one generally believed to contain authentic Bodhidharma material.
Jeffrey L. Broughton provides a reliable annotated translation of the Bodhidharma Anthology along with a detailed study of its nature, content, and background. His work is especially important for its rendering of the three Records, which contain some of the earliest Zen dialogues and constitute the real beginnings of Zen literature.
The vivid dialogues and sayings of Master Yuan, a long-forgotten member of the Bodhidharma circle, are the hallmark of the Records . Master Yuan consistently criticizes reliance on the Dharma, on teachers, on meditative practice, and on scripture, all of which lead to self-deception and confusion, he says. According to Master Yuan, if one has spirit and does not seek anything, including the teachings of Buddhism, then one will attain the quietude of liberation. The boldness in Yuan's utterances prefigures much of the full-blown Zen tradition we recognize today.
Broughton utilizes a Tibetan translation of the Bodhidharma Anthology as an informative gloss on the Chinese original. Placing the anthology within the context of the Tun-huang Zen manuscripts as a whole, he proposes a new approach to the study of Zen, one that concentrates on literary history, a genealogy of texts rather than the usual genealogy of masters.
(Rōmaji:) hekkan (hekikan)
(English:) “wall gazing” or “wall contemplation”
(magyar:) falnézés, arccal a falnak
At Shaolin Temple, Bodhidharma meditates for nine years in a cave, gaining the name Wall-Gazing Brahman 壁觀婆羅門 (Chn. = Bìguān Póluómén; Jp. = Hekikan Baramon or Menpeki Daruma 面壁達磨 (Chn: Mianbi Damo); literally the “wall-facing” or “wall-gazing” Bodhidharma.
Bodhidharma Cave (Shaolin Temple, China)
The Pacifying the Mind Dialogue 靖心
安心法門 Anxin famen [Anjin hōmon] Dharma Gate for Pacifying the Mind
Gateless Barrier, Case 41
Bodhidharma sat facing the stone wall.
The Second Patriarch stood long in the thick snow. Finally, he severed his own arm and presented it to Bodhidharma.
He said, "Your student cannot pacify his mind. You, the First Patriarch, please, give me peace of mind!"
The First Patriarch replied, "Bring that mind, I will calm it down!"
The Second Patriarch said, "I search for it everywhere, but I cannot find it!"
Bodhidharma replied, "I have already pacified it for you!"
This was the master we know as Huike of the Northern Ch'i (550-577 A.D.) whose family name was Chi, was formerly Shen Kuang. When he was born, his parents saw Wei T'ou Bodhisattva, the golden armored spiritual being, come to offer protection; thereupon they named their son "Shen Kuang" which means "spiritual light."
Eka Danpi 慧可断臂 (Lit. = Eka cutting off his elbow).
Hanging scroll, 1498. By Sesshū 雪舟 (1420-1506).
Sainenji Temple 斎年寺, Aichi Pref., Japan
一花開五葉 One Flower with Five Petals
One day Bodhidharma called together his disciples and said, “The time has come for me to return. Each of you, say something to demonstrate your understanding.”
A disciple named Daofu said, “As I see it, the function of the Way is not bound by words and speech, nor is it separate from words and speech.”
Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my skin.”
The nun Zongchi said, “According to my understanding, it is like Ananda’s glimpse of the realm of Akshobhya Buddha. Seen once, it is never seen again.”
Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my flesh.”
A disciple named Daoyu said, “The four elements are all empty and the five skandhas are without actual existence. I see that there is not a single dharma to be grasped.”
Bodhidharma said, “You’ve attained my bones.”
Finally, without saying anything, Huike bowed and stood in his place.
Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my marrow.”
And Bodhidharma recited the following poem:
Originally I came to this land
To rescue the deluded by transmitting the Dharma.
One flower will open with five petals
And the fruit will ripen by itself.
達摩 二入四行觀 Da mo er ru si xing guan
Bodhidharma's “Four Essential Practices”
Translated by Justin Lam
What is meant by the “Practice of Retribution of Emnity”? It is meant that when a path-to-enlightenment-practitioner encounters sufferings, he would think to himself this way: In the past numerous kalpas, I have given up the fundamental and followed the superficial, and wandered around various existences, during which I have engendered much injustice and hatred and have left behind limitless harm; now although I have not committed any sin, it is time the evil karma of my past calamities ripened, and no deities or human beings would be able to share that with me; I will therefore wholeheartedly accept whatever befalls me without complaining about injustice. The Sutra says, “Encounter sufferings without worry”. Why can that be? It is because our consciousness has attained the understanding. When our mind has been activated to the extent that it complies with the principle of the Dharma, we still enter the path of enlightenment despite experiencing injustice. That is why it is called the “Practice of Retribution of Enmity”.
Secondly, the “Practice of Accepting the Circumstances” means that there is no self for all sentient beings, who cycle in the sea of samsara along with circumstances and karma. The sufferings and pleasures they have to experience are all results of circumstances. If I get to experience desirable rewards, glories, etc., they were effected by causes I made in the past which now bring forth their consequences, and when the circumstances cease to exist nothing will remain. For such reasons what joy is there? One should accept the circumstances whether one gains or loses, and keep one's mind steady without increase or decrease, not affected by joyous situations and all the time following the path. This is why it is called the “Practice of Acceptance the Circumstances”.
Thirdly, by the “Practice of Non-craving”, it means that people in this world are always deluded and get attached to everything, which is called craving. A person with wisdom who understands what is real will reasonably go against what is customary and will rest his heart with asking for nothing and allowing his body to go along with fate and, with the understanding that all existences are empty, he has no wish for joy. He understands that both merits and darkness constantly follow each other and it is like living in a house on fire when one stays long in the three planes of existence, and that as long as there is this body of existence no one can achieve calm. Once one understands this one will abandon various existences, stop craving, and desire nothing. The Sutra says, “All cravings are sufferings. The absence of craving means joy”. Once one understands this absence of craving, one will really be practising the path. That is why it is the “Practice of Non-craving”.
