Everything that appears in the three realms leads back to the mind. Hence, Buddhas of the past and future teach mind-to-mind without bothering about definitions. If I had no mind, how could I answer? If you had no mind, how could you ask? That which asks is your mind. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible.
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By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo. An ordinary man is a Buddha; illusion is salvation. A foolish thought, and we are ordinary, vulgar, stupid. The next enlightened thought, and we are the exalted, poetical, and wise Buddha. I do nothing meritorious,. But the Buddha-nature manifests itself. Nor is it due to any attainment of mine.
Chang Hang Chang. The mind is not the Mind, and becoming enlightened is not becoming enlightened. Before your father and mother were born, what was your original face? Daito Kokushi. While deluded, one is used by this body; when enlightened, one uses this body. This essay is to go into the historical sequence of how Zen Buddhism came about.
It also intends to analyze the philosophical tenets of Zen Buddhism. One has to start from the source, which is Gautama Buddha. From the beginning in Northern India, Gautama became enlightened and he started to teach how to deal with the problems of life. Then Buddhism was brought by Bodhidharma to China about years after Buddha passed away. In China with Buddhism as the father, the indigenous Taoism as the mother, Zen Buddhism was begotten.
To some extent, Confucianism also played a part in the ethics and morality of Zen. Some sort of marriage also took place there. All these together amalgamated with Chinese Zen to produce Japanese Zen. In Japan Zen also split into Rinzai and Soto sects. In other words Zen literally means meditation. Today, Buddhism is divided into Theravada and Mahayana. Of course, in the present day, there is quite an admixture of Mahayana and Theravada in the South East Asian countries.
Interestingly, the difference between Zen and Tibetan Buddhism is far greater than the difference between Zen and Theravada Buddhism. However, the dividing principle here is Arahatship of Theravada and the Bodhisattvahood of Mahayana. We have to trace the historical trend of how Indian Buddhism became Zen.
It was said in some quarters that Zen began when Buddha held up a flower and Mahakasyapa smiled. There were twenty-eight Indian Zen patriarchs all told.
His Buddhism had a fair amount of Hinduism in it. There were still some strains of Upanishads in his mental makeup. He was a Brahmin by birth and was the third son of King Simhavarman. He was converted to Buddhism at a young age, receiving the Dharma from Prajnatara, who also asked him to go to China.
Bodhidharma left the port of Mahaballipuram at the east coast of India and skirted around the Malay Peninsula for 3 years to arrive in South China around AD.
Buddhism had already arrived in China as early as 65 AD and since then tens of thousands of Indian and Central Asian monks had journeyed to China by land and sea. By the time Bodhidharma arrived in China, there were approximately 2, Buddhist temples and 36, clergy in the South. In the North a census counted 6, temples and 80, clergy.
Less than 50 years later the figures rose to 30, temples and 2,, clergy. According to legend, Bodhidharma also brought tea to China. In order not to fall asleep, he cut out his eyelids, which fell to the ground.
On the ground where the eyelids fell tea bushes grew. Another legend quoted that he crossed the Yangtze on a hollow reed and settled in the Northern Wei capital of Pingcheng.
When the Emperor Hsiao-wen moved his capital to Loyang, most of the monks followed suit, as they were dependent on royal patronage. It was here in Shaoshih Peak that Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating facing the wall in a cave. He also must have instructed his disciples in some form of yoga, but not specifically teaching any form of martial arts. He had only a few disciples, and one of them was Huike , to whom he entrusted the bowl and robe.
Soon after this transfer he died in , apparently poisoned by a jealous monk. Again legend has it that 3 years later an official met him walking in the mountains of Central Asia. He was carrying a staff, from which hung a single sandal, telling the official that he was going back to India. In respond to sundry rumors, his tomb was opened and only a single sandal was found.
There was no body! The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. In his time, there were basically two roads that lead to the Path: 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. To enter by practice refers to four practices: 1 suffering injustice, 2 adapting to conditions, 3 seeking nothing, and 4 practicing the Dharma.
Because of past karma one suffers in this life. Keeping harmony with reason, one enters the Path. The suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions of our fruits planted in the past lives.
One should not be happy or sad as these conditions will end. The mind, however, remains unmoved. If this is realized, one enters the Path. Craving or seeking is suffering. All things contain nothing as their true essence. The wise does not desire and is not attached to anything. They are on the Path, seeking nothing. The truthful Dharma says that all natures are pure and empty. The wise, that believes this truth, practices charity, giving away all things including self without bias and vanity of the giver.
They also teach others this practice of the way to enlightenment. This is practicing the Dharma. Of course Bodhidharma taught a lot of things, but we will just study two of his sermons: Bloodstream Sermon and Wake-up Sermon. These two will give an indication of the essence of his teaching.
Bloodstream Sermon. The mind is Buddha, nirvana or enlightenment. This is the reality of self-nature. The mind is Buddha-nature. Whoever sees his own nature is a Buddha. Running around all day looking for a Buddha is a thorough waste of time. Just realize your own nature. There is no Buddha outside your own Buddha-nature. The nature of this mind is basically empty, neither pure or impure. This nature is free of cause and effect.
This Buddha-nature needs not practice or realize. It does no good or evil; it does not observe precepts. It is not lazy or energetic. It does nothing. A Buddha is not a Buddha. Without seeing your nature, you cannot practice thoughtlessness all the time. This mind or Buddha-nature is not the sensual mind. It never lived or died throughout the kalpas. The mind has no form and its awareness no limit. Our mind is the same as the mind of all Buddhas. Once a person realizes his mind or Buddha-nature, he stops creating karma.
Your mind is like space: you cannot grasp it. It has no cause or effect. No one can fathom it. This mind is not outside the body, which has no awareness. It is not the body that moves; it is the mind that moves.
Bodhidharma’s Bloodstream Sermon
Before him, Buddhism had already been introduced to China and had already been somewhat popular. Documents show the existence of Buddhist community in China as early as 65 AD. In China, Bodhidharma is also considered as an important figure in martial art. There is a saying that all martial arts originate from the Shaolin Temple and it was Bodhidharma who started teaching the Chinese monks external forms of yoga which evolved into martial arts. Note that qigong and meditation were not introduced to China by Bodhidharma.
Bodhi-dharma’s Bloodstream Sermon
By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo. An ordinary man is a Buddha; illusion is salvation. A foolish thought, and we are ordinary, vulgar, stupid. The next enlightened thought, and we are the exalted, poetical, and wise Buddha.