The Bodhidharma files

Courtesy of YANAGIDA Seizan 柳田聖山's 1969 edition of Daruma no goroku 達磨の語録 (Analects of Bodhidharma).

A monk said to Bodhidharma, "I am afraid of Hell, and so I repent of my sins and practice the Law."

"Where is this 'I'?" asked Bodhidharma. "What sort of thing is 'I'?"

"I do not know," replied the monk.

"You do not even know where 'I' is," said Bodhidharma, "What then will fall into Hell? If you do not even know what sort of thing 'I' is, all this is an elaboration on delusion, and elaboration on delusion is a Hell in and of itself."

That whole "Who is 'I'?" thing works so well in zen Buddhist anecdotes that I might start using it in my own life. The victim simply cannot recover from a derail like that. (Well, almost: "Matt, I need that report by Friday." "Who is 'I'?" "You're fired.")

A monk said to Bodhidharma, "All Buddhas everywhere have eliminated earthly desires and achieved the Law."

"Blather though you may about this deduction of yours," Bodhidharma replied, "There is nothing behind it."

Oh, snap! Seems that the elimination of earthly desires was a hot topic at the time, with many Buddhist scholars arguing that to do so would be to kill Buddha. (In a bad way.)

Popularity factor: 4

Leonardo Boiko:

Oh I can never tell which is the one where we should kill the Buddha and which it’s killing him in a bad way.

language hat:

"Blather though you may about this deduction of yours, there is nothing behind it."

Another good line to use on one's boss!


Well, to be fair, it wasn't for a few more centuries that Rinzai/Linji would actually advocate proactive Buddha-murder.


Don't you feel sorry for those who have to follow in the footsteps of the zen patriarchs? What's left to say that's shocking anymore!

Comment season is closed.