Fourthly, the “Practice of Abiding by the Dharma” means one sees the principle of the purity of our nature as Dharma. According to this principle, various characteristics are all empty, without clinging, without attachment, and without differentiation into this or that. The Sutra says: “There is no sentient being in the Dharma, because the Dharma is not stained by the concept of ‘sentient beings'. There is no self in the Dharma, because the Dharma is not stained by the concept of ‘self'. If a person with wisdom can believe and comprehend this principle, it would be natural that he abides in the Dharma with his practicing. He should then practice the Dharma without being miserly with his body and his wealth but instead do the Buddhist practices of giving without hesitation and regret. He would fully understand the Three-Empty, would have no clinging or attachment, would aim for removing all stains, and would attempt to help the sentient beings to achieve enlightenment without attaching to characteristics. Although this is practice of oneself, it also benefits others and can also bring prestige to the bodhi path. The Paramita of Giving is like this, and so are the other five Paramitas . When one practises the six Paramitas in order to rid oneself of delusions and yet not attached to any particular practice, that is what is meant by the “Practice of Abiding by the Dharma”.
Chinese original of Bodhidharma's “Four Essential Practices” :
云何報冤行？謂修道人若受苦時，當自念言：我往昔無數劫中，棄本從末，流浪諸有，多起冤憎，違害無限，今雖無犯，是我宿殃惡業果熟，非天非人所能見與，甘心甘受，都無冤訴。經云：『逢苦不憂』，何以故？識達故。此心生時，與理相應，體冤進道，故 說言報冤行 。
二、隨緣行者，眾生無我，並緣業所轉，苦樂齊受，皆從緣生；若得勝報榮譽等事，是我過去宿因所感，今方得之，緣盡還無，何喜之有？得失從緣，心無增減，喜風不動，冥順於道，是故 說言隨緣行 。
三、無所求行者，世人長迷，處處貪着，名之為求；智者悟真，理將俗反，安心無為，形隨運 轉，萬有斯空，無所願樂，功德黑暗，常相隨逐，三界久居，猶如火宅，有身皆苦，誰得而安？了達此處，故捨諸有，止想無求。經曰：『有求皆苦，無求即樂』， 判知無求，真為道行，故言無所求。
四、稱法行者，性淨之理，目之為法。此理眾相斯空，不倚不着，無此無彼。經曰：『法無眾 生，離眾生垢故；法無有我，離我垢故』，智者若能信解此理，應當稱法而行。法體無慳身命財，行檀捨施，心無悕惜；達解三空，不倚不着，但為去垢，稱化眾 生，而不取相。此為自行，復能利他，亦能莊嚴菩提之道，檀施既爾，餘五亦然。為除妄想，修行六度，而無所行，是為稱法行。
Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices
attributed to Bodhidharma
Translated by John R. McRae
In: The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism
There are many ways of entering into enlightenment, but all of them may effectively be subsumed under two categories: the "entrance of principle" and the "entrance of practice".
The entrance of principle is to become enlightened to the Truth on the basis of the teaching. One must have a profound faith in the fact that one and the same True Nature is possessed of all sentient beings, both ordinary and enlightened, and that this True Nature is only covered up and made imperceptible by false sense impressions.
If one discards the false and takes refuge in the True, one resides frozen in "wall contemplation", in which self and other, ordinary person and sage, are one and the same; one resides fixedly without wavering, never again to be swayed by written teachings. To be thus mysteriously identified with the True Principle, to be without discrimination, serene and inactive: This is called the entrance of principle.
The entrance of practice refers to the "four practices" which encompass all other practices. They are the "practice of retribution of enmity," the "practice of acceptance of circumstances," the "practice of the absence of craving," and the "practice of accordance with the Dharma."
What is the practice of the retribution of enmity? When the practitioner of Buddhist spiritual training experiences suffering, he should think to himself:
"For innumerable eons I have wandered through the various states of existence, forsaking the fundamental for the derivative, generating a great deal of enmity and distaste and bringing an unlimited amount of injury and discord upon others. My present suffering constitutes the fruition of my past crimes and karma, rather than anything bequeathed to me from any heavenly or human being. I shall accept it patiently and contentedly, without complaint."
When you react to events in this fashion, you can be in accord with Principle, therefore this is called practice of the retribution of enmity.
The second is the practice of the acceptance of circumstances. Sentient beings have no unchanging self and are entirely subject to the impact of their circumstances. Whether one experiences suffering or pleasure, both are generated from one's circumstances. If one experiences fame, fortune, and other forms of superior karmic retribution, this is the result of past causes.
Although one may experience good fortune now, when the circumstances responsible for its present manifestation are exhausted, it will disappear. How could one take joy in good fortune? Since success and failure depend on circumstances, the mind should remain unchanged. It should be unmoved even by the winds of good fortune, but mysteriously in accordance with the Tao. Therefore, this is called the practice of acceptance of circumstances.
The third is the practice of the absence of craving. The various kinds of covetousness and attachment that people experience in their never-ending ignorance are referred to as craving. The wise person is enlightened to the Truth, the essential principle which is contrary to human convention. He pacifies his mind in inactivity and accepts whatever happens to him. Understanding that all existence is nonsubstantial, he is without desire. The sutra says: "To have craving entails suffering; to be without craving means joy." Understand clearly that to be without craving is equivalent to the true practice of the Path.
The fourth is the practice of accordance with the Dharma. The absolute principle of essential purity is called Dharma. According to this principle, all characteristics are nonsubstantial and there is no defilement and no attachment, no "this" and "that." Since this Dharma is without parsimony, one should practice the perfection of dana (selfless giving), giving of one's body, life, and possessions without any regret. In this way one benefits self as well as others ornamenting the path of enlightenment.
THE ESSENCE OF MAHAYANA PRACTICE
BY MASTER BODHIDHARMA
COMPLETE TITLE: “GREAT MASTER BODHIDHARMA’S ESSENTIAL DISCOURSE ON
ENTERING THE MAHAYANA PATH BY PRINCIPLE AND BY PRACTICE”
Translated from Chinese by the Chung Tai Translation Committee
To enter the Great Way there are many paths, but essentially
they are of two means: by Principle and by Practice.
Entering the Way by Principle means to awaken to the Truth
through the doctrine, with a deep faith that all sentient beings
have the same true nature. Obscured by the fleeting dust of
delusions, this nature cannot manifest itself. If one can relinquish
the false and turn to the true, fix the mind in “wall meditation”,
understand that there are neither self nor others, that mortals and
saints are equal and one—abiding this way without wavering,
clinging not even to the scriptures, then one is implicitly in accord
with the Principle. Being non-discriminative, still, and wu-wei is
to Enter by Principle.
Entering by Practice means following four practices that
encompass all other practices. They are: accepting adversity,
adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and acting in accordance
with the Dharma.
