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Posted June 28, 2012
Summary: (without direct spoilers) The Zen Teaching of Bodhidhar
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The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma by Bodhidharma himself (translated by Red Pine) is split into five sections. The first section is the introduction of both the life of Bodhidharma as well as the legends that are associated with him. His life took place during the fifth century A.D. where Buddhism was already popular in China. The teachings of Bodhidharma only became famous after his death.
The second section is about the outline of practice. This section preaches that one must understand the conditions, then learn and realize to not seek anything/seek nothing. Once one begins to realize and start seeking nothing, one is on the right path. One must also practice the Dharma.
The second section is called the bloodstream sermon. The main point of this section is that one must realize that the Buddha is a being within, and everybody has a Buddha within. To paraphrase, one must find the Buddha, but in truth there is no Buddha.
The next section is called the wake up sermon. This section explains how to become truly enlightened and knowledgeable. To paraphrase this section, one must know and understand without understanding (knowing nothing), to truly understand.
The final section of the book is called the breakthrough sermon. This section further explains the path to enlightenment as well as the teachings of the Buddha and the sutras further.
This book is highly contradictory as well as repetitive. It’s confusing nature as well as it’s elements of contradiction and repetition may not be suitable for all viewers. This book is not for those without a basic understanding of philosophy, and or those who are unfamiliar with Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. This book is also not suitable for the impatient. However, this book is well recommended for those who enjoy philosophical contemplation, the deep thinkers, or those who would like a change of pace from the typical norm.
The pace of the book was extremely slow. Because the teachings were often repeated, but worded slightly differently, it feels like the story was inching its way towards the conclusion of the teachings (in context, enlightenment). However, for those who are patient, those who are able to follow this books train of thought, those who are spiritual, and or those who enjoy deep thinking, this may turn out to be an enlightening book. The one thing that can be taken away from this book (because this is the recurring element in all sections of the book,) is that in order to find what you are looking for, to find something, you must look for nothing.