The legend of Bodhidharma


Bodhidharma, the third son of a Tamil Pallava king from Kanchipuram, who had awakened his kundalini and mastered the martial arts, went to China in sixth century and was supposed to be more than 150 years old.  Bodhidharma visited the Emperor Wu (Emperor Xiāo Yǎn 蕭衍 (posthumous name Wǔdì 武帝) of Liáng 梁 China), a fervent patron of Buddhism.

Here is one of the conversation that happened between him and the king:

Emperor Wu: “How much karmic merit have I earned for ordaining Buddhist monks, building monasteries, having sutras copied, and commissioning Buddha images?”
Bodhidharma: “None. Good deeds done with worldly intent bring good karma, but no merit.”
Emperor Wu: “So what is the highest meaning of noble truth?”
Bodhidharma: “There is no noble truth, there is only emptiness.”
Emperor Wu: “Then, who is standing before me?”

Bodhidharma: “I know not, Your Majesty.”

After Bodhidharma left, the Emperor asked the official in charge of the Imperial Annals about the encounter. The Official of the Annals then asked the Emperor if he still denied knowing who Bodhidharma was. When the Emperor said he didn’t know, the Official said, “This was the Great-being Guanyin (i.e., the Mahasattva Avalokiteśvara) transmitting the imprint of the Buddha’s Heart-Mind.”

The Emperor regretted his having let Bodhidharma leave and was going to dispatch a messenger to go and beg Bodhidharma to return. The Official then said, “Your Highness, do not say to send out a messenger to go fetch him. The people of the entire nation could go, and he still would not return.”

Four practices are at the core of Bodhidharma’s teaching. These are:

  • The “practice of retribution of enmity”,
  • The “practice of acceptance of circumstances”,
  • The “practice of the absence of craving”,
  • The “practice of accordance with the Dharma”.

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Posted by on Apr 29 2014. Filed under Body Mind Spirit, Community, Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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