Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch’an (Sanskrit: Dhyāna, Japanese: Zen) to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan. The principle sources, given in various translations, vary on their account of Bodhidharma’s origins. Two popular traditions exist regarding Bodhidharma’s origins.
Bodhidharma’s teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra. The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself. Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian. He is referred as “The Blue-Eyed Barbarian” in Chinese Chan texts.
Here are 25 life changing quotes by Bodhidharma:
- As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you’ll never see that your own mind is the BuddhaWhen you don’t understand, you depend on reality. When you do understand, reality depends on you.
- When you don’t understand, you depend on reality. When you do understand, reality depends on you.
- Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.
- . . . the fools of this world prefer to look for Sages far away. They don’t believe that the wisdom of their own mind is the sage . . . the sutras say, “Mind is the teaching.” But people of no understanding don’t believe in their own mind or that by understanding this teaching they can become a sage. They prefer to look for distant knowledge and long for things in space, buddha-images, light, incense, and colors. They fall prey to falsehood and lose their minds to insanity.
- Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything.
- Buddhas don’t practice nonsense.
- All know the way, but few actually walk it.
- Mortals liberate Buddhas and Buddhas liberate mortals.
- When mortals are alive, they worry about death. When they’re full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty. But sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. And from moment to moment they follow the Way.
- To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.
- If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.
- Our nature is the mind. And the mind is our nature.
- The essence of the Way is detachment. And the goal of those who practice is freedom from appearances.
- The true Way is sublime. It can’t be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can’t read a word.
- The Way is basically perfect. It doesn’t require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound. It’s subtle and hard to perceive. It’s like when you drink water: you know how hot or cold it is, but you can’t tell others.
- The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the Way.
- This one life has no form and is empty by nature. If you become attached to any form, you should reject it. If you see an ego, a soul, a birth, or a death, reject them all.
- Still, others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn’t exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty, committing evil isn’t wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception.
- But this mind isn’t somewhere outside the material body of the four elements. Without this mind, we can’t move. The body has no awareness. Like a plant or a stone, the body has no nature. So how does it move? It’s the mind that moves.
- The Buddha is your real body, your original mind. This mind has no form or characteristics, no cause or effect, no tendons or bones. It’s like space. You can’t hold it. It’s not the mind of materialists or nihilists. If you don’t see your own miraculously aware nature, you’ll never find a Buddha, even if you break your body into atoms.
- Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain.
- If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both. . . . The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn’t stir inside, the world doesn’t arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is the true vision. And such understanding is true understanding.
- The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind.
- Not creating delusions is enlightenment.
- Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.