What is the practice of accepting adversity? When suffering,
a practitioner of the Way should reflect: “For innumerable kalpas,
I have pursued the trivial instead of the essential, drifted through
all spheres of existence, created much animosity and hatred,
maligned and harmed others endlessly. Even though now I have
done no wrong, I am reaping the karmic consequences of past
transgressions. It is something that neither gods nor men can
foresee or impose upon me. Therefore I should accept it willingly,
without any resentment or objection.” The sutra says, “Face
hardships without distress.” How? With thorough insight. With
this understanding in mind, you are in accord with the Principle,
advancing on the path through the experience of adversity. This is
called the practice of accepting adversity.
Second is the practice of adapting to conditions. Sentient
beings are without a self, being steered by karmic conditions.
Suffering and joy are experienced together as a result of cause
and conditions. Any reward, blessing or honor is a consequence of
past causes, and is gone when the necessary conditions are
exhausted. So what is there to be joyful about? Knowing that
success and failure depend on conditions, the Mind neither gains
nor loses, remaining unmoved by the winds of joy. This is to be in
harmony with the Way. Therefore it is called the practice of
adapting to conditions.
Third, to seek nothing. Ordinary people, in their perpetual
ignorance, crave and form attachments to everything, everywhere.
This is called seeking. The wise are awakened to the Truth, and
choose reason over convention; their minds are at peace and
wu-wei. All forms change with karma, all existence is empty,
hence there is nothing to be desired. Blessing and Darkness
always follow each other. This long sojourn in the Triple Realm is
like living in a burning house; to have a body is to suffer, how can
one attain peace? Those who understand this renounce all
mundane existence, cease desires, and stop seeking. The sutra
says, “To seek is to suffer, to seek nothing is bliss.” It follows that
to seek nothing is to truly follow the Way. This is the practice of
Fourth, to act in accordance with the Dharma. The principle
of intrinsic purity is the Dharma. By this principle, all forms and
characteristics are empty, without defilement and attachment,
without self or others. The sutra says, “In the Dharma there are no
sentient beings, because it is free of the impurities of sentient
beings. In the Dharma there is no self, because it is free of the
impurities of self.” When the wise believe in and understand this
Principle, they should act in accordance with the Dharma. There
is no stinginess in the Dharma, so practice the giving of body, life,
and possessions, with a mind free of parsimony. Understand and
achieve “triple emptiness”, with no reliance and no attachment.
Practicing for the sake of removing impurities, one liberates
others without becoming attached to form. This benefits oneself,
benefits others, and also glorifies the bodhi path. This is the
perfection of dana; it is likewise with the other five paramitas. In
order to relinquish delusions, one practices these six perfections,
yet there is nothing that is practiced. This is to act in accordance
with the Dharma.
THE ESSENCE OF MAHAYANA PRACTICE
To enter the Great Way there are many paths, but
essentially they are of two means: by Principle and by
Entering the Way by Principle means to awaken to
the Truth through the doctrine, with a deep faith that
all sentient beings have the same true nature.
Obscured by the fleeting dust of delusions, this nature
cannot manifest itself. If one can relinquish the false
and turn to the true, fix the mind in “wall meditation”,
understand that there are neither self nor others, that
mortals and saints are equal and one—abiding this
way without wavering, clinging not even to the
scriptures, then one is implicitly in accord with the
Principle. Being non-discriminative, still, and wu-wei
is to Enter by Principle.
Entering by Practice means following four
practices that encompass all other practices. They are:
accepting adversity, adapting to conditions, seeking
nothing, and acting in accordance with the Dharma.
Mahāyāna 大乘: The “Great Vehicle,” one of the two traditions of
Buddhism (the other is Theravāda), it emphasizes the path to
Buddhahood, perfection of wisdom and unconditional
Bodhidharma 菩提達磨大師: The 28th Patriarch of Zen from
India, who came and founded the Zen school of Buddhism in
China (and therefore is the first Zen Patriarch of China). This
current text is one of the very few records we have of his
Enter the Great Way: “Great Way” refers to the Mahayana path,
the path to become a Buddha and enlighten countless others.
To enter the Great Way is to truly understand what it means to
become a Buddha.
Two means: Even though many methods of Buddhist practice are
possible, they all employ one of two means: either by gaining a
direct understanding of the highest Truth (“by Principle”), or by
using various practices that lead up to the final understanding
of the highest Truth (“by practice”). Sometimes the two means
By Principle: This is the quintessential Zen practice, the “gateless
gate”, the method of “directly seeing one’s nature and
becoming a Buddha.”
Doctrine: Here it refers to the canon of Buddhist teaching: the
Dharma; the scriptures and their commentaries; the
Deep faith: Faith based on correct understanding of the Dharma,
faith based on unbiased reasoning and experiences, as
opposed to faith based on superstitions or unfounded beliefs.
Sentient beings: All living beings with sentience, that is, living
beings that can feel, are aware, have consciousness. All
sentient beings (including animals and other beings invisible
to the human eye, but excluding plants, rocks, water, etc.) can
Same true nature: Though the appearances of sentient beings
are different, due to their past karma, their sentience, which is
variously referred to as “mind,” “consciousness,” “awareness,”
or “Buddha nature,” is fundamentally equal in nature. To be
enlightened is to personally experience this fact.
Fleeting dust of delusions: The original mind is like a mirror
covered with the dust of delusions; therefore its reflections (of
reality) are unclear and distorted. What we take as our “body
and mind”—form, feeling, conception, volition, and
consciousness are the fleeting dust, impermanent, defiling,
obscuring our true nature. Ignorance, greed, anger, pride,
jealousy, and other vexations are also “fleeting dust of
Wall meditation: “Wall” represents firmness, resolve,
immovability, stability. “Fix the mind in wall meditation” means
to practice meditation so that the mind is unaffected by all
afflictions and distractions, so that it can gain the clear vision
to penetrate delusions.
Neither self nor others: The separation or boundaries between
oneself and others (or the external world) is illusive.
Mortals and saints: Mortals are ordinary beings, subject to
rebirth in samsara (world with suffering). Saints are arhats,
bodhisattvas and Buddhas who have attained liberation, are
pure in mind and actions and are deathless.
Abiding this way: To be mindful of this Principle without being
affected by doubt or vexations.
Cling not to scriptures: The scriptures are important as
guidance to enlightenment, but there is always a danger of
interpreting them too literally, of misinterpretation, or of
studying them as philosophy without practicing the teaching.
None of the above will lead to true understanding.
Implicitly in accord: Even though one may not fully understand
the Principle yet, by always keeping this teaching in mind and
acting accordingly, one is in harmony with the Way, leading to
Non-discriminative: Do not discriminate with bias or distortion.
