Bodhidharma: A Simple Man of Action
Osho on Enlightened Master Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist Enlightened Master who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Buddhism to China. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin kungfu.
Osho praises bodhidharma and saysI AM ECSTATIC because just the name of Bodhidharma is psychedelic to me. In the long evolution of human consciousness there has never been such an outlandish Buddha as Bodhidharma — very rare, very unique, exotic. There have been many buddhas in the world, but Bodhidharma stands out like Everest. His way of being, living, and expressing the truth is simply his; it is incomparable.
Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as an ill-tempered, profusely-bearded, wide-eyed non-Chinese person. And Osho says He was the man who was also a lion. Ordinarily he would not speak but his silence was also terrible and terrific. He would look into your eyes absolutely silent, and he would go like a cold shudder through your spine. Or he would speak — then too he was like thunder. Find a picture of Bodhidharma and look: very ferocious and still very sweet. A parrot crossed with a lion — very sweet and very ferocious. The whole Zen discipline has carried the same quality with it. Zen masters are very hard on the outside and very sweet on the inside. Once you have earned their love they are as sweet as honey, but you will have to pass through hardship.
Osho has dedicated a whole discourse series to him- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master.
Osho says Bodhidharma is one of the greatest enlightened men who has ever existed, and one of the most unique amongst all the enlightened men. In many ways he surpasses his own master, Gautam Buddha.
Meditation is the only cure for all sicknesses that man is prone to; a single medicine.
And I should remind you that the word meditation and medicine come from the same root. Medicine for the body and meditation for the soul. They both bring health. …THE SUTRAS SAY, “NOTHING HAS A NATURE OF ITS OWN.” This is one of the greatest contributions of Gautam Buddha and his disciples like Bodhidharma. NOTHING HAS A NATURE OF ITS OWN. It means, your consciousness is a pure space. It does not have any attributes. It is utterly empty, yet full — full of joy, full of light, full of fragrance — but utterly empty. There is no self nature which makes people different. The moment you are in samadhi, you will see trees are also in samadhi. The mountains are in samadhi. The stars are in samadhi. The whole existence is in samadhi. Only you had gone astray. You have come back, merged and melted into the wholeness of the universe.
“NOTHING HAS A NATURE OF ITS OWN.” ACT. DON’T QUESTION.
Bodhidharma is not a philosopher and he is not interested in any kind of philosophizing. He is a simple man of action. He says, ACT. DON’T QUESTION …because questions lead nowhere. Every answer will create ten more questions. And you can go on asking, life after life, and you will not be able to find the answer …ACT. WHEN YOU QUESTION, YOU ARE WRONG. It does not matter what question you are asking. WHEN YOU QUESTION, YOU ARE WRONG. And when you don’t question and silently act, Samadhi is not far away. Questions come from the mind and whatever answers are given, your mind rejoices in becoming more and more knowledgeable. It becomes more and more powerful. Bodhidharma said, “Please don’t ask anything. If you want to know the answer, don’t ask the question. Act.” Act, transcend the mind and you will find YOU are the answer. Your very being is the answer.
WHEN YOU ARE DELUDED, THE SIX SENSES AND FIVE SHADES ARE CONSTRUCTS OF SUFFERING AND MORTALITY.
He has great acumen in saying tremendously meaningful things in small sutras. He is saying when you are deluded, when you are in the mind in other words, then the five elements create the world and your six senses. It is a very strange thing, because it is only just in this century that science has discovered the sixth sense. Otherwise, all old scriptures talk about five senses. It is only Bodhidharma alone, who talks about six senses. And the sixth sense is such, that it is a miracle he came to know about it. It has just been discovered. It is inside your ear. The ear has always been accepted as one of the five senses, but we didn’t know that inside the ear there are two senses. One is the sense of hearing and another is the sense of balance. If you are hit strongly on your ear you will immediately lose balance. When you see a drunkard coming home in the late night, you cannot believe how he manages. He has lost all control and all balance because alcohol affects the sixth sense. Every drug affects the sixth sense and immediately you lose balance.
