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...

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The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

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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.

Four teachings of the 5th century Indian Buddhist monk who is credited with bringing Zen to China, the only volume of his work available in English.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429952767
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Language: Chinese
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Bilingual edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 611,422
  • File size: 9 MB

Meet the Author

Red Pine lives and work in Taiwan. He is the translator of the title The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain.

Bodhidharma (c. early fifth century CE) was the Buddhist monk traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chán to China.
Red Pine lives and work in Taiwan. He is the translator of The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain and of The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma.
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Read an Excerpt

The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
Outline of PracticeMANY roads lead to the Path,1 but basically there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn't apparent because it's shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls,2 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. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices:3 suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma.First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the Path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, "In countless ages gone by, I've turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions. Now, though I do no wrong, I'm punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice." The sutras say, "When you meet with adversity don't be upset, because it makes sense." With such understanding you're in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the Path.Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we're ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it's the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight in its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They're always longing for something--always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity.4 To dwell in the three realms5 is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, "To seek is to suffer.To seek nothing is bliss." When you seek nothing, you're on the Path.Fourth, practicing the Dharma.6 The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don't exist. The sutras say, "The Dharma includes no being because it's free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it's free from the impurity of self." Those wise enough to believe and understand this truth are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they're able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing the six virtues7 to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is what's meant by practicing the Dharma.Copyright © 1987 by Red Pine
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    A Life Changing Book

    This book changed my life. I had a lot of trouble in my mind and the philosophy of Bodhidarma cured my confusion. This is the type of book that you can read over and over again for the rest of your life. Red Pines' translation is excellent and easily digestible for western readers. 5 stars is not enough to give this book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2012

    Summary: (without direct spoilers) The Zen Teaching of Bodhidhar

    Summary: (without direct spoilers)
    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.


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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