Still: Stillness means free from disturbances. An unenlightened
mind is constantly disturbed by greed, anger, selfish interests,
etc. A mind of absolute stillness is nirvana.
Wu-wei 無為: Free from forced effort (but not necessarily
no-action), free from clinging and attachments, unconditioned,
absolute. It also means inner peace obtained by having no
desires, with the understanding that we are intrinsically
complete and lacking nothing.
Four practices: All other, more “tangible” Buddhist practices, are
in essence one of the following, or a combination of the
following, four practices.
What is the practice of accepting adversity? When
suffering, a practitioner of the Way should reflect:
“For innumerable kalpas, I have pursued the trivial
instead of the essential, drifted through all spheres of
existence, created much animosity and hatred,
maligned and harmed others endlessly. Even though
now I have done no wrong, I am reaping the karmic
consequences of past transgressions. It is something
that neither gods nor men can foresee or impose upon
me. Therefore I should accept it willingly, without any
resentment or objection.” The sutra says, “Face
hardships without distress.” How? With thorough
insight. With this understanding in mind, you are in
accord with the Principle, advancing on the path
through the experience of adversity. This is called the
practice of accepting adversity.
Reflect: When something unpleasant happens, we should try to be
calm and remember the Dharma teaching instead of reacting with
Kalpa: A kalpa is a very long period of time. Formally, a large kalpa is
a cycle of the universe, which consists of four stages: birth (of the
universe or a “Buddha-land”), stability, disintegration, and void.
The universe is then recreated (and destroyed), over and over
again, by our collective karma. Innumerable kalpas: for all these
countless lifetimes in the past.
Trivial/essential: Without knowing the true nature of life and the
“self,” people go on endless pursuit of things that are ultimately of
no consequence. What is most meaningful in your life? Are you
working on it or pursuing trivial matters?
Spheres of existence: A sentient being can take rebirth in any one of
the six spheres/planes of existence in the Triple Realm: as a deva
(a celestial being), an asura (powerful like a deva but more
aggressive and jealous), a human being, an animal, a hungry
ghost, or a being in hell, all depending on one’s karma (actions,
Animosity … harm: Due to our ignorance of the Way, we have
intentionally or unintentionally created much harm to others in
every lifetime, not to mention countless lifetimes! By the Principle
of Causality, we really have no grounds to feel resentment for the
suffering we are currently facing.
Karmic consequence: Karma means action. Actions have
corresponding consequences. Actions that benefit others bring
blessings and happiness, actions that harm others bring suffering.
One is subject to the consequences of one’s own karma.
Transgression: An act against the natural law; an act that harms
Gods: In Buddhism there is no creator God, but there are devas or
celestial beings who are born with more powers and blessings
than human beings due to superior deeds in their past. Some can
see into one’s past or future. However, one’s fate is determined by
one’s own karma.
Thorough insight: One can face hardships without distress if one
fully understands Causality and the teaching already mentioned
above. People resent their fate because they do not have this
insight. With the insight of “accepting adversity,” one can turn
suffering into spiritual progress.
Second is the practice of adapting to conditions.
Sentient beings are without a self, being steered by
karmic conditions. Suffering and joy are experienced
together as a result of causes and conditions. Any
reward, blessing or honor is a consequence of past
causes, and is gone when the necessary conditions are
exhausted. So what is there to be joyful about?
Knowing that success and failure depend on
conditions, the Mind neither gains nor loses,
remaining unmoved by the winds of joy. This is to be
in harmony with the Way. Therefore it is called the
practice of adapting to conditions.
Adapting to conditions: All things arise from appropriate sets of
causes and conditions, and will cease to exist when the
conditions fall apart. This is the teaching of conditional arising,
also called dependent origination. The enlightened and the
wise understand and adapt to conditions, whereas the
ignorant and foolish try to get results without the appropriate
conditions, or are unaware of the changing conditions, thereby
bringing misery and disappointment.
Without a self: The “self” refers to an intrinsic, independent
identity which we perceive in beings and things. In a person, it
is the false self or ego or “inner identity” that one takes for
granted; in objects, it is the intrinsic value or character we
associate with it. This “self” is a delusion because it is
dependent on changing conditions.
Suffering and joy: Suffering is a result of harmful actions (karma),
and joy is a result of beneficial actions. Most people
experience a mixture of suffering and joy in their lives because
they have created both good and bad karma in the past (the
causes and conditions).
Reward/blessing/honor: Result of good karma. Even though
they are favored over suffering, they are also impermanent.
To not realize this can lead to suffering.
Neither gains nor loses: In practice, the mind is in equanimity,
neither elated nor depressed. In principle, nothing is gained
and nothing is lost.
Third, to seek nothing. Ordinary people, in their
perpetual ignorance, crave and form attachments to
everything, everywhere. This is called seeking. The
wise are awakened to the Truth, and choose reason
over convention; their minds are at peace and wu-wei.
All forms change with karma, all existence is empty,
hence there is nothing to be desired. Blessing and
Darkness always follow each other. This long sojourn
in the Triple Realm is like living in a burning house;
to have a body is to suffer, how can one attain peace?
Those who understand this renounce all mundane
existence, cease desires, and stop seeking. The sutra
says, “To seek is to suffer, to seek nothing is bliss.” It
follows that to seek nothing is to truly follow the Way.
This is the practice of seeking nothing.
Attachments: To crave or desire anything, to cling to or despise
anything, to dwell in the past or grumble about the present are
all examples of attachment.
Reason over convention: Many common beliefs and practices
are actually unwise, senseless, or even dangerous.
Sometimes the truth is the opposite of what we believe. The
wise can see what is real even if it means going against
All forms: All forms and appearances, all phenomena are driven
All existence is empty: Because all existence is dependent on
conditions, there is no intrinsic, independent identity or “self.” The
perceived qualities of objects or phenomena, whether desirable or
undesirable, are conditional, relative, and impermanent, hence
nothing is ultimately desirable.
Blessing and Darkness: The Maha-Pari-nirvana Sutra tells of the
story of a pair of deva sisters named Blessing and Darkness;
wherever Blessing goes, good fortune follows; wherever Darkness
goes, misfortune follows. However, the two sisters are inseparable,
one cannot receive one sister without the other.
Triple Realm: (1) The Realm of Desire (kāma-dhātu), where beings of
the six spheres reside. They possess physical forms and have
varying degrees of desires for wealth, lust, fame, food, and sleep.
(2) The Realm of Form (rūpa-dhātu), attainable only by beings
who have reached one of the four dhyāna stages (deep mental
concentration states achieved with meditation). They have finer,
uni-gender physical forms but not the desires of the lower realm.
(3) Formless Realm (arūpa-dhātu), by more refined meditation,
they are able to eliminate physical forms and exist in various
extremely subtle consciousness states only. The two upper
realms have only devas. All beings of the Triple Realm, regardless
of their power of meditation, are still subject to karma and rebirth
and therefore have not attained liberation.
Sojourn: In our endless rebirths, we have taken on all different forms
of being and traveled through all of the Triple Realm. Without
enlightenment, it is a journey without end or ultimate purpose.
Burning house: Each life in the Triple Realm will eventually end in
death, so the world we live in is like a burning house that will turn
into ashes sooner or later. Those who do not realize this are still
busily stuffing things into this house, instead of thinking of ways to
Body is suffering: Birth, aging, illness, and death are all afflictions of
the body that are unavoidable as long as one has a physical body.
Mundane existence: The six spheres of existence in the Triple
Stop seeking: Seeking is defined here as the attachment to things
and phenomena, to gratify the selfish ego. When one understands
the underlying empty nature of these things, one can have true
peace of mind and stop seeking. However, we can, out of
compassion, seek to enlighten and benefit others without
attachment to the ego.
Fourth, to act in accordance with the Dharma. The
principle of intrinsic purity is the Dharma. By this
principle, all forms and characteristics are empty,
without defilement and attachment, without self or
others. The sutra says, “In the Dharma there are no
sentient beings, because it is free of the impurities of
sentient beings. In the Dharma there is no self,
because it is free of the impurities of self.” When the
wise believe in and understand this Principle, they
should act in accordance with the Dharma. There is no
stinginess in the Dharma, so practice the giving of
body, life, and possessions, with a mind free of
parsimony. Understand and achieve “triple emptiness”,
with no reliance and no attachment. Practicing for the
sake of removing impurities, one liberates others
without becoming attached to form. This benefits
oneself, benefits others, and also glorifies the bodhi
path. This is the perfection of dana; it is likewise with
the other five paramitas. In order to relinquish
delusions, one practices these six perfections, yet
there is nothing that is practiced. This is to act in
accordance with the Dharma.
Act in accordance with the Dharma: Finally, this practice of six
perfections (pāramitā) brings one’s action and mind back to the
single, ultimate Principle.
Intrinsic purity: All dharmas (lowercase dharma means all
phenomena) are neither good nor bad, beyond dualistic
discrimination. Therefore it is called “intrinsic purity;” this purity is
absolute, like the empty space, which can neither be
contaminated nor cleansed.
Forms and characteristics 相: The Chinese word 相 (xiang) means
forms, marks, or appearances; it is extended to mean all
perceived characteristics of any phenomena.
Impurities of sentient beings and self: Ordinary sentient beings
have the deep-rooted delusion of an intrinsic self, which develops
into the ego and subsequently gives rise to greed, anger,
ignorance, pride, and a host of false views; they then lead to the
suffering of sentient beings. Being delusions, these false views
and vexations have no real substance. Therefore, all dharmas are
intrinsically “free from all impurities.” To act with this understanding
of no-self is to act in accordance with the Dharma.
Dāna: The practice of charity, which involves giving of possessions,
body, Dharma, encouragement, etc. One is not able to give freely
because of the attachment to the self. Without the selfish ego
(“impurities of the self”), one can give anything others need, which
benefits others as well as the self.
Triple emptiness: The highest form of dana is to give without the
concept of the giver, the receiver, and the given, because all are
empty. Then one can truly give without expectations, without the
ego being involved. This is the perfection of dana, or dāna
Six pāramitās: Dāna, śīla (moral conduct, precepts), ksānti (tolerance,
patience), vīrya (diligence, effort, persistence), dhyāna
(meditation), and prajñā (wisdom) are the six perfections, the
Mahayana path to Buddhahood. The practice of the six paramitas
can remove our impurities/delusions, which are originally empty,
so in the end, nothing is gained and nothing is lost. Still, one then
becomes a Buddha; without the practice, the Buddha nature is
latent and one is an ordinary sentient being imbued with suffering.
Glorifies the bodhi path: bodhi is “awakening.” To glorify the bodhi
path (path to Buddhahood) means the Mahayana ideal of bringing
countless beings to enlightenment along with one’s own
From the Chinese Zen Masters,
Bodhidharma on the twofold entrance to the Tao. (1)
Translated by D. T. Suzuki
In: Manual of Zen Buddhism, page 73 and further
There are many ways to enter the Path, but briefly speaking they are of two sorts only. The one is "Entrance by Reason" and the other "Entrance by Conduct". (2) By "Entrance by Reason" we mean the realization of the spirit of Buddhism by the aid of the scriptural teaching. We then come to have a deep faith in the True Nature which is the same in all sentient beings . The reason why it does not manifest itself is due to the overwrapping of external objects and false thoughts. When a man,abandoning the false and embracing the true, in singleness of thought practises the Pi-kuan ["Wall-gazing"] he finds that there is neither self nor other,that the masses and the worthies are of one essence, and he firmly holds on to this belief and never moves away therefrom. He will not then be a slave to words, for he is in silent communion with the Reason itself, free from conceptual discrimination; he is serene and not-acting. This is called "Entrance by Reason".
By "Entrance by Conduct" is meant the four acts in which all other acts are included. What are the four?
1. To know how to requite hatred;
2. To be obedient to karma;
3. Not to crave anything; and
4. To be in accord with the Dharma.
1. What is meant by "How to requite hatred"? He who disciplines himself in the Path should think thus when he has to struggle with adverse conditions: "During the innumerable past ages I have wandered through a multiplicity of existences, all the while giving myself to unimportant details of life at the expense of essentials, and thus creating infinite occasions for hate, ill-will, and wrongdoing. While no violations have been committed in this life, the fruits of evil deeds in the past are to be gathered now. Neither gods nor men can foretell what is coming upon me. I will submit myself willingly and patiently to all the ills that befall me, and I will never bemoan or complain. The Sutra teaches me not to worry over ills that may happen tome. Why? Because when things are surveyed by a higher intelligence, the foundation of causation is reached." When this thought is awakened in a man, he will be in accord with the Reason because he makes the best use of hatred and turns it into the service in his advance towards the Path. This is called the "way to requite hatred".
