Bodhidharma Pacifies the Mind

Bodhidharma sat facing the wall. His future successor stood in the snow and presented his severed arm to Bodhidharma. He cried, "My mind is not pacified. Master, pacify my mind." Bodhidharma answered, "If you bring me that mind, I will pacify it for you." The successor said, "When I search for my mind, I cannot hold it." Bodhidharma concluded, "Then your mind is pacified already."

Bodhidharma, an Indian by birth and the twenty-eighth patriarch to succeed the Buddha came to China in A.D. 520 and became the father of Zen (called Chan in China). He meditated wordlessly for nine years facing a stone wall. His successor, the second patriarch of Zen, Eka, came to him as a student and asked the essence of Zen, or the Way. Eka was a great scholar, a genius of his age, but his mind was not at ease. He knew all about the world, but he did not know about himself. Bodhidharma paid no attention to him, even though it was winter and Eka had stood in the snow all day and all night. He would not even look at Eka. In desperation Eka cut off his arm and presented it to Bodhidharma. Seeing Eka's utter sincerity, Bodhidharma finally looked at him. When Eka asked to have his mind pacified, Bodhidharma agreed to do so - as soon as Eka produced the mind in question. But Eka looked and could not find it, for there was no such mind. Most of our troubles are of our own making. Look within; clarify. There is really no trouble. Your mind is pacified already.


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