Bodhidharma – Practice and teaching

Practice and teaching
Bodhidharma is traditionally seen as introducing dhyana-practice in China.

1. Pointing directly to one’s mindOne of the fundamental Chán -ZEN  texts attributed to Bodhidharma is a four-line stanza whose first two verses echo the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra’sdisdain for words and whose second two verses stress the importance of the insight into reality achieved through “self-realization”:A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to [one’s] mind
It lets one see into [one’s own true] nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood

The stanza, in fact, is not Bodhidharma’s, but rather dates to the year 1108.

2. Wall-gazingTanlin, in the preface to Two Entrances and Four Acts, and Daoxuan, in the Further Biographies of Eminent Monks, mention a practice of Bodhidharma’s termed “wall-gazing” (壁觀 bìguān).
Both Tanlin and Daoxuan associate this “wall-gazing” with “quieting [the] mind”(安心 ān xīn).In the Two Entrances and Four Acts, traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma, the term “wall-gazing” is given as follows:Those who turn from delusion back to reality, 

who meditate on walls, 
the absence of self and other, 
the oneness of mortal and sage, 
and who remain unmoved even by scriptures 
are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason.

Daoxuan states: “The merits of Mahāyāna wall-gazing are the highest”.

These are the first mentions in the historical record of what may be a type of meditation being ascribed to Bodhidharma.

Exactly what sort of practice Bodhidharma’s “wall-gazing” was remains uncertain.

Nearly all accounts have treated it either as an undefined variety of meditation, as Daoxuan and Dumoulin, or as a variety of seated meditation akin to the zazen (坐禪; Chinese: zuòchán) that later became a defining characteristic of Chán.
The latter interpretation is particularly common among those working from a Ch’an standpoint.

There have also, however, been interpretations of “wall-gazing” as a non-meditative phenomenon.

3. The Laṅkāvatāra SūtraThere are early texts which explicitly associate Bodhidharma with the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra.
Daoxuan, for example, in a late recension of his biography of Bodhidharma’s successor Huike, has the sūtra as a basic and important element of the teachings passed down by Bodhidharma:In the beginning Dhyana Master Bodhidharma took the four-roll Laṅkā Sūtra, handed it over to Huike, and said:
“When I examine the land of China, it is clear that there is only this sutra.
If you rely on it to practice, you will be able to cross over the world.”
Another early text, the Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (楞伽師資記 Léngqié shīzī jì) of Jìngjué (淨覺; 683–750), also mentions Bodhidharma in relation to this text. Jingjue’s account also makes explicit mention of “sitting meditation”, or zazen:For all those who sat in meditation, Master Bodhi[dharma] also offered expositions of the main portions of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, which are collected in a volume of twelve or thirteen pages,
 […] bearing the title of Teaching of [Bodhi-]Dharma”.In other early texts, the school that would later become known as Ch’an is sometimes referred to as the “Laṅkāvatāra school” (楞伽宗 Léngqié zōng).The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, one of the Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtras, is a highly “difficult and obscure” text whose basic thrust is to emphasize “the innerenlightenment that does away with all duality and is raised above all distinctions”.

It is among the first and most important texts in the Yogācāra, or “Consciousness-only“, school of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

One of the recurrent emphases in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra is a lack of reliance on words to effectively express reality:

If, Mahamati, you say that because of the reality of words the objects are, this talk lacks in sense. 

Words are not known in all the Buddha-lands; 
words, Mahamati, are an artificial creation. 
In some Buddha-lands ideas are indicated by looking steadily, 
in others by gestures, 
in still others by a frown, 
by the movement of the eyes, 
by laughing, 
by yawning, 
or by the clearing of the throat, 
or by recollection, 
or by trembling.

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of words, the sūtra instead stresses theimportance of the “self-realization” that is “attained by noble wisdom” 

and occurs “when one has an insight into reality as it is“:
 “The truth is the state of self-realization and is beyond categories of discrimination”.
The sūtra goes on to outline the ultimate effects of an experience of self-realization:[The Bodhisattva]
will become thoroughly conversant with the noble truth of self-realization,
will become a perfect master of his own mind,
will conduct himself without effort,
will be like a gem reflecting a variety of colours,
will be able to assume the body of transformation,
will be able to enter into the subtle minds of all beings,
and, because of his firm belief in the truth of Mind-only,
will, by gradually ascending the stages, become established in Buddhahood.
Dear all,
Still remember that I mentioned that all sutras are like “Kungfu Manuals”?
They contain Keys to successful cultivation to Buddhahood!
Om Guru Lian Sheng Siddhi Hom
Lama Lotuschef

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