A drunkard came home late in the night and was trying to open the lock. But his hand was shaking and the lock was shaking; his other hand was shaking and he could not manage to enter the key into the lock. Both were shaking. He said, “My God, what is happening? It must be an earthquake. Everything is shaking.”
A policeman watching him from the road felt compassion for him. He was a good man but had fallen into wrong company …just like you. You are all good men fallen into wrong company. Soon you will be walking like a drunkard. The policeman came to him and said, “Can I help you?” He said, “Yes, it would be very kind of you, if you could hold the house for a moment so that I can put my key into the hole. Just hold the house. There seems to be a great earthquake.”
It is very strange because that sixth sense is hidden inside the ear. Hence, nobody has ever talked about it because nobody was ever aware of it. It was only in this century, surgeons became aware that in the ear there is also another sense that keeps your body balanced.
Bodhidharma says six senses and five shades ARE CONSTRUCTS OF SUFFERING AND MORTALITY. When you are deluded, when you are in the mind, the five elements and the six senses of your body create for you, suffering, death and nothing else. But WHEN YOU WAKE UP, that is, when you go beyond the mind, THE SIX SENSES AND FIVE SHADES ARE CONSTRUCTS OF NIRVANA AND IMMORTALITY. Everything is the same; the same six senses and the same five aggregates — the elements that constitute the world. Once you are beyond the mind, they create nirvana and immortality. So Bodhidharma is not against the body and he is not against the world. He is against your sleep. He does not want you to renounce the world. He does not want you to torture the body, because this body and this world will behave absolutely differently. You just have to be awake. So the whole answer is: Renounce sleeping, renounce the mind which is the citadel of your sleep. Go into silence, which will release your dormant awareness. And your whole being will become luminous with consciousness. Then the same body, the same senses and the same world has a totally different significance. It becomes nirvana. It becomes immortality.
SOMEONE WHO SEEKS THE WAY DOESN’T LOOK BEYOND HIMSELF. HE KNOWS THAT THE MIND IS THE WAY. BUT WHEN HE FINDS THE MIND, HE FINDS NOTHING. AND WHEN HE FINDS THE WAY, HE FINDS NOTHING. IF YOU THINK YOU CAN USE THE MIND TO FIND THE WAY, YOU ARE DELUDED. WHEN YOU ARE DELUDED, BUDDHAHOOD EXISTS.
This is a very beautiful statement. It is very rare to come across such a statement. WHEN YOU ARE DELUDED, BUDDHAHOOD EXISTS because WHEN YOU ARE AWARE, IT DOES NOT EXIST. It is a very strange statement. You would have thought otherwise. You would have thought that when you are deluded, buddhahood does not exist, and when you are aware, it does exist. But Bodhidharma is saying just the opposite. And he is right. WHEN YOU ARE DELUDED …when you are wandering in all kinds of illusions in the world, there is a desire in you, deep down. Sometimes you become aware of it; sometimes you forget all about it. The longing to be a buddha, the longing to become aware, the longing for enlightenment ….Even in the deepest sleep, somewhere in the corner of your darkness, a small longing goes on continuing to be alert — to be awakened, to be enlightened because nobody can be satisfied with misery, agony, anguish, forever. One wants to get out of it.
That’s why Bodhidharma says: WHEN YOU ARE DELUDED, BUDDHAHOOD EXISTS. WHEN YOU ARE AWARE, IT DOES NOT EXIST BECAUSE AWARENESS IS BUDDHAHOOD.
When you are aware, you are a buddha and the longing for buddhahood disappears. And when you are a buddha, you are not aware that you are a buddha. Awareness cannot be aware of itself. Innocence cannot be aware of itself. So the buddhahood exists only for those who are far away from it. Buddhahood disappears for those who have reached home. A Buddha does not know that he is a buddha. Knowledge is always about the other. The mirror can reflect everything in the world except itself. The mirror does not know that he is.
…DON’T HATE LIFE AND DEATH OR LOVE LIFE AND DEATH. KEEP YOUR EVERY THOUGHT FREE OF DELUSION, AND IN LIFE YOU WILL WITNESS THE BEGINNING OF NIRVANA, AND IN DEATH YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THE ASSURANCE OF NO REBIRTH.
