The Eye of Bodhidharma

Even if one possesses the ability to expound upon countless sutras and shastras, it is important to recognize that without directly perceiving one’s own nature, the teachings given are merely those of a mortal, not a Buddha. The true Way, the path to enlightenment, is something that transcends language and cannot be adequately expressed through words alone. In light of this, what purpose do scriptures serve? However, an individual who truly sees and understands their own nature will discover the Way, even if they are unable to read a single word. Such a person who perceives their own nature is a Buddha.

It is crucial to understand that a Buddha’s physical form is inherently pure and untainted, and everything they utter is an expression of their enlightened mind, which is fundamentally empty. Therefore, a Buddha cannot be confined to words or found within the Twelvefold Canon or any other written text.

As Bodhidharma eloquently articulates, the term “Buddha” in Sanskrit signifies a state of miraculous awareness. It is important to note that he does not refer to “your awareness,” as this awareness is not synonymous with the mind associated with the five aggregates (skandhic mind). Instead, it refers to the very essence of the Unborn Buddha Mind itself. This Buddha Mind is the one that perceives through the lens of awareness, and it belongs solely to the Tathagatas, the fully enlightened ones, and to no one else. When this state of “awareness” is present, it is as if the Buddhas themselves are guiding every movement, animating every limb, and awakening every aspect of existence with the vibrancy of Buddha-nature. It is in this state of unity between oneself and the Dharmakaya, the ultimate reality, that the One Mind and Spirit are realized.

This is the essence of the path, for it is synonymous with the very nature of Buddha itself. It is the living, dynamic expression of Zen, an ineffable and remarkable form of Zen that transcends words. It speaks directly to the core of the Tathagatas, the enlightened ones. Zen is the language of the Buddhas, and unless one directly perceives Buddha-nature on their own accord, it cannot truly be considered Zen.

Can you perceive the profound self-discovery within all of this? It is the realization that awareness itself is synonymous with Buddha-nature. It is the recognition of the essence of the Buddha within oneself, transcending the limitations of language. This is why the illiterate Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng, is widely regarded as one of the most influential Zen Masters in history. He effortlessly and unobtrusively became the vessel through which the Buddha-nature expressed itself.

However, many individuals mistakenly become attached to the superficial appearances of things, causing them to lose their connection to the Way. If one understands that everything originates from the mind, it is crucial not to develop attachments. Once attachments form, one becomes oblivious to the truth. Yet, when one truly comprehends their own nature, the vast collection of Buddhist scriptures, including thousands of sutras and shastras, merely becomes ordinary prose. The true understanding arises spontaneously, even in the midst of a sentence. What purpose do doctrines serve? The ultimate Truth surpasses the limitations of words. Doctrines are merely expressions in language.

They are not the Way itself. The Way transcends words. Words are illusions, no different from the fleeting images that appear in dreams at night, whether they be grand palaces, majestic carriages, serene parks, or tranquil lakeside lions. Do not derive any pleasure from such illusions, for they are all sources of rebirth and suffering. Remember this as you approach death. Do not cling to appearances, and you will shatter all barriers. A moment of hesitation, and you will fall under the influence of malevolent forces. Your true essence is pure and invulnerable. However, due to delusions, you remain unaware of it. Consequently, you suffer the consequences of karma in vain. Any source of delight you encounter will also bring bondage. Yet, once you awaken to your original body and mind, you will no longer be bound by attachments.

Immersed in the teachings of Zen, one transcends the realm of dissatisfied gods and mortals. This realm, consumed by the insatiable hunger for appearances, remains oblivious to the fact that the mind is inherently empty of such superficiality. The concept of Mind-Only is not a mere doctrine, but a profound transformation that unveils the true essence of the self. However, those who cling to these illusions remain unaware, rendering even the scriptures useless in their feeble grasp.

The truth lies not within the literal lines of scripture, but in the spaces between them. To fixate solely on the words themselves is to be forever blinded to the profound wisdom that lies beyond language. Doctrine, in its attachment to lifeless words, strays far from the vibrant and pulsating path of Zen. Bodhidharma, the great Zen master, advises us to view words as nothing more than fleeting images conjured in the depths of our dreaming minds, the very source of our cycle of rebirth. Even in the face of death, he urges us to remember this, for it is through breaking the barrier of death that we can fully embrace our true Buddha-nature.

The body-consciousness acts as a shell, trapping the spirit of enlightenment within. Only by breaking free from this confinement can one truly awaken to the realization of the Buddhakaya, the boundless expanse of our inner Buddha nature.

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3 Responses to The Eye of Bodhidharma

  1. Jure says:

    Self-arisen awareness not dependant or relying on anything extrinsic
    Intrinsic mirrorlike substanceless substance
    Luminous & spacelike

  2. Tim says:

    swinging axe
    splits wood ,,,

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