Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bodhidharma: the blue eyed barberian

For today, here is a bit of the story of the Blue Eyed Barbarian, the son of a Indian King, who chose monkhood over governing a state.

Travelling across mountains, through winds and skies, he came from India to China to share a sutra which was until then unknown by the then established buddhists schools, Bodhidharma belongs to the Buddhist legend. Some writings give him up to 150 years, and even see him walking around India’s counry side after his death, a shoe in his hand.

For 7 years he sat in front of a wall, in a cave, practicing the wall meditation, that is sitting in zazen with no words or no outside contacts. On the 7th year, he fell alseep, and angry at himself he pulled out his eyelid and threw it on the floor, creating the tea leaf to keep monks awake.
The 28th patriarch of buddhism, a direct line from the Buddha himself, the 1st Zen/Chan patriarch, a form of Mahayana buddhism, some call him the fundator of Kun Fu, the martial art practiced in Shaolin temples.

Here is a fine exemple of buddhist humor, in the legendary meeting between Bodhidharma and the ruler of the time, Emperor Wu, an emperor who happened to be a devoted buddhist of the Liang Dynasty (around 520 on the gregorian calendar).

The emperor asks Bodhidharma:
"What is the highest meaning of noble truth?"
"There is no noble truth." answers Bodhidharma.
The emperor then asked Bodhidharma:
"How much karmic merit have I earned by ordaining Buddhist monks, building monasteries, having sutras copied, and commissioning Buddha images?"
The emperor out of patience with the Blue Eyed Barbarian then asked Bodhidharma:
"Who is standing before me?"
"I don't know."

Bodhidharma in wiki
Painting by Qiao Seng
Article in french

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