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Great Zen Master from India
Great Zen Master from India

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Published by: seadog4227 on Jun 26, 2012
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Osho on Zen Master Bodhidharma
:" I have a very soft corner in my heart for Bodhidharma. That makes it a very special occasion tospeak about him. Perhaps he is the only man whom I have loved so deeply that speaking on him I will bealmost speaking on myself. That also creates a great complexity, because he never wrote anything in hislife. No enlightened being has ever written. Bodhidharma is not an exception, but by tradition these threebooks that we are going to discuss are attributed to Bodhidharma.
The scholars reason that because there is no contrary evidence -- and for almost one thousand years,these books have been attributed to Bodhidharma -- there is no reason why we should not accept them. Iam not a scholar, and there are certainly fragments which must have been spoken by Bodhidharma, butthese are not books written by him. These are notes by his disciples. It was an ancient tradition that whena disciple takes notes from the master he does not put his own name on those notes, because nothing of it belongs to him; it has come from the master.
But knowing Bodhidharma as intimately as I know him ...There are so many fallacies which are possibleonly if somebody else was taking notes and his own mind entered into it; he has interpreted Bodhidharma-- and with not much understanding.
Before we enter into these sutras, a few things about Bodhidharma will be good to know. That will giveyou the flavor of the man and a way to understand what belongs to him in these books and what does notbelong to him. It is going to be a very strange commentary.
Bodhidharma was born fourteen centuries ago as a son of a king in the south of India. There was a bigempire, the empire of Pallavas. He was the third son of his father, but seeing everything -- he was a manof tremendous intelligence -- he renounced the kingdom. He was not against the world, but he was notready to waste his time in mundane affairs, in trivia. His whole concern was to know his self-nature,because without knowing it you have to accept death as the end.
All true seekers in fact, have been fighting against death. Bertrand Russell has made a statement that if there were no death, there would be no religion. There is some truth in it. I will not agree totally, becausereligion is a vast continent. It is not only death, it is also the search for bliss, it is also the search fortruth, it is also the search for the meaning of life; it is many more things. But certainly Bertrand Russell isright: if there were no death, very few, very rare people would be interested in religion. Death is the greatincentive.
Bodhidharma renounced the kingdom saying to his father,"If you cannot save me from death, thenplease don't prevent me. Let me go in search of something that is beyond death." Those were beautifuldays, particularly in the East. The father thought for a moment and he said, "I will not prevent you,because I cannot prevent your death. You go on your search with all my blessings. It is sad for me butthat is my problem; it is my attachment. I was hoping for you to be the successor, to be the emperor of the great Pallavas empire, but you have chosen something higher than that. I am your father so how canI prevent you?
"And you have put in such a simple way a question which I had never expected. You say, 'If you canprevent my death then I will not leave the palace, but if you cannot prevent my death, then please don'tprevent me either.'" You can see Bodhidharma's caliber as a great intelligence.
And the second thingthat I would like you to remember is that although he was a follower of GautamBuddha, in some instances he shows higher flights than Gautam Buddha himself. For example, GautamBuddha was afraid to initiate a woman into his commune of sannyasins but Bodhidharma got initiated by awoman who was enlightened. Her name was Pragyatara. Perhaps people would have forgotten her name;it is only because of Bodhidharma that her name still remains, but only the name -- we don't knowanything else about her. It was she who ordered Bodhidharma to go to China. Buddhism had reachedChina six hundred years before Bodhidharma. It was something magical; it had never happenedanywhere, at any time -- Buddha's message immediately caught hold of the whole Chinese people.
The situation was that China had lived under the influence of Confucius and was tired of it. BecauseConfucius is just a moralist, a puritan, he does not know anything about the inner mysteries of life. Infact, he denies that there is anything inner. Everything is outer; refine it, polish it, culture it, make it asbeautiful as possible.
There were people like Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu,contemporaries of Confucius, but they weremystics not masters. They could not create a counter movement against Confucius in the hearts of theChinese people. So there was a vacuum. Nobody can live without a soul, and once you start thinking thatthere is no soul, your life starts losing all meaning. The soul is your very integrating concept; without ityou are cut away from existence and eternal life. Just like a branch cut off from a tree is bound to die -- ithas lost the source of nourishment -- the very idea that there is no soul inside you, no consciousness,cuts you away from existence. One starts shrinking, one starts feeling suffocated.
But Confucius was a very great rationalist. These mystics, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu, knew that whatConfucius was doing was wrong, but they were not masters. They remained in their monasteries withtheir few disciples.
When Buddhism reached China, it immediately entered to the very soul of the people... as if they hadbeen thirsty for centuries, and Buddhism had come as a rain cloud. It quenched their thirst so immenselythat something unimaginable happened.
Christianity has converted many people, but that conversion is not worth calling religious. It converts thepoor, the hungry, the beggars, the orphans, not by any spiritual impact on them but just by giving themfood, clothes, shelter, education. But these have nothing to do with spirituality. Mohammedanism hasconverted a tremendous amount of people, but on the point of the sword: either you be a Mohammedan,or you cannot live. The choice is yours.
The conversion that happened in China is the only religious conversion in the whole history of mankind.Buddhism simply explained itself, and the beauty of the message was understood by the people. Theywere thirsty for it, they were waiting for something like it. The whole country, which was the biggestcountry in the world, turned to Buddhism. When Bodhidharma reached there six hundred years later,there were already thirty thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, and two million Buddhist monks inChina. And two million Buddhist monks is not a small number; it was five percent of the whole populationof China.
Pragyatara, Bodhidharma's master,told him to go to China because the people who had reached therebefore him had made a great impact, although none of them were enlightened. They were great scholars,very disciplined people, very loving and peaceful and compassionate, but none of them were enlightened.And now China needed another Gautam Buddha. The ground was ready.
Bodhidharma was the first enlightened man to reach China. The point I want to make clear is that whileGautam Buddha was afraid to initiate women into his commune, Bodhidharma was courageous enough tobe initiated by a woman on the path of Gautam Buddha. There were other enlightened people, but hechose a woman for a certain purpose. And the purpose was to show that a woman can be enlightened.Not only that, her disciples can be enlightened. Bodhidharma's name stands out amongst all the Buddhistenlightened people second only to Gautam Buddha.
There are many legends about the man; they all have some significance. The first legend is: When hereached China -- it took him three years -- the Chinese emperor Wu came to receive him. His fame hadreached ahead of him. Emperor Wu had done great service to the philosophy of Gautam Buddha.Thousands of scholars were translating Buddhist scriptures from Pali into Chinese and the emperor wasthe patron of all that great work of translation. He had made thousands of temples and monasteries, andhe was feeding thousands of monks. He had put his whole treasure at the service of Gautam Buddha, andnaturally the Buddhist monks who had reached before Bodhidharma had been telling him that he wasearning great virtue, that he will be born as a god in heaven.
Naturally, his first question to Bodhidharma was, "I have made so many monasteries, I am feedingthousands of scholars, I have opened a whole university for the studies of Gautam Buddha, I have put mywhole empire and its treasures in the service of Gautam Buddha. What is going to be my reward?"
He was a little embarrassed seeing Bodhidharma, not thinking that the man would be like this. He lookedvery ferocious. He had very big eyes, but he had a very soft heart -- just a lotus flower in his heart. Buthis face was almost as dangerous as you can conceive. Just the sunglasses were missing; otherwise hewas a mafia guy!

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