ZEN IS NOT DEAD
A monk asked Kyorin, “What was the purpose of Bodhidharma’s coming to the West (ancient China, ca. 300 C.E.)?”
Kyorin said, “To meditate a long time and become weary.”
ZEN IS BORN
There are one hundred thirty-something koans about the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming to China. This subject has been endlessly discussed in the past, so much, in fact, that it has taken on a special meaning and significance. That is why Kyorin answered as he did.
Bodhidharma came because he wanted to come. Bodhidharma meditated for nine years facing a wall; he lived his life sincerely and steadfastly, as the sun shines in the sky. Zen is nothing unusual; it is true to the reality of life. If one wishes to accomplish anything in life, one must have great energy and make great efforts. Why discuss Bodhidharma’s coming to China? It would be better to sit down and meditate as Bodhidharma did.
Unknown to all but a few disciples during his lifetime, Bodhidharma is the patriarch of millions of Zen Buddhists and students of kung-fu. He is the subject of many legends as well. Along with zen and kung-fu, Bodhidharma reportedly also brought tea to China. To keep from falling asleep while meditating, he cut off his eyelids, and where they fell, tea bushes grew. Since then, tea has become the beverage of not only monks but everyone in the Orient. Faithful to this tradition, artists invariably depict Bodhidharma with bulging, lidless eyes. These legends are usually important as they ensure the message of the perfect teachers remain for long in the world no matter how much worse conditions become in the world someone somewhere might be attracted by the peculiarity of the character whereupon launching a further analysis of the master or guru in question. To try to investigate is to seek for the unseekable.
Skillful means for investigation of things – a discourse
The wise seeker understands the essence of investigation of knowledge and teaching from an array of angles in order to achieve thorough understand and perfect enlightenment. The investigation of things is fourfold: investigating the name, investigating the referent (the specific experience or understanding), investigating ascriptive (attributing to a certain cause or characteristic to someone or something) designations (selected and appointed to depict a certain meaning), and investigating descriptive designations. Investigating the name as incidental (loosely associated) to the referent is to be understood as investigating the name (different labels that point to an underlying subtle experience). Investigating the referent as incidental to the name is to be understood as investigating the thing. The investigation of the ascriptive and descriptive designations as mere designations upon the connection between those two (name and referent) is to be understood as investigating ascriptive and descriptive designations.