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About Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master

 Bodhidharma is named as the 26th Zen Patriarch in the line emanating from Gautam Buddha. However, as Osho says, he shows even “higher flights” than Buddha – who would not accept any female disciples – as his master was the enlightened woman, Pragyatara.

 Buddhism had entered China six hundred years earlier, and now Pragyatara instructed Bodhidharma to go there and to pass on Buddha’s essential message of enlightenment. The earlier messengers of Buddha’s teachings had had a great impact on the people of China, but none had been enlightened. It was now time for the taste of realization, of awakening, to be passed on.

 Osho dissects these three volumes of notes from Bodhidharma’s disciples in detail, pointing out where, and how, the disciples’ minds have come in to distort the message of this buddha – an awakened one.

 “You cannot explain what sweetness is to the man who has never tasted sweets. You can bring all your articulateness, but you cannot explain a simple thing, sweetness. The only way is to offer him some sweets. That’s what the masters have been doing all along. Rather than telling you what sweetness is, they offer it to you to taste. They themselves are offering their own being, their own presence for you to taste it.”    Osho

 

 

 

Extract:  From Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master

Chapter 1

I have a very soft corner in my heart for Bodhidharma. That makes it a very special occasion to speak about him. Perhaps he is the only man whom I have loved so deeply that speaking on him I will be almost speaking on myself. That also creates a great complexity, because he never wrote anything in his life. No enlightened being has ever written. Bodhidharma is not an exception, but by tradition these three books that we are going to discuss are attributed to Bodhidharma.

The scholars reason that because there is no contrary evidence – and for almost one thousand years, these books have been attributed to Bodhidharma – there is no reason why we should not accept them. I am not a scholar, and there are certainly fragments which must have been spoken by Bodhidharma, but these are not books written by him. These are notes by his disciples. It was an ancient tradition that when a disciple takes notes from the master he does not put his own name on those notes, because nothing of it belongs to him; it has come from the master.

But knowing Bodhidharma as intimately as I know him…. There are so many fallacies which are possible only if somebody else was taking notes and his own mind entered into it; he has interpreted Bodhidharma – and with not much understanding.

Before we enter into these sutras, a few things about Bodhidharma will be good to know. That will give you the flavor of the man and a way to understand what belongs to him in these books and what does not belong to him. It is going to be a very strange commentary.

Bodhidharma was born fourteen centuries ago as a son of a king in the south of India. There was a big empire, the empire of Pallavas. He was the third son of his father, but seeing everything – he was a man of tremendous intelligence – he renounced the kingdom. He was not against the world, but he was not ready to waste his time in mundane affairs, in trivia. His whole concern was to know his self-nature, because without knowing it you have to accept death as the end.

All true seekers in fact, have been fighting against death. Bertrand Russell has made a statement that if there were no death, there would be no religion. There is some truth in it. I will not agree totally, because religion is a vast continent. It is not only death, it is also the search for bliss, it is also the search for truth, it is also the search for the meaning of life; it is many more things. But certainly Bertrand Russell is right: if there were no death, very few, very rare people would be interested in religion. Death is the great incentive.

Chapter Titles

Preface

Chapter 1      To Seek Nothing Is Bliss

Chapter 2      A Pilgrimage to Your Own Being

Chapter 3      Beyond This Nature There’s No Buddha

Chapter 4      Buddhas Don’t Practice Nonsense

Chapter 5      Suchness Is Our Self-Nature

Chapter 6      Understanding Comes In Mid-sentence

Chapter 7      Get Ready and Claim Your Inheritance

Chapter 8      Everybody Has the Right to Be Wrong

Chapter 9      The Antidote to the Poisons of Your Life

Chapter 10    Not to Be in the Mind Is Everything

Chapter 11    Mind Is the Greatest Enemy of Man

Chapter 12    Every Suffering Is a Buddha-seed

Chapter 13    Mind Is the Bondage

Chapter 14    To Face a Buddha Is Dangerous

Chapter 15    Breakthrough to Buddhahood

Chapter 16    The Courage to Say “I Don’t Know”

Chapter 17    Take the Risk Wholesale

Chapter 18    Wakefulness Is Awareness

Chapter 19    Relish the Mystery in the Depths of Your Heart

Chapter 20    Less Than an Eye Blink Away

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