LinksContact                  
Northern ShaolimOur SchoolMultimedia: Photos & VideosKu Yu CheungBodhidharma, Da Mo

Northern Shaolin Harmonious Fist Association

Bodhidharma
The Four Noble Truths:

1) The Truth concerning the origin of Suffering is thus:
Birth is characterized by suffering and dissatisfaction, Death is characterized by suffering and dissatisfaction, Being with the unpleasant is characterized by suffering and dissatisfaction, Being away from what is pleasant is characterized by suffering and dissatisfaction.

2) The truth concerning the cause of this suffering and dissatisfaction is that it arises from cravings, the craving not to be forgotten, craving for sense pleasures and craving sometimes, for death.

3) The truth concerning the way to overcome the suffering and dissatisfaction brought about by craving is to cause craving itself to cease, to withdraw from participating in it, to renounce it, to liberate oneself from it completely.

4) The truth concerning the way to cease craving is to follow The Noble Eightfold Path of Virtue which consists of right views, right intentions, right speech, right activities, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

ENTERlNG THE BUDDHA'S PATH
A fragment of a teaching by Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma said:
There are said to be many different ways in which one can enter the Path of the Buddha's, but essentially there are only two types of entrance. One is termed the "Entering by Dharmic Principle," the other "Entering by Means of Dharmic Activity. "Entering by means of Principle indicates experiencing the Dharma through application and study of its teachings. By this means we come to realize our essential source nature. This essential Nature usually lies hidden because of the Klesa or unwholesome traits If someone takes up the practice of the path to enlightenment he realizes there is no Self nor Other, nor can anyone or thing be distinguished from each other.

Such realization frees one from the necessity of communicating exclusively through words and speech. In a silent contemplating one is in direct contact with the Dharma Principle itself, serene and beyond the creation of Klesas. Thus is the "Entering the Buddha's Path by Dharmic Principle." "Entering by Means of Dharmic Activity" indicates observance of the "Four Skillful Actions." This category embraces all other forms of activity What are they?
1) To abandon generation of Hatred by discovering its causes.
2) To accord with the higher Karma.
3) To abandon the creation of Unskillful Desires.
4) To live according to the Dharma teaching.

What does the first Dharmic Activity indicate? One disciplining himself in the Path, when finding himself in hardship, should recall that in numerous other existences he has experienced many other forms of suffering and trial. Throughout such lives he has acted unskillfully or unknowingly and generated the "Three Evil Roots" (Greed, Ignorance, Hatred) which lead to suffering. Even if no evil deeds have been done in this present lifetime, the effects of past deeds will surely come to fruit in the present life. No one can predict what or when that will be. Knowing this, one must be prepared for all things at all times and accept, in knowledge, what is experienced. In the Sutras we can read of how such events are generated and also that it is by penetrating our inner Wisdom we come to directly know their real causes. If and when such a realization is experienced, a follower of the Buddha's path will accord with the Dharma Wisdom and be able to turn hatreds into various skillful means of spiritual advancement. This is what abandoning Hatred really means.

What does the second stanza show? To "accord with higher Karma" reiterates the Dharmic teaching that there is no permanent "Self." All experiences undergone are likewise impermanent, transitory, and the intermingling of the forces and patterns of Past and Present. Consequently they are always liable to change or reverse themselves. At one time you may receive riches, at another time you may be a beggar. According to the causal Karmic force present within the moment so will the amount of gain or loss waver, fading only when that causal force is exhausted.

The source Mind in its own nature knows neither the increase nor decrease of Karmic forces. The winds of Pain or Pleasure do not blow across it nor disturb it. Accepting all experiences without complaint, and in silence, is termed "Being in accord with Karma."

Perform the six Perfect Practices in order to rise above confusion, yet ultimately they know there is no Mind to get confused. Thus is the living "in accordance with the Dharma" teaching.

