The Reader View of Wikipedia. Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China , and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin kungfu. In Japan, he is known as Daruma. His name means " dharma of awakening bodhi " in Sanskrit.
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Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China , and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin kungfu.
In Japan, he is known as Daruma. His name means " dharma of awakening bodhi " in Sanskrit. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend and unreliable details.
According to the principal Chinese sources, Bodhidharma came from the Western Regions ,   which refers to Central Asia but may also include the Indian subcontinent , and was either a "Persian Central Asian"  or a "South Indian [ Aside from the Chinese accounts, several popular traditions also exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins.
The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liu Song dynasty — and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liang dynasty — Bodhidharma was primarily active in the territory of the Northern Wei — Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.
The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Gautama Buddha himself. There are two known extant accounts written by contemporaries of Bodhidharma. The Western Regions was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD  that referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass , most often Central Asia or sometimes more specifically the easternmost portion of it e.
Altishahr or the Tarim Basin in southern Xinjiang. Sometimes it was used more generally to refer to other regions to the west of China as well, such as the Indian subcontinent as in the novel Journey to the West. Yang gave the following account:. He exclaimed: "Truly this is the work of spirits.
There is virtually no country I have not visited. Even the distant Buddha-realms lack this. The account of Bodhidharma in the Luoyan Record does not particularly associate him with meditation, but rather depicts him as a thaumaturge capable of mystical feats. This may have played a role in his subsequent association with the martial arts and esoteric knowledge. He was the third son of a great Indian king. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path, and so he put aside his white layman's robe for the black robe of a monk […] Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, traveling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei.
Secondly, more detail is provided concerning Bodhidharma's journeys. Tanlin's original is imprecise about Bodhidharma's travels, saying only that he "crossed distant mountains and seas" before arriving in Wei.
From there he turned north and came to the Kingdom of Wei"  This implies that Bodhidharma had travelled to China by sea and that he had crossed over the Yangtze. Thirdly, Daoxuan suggests a date for Bodhidharma's arrival in China.
He writes that Bodhidharma makes landfall in the time of the Song, thus making his arrival no later than the time of the Song's fall to the Southern Qi in Finally, Daoxuan provides information concerning Bodhidharma's death. Bodhidharma, he writes, died at the banks of the Luo River , where he was interred by his disciple Dazu Huike, possibly in a cave. According to Daoxuan's chronology, Bodhidharma's death must have occurred prior to , the date of the Northern Wei's fall, because Dazu Huike subsequently leaves Luoyang for Ye.
After a three-year journey, Bodhidharma reached China in ,  during the Liang as opposed to the Song in Daoxuan's text. Finally, as opposed to Daoxuan's figure of "over years,"  the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall states that Bodhidharma died at the age of Bodhidharma predicted the death of Songyun's ruler, a prediction which was borne out upon the latter's return. Bodhidharma's tomb was then opened, and only a single sandal was found inside. According to the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall , Bodhidharma left the Liang court in and relocated to Mount Song near Luoyang and the Shaolin Monastery, where he "faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time",  his date of death can have been no earlier than Moreover, his encounter with the Wei official indicates a date of death no later than , three years before the fall of the Western Wei.
It further states that Bodhidharma was his student. The Tibetan translation is estimated to have been made in the late eighth or early ninth century, indicating that the original Chinese text was written at some point before that. Several contemporary popular traditions also exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins. An Indian tradition regards Bodhidharma to be the third son of a Pallava king from Kanchipuram.
Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch'an, Seon and Zen-tradition. Emperor Wu: "How much karmic merit have I earned for ordaining Buddhist monks, building monasteries, having sutras copied, and commissioning Buddha images? Good deeds done with worldly intent bring good karma, but no merit. Failing to make a favorable impression in South China , Bodhidharma is said to have travelled to the Shaolin Monastery.
After either being refused entry or being ejected after a short time, he lived in a nearby cave, where he "faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time". The biographical tradition is littered with apocryphal tales about Bodhidharma's life and circumstances.
In one version of the story, he is said to have fallen asleep seven years into his nine years of wall-gazing. Becoming angry with himself, he cut off his eyelids to prevent it from happening again. The most popular account relates that Bodhidharma was admitted into the Shaolin temple after nine years in the cave and taught there for some time.
However, other versions report that he "passed away, seated upright";  or that he disappeared, leaving behind the Yijin Jing ;  or that his legs atrophied after nine years of sitting,  which is why Daruma dolls have no legs. In one legend, Bodhidharma refused to resume teaching until his would-be student, Dazu Huike , who had kept vigil for weeks in the deep snow outside of the monastery, cut off his own left arm to demonstrate sincerity.
