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( Dharma,

Tamo in Chinese, Daruma in Japanese )

(470-543) (?-528)

The First Patriarch (Chinese Line)


Bodhidharma was the 28th Patriarch in the Indian
(after Buddha) and probably not acknowedged to be the First
Patriarch in the Chinese line until the time of the Sixth Patriarch (Hui

According to D. T. Suzuki 1
, Dharma was the third son of the King of Hsiang-chih (Kasi?) in southern
India. He became a monk and studied under Prajnatara (the 27th Indian Patriarch)
for some forty years, it is said.

“After the death of his teacher, he assumed the patriarchal
authority of the Dhyana school, and energetically fought for sixty years
or more against heterodox schools. After this, in obedience to the instruction
which he had received from Prajnatara, he sailed for China, spending three
years on the way.

In the year 520 he at last landed at Kuang-chou in Southern
China … [Finding ill-treatment at the hands of both commoners and elite,
Dharma] went to the State of Northern Wei, where he retired into the Shao-lin
monastery. It is said that he spent all his time, during a period of nine
years there, silently sitting against the wall and deeply absorbed in meditation,
and for this singular habit he is said to have earned the title of “the
wall-gazing brahmin”. (1)

According to an introduction to the The Sixth Patriarch’s
Sutra: (2) “Patriarch Bodhidharma went to Nan Ching where
he listen to Dharma Master Shen Kuang explain the sutras. When Shen Kuang
spoke, the heavens rained fragrant blossoms and a gold-petalled lotus rose
from the earth for him to sit upon. However, only those with good roots,
who had opened the five eyes and the six spiritual penetrations were able
to see that.

Now! Isn’t that wonderful? After listening to the Sutra,
Bodhidharma asked, “Dharma Master, what are you doing?” “I am explaining
Sutras,” Shen Kuang replied. “Why are you explaining Sutras?” “I am teaching
people to end birth and death.” “Oh?” said Bodhidharma, “exactly how do
you do that? In this Sutra which you explain, the words are black and the
paper is white. How does this teach people to end birth and death?”

Dharma master Shen Kuang had nothing to say. How did he
teach people to end birth and death? He fumed in silence. Then, even though
heavenly maidens rained down flowers and the earth gave forth golden lotuses,
Dharma master Shen Kuang. This is what I mean when I say that the Buddhadharma
existed in China but it was if it were not there at all.

When angry, Dharma master Shen Kuang used his heavy iron
beads to level opposition. In response to Bodhidharma’s question, he reddened
with anger and raged like a tidal wave smashing a mountain. As he whipped
out his beads, he snapped, “You are slandering the Dharma!” and cracked
Bodhidharma across the mouth, knocking loose two teeth.

Bodhidharma neither moved nor spoke. He hadn’t expected
such a vicious reply. There is a legend about the teeth of holy men. You
must not ask about the principle, however, because it is too inconceivable.
The legend says that if a sage’s teeth fall to the ground, it won’t rain
for three years. Patriarch Bodhidharma thought, “If it doesn’t rain for
three years, people will starve! I have come to China to save living beings,
not to kill them!” So Bodhidharma did not let his teeth fall to the ground.
Instead, he swallowed them and disappeared down the road . . .

Bodhidharma then met a parrot imprisoned in a wicker cage.
This bird was much more intelligent than the Dharma Master Shen Kuang.

Recognizing Bodhidharma as the First Patriarch, the bird
said: “Mind from the West. Mind from the West. Teach me a way To escape
from this cage.”

Although Bodhidharma had received no response from people,
this parrot recognized him. Hearing the birds plea for help, Bodhidharma
whispered a secret expedient teaching to teach his bird how to end suffering.

He said, To escape the cage, To escape the cage, Put out
both legs, Close both eyes. This is the way To escape from the cage!

The parrot listened attentively and said, “All right!
I understand,” and stuck out his legs, closed his eyes, and waited. When
the bird’s owner came home from work, he always played with his parrot.

But this time when he looked in the cage he was shocked.
The owner was on the verge of tears. He couldn’t have been more upset if
his son had died.

He pulled opened the cage door and scooped up the bird,
which lay still and quiet in his hand. The body had not yet chilled. The
owner looked with disbelief at the little body. He peaked at it from left
and right…it didn’t even quiver.

Slowly he open his hand…PHLLRTTPHLRTTPHLRTT! The bird
broke loose from his hand and flew away!