The term "entering" used here was, in China, taken from the Pali word Sotapanna (stream enterer) indicating "one who has entered the stream leading beyond suffering." Sotapanna is a Buddhist term used in the earliest Theravada tradition to describe the first stage of progress toward enlightenment. This idea of "entering" also occurs in another Chinese Buddhist technical term men, meaning the door way to a temple. This was one of the first words used in Chinese Buddhism to describe a sect or distinctive sd~ool/method of teaching. The concept of different attitudes toward identical practices occurs in the oldest Theravada texts where they are often described as varying forms of vimutti (deliverance) and classified as either deliverance by mind or deliverance by wisdom. "Principle" (Li) is a native term adopted by both the Chinese exoteric and esoteric schools in an attempt to present Buddhist teachings in a native form or manner, making them more likely to be readily understood. The term was used mainly in combination with "wisdom" (chih), and the pair were said to represent the two aspects of the Dharma. The essence of this pair of terms is represented in the fwo mandalas of Taizokai and Kongokai. Bodhidharma is here reinterpreting its Confucian meaning (within which it was a stand-alone term) to make it instead represent a phronesic summary of practice. Dharmic Activity--a form of "right effort"--represents the Sanskrit term carya (meaning ''purposeful spiritual actions" as in acarya). The Chinese transliteration being hsing aapanese: gyo). This term, hsing, was used, in combination with others, to specifically describe various forms of ascetic undertakings performed to purify one's thoughts, speech and body.

The term "nature" as used here first appears in the teachings of the Mahayanic Yogacara School, where it approximated the earlier Sanskrit bhava beingness). This term does not indicate "temperament" or an individualized characteristic which, in essence, is an unknowing mental tendency to prolong, adhere to, or expand the various experiences of selfhood. Instead, it represents the Bodhicitta, the Buddha heart, said to live within us all and whose awakening develops the wish for enlightenment. In the Mahayanic Schools such a heart is regarded as the real source nature of humanity, for it confers the potential orientation to achieve enlightenment in this very lifetime. Klesa is a Sanskrit term used to indicate various unwholesome mental traits, such as greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, etc. Usually ten are defined.

The term literally means "wall insight," and refers to the development of a meditative practice oriented to pierce through the "wall" of ignorance. Its mention in the scriptures (if the term has been accurately copied and preserved in the manuscript) is not unique to this account of Bodhidharma, and occurs nowhere else in Buddhist literature before or afterward. According to certain temple traditions, at the Shaolin Temple and directly opposite Bear's Ear Peak, where Bodhidharma meditated, there rises a steep precipice, part of the Sung mountain range. This was known to the local monks as the "wall" and was used by them as a locus of sight to minimize distractions. It should be noted that Bodhidharma practiced an insight (kunn) meditation and not a dhyana (zen) form here. An irhportant and central meditative practice of the T~en Ta'i Sd~ool was called Shi Kuan. This term, kuan, is seen by some as representing the earlier Theravada meditation pradice of the Vipassana-Samatha method The concept that all things continually intermingle until a condition is reached in which differentiation is impossible was popularized in the Hua Yen (flower garland) Sutra. This does not simply mean all things are mixed up, but more that as one approaches enlightenment the common bonds of craving and its consequent suffering which bind us to the wheel of karma are clearly recognized and acknowledged by the practitioner. There is no longer the possibility for self-deceit. "No self" refers to the basic Buddhist teaching of Anatta--that there exists no unchanging, permanently existing entity that could be termed our "self" or "soul."

This is a comment upon the practice among monks of Dharmic debate and logic argument, a tradition common to many schools as a means of improving one's ability. It was taken, by some, as an indicator of one's actual spiritual achievements. Often this would not be so, a monk who could argue skillfully was not always suited to be a teacher nor necessarily spiritual. Bodhidharma is distinguishing between those who have such skills and those who truly are spiritualized through their actual practice of the Dharma. See the previous note regarding speech in general. Silent Contemplation is probably a remark directed toward the followers of the then increasingly popular Pure Land School who practiced and encouraged everyone to worship by chanting.

