Lesson
3

Bodhidharma

8 of 8

In Bodhidharma's words

The buddha in the mind is like a fragrance in a tree. The buddha comes from a mind free of suffering, just as a fragrance comes from a tree free of decay. There's no fragrance without a tree and no buddha without the mind. If there's a fragrance without a tree it's a different fragrance. If there's a buddha without your mind, it's a different buddha.

The mind's capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind. At every moment, where language can't go, that's your mind.

Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn't exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists. And arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn't exist. But bodhisattvas and buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. This is what's meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist...

If you attain anything at all, it's conditional, it's karmic. It results in retribution. It turns the Wheel. As long as you're subject to birth and death, you'll never attain enlightenment. To attain enlightenment you have to see your nature. Unless you see your nature all this talk about cause and effect is nonsense. Buddhas don't practice nonsense. To say he attains anything at all is to slander a buddha. What could he possibly attain? Even focusing on a mind, a power, an understanding, or a view is impossible for a buddha. A buddha isn't one sided. The nature of his mind is basically empty, neither pure nor impure. He's free of practice and realization. He's free of cause and effect.

For further study of Bodhidharma, see Red Pine's The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma.