Stories from Buddhism: Bodhidharma


PureInsight | April 16, 2007

[] Bodhidharma
was born in a Brahman family in the southern India. He was cheerful,
wise, and had a rather high enlightenment quality. He focused all his
energy on studying in the Mahayana or "Great Vehicle" school.

He came to Guangzhou on the eighth year of Putong (527 A.D.) of Emperor
Liang Wudi. Emperor Wudi dispatched an envoy to welcome him to Jinling
(Today's Nanjiang).

Emperor Wudi asked him: "After I ascended the throne, I have built
countless temples and residences for monks. How much merit have I

Bodhidharma answered: "There is no merit."

The Emperor asked him why. 
Bodhidharma said: "It is because of omission. Although it looks like you have merits, but it's not real."

The Emperor asked again: "What is true merit?" 
Bodhidharma said: "Being without
any worries and having no thought in one's mind. This type of merit can
not be obtained by doing good deeds in the secular world."

The Emperor asked again: "What is the meaning of Shengde?"

Bodhidharma said: "When one is free, there is no dharma."

Bodhidharma left Liang. He used a piece of reed twig to cross the
Yangtze River and went to the territory of the Northern Wei. He then
went to Luoyang (in Henan Province) and cultivated at the Shaolin
Temple on Songshan Mountain. He meditated continuously for nine years.
After his death, he was buried in Xioner Mountain.


When Songyun returned from the Western Regions on his diplomatic
mission, he saw Bodhidharma carrying a shoe walking alone at Congling.
When Songyun asked him where he was going, Bodhidharma told him that he
was going to the Western Paradise. He also told Songyun: "Our Emperor
is world-weary." Songyun didn't know what he meant. When he came back
to the capital, he found out that Emperor Ming had already died and
Emperor Xiao Xhuang had taken over the throng. Songyun told the emperor
that he had met Bodhidharma on his way back. The emperor, therefore
ordered Bodhidharma's coffin be opened. They only found one shoe inside
the coffin.

(From Legends of Holy Monks, vol. 4)

Translated from:

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