This idea of going "beyond klesa" presents us with a picture of the form of approach to practice taken up by the schools of that time. On one side we have the schools of steady and gradual progression in the spiritual path, an image and pattern preserved especially by the Theravada School. In contrast to this, other schools, especially the esoteric, propounded an approach of "direct leaping" into enlightenment. Also there were the schools stressing faith, such as the Omito Fu aapanese: Amidn). Each of these had their own unique attitude toward what constituted spiritual progression, and not all agreed as to what this was. Serenity (Sanskrit: uppekha) is a quality developed at the second level of the traditional "four stages" of meditation. These four actions clearly echo the Four Wisdoms of the Mandala Buddhas, namely:
The Wisdom of Equalizing Penetrative Insight--which seems indicated in the first activity. This dissolves the basis upon which hatred forms by neutralizing the fundamental standpoint from which it is generated.

The Wisdom ofReflective Penetrative Insight--which seems to refer to the second abivity. This enables an insightful perception to avoid the development of negative responses which tend to the creation of those unskillful mental conditions through which suffering is perpetuated.

The Wisdom of Creative Penetrative Insight--which refers to the third adivity and enables one to bypass the causal forces of sensorial or delusive delight through the positive application of Dharmic principles and endeavors toward others.

The Wisdom of Discriminative Penetrative Insight--which refers to the fourth activity, and relates to the inner decisions and judgments made in the course of spiritual life toward one's own inner or outer conditions.

These four wisdoms were utilized only within the esoteric schools and shows the familiarity of Bodhidharma with this terminology and tradition. The Chinese term used for activity (hsing; Japanese: gyo) was also used to describe the associated active practices involved in spiritual training-particularly that of "self purification or healing. It was also used to transliterate the Sanskrit terms for the physical elements, time or periods of change, and the skillful means (Sanskrit: upaya) of the Bodhisathras .

The idea that in order to be exhausted individual Karma must be received and experienced in exactly the same form that it was originally generated is a concept not in complete accord with all the early scriptures. It is shown in several instances that external (physical) karmic retributions are not always experienced in the same form as they were generated. In the Mahajima Nikaya 2 (and also the Therngntha onward) there is an account of the ex-professional murderer Angulimata. He was taught by the Buddha that because certain injuries Angulimala received (in an incident described earlier in the Sutra) since he had been converted to Buddhism had been borne by him without complaint or desire for retaliation, his past karmic debts--though originally of a much greater and more serious form--had been rendered null and void. The implication being that Angulimala had been granted, or eamed, a form of "compressed" Karma extirpation. The teaching that all human events are totally subject to the action of Karma is not a Buddhist but a Tain teaching. It was used by them to validate their teachings of extreme passivity and acquiescence to world events. Buddhism, on the other hand, demonstrated a dynamic and active spirituality in which one creatively prepares the conditions for enlightenment. The Sivaka Sutta was expressly preached to clarify this point. It was the later espousal of such a fatalistic view of Karma which led to the gradual disintegration of spirituality within Hindu and Jain India. This teaching here by Bodhidharma is, I think, meant to refer to an inner perception and transcendence of one's imperfed mental conditions and experiences and not--as it may appear--a comment upon external conduct or adions.

This "real cause" means the chain of dependent origination (pratitya samutpada) according to whose pattem all things come into being or manifestation, exist for a while, and then pass away to reform again.

This is a reference to the upaya or "skillful means"--a Mahayanic innovation which figured prominently in all Chinese sects and schools of exposition. It referred to the prac tice of incorporating or utilizing practices, things, situations, objects, or experiences as a means of conveying the dharmic realities to students. It is primarily a didactic rather than doctrinal precept, although later an extensive philosophical framework explaining it was developed within China. In esotelj~c Buddhism, upaya is termed "the art of changing poison into medicine."
Bodhidharma

