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Friday, April 1, 2022

Bodhidharma story continued from yesterday

And there were more -- more questions and answers. "Bodhidharma, I helped building temples and supported many -- patronized many teachers. What is the virtue of my deed?" And Bodhidharma said, "No merit." [laughs] That was his answer. So the emperor couldn’t understand what does he mean by "no virtue."

In this way, Bodhidharma started his question and answer in China, in five -- first part of the sixth century. Buddhism was introduced into China the first part of first century, and many and many scriptures were translated into Chinese. And by the time Bodhidharma went to China, there were many schools of Buddhism. Do you know Pure Land school? Pure Land school was there already, and Tendai school, and Sanron also, there were many schools -- were -- there were many schools established already. So Bodhidharma did not introduce -- introduce any scriptures. But he (was) said to have -- to have brought Lankavatara Sutra. But he did not bring any scriptures-- or there were -- there was -- there were no need to introduce any more scriptures.

And he came to China just to practice zazen, or to bring the teaching into practice he came to China. That is -- that is why he came to China. And what we should remember is there were many Indian Zen teachers at that time, and he was one of them. Recently, you know, as we Soto priest put emphasis on Bodhidharma's Zen, or Sixth Patriarch's Zen, or Zen in early Tang Dynasty. So some people, you know, say Bodhidharma -- we don't know when he come maybe he is some legendary, all what is told about him is almost -- is not historical -- there's no historical evidence, and he may be some legendary (?) person.

But, even though we don't know exactly when he came and when he died, but there were actually many teachings which was left by him, and those teachings, described in various books, is not same. That is why, you know, there's some doubt whether he is historical person or not.     --------------------------- Excerpt from Shunryu Suzuki  lecture 68-07-23 - as found on shunryusuzuki.comfrom one of the newly discovered (2021) lecture tapes. Edited by DC  - Going through Suzuki lectures and posting anything that can stand on its own. Not looking for zingers or "the best of." I find that following these excerpts daily provides another way to experience Suzuki's teaching. Go to for more daily Shunryu Suzuki lecture excerpts - with a photo

DC: We now know or at least I an confidant that Bodhidharma was a real person, and this somewhat due to the work of Andy Ferguson. See his Tracking Bodhidharma featured in another post today..