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Introduction Of Zen Into China By Bodhidharma








An epoch-making event took place in the Buddhist history of China by
Bodhidharma's coming over from Southern India to that country in
about A.D. 520.[FN#23] It was the introduction, not of the dead
scriptures, as was repeatedly done before him, but of a living faith,
not of any theoretical doctrine, but of practical Enlightenment, not
of the relies of Buddha, but of the Spirit of Shakya Muni; so that
Bodhidharma's position as a representative of Zen was unique. He
was, however, not a missionary to be favourably received by the
public. He seems to have behaved in a way quite opposite to that in
which a modern pastor treats his flock. We imagine him to have been
a religious teacher entirely different in every point from a popular
Christian missionary of our age. The latter would smile or try to
smile at every face he happens to see and would talk sociably; while
the former would not smile at any face, but would stare at it with
the large glaring eyes that penetrated to the innermost soul. The
latter would keep himself scrupulously clean, shaving, combing,
brushing, polishing, oiling, perfuming, while the former would be
entirely indifferent to his apparel, being always clad in a faded
yellow robe. The latter would compose his sermon with a great care,
making use of rhetorical art, and speak with force and elegance;
while the former would sit as absolutely silent as the bear, and kick
one off, if one should approach him with idle questions.


[FN#23] Buddhist historians differ in opinion respecting the date of
Bodhidharma's appearance in China. Compare Chwen Fah Chan Tsung Lun
(Den bo sho ju ron) and Hwui Yuen (E-gen).






Next: Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu

Previous: Origin Of Zen In India



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