MASTER SHEN-LONG | The First Patriarch (Bodhidharma) of Chinese Zen Buddhism
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The First Patriarch (Bodhidharma) of Chinese Zen Buddhism

(Excerpt from the Introduction of Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, expounded by Master Shen-Long, pg.19)

直指人心,見性成佛! Giving straight direction to your mind, beholds the self-nature to become Buddha.

Giving straight direction to your mind, behold your self-nature to become Buddha.

Bodhidharma, the 28th Patriarch of India and the First Patriarch of Chinese Zen Buddhism, came from the East and crossed the Yangzi River of China  to meet with Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty. Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty knew Bodhidharma was an eminent monk from Tian Zhu (the Indian subcontinent) and was very happy to welcome him. He hurriedly sent for Bodhidharma to come to his palace and accept his offering.

When he saw Bodhidharma, he first asked him: “I have built temples to save all sentient beings. I have built a total of 480 monasteries, in addition I have also liberated people to leave their homes and enter monkhood; tell me have I, as Emperor, achieved a great many merits and virtues?”

Bodhidharma replied without expression: “None at all.”

Emperor Wu of Liang was startled and did not know what had happened, so he asked: “Who is the person that faces me now?”

Bodhidharma spoke the truth and answered: “I do not know.”

Bodhidharma’s answers were all spoken from the state of the ‘Flower Sermon – the great enlightenment state is the inconceivable Buddha mind of nirvana’. The understanding and views with regards to Buddha teaching of Emperor Wu of Liang dynasty were heterodox, messy and unclear.


二祖調心 The Second Patriarch Hui-Ke is harmonizing the mind.

The Second Patriarch Hui-Ke is harmonizing the mind.

To Bodhidharma, being in a disagreeable conversation for even one word more was too many; so he decided to face a wall and wait for the arrival of the Second Patriarch Hui-Ke. This transmission of teachings from master to disciple, face to face and singleness passed continuously onwards to the Sixth Patriarch. The Sixth Patriarch was known as ‘A flower which grows five petals and naturally a ripened fruit‘ (referring to the prediction by the First Patriarch Bodhidarma in his gatha that after five Patriarchs, under the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng, Zen Buddhism would develop with great prevalence in China). Under the Sixth Patriarch’s teaching there were 43 people who reached attainment. This is a gong-an for all eternity; never before has anyone surpassed him – it is a miracle! Even today, there is not one person or even half a person who has genuinely eradicated the unenlightened condition. In that time during the Tang dynasty, all 43 of them became the Patriarchs.



達摩祖師, 第二十八代印度禪宗祖師, 也是中國禪宗第一代祖師。


他見到達摩,第一句話就問達摩祖師: 『朕建寺度生,蓋了四百八十座寺院,又度數十萬的僧彌, 他說朕的功德大不大? 』

達摩臉無表情說: 『毫無功德。』

梁武帝嚇一跳, 不知怎麼回事, 他就問: 『對朕者誰? 』

達摩講真話, 答: 『不識。』