That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings, who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being – I am that…
~ Amritabindu Upanishad
Bodhidharma was the 28th successor of the Buddha in the Ch’an tradition.
He traveled from India to China in the sixth century. When he arrived he saw that the people he encountered had a very shallow understanding of Buddhism.
When he came to understand Chinese philosophy, he developed the teachings that we now call Ch’an (and Zen). He taught two primary methods of Awakening.
He taught students that there was really no line separating them from the Buddha. The only difference is that the Buddha understood he was Enlightened and the rest of us don’t realize that yet. If we are motivated in the quest to understand our true nature, then we will attain Enlightenment too.
Meditation is a powerful tool for delivering us to Awakening. Bodhidharma called his main teaching wall-gazing. It is simply silent meditation while facing a wall. In this, no thought is given to goals or the path. There is only us and the wall. In this teaching Bodhidharma doesn’t really show us anything, he just instructs us to seek the truth ourselves. We just sit there and stare at a wall until we realize that we don’t need to be shown anything. The truth is within us.
Bodhidharma suggested four methods for walking the path. They are:
1) The practice of repaying wrongs.
2) The practice of adjusting to circumstance.
3) The practice of non-seeking or asking for anything.
4) The practice of upholding the Dharma.
These are the main ideas of Bodhidharma’s teaching.
Bodhidharma suggested wall gazing, but he never said we had to do it all the time. We are also supposed to get on with our lives. When we understand many of our problems come from our own minds, we can get out of our own way. When we control our minds, we control our lives. This is my understanding of the central teachings of Bodhidharma.
- Daniel Scharpenburg
“I do not know.” This is indeed an answer. This answer satisfies the sincere seeker in us, for the sincere seeker does not stoop to insincerity. But we have to know how far this answer can lead us. Can it lead us to our destined Goal? No, never! We have to be able to say, “I know.”
In order to find the answer, first we look around us. But the outside world laughs at us, ridicules us and sometimes looks down upon us. It considers us to be the worst possible fools. Then we dive deep within in order to get the answer. At that time something deep within tells us that what we think of ourselves is what we truly are. What we feel ourselves to be is what we truly are. What we shall ultimately become consciously is what we truly are.
What do we think we are? We think that we are devoted instruments and thoughtful seekers. What do we feel ourselves to be? We feel ourselves to be soulful lovers. And what shall we ultimately become? We shall become fruitful servers. Devoted instruments, thoughtful seekers, soulful lovers and fruitful servers of the Supreme: If we can think of ourselves in this way, if we can feel that we are all these things, then there can be no other answer for us either here on earth or there in Heaven.
This is the answer: we are the devoted instruments, the thoughtful seekers, the soulful lovers and the fruitful servers of the Supreme. “I do not know” is now transformed into “I do know.” What do I know? I know that I have all along been seeking for the birthless Vision and the ever-transcending Reality of my experience-realisation, my realisation-revelation and my revelation-manifestation.
- Sri Chinmoy, Everest-Aspiration