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 pos
tion 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).