Now, like the parrot, we are in a cage. How do you escape?
You may say, “I am really free. if I want to eat, I eat; if I want to drink,
I drink. I do not have to follow rules. I can do anything.”

Don’t think you are quite so clever. This is not freedom,
it is just confusion. To be free, you must be free of birth and death,
and then, if you wish to fly into space you can fly into space, and if
you wish to drop into the earth, you can drop into the earth. If you can
do this, you are truly independent. Like the parrot, you are free . . .

In his anger, Dharma Master Shen Kuang knocked out two
of Bodhidharma’s teeth. He thought he had won a great victory because the
Barbarian put forth no opposition. But not long after, the Ghost of Impermanence,
wearing a high hat, paid a call on Dharma Master Shen Kuang: “Your life
ends today,” said the ghost. “King Yama, the king of the dead, has sent
me to escort you.”

Master Shen Kuang said, “What? why must I die? When I
speak the Dharma, flowers fall from the heavens and the earth bubbles forth
golden lotuses, yet I still have not ended birth and death? Tell me, is
there a person in this world who has ended birth and death?”

“There is,” came the reply. “Who?” asked Shen Kuang. “Tell
me, and I’ll follow him to study the Way.” “He is the black-faced Bhikshu
whose teeth you knocked out. King Yama bows to him everyday.”

“Please, Old Ghost, speak to King Yama on my behalf. I
want to follow that Bhikshu. I am determined to end birth and death. Can’t
you allow me some more time?”

“All right,” said the ghost. “Since you are sincere, King
Yama will wait.” Dharma Master Shen Kuang was delighted. He was so quick
to rush after Bodhidharma, that he forgot to thank the Ghost of Impermanence;
in fact, he even forgot to put on his shoes .

He ran until he met the parrot whom Bodhidharma had freed,
and suddenly he understood, “Originally it is just this way! I need only
act dead. I need only be a living dead person!”

Bodhidharma walked on, ignoring the barefoot Dharma Master
following behind. Arriving at Bear’s Ear Mountain in Loyang, the Patriarch
sat down to meditate facing a wall. For nine years, Patriarch Bodhidharma
sat meditating and Dharma Master Shen Kuang knelt beside him, seeking the

One day a great snow fell, and it rose in drifts as high
as Shen Kuang’s waist, and yet he continued to kneel. Finally Patriarch
Bodhidharma asked him, “Why are you kneeling here in such deep snow?” “I
want to end birth and death,” replied Shen kuang.

“When I was lecturing Sutras I was unsuccessful. Please,
Patriarch, transmit this dharma to me.”

“What do you see falling from the sky?” asked Bodhidharma.
“Snow,” said Shen Kuang. “What color is it?” asked Bodhidharma. “It’s white
of course.”

“When red snow falls from the sky,” said Bodhidharma,
“I will transmit the Dharma to you. You knocked out two of my teeth, and
I have been most compassionate in not taking revenge. Do you really expect
me to give you the Dharma?”

This was the test that the Patriarch Bodhidharna gave
to Master Shen Kuang. How did Shen kuang complete this test?

Cultivators of the Way carry a knife to protect the substance
of their precepts. A true cultivator would rather cut off his head than
break a precept. Shen kuang drew his precept knife, and with one slice,
cut off his arm and thus passed his test.

His blood flowed on the new fallen snow. He scooped up
a bucket full of crimson snow, dumped it before Bodhidharma, and said,
“Patriarch do you see? The snow is red!”

Bodhidharma said, “So it is, so it is.” He had tested
Shen Kuang’s sincerity, and now the Patriarch was extremely happy. “My
coming to China has not been in vain…I have met a person who dares to
use a true mind to cultivate the Way, even forsaking his arm in search
of the Dharma.”

The patriarch then spoke the Dharma door of “Using the
mind to seal the mind.” It points straight to the mind to see the nature
and realize Buddhahood.

While hearing this dharma, Shen Kuang didn’t think about
the pain in his arm, and before that he had thought only making the snow
turn red. But now once again produced discursive thought: “My arm really
hurts!” he said. “My mind is in pain. Please Patriarch, quiet my mind.”

“Find your mind,” said Bodhidharma. “Show it to me and
I will quiet it for you.” Dharma Master Shen Kuang searched for his mind
he looked in the ten directions: north, east, south, west, in the intermediate
points, and up and down. he also looked in the seven places that the Venerable
Ananda looked when Shakyamuni Buddha asked him the same question in the
Shuragama Sutra.