2. By "being obedient to karma" is meant this: There is no self (atman) in whatever beings are produced by the interplay of karmic conditions; the pleasure and pain I suffer are also the results of my previous action. If I am rewarded with fortune, honour, etc., this is the outcome of my past deeds which by reason of causation affect my present life. When the force of karma is exhausted, the result I am enjoying now will disappear; what is then the use of being joyful over it? Gain or loss, let me accept the karma as it brings to me the one or the other; the Mind itself knows neither increase nor decrease. The wind of pleasure [and pain] will not stir me, for I am silently in harmony with the Path. Therefore this is called "being obedient to karma".
3. By "not craving (ch'iu) anything" is meant this: Men of the world, in eternal confusion, are attached everywhere to one thing or another, which is called craving. The wise however understand the truth and are not like the ignorant. Their minds abide serenely in the uncreated while the body moves about in accordance with the laws of causation. All things are empty and there is nothing desirable to seek after. Where there is the merit of brightness there surely lurks the demerit of darkness. This triple world where we stay altogether too long is like a house on fire; all that has a body suffers, and nobody really knows what peace is. Because the wise are thoroughly acquainted with this truth, they are never attached to things that change; their thoughts are quieted, they never crave anything. Says the Sutra:"Wherever there is a craving, there is pain; cease from craving and you are blessed." Thus we know that not to crave anything is indeed the way to the Truth. Therefore, it is taught not "to crave anything".
4. By "being in accord with the Dharma" is meant that the Reason which we call the Dharma in its
essence is pure, and that this Reason is the principle of emptiness (sunyata) in all that is manifested; it is above defilements and attachments, and there is no "self", no "other" in it. Says the Sutra: "In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, because it is free from the stain of being; in the Dharma there is no 'self because it is free from the stain of selfhood." When the wise understand this truth and believe in it, their lives will be "in accordance with the Dharma".
As there is in the essence of the Dharma no desire to possess, the wise are ever ready to practice charity with their body, life, and property, and they never begrudge, they never know what an ill grace means. As they have a perfect understanding of the threefold nature of emptiness, they are above partiality and attachment. Only because of their will to cleanse all beings of their stains, they come among them as of them, but they are not attached to form. This is the self-benefiting phase of their lives. They,however, know also how to benefit others, and again how to glorify the truth of enlightenment. As with the virtue of charity, so with the other five virtues [of the Prajnaparamita], The wise practice the six virtues of perfection to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no specific consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. This is called "being in accord with the Dharma".
The footnotes have been slightly rearranged, so as to make the text more easily understandable.
*) (moved from the main text into a footnote) There is a large mass of literature to be called especially Zen because of its style and terminology. Until the time of Hui-neng (Yeno in Japanese) and his immediate disciples, there was not much, as far as literary expressions were concerned, to distinguish treatises specifically on Zen from the rest of Buddhist literature. But as time went on there grew up what is now known as the Tu-lu (goroku in Japanese), containing the sayings and sermons, "gatha" poems, and other literary works of a Zen master. Strictly speaking, the Yu-lu or Goroku is not limited to Zen. One of the chief characteristics of the Zen Goroku is the free use of colloquial expressions which are not found in the classical literature of China. As long as Zen appeals to one's direct experience, abstraction is too inane for the mind of a master.
1) From The Transmission of the Lamp, XXX. - Since this translation from the Transmission of the Lamp, two Tun-huang MSS. containing the text have come to light. The one is in the Masters and Disciples of the Lanka (Leng-chia Shihtzu Chi), already published, and the other still in MS., which however the present author intends to have reproduced in facsimile before long. They differ in minor points with the translation here given.
2) "Entrance by Reason" may also be rendered "Entrance by Higher Intuition", and "Entrance by Conduct", "Entrance by Practical Living". - By Seng-t'san (Sosan in Japanese). Died 606 C.E. Mind=/mn. Hsin is one of those Chinese words which defy translation. When the Indian scholars were trying to translate the Buddhist Sanskrit works into Chinese, they discovered that there were five classes of Sanskrit terms which could not be satisfactorily rendered into Chinese. We thus find in the Chinese Tripitaka such words as prajna, bodhi, buddha, nirvana, dhyana, bodhisattia, etc., almost always untranslated; and they now appear in their original Sanskrit form among the technical Buddhist terminology. If we could leave hsin with all its nuance of meaning in this translation, it would save us from the many difficulties that face us in its English rendering. For hsin means "mind", "heart", "soul", "spirit"—each singly as well as all inclusively. In the present composition by the third patriarch of Zen, it has sometimes an intellectual connotation but at other times it can properly be given as "heart". But as the predominant note of Zen Buddhism is more intellectual than anything else, though not in the sense of being logical or philosophical, I decided here to translate hsin by "mind" rather than by "heart", and by this mind I do not mean our psychological mind, but what may be called absolute mind, or Mind.
PDF: Did Bodhidharma Meet Emperor Liang Wu Di? 达摩与梁武帝的历史性会面
Copyright 2010 Andrew Ferguson
PDF: Bodhidharma as Textual and Religious Paradigm
by Bernard Faure
History of Religions, Vol. 25, No. 3. (Feb., 1986), pp. 187-198
Commentaries on Bodhidharma's "Two Entries and Four Practices"
by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
- 1: Introduction and reading of the text; Commentary on Danlin's Preface
- 2: Entry Through the Nature (as basis of both the Direct and Gradual paths)
- 3: Entry Through Conduct: How to Answer Enmity; The Wheel of Birth and Death
- 4: Entry Through Conduct: According With Circumstances
- 5: Entry Through Being Free from Craving: Flick of a Bird's Wing; Entry Through Aligning With the Way; The Paramitas
Daruma (Bodhidharma) as depicted in the
Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙 Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images. Published in 1690 (Genroku 元禄 3)
A major Japanese dictionary of Buddhist iconography. Hundreds of pages and drawings, with deities classified into approximately 80 (eighty) categories
A-to-Z Glossary of Daruma Forms in Japan
Bodhidharma the “Wall-Gazing Brahman”
by John C. H. Wu
In: The Golden Age of Zen
Taipei : The National War College in co-operation with The Committee on the Compilation of the Chinese Library, 1967, pp. 45-54.
