Daily Zen Library


The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

Translated by Red Pine Red Pine

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A fifth-century Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma is credited with bringing Zen to China. Although the tradition that traces its ancestry back to him did not flourish until nearly two hundred years after his death, today millions of Zen Buddhists and students of kung fu claim him as their spiritual father.

While others viewed Zen practice as a purification of the mind or a stage on the way to perfect enlightenment, Bodhidharma equated Zen with buddhahood and believed that it had a place in everyday life. Instead of telling his disciples to purify their minds, he pointed them to rock walls, to the movements of tigers and cranes, to a hollow reed floating across the Yangtze.

This bilingual edition, the only volume of the great teacher's work currently available in English, presents four teachings in their entirety. "Outline of Practice" describes the four all-inclusive habits that lead to enlightenment, the "Bloodstream Sermon" exhorts students to seek the Buddha by seeing their own nature, the "Wake-up Sermon" defends his premise that the most essential method for reaching enlightenment is beholding the mind. The original Chinese text, presented on facing pages, is taken from a Ch'ing dynasty woodblock edition.

Related Journal Entries

Bloodstream Sermon

Bodhidharma (440-528) Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature, yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a buddha. The true Way is sublime. It... View Journal Entry »

Bodhidharma’s Breakthrough Sermon

Bodhidharma (440-528) If someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method one can practice? The most essential method, which includes all methods, is beholding... View Journal Entry »

Bodhidharma’s Bloodstream Sermon

Bodhidharma (440-528) Everything that appears in the three realms leads back to the mind. Hence, buddhas of the past and future teach mind to mind without bothering about definitions. But if... View Journal Entry »

Breakthrough Sermon

 Bodhidharma  (~440 -528) If someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method he can practice? The most essential method, which includes all other... View Journal Entry »

Wake-up Sermon Part 1

Bodhidharma (d 528) The essence of the Way is detachment.  And the goal of those who practice is freedom from appearances.  The sutras say, “Detachment is enlightenment... View Journal Entry »

Wake-up Sermon Part 2

Bodhidharma (d 528) Seen with true vision, form isn’t simply form because form depends on mind.  And mind isn’t simply mind, because mind depends on form.  Mind and form... View Journal Entry »

Treatise on Contemplating Mindfulness

Bodhidharma Huike asked: If there are people intent on seeking the path of Enlightenment, what method should they practice, what method is most essential and concise? Bodhidharma answered:... View Journal Entry »