That is. 1. He looked inside his body; 2. he looked outside
his body; 3. he looked for it hidden somewhere in his sense organs. 4.
He looked where there was light; 5. He looked at the place where conditions
come together. 6. He looked in the middle, between the organs and their
objects; 7.

And, finally he looked in the place of non-attachment,
which is no place. At last Shen Kuang said to Bodhidharma, “I can’t find
my mind! Great Master, it is nowhere to be found.” “This is how well i
have quieted your mind,” said the Patriarch.

At these words, Shen Kuang understood the meaning of the
Dharma transmission, the wonderful, ineffable principle. Ten thousand dharmas
return to one; Where does the one return? Shen Kuang did not understand,
And ran after Bodhidharma; Before him at Bear’s Ear Mountain Knelt nine
years Seeking Dharma to escape King Yama. With the transmission of the
Dharma, Shen Kuang received the name “Hui K’o” which means “Able Wisdom.”

“Dharma died in the year 528, at the age, according to
tradition, of about 150. Shen Kuang (485-593) was given by Bodhidharma
the Buddhist name Hui-k’o, and became the second patriarch of the Zen Sect
in China.

Hui-k’o handed over the “Seal of Buddha-Heart” to his
foremost disciple, Seng-Ts’an (died 606), who was successively followed
by Tao-hsin (died 665) and Hungjen (died 675).

After Hungjen the Sect was divided into two schools, Southern
and Northern. The latter, representing heterodoxy, had no issue, and made
no further development; but the Southern school, which was led by Hui-neng,
the sixth patriarch, continued the orthodox line of transmission, which,
though long inactive and almost dead in its land of birth, is still flourishing
in Japan.” (1)


1. The Zen Sect of Buddhism. D. T. Suzuki. 1906.

[my parentheses]

2. The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

The Buddhist Text Translation Society, 1977

The Second Patriarch asked Bodhidharma,

“How can one get into Tao?”

Bodhidharma relied:

Outwardly, all activities cease;

Inwardly, the mind stops its panting.

When one’s mind has become a wall,

Then he may [begin to] enter into the Tao.

(from the Practice of Zen, by Garma C. C. Chang, 1959)




First Patriarch of Chinese Zen Lineage

Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

History of Daruma

The Lankavatara Sutra

( According to Dwight Goddard’s introduction to D. T.
Suzuki’s rendering of The Lankavatara Sutra: Self-Realization
of Noble Wisdom
, “There is a tradition that when Bodhidharma handed
over his begging-bowl and robe to his successor (see above) that he also
gave him his copy of the Lankavatara Sutra, saying that he needed no other
sutra.” )


bibliography   (and

The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

Red Pine (Translator)
Paperback / Published 1989
North Point Press

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Buddhism: A History : India and China
  ( cover )
with a New Supplement on the Northern School of Chinese

Heinrich Dumoulin
MacMillan, Simon & Schuster, Prentice Hall

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

in Zen Buddhism, First Series
( cover )

Daisetz T. Suzuki
Paperback / Published 1986
Grove Press

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Bodhidharma Anthology :

Earliest Records of Zen

Jeffrey L. Broughton

paperback / August, 1999; 197 pp.
University of California Press

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

(Handstitched Zen) 
Hardcover / December  1999
Andrews & McMeel
information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

The Intention of Patriarch Bodhidharma’s Coming from the

Hsuan Hua 
Hardcover (August 1999)

Buddhist Text Translation Society
information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE


The Greatest Zen Master

Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh)
Hardcover/  August  1988; 780pp.

Rebel Publishing House
information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Tea : The Eyelids of Bodhidharma

Eelco Hesse 
Paperback (July 1981)

Prism Press Ltd
information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Daruma : 
The Founder of Zen in Japanese Art and Popular Culture

H. Neill McFarland 
hardcover / 1987 
Kodansha International (distr. Harper & Row)

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Wishing on Daruma

Julie Zimmerman, Kimiaki Tokumasu

Paperback (January 1992)

Biddle Pub Co

information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

Days :
  ( cover )
A Collection of Fictionalised Biography 
( synopsis )

Terry Watada 
Paperback (March 1997)

Ronsdale Press
information and order from:
| * | barnes
and noble
| * | powells
| * | ABE

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