That the "source mind" or principle is said to exist--almost as if a separate entity-may seem surprising to one not familiar with Buddhist teachings. However, this is not an innovation. The idea is propounded in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra Uapanese: M~ohorenge Kyo) whid~ speaks of an "Etemal Buddha." While previously the dharma had mostly been written of as an abstract, but dynamic, reminder of the purpose of Shakyamuni's teachings, here in the Lotus Sutra, the teaching became embodied as a recognizable, distind, and named entity. Such a docetic tendency olj~ginated first within the Indian Mahasanghika from whence it spread, probably via the Sarvastivadins, into China as early as the second century A.D. In the esoteric schools, a Primordial Buddha (Mahavairocana) is spoken of but is not regarded, or related to, in the same manner as this Buddha of the Lotus Sutra. The source inspiration for the statement here is probably the Dharmalaksana sect teaching of the eight consciousnesses. In this scheme the eighth level, called the Alaynvijnann (storehouse consciousness), is held to exist continually--but it is not personalized in any manner. As Bodhidharma was trained in the Yogacara School--a direct descendant of the Dharmalaksana--the Alaya is probably what he refers to here when he speaics of something "beyond the creation of klesa." (Unwholesome traits) This is, perhaps deliberately, a very externalized and simplified presentation of the Buddhist teaching collceming one's attitude toward Karma. It seems oriented toward
B) Inner calm and oneness of heart, and joy and happiness arising from concentration.
C) Happiness arising from physical well-being accompanied by equanimity and mind-fulness.
D) Equanimity and awareness only.

The term "triple realm," found in the Mahajima Nikaya 3, and Dhigha Nikaya 3, refers to a tripartite strata of existence within which we all exist. They arr described in the scriptures as follows:
1) The realm of objects of desire (Kamadhatuk This is said to refer to an experiential level containing the world of our everydayexperience and predominantly consisting of things we identify through our minds (nama) and things we experience through our bodies (rupar
2) The realm of. visible forms not creating desire (Rupadhatu); This is said to refer to an experiential level corresponding to the condition which could be attained by meditation practice upon the elements and their various manifestations or colors, i.e, the kasina.
3) The realm devoid of visible forms. (Arupadhatu). This refers to an experiential level corresponding to the condition which could be attained by meditation on the four immeasurable spheres. These are:

The sphere of infinite space; n, sphere of infinite perception; The sphere of nothingness; n~e sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. According to one's spiritual development we can be rebom in and of these three realms (Kamadhatu, Rupadhata, Arupadhatu). The reference to the "burning house" comes from the parable in The Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapundarika) "Peace" hsin) means an "untroubled mind." i.eT have reached the Dhyana stages outlined in Note 21 supra. 25. This comes from the Four Noble Truths pronounced by Shakyamuni. Although this obviously Infers to the Anatta doctrine, the teaching of emptiness was perfected within the Yogacara School teachings within which Bodhidharma was schooled. The Lankavatara Sutra which he handed to his disciples was a fundamental scripture of this sdolool. These are greed, hatred, and ignorance; or alternatively, desire, aversion, and confusion.

Self-immolation was not unknown either in China nor within Buddhism itself. At least one direct student with Shakyamuni ended his life by his own hand, as also Nagarjuna is said to have. The Buddha, himself, told of giving his body and life to a starving tiger at one time in order for her to feed her cubs. However these were not cases of simple suicide, as the persons concerned were of a special and spiritual level of consciousness before, during, and after their actions. Some Chinese sects certainly went in for bodily mortifications, such as buming th, skull, or other parts of the body, with incense, etc., but on the whole such practices were regarded as extreme.



This is a reference to the four Great Bodhisattva Vows innovated by the Mahayana.

Although the number of sentient beings is countless I shall not attain Enlightenment until every one of them has equally reached this stage.

Although the capacity and depth of human suffering is without count I shall not attain to the supreme Enlightenment until I have brought all others to the same stage. Although the depth and range of the teaching has no end point I shall study it without respite.

Although the way of the Buddhas is without limitation I shall follow it. The Six Spiritually Perfecting Pradices (paramita) are: generosity, morality, patience, vigor, concentration, and meditation (dana, sila, ksanti, virya, dhynna, prajna).

"No Mind" (wu hsin; Sanskrit: nairatmyacitta) "Non-Mind" (pu hsin; Sanskrit: acittaka), "Empty Mind" (kung hsin; Sanskrit: sunyatacitta), are all synonymous terms for a condition in which the consciousness is perfectly free from creations, fictions, desires, hatreds and ignorance. Bodhidharma deals with this condition as a spiritual and physical principle in its own right within his text titled the Wu Hsin Lun (Treatise upon No-Mindedness).

 

 

 





Copyright 1999-2003 All Rights Reserved www.harmoniousfist.com


www.qualifiedimpressions.com