Bodhidharma asked, "Can each of you say something to demonstrate your understanding? This is the function of the Tao. Seen once, it need not be seen again. The five skandhas are without actual existence. Not a single dharma can be grasped. Bodhidharma said, "You have attained my marrow. Some Chinese myths and legends describe Bodhidharma as being disturbed by the poor physical shape of the Shaolin monks,  after which he instructed them in techniques to maintain their physical condition as well as teaching meditation.
Copies and translations of the Yijin Jing survive to the modern day. The Xisui Jing has been lost. In his travels through the region, Bodhidharma is said to have transmitted his knowledge of the Mahayana doctrine and the martial arts. Malay legend holds that he introduced forms to silat. Vajrayana tradition links Bodhidharma with the 11th-century south Indian monk Dampa Sangye who travelled extensively to Tibet and China spreading tantric teachings.
When asked why he was holding his shoe, Bodhidharma answered "You will know when you reach Shaolin monastery. Don't mention that you saw me or you will meet with disaster". At Shaolin Monastery, the monks informed them that Bodhidharma was dead and had been buried in a hill behind the temple.
The grave was exhumed and was found to contain a single shoe. The monks then said "Master has gone back home" and prostrated three times: "For nine years he had remained and nobody knew him; Carrying a shoe in hand he went home quietly, without ceremony.
A special transmission outside the scriptures Not founded upon words and letters; By pointing directly to [one's] mind It lets one see into [one's own true] nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood. The stanza, in fact, is not Bodhidharma's, but rather dates to the year In the Two Entrances and Four Acts , traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma, the term "wall-gazing" is given as follows:.
Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls , the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason". These are the first mentions in the historical record of what may be a type of meditation being ascribed to Bodhidharma.
Exactly what sort of practice Bodhidharma's "wall-gazing" was remains uncertain. The latter interpretation is particularly common among those working from a Chan standpoint.
There have also, however, been interpretations of "wall-gazing" as a non-meditative phenomenon. If you rely on it to practice, you will be able to cross over the world. Jingjue's account also makes explicit mention of "sitting meditation" or zazen: [web 8].
If, Mahamati, you say that because of the reality of words the objects are, this talk lacks in sense. Words are not known in all the Buddha-lands; words, Mahamati, are an artificial creation. In some Buddha-lands ideas are indicated by looking steadily, in others by gestures, in still others by a frown, by the movement of the eyes, by laughing, by yawning, or by the clearing of the throat, or by recollection, or by trembling.
The epitaph gives a line of descent identifying Bodhidharma as the first patriarch. In the 6th century biographies of famous monks were collected. From this genre the typical Chan lineage was developed:. These famous biographies were non-sectarian. The Ch'an biographical works, however, aimed to establish Ch'an as a legitimate school of Buddhism traceable to its Indian origins, and at the same time championed a particular form of Ch'an.
Historical accuracy was of little concern to the compilers; old legends were repeated, new stories were invented and reiterated until they too became legends. Suzuki contends that Chan's growth in popularity during the 7th and 8th centuries attracted criticism that it had "no authorized records of its direct transmission from the founder of Buddhism" and that Chan historians made Bodhidharma the 28th patriarch of Buddhism in response to such attacks.
The earliest lineages described the lineage from Bodhidharma into the 5th to 7th generation of patriarchs. Various records of different authors are known, which give a variation of transmission lines:. Mahakashyapa was the first, leading the line of transmission; Twenty-eight Fathers followed him in the West; The Lamp was then brought over the sea to this country; And Bodhidharma became the First Father here His mantle, as we all know, passed over six Fathers, And by them many minds came to see the Light.
The Transmission of the Light gives 28 patriarchs in this transmission:  . Bodhidharma has been the subject of critical scientific research, which has shed new light on the traditional stories about Bodhidharma. According to John McRae, Bodhidharma has been the subject of a hagiographic process which served the needs of Chan Buddhism.
According to him it is not possible to write an accurate biography of Bodhidharma:. It is ultimately impossible to reconstruct any original or accurate biography of the man whose life serves as the original trace of his hagiography — where "trace" is a term from Jacques Derrida meaning the beginningless beginning of a phenomenon, the imagined but always intellectually unattainable origin.
Hence any such attempt by modern biographers to reconstruct a definitive account of Bodhidharma's life is both doomed to failure and potentially no different in intent from the hagiographical efforts of premodern writers.