The School of Zen as we know it was actually founded by Hui-neng the Sixth Patriarch. But it must be remembered that by his time there was already a legend about Bodhidharma and his immediate successors, of whom Hui-neng was the heir. The Chinese records about Bodhidharma are hopelessly in conflict with one another, so that it is not possible in the present state of scholarship to say definitely who he was and when he came to China. According to one account, he was a Persian monk, who arrived in China probably around 480. Another account has it that he came from a Brahman family in south India, and that he arrived in China in 527 and died in 536. For the purposes of this book, it is not necessary to pass upon the relative merits of the two acccounts. What is important is that the second account was already the accepted one by the time of Hui-neng, who referred to Bodhidharma’s encounter with Emperor Wu of Liang as an established fact. Whether this and other stories about Bodhidharma possessed historical truth is far from certain. What is certain is that the Bodhidharma legend was believed in as a fact by the actual founders of the School of Zen in the T’ang dynasty, when it had already become a living tradition.
According to this tradition, Bodhidharma arrived in south China in 527, and was immediately invited by Emperor Wu of Liang to his capital, Nanking. In his audience with the emperor, a devout Buddhist, the latter is said to have asked, “Since I came to the throne, I have built countless temples, copied countless sutras, and given supplies to countless monks. Is there any merit in all this?” “There is no merit at all!” was the unexpected reply of the Indian guest. “Why is there no merit?” the emperor asked. “All these,” said Bodhidharma, “are only the little deeds of men and gods, a leaking source of rewards, which follow them as the shadow follows the body. Although the shadow may appear to exist, it is not real.” “What then is true merit?” “True merit consists in the subtle comprehension of pure wisdom, whose substance is silent and void. But this kind of merit cannot be pursued according to the ways of the world.” The emperor further asked, “What is the first principle of the sacred doctrine?” “Vast emptiness with nothing sacred in it!” was the answer. Finally the emperor asked, “Who is it that stands before me?” “I don’t know!” said Bodhidharma, and took his leave.
Finding that the emperor was not someone who could see eye-to-eye with him, he crossed the Yangtze river and went to Mount Sung in Honan, where he resided in the Shao-ling Temple. It is said that he took to sitting-in-meditation before a wall, keeping silence throughout the day. This mystified all who saw him, and they called him “the wall-gazing Brahman.”
With regard to the term “wall-gazing” (pi-kuan in Chinese), many have taken it in the literal sense. But some have given it a spiritual interpretation by saying that the word “wall” has the connotation of shutting out external dust or distractions. Following this line, Suzuki observes that “the underlying meaning of ‘wall-contemplation’ must be found in the subjective condition of a Zen master, which is highly concentrated and rigidly exclusive of all ideas and sensuous images.”1 Suzuki identifies “pi-kuan” with the “chüeh-kuan” of the Vajrasamadhi Sutra that is, “enlightened or awakened contemplation.” To my mind, the word “wall” evokes still other images or ideas, such as abruptness and precipitousness, something rising overtoppingly before you, which cannot be scaled or surmounted by ordinary means. It reminds me of what the sage disciple of Confucius, Yen Hui, referred to when he related how, after he had been led step by step by his master, and after he had exhausted all his natural talents, there suddenly appeared something like an insurmountable wall right before him, which prevented him from following him further. In the spiritual doctrine of the Christian fathers, this crucial juncture in the life of the spirit represents a transition from the natural to the supernatural state, or from active contemplation to passive contemplation.
Be that as it may, it is not necessary to confine ourselves to either the literal sense or the spiritual interpretation of the term “wall-gazing.” It may well have included both of the senses.
It is interesting to note that Bodhidharma was not averse at all to the study of scriptures. In fact he earnestly recommended the study of the Lankavatara Sutra, a highly metaphysical and somewhat discursive piece of work. He remained at heart an Indian, a Buddhist who was at the same time well steeped in the best of Hinduism. It was certainly not for nothing that he was called a “Brahman.”
The only piece of writing that has been attributed to him is an essay on the twofold entrance to Tao and Truth. This little discourse is important, even though its mode and style are quite different from that of the later Zen masters who imprinted upon Zen the distinctive characteristics with which it has since been identified. At least the fundamental thoughts embodied in it may serve as a background to the later development of Zen. Therefore I have thought it worthwhile to give a translation of the whole discourse here:
A Discourse on the Twofold Entrance to the Tao
There are many roads leading to the Tao, but essentially they can be subsumed under two categories. The one is “Entrance by way of Reason,” and the other “Entrance by way of Conduct.”
By “Entrance by way of Reason” we mean the understanding of the fundamental doctrines through the study of the scriptures, the realization, upon the basis of a deep-rooted faith, that all sentient beings have in common the one True Nature, which does not manifest itself clearly in all cases only because it is overwrapped by external objects and false thoughts. If a man abandons the false and returns to the true, resting singleheartedly and undistractedly in pure contemplation ( Pi- Kuan), he will realize that there is neither self nor other, that the holy and profane are of one essence. If he holds on firmly to this belief and never swerves from it, he will never again be a slave to the letter of the scriptures, being in secret communion with Reason itself and altogether emancipated from conceptual discrimination. In this way, he will enjoy perfect serenity and spontaneity. This is called “Entrance by way of Reason.”
“Entrance by way of Conduct” refers to the four rules of conduct under which all other rules can be subsumed. They are (1) the rule of requital of hatred, (2) the rule of adaptation to variable conditions and circumstances of life, (3) the rule of non-attachment and (4) the rule of acting in accord with the Dharma.
1. The Requital of Hatred. When a pursuer of the Tao falls into any kind of suffering and trials, he should think and say to himself thus: “During the innumerable past kalpas I have abandoned the essential and followed after the accidentals, carried along on the restless waves of the sea of existences, and thereby creating endless occasions for hate, ill-will, and wrongdoing. Although my present suffering is not caused by any offenses committed in this life, yet it is a fruit of my sins in my past existences, which happens to ripen at this moment. It is not something which any men or gods could have given to me. Let me therefore take, patiently and sweetly, this bitter fruit of my own making without resentment or complaint against anyone.” The Scripture teaches us not to be disturbed by painful experiences. Why? Because of a penetrating insight into the real cause of all our sufferings. When this mind is awakened in a man, it responds spontaneously to the dictates of Reason, so that it can even help him to make the best use of other people’s hatred and turn it into an occasion to advance toward the Tao. This is called “the rule of requital of hatred.”
2. The Rule of Adaptation. We should know that all sentient beings are produced by the interplay of karmic conditions, and as such there can be no real self in them. The mingled yarns of pleasure and pain are all woven of the threads of conditioning causes. If therefore I should be rewarded with fortune, honor and other pleasant things, I must realize that they are the effects of my previous deeds destined to be reaped in this life. But as soon as their conditioning causes are exhausted, they will vanish away. Then why should I be elated over them? Therefore, let gains and losses run their natural courses according to the ever-changing conditions and circumstances of life, for the Mind itself does not increase with the gains nor decrease with the losses. In this way, no gales of self-complacency will arise, and your mind will remain in hidden harmony with the Tao. It is in this sense that we must understand “the rule of adaptation to the variable conditions and circumstances of life.”