It fills me with great surprise that the whole Western sphere has never thought about rebirth. Great philosophers from Plato to Kant, to Feuerbach, to Bertrand Russell, to Jean Paul Sartre — a great line of immensely intelligent geniuses, but not a single person has ever thought about rebirth. Their whole idea has remained …just one life. It is too miserly. Existence is not miserly; it is overflowing with abundance. Every death is a beginning of a new life, except only rarely, when somebody becomes enlightened. Then his death is the ultimate death. He will not be born again. He will not be engaged in a body again; he will not suffer the agony of another mind again. His consciousness will melt, just like an ice cube melting in the ocean and becoming one with it. He will be all over, but he will not be in any particular place, in a particular form. He will be all over, but formless. He will be the very universe.
Each time a man becomes enlightened, the whole universe gets a little higher in consciousness, because this man’s consciousness spreads all over the existence. The more people become enlightened, the more existence will be richer. So it is not only a question of a single person becoming enlightened. In his enlightenment, the whole universe gains immensely. It becomes richer, more beautiful, more joyous, more celebrated.
TO SEE FORM BUT NOT BE CORRUPTED BY FORM OR TO HEAR SOUND BUT NOT BE CORRUPTED BY SOUND IS LIBERATION. EYES THAT ARE NOT ATTACHED TO FORM ARE THE GATES OF ZEN. EARS THAT AREN’T ATTACHED TO SOUND ARE ALSO THE GATES OF ZEN. IN SHORT, THOSE WHO PERCEIVE THE EXISTENCE OF PHENOMENA AND REMAIN UNATTACHED ARE LIBERATED ….
WHEN DELUSIONS ARE ABSENT, THE MIND IS THE LAND OF BUDDHAS. WHEN DELUSIONS ARE PRESENT, THE MIND IS HELL.
I am reminded of a great Zen master. The emperor of Japan had come to see him and he had been wanting to come to see him but the path to his monastery was dangerous, going through wild forests, dangerous mountainous parts. But finally, the emperor decided he had to go. His death was coming near and he couldn’t take the risk …. Before death came he must have some understanding that death cannot destroy.
He reached the Zen master who was sitting under a tree. He touched his feet and said, “I have come to ask one question. Is there really a hell or heaven? Because my death is coming close and my only concern is: where am I going; to hell or to heaven?” The master laughed and said, “I have never thought that our emperor is such an idiot.”
To say to the emperor, “an idiot” …! For a split second, the emperor forgot and pulled out his sword, and he was going to cut off the head of the Zen master.
The Zen master laughed and said, “This is the gate of hell.”
The emperor stopped, put his sword back in the sheath, and the master said, “You have entered into heaven. Now you can go. Just remember: anger, violence, destructiveness. These are the gates of hell. And the hell is in your mind. But understanding, compassion, silence, are the doors of heaven. They are beyond your mind. And I have given you the experience of both. Forgive me that I called you an idiot. I had to. It was just a response to your question, because I am not a thinker and I don’t answer the way thinkers answer questions. I am a mystic. I simply create the device so that you can have some taste of the answer. Now get lost.”
And the emperor touched his feet with tears of gratitude, because no other answer would have been of much help. It would have remained just a hypothesis. But the man was a tremendously insightful master. He created the situation immediately, just by calling him an idiot. And he showed him both: the doors of hell and the doors of heaven.
Your mind is hell. Going beyond your mind is heaven. Go beyond the mind. That is the essence of the whole teaching of all the awakened ones.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
Chapter title: Mind is the greatest enemy of man
10 July 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on Buddha and many Buddhist enlightened masters like Mahakashyap,
Bodhidharma, Subhuti, Atisha, Saraha, Tilopa, Naropa, Nagarjuna, Vimalkirti, Manjushri,
Ananda, Sariputta and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the
1. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
2. The Discipline of Transcendence
3. The Heart Sutra
4. The Diamond Sutra
5. Hari Om Tat Sat
6. The Osho Upanishad
7. The Transmission of the Lamp
8. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
9. The Great Zen Master Ta Hui
10. Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
11. The Tantra Vision
12. The Book of Wisdom
13. And The Flowers Showered
14. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
15. Ancient Music in the Pines