3. The Rule of Non-Attachment. Men of the world remain unawakened for life; everywhere we find them bound by their craving and clinging. This is called “attachment.” The wise however understand the truth, and their reason tells them to turn from the worldly ways. They enjoy peace of mind and perfect detachment. They adjust their bodily movements to the vicissitudes of fortune, always aware of the emptiness of the phenomenal world, in which they find nothing to covet, nothing to delight in. Merit and demerit are ever interpenetrated like light and darkness. To stay too long in the triple world is to live in a house on fire. Everyone who has a body is an heir to suffering and a stranger to peace. Having comprehended this point, the wise are detached from all things of the phenomenal world, with their minds free of desires and craving. As the Scripture has it, “All sufferings spring from attachment; true joy arises from detachment.” To know clearly the bliss of detachment is truly to walk on the path of the Tao. This is “the rule of non-attachment.”
4. The Rule of acting in accord with the Dharma. The Dharma is nothing else than Reason which is pure in its essence. This pure Reason is the formless Form of all Forms; it is free of all defilements and attachments, and it knows of neither “self” nor “other.”As the Scripture says, “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, that is, it is free from the stain of sentient beings. In the Dharma there is no self, that is, it is free from the stain of the self.” When the wise are convinced of this truth, they should live in harmony with the Dharma.
As there is no shadow of pusillanimity in the whole body of the Dharma, so the wise are ever ready to put their body, life, and property at the service of charity, never ceasing to be generous and gracious. Having thoroughly pierced through the threefold nature of emptiness, they are no longer dependent upon or attached to anything. Even in their work of converting all living beings, their sole motive is to cleanse them of their stains; and while they are among them as of them, they would take care not to be contaminated by a possessive love. In this way, they manage to keep themselves perfect and at the same time to benefit others. Besides, they glorify the true Tao of Enlightenment. As with the virtue of charity, so with the other five of the Prajnaparamita. The wise practice the six virtues of perfection in order to sweep away all confused thoughts, but they feel as though they were doing nothing to speak of. This is indeed acting “in accord with the Dharma . ”
This discourse is a gem of spiritual literature. It shows that the author was in the grand tradition of Buddhist and Hindu writers. His two entrances are on a par with what the Christian writers have called the “active way” and the “contemplative way.” The ideas of Samsara and karma belong to the domain of faith held by Buddhists and Hindus alike. But assuming them as the premises, there is nothing in the essay which goes beyond the realm of rational thinking. Bodhidharma’s treatment of the “entrance by way of conduct” is particularly noteworthy, not only because it is so practical and down-to-earth, but also because his frequent reference to Reason and Dharma tends implicitly to show that Reason and Conduct are really but one way. This blending of the abstract and the concrete was due probably to the subtle influence of the Chinese spirit upon the mind of Bodhidharma.
But, profound as it is as a piece of spiritual literature, it is certainly not Zen at its most characteristic. We have here nothing of the breathtaking abruptness, the blinding flashes, the deafening shouts, the shocking outbursts, the mystifying koans, the rocket-like soarings beyond the sphere of reason, the tantalizing humor and whimsicality, the unaccountable beatings, which were to fill the pages of Zen literature as such.
If there is any connecting link between Bodhidharma and the later masters, it is to be found in the via negativa which he employed in leading his disciples to enlightenment. For instance, Hui-k’o said to him, “My mind has not found peace, I beg you, master, to pacify it for me.” He said, “Bring forth your mind to me and I will pacify it for you.” After a long silence, Huik’o told his master that he had searched for the mind but could not find it. Thereupon the master said, “Behold, I have already pacified the mind for you!”
This marked the beginning of the transmission of the lamp, and Bodhidharma became the First Patriarch of the Chinese School of Zen. The method he employed is a typical instance of the via negativa, so characteristic of the whole tradition of Zen. Bodhidharma did not deny, any more than the later masters, the existence of the mind. But the “mind” which Hui-k’o was trying so desperately to find and to pacify was not the true mind, but merely a faint reflection of it. The true mind is always peaceful; there can be no restlessness about it. Besides, the true mind is the subject that thinks. As soon as we begin to think about it or try to do something about it, it is no longer the subject, but an object, which cannot be the true mind. By saying that he had already pacified it, the master was pointing at the true mind, which, being always in peace, really has no need of pacification. By asking the disciple to bring forth the mind, he made him discover for himself that the falsely objectified mind was but an illusion. This prepared him for the discovery of the true mind through a direct intuitive perception called into action by the unexpected words of the master.
In 536, when he felt that the day of his departure was drawing near, he called his four disciples to come and ordered them to state their original insights. Tao-fu was the first to respond: “According to my view, we should neither cling to words and letters nor dispense with them altogether, but only use them as an instrument of Tao.” “You have got my skin,” said the master. Then the nun, Tsung-chih, came forward, saying “In the light of my present comprehension, it is like Ananda’s viewing the Buddha-land of Akshobhya, seeing it once and never again.” “You have got my flesh,” said the master. Tao-yü said, “The four elements are all empty; the five skandhas are all unreal. Looking from where I stand, there is not a thing that can be grasped.” “You have got my bone,” the master commented. Finally, it was Hui-k’o’s turn to show his insight. But he did not open his mouth. Bowing reverently to the master, he kept standing in his place. The master remarked, “You have got my marrow”; and Hui-k’o came to be recognized as the Second Patriarch.
The whole scene can be looked at as a graphic footnote to Lao Tzu’s,
He who speaks does not know:
He who knows does not speak.
It is impossible to tell how much of the legend about Bodhidharma was invented by Chinese ingenuity and how much of it he had brought with him from India. The only thing that one can confidently aver is that it is a blend of the two. India furnished the impulse, and China gave it a unique style. No one can deny that the later masters of Zen were inspired by the personality and thought of Bodhidharma. On the other hand, it is equally clear that Bodhidharma himself had become sinicized during his stay in China. The very analogies he employed in describing the relative degrees of attainment on the part of his disciples is typically Chinese, recalling to mind a well-known passage in the Book of Mencius, where it is stated that most disciples of Confucius had only got one limb or organ of the master, while Yen Hui and two others had got his whole body, though in miniature.