Bodhidharma aphorisms






True understanding is not just understanding understanding understanding, but also understanding misunderstanding.


True seeing is not just seeing the seeing, but also seeing the unseeing.


All karma, whether painful or not, comes from your own mind.


When the mind does not exist, both understanding and non-understanding are equally true.


When the mind exists, understanding and misunderstanding are equally false.


When you understand - reality is up to you.


When you don't understand, you depend on reality.


Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you understand this, walking, standing, sitting or lying down - everything you do becomes Zen.


To see a fish, you have to observe the water.


If you see your nature, you don't have to read the sutras or call out to the Buddhas. Erudition and knowledge are not only useless, but also cloud awareness. Doctrines are only needed to point to the mind.


Being on the Path, one witnesses what is happening. This is beyond the comprehension of arhats and mortals.


Many roads lead to the Path, but in essence there are only two: mind and practice.


Seeing without seeing is true seeing. Understanding without understanding is true understanding.


All Buddhas preach emptiness. Why? Because they want to crush the particular perceptions of disciples. Even if a disciple is attached to the thought of emptiness, he betrays all buddhas. One becomes attached to life, although there is nothing that can be called life; the other becomes attached to death, although there is nothing that can be called death. In reality, nothing is born and, therefore, nothing dies.


By becoming attached, one recognizes a thing or an idea. And reality is never inside, outside, or in the middle. The ignorant person creates delusions and suffers from distinctions. Right and wrong do not really exist. The ignorant mind creates them; it recognizes them and places them near or far, inside or outside. It then suffers from the differences between it. Such is the general state of things in the world.


The Buddhas of the past and the future only speak of this mind. The mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the mind. Outside the mind there is no Buddha, and outside the Buddha there is no mind. If you assume that there is some Buddha outside the mind, where is he? There is no Buddha outside the mind, so why imagine it for yourself? As long as you delude yourself, you cannot know your real mind. As long as you are fascinated by lifeless forms, you are not free. If you don't believe me, self-deception won't help you anyway. It is not the Buddha's fault. People, however, are deluded. They don't realize that their own mind is Buddha. Otherwise they wouldn't be looking for a Buddha outside their own mind.


Buddhas don't save Buddhas. If you use your mind to seek the Buddha, you will not see the Buddha. As long as you are looking for the Buddha somewhere else, you will never see that your own mind is the Buddha. Don't use the Buddha to worship the Buddha, and don't use your mind to call out to the Buddha. Buddhas do not memorize sutras. Buddhas do not keep vows. But Buddhas don't break vows either. Buddhas do not observe or break anything. Buddhas do neither good nor evil.


If you don't find a Guru soon, you will live this life in vain. It is true that you have the Buddha nature. But without the Guru's help, you will never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without the Guru's help.


Emperor Liang Wudi, who was a disciple of Bodhidharma and zealously helped spread Zen Buddhism in China, once asked the patriarch what he had earned through his deeds in future lives. - Nothing," he replied. - What then is the basic principle of the sacred Teaching? - It is empty, there is nothing holy in it! - Who are you, then, that you stand before us? - I don't know," said Bodhidharma.


You ask. It is your mind. I answer. It is my mind. If I had no mind, how would I answer? If you didn't have a mind, how would you ask? What you ask is your mind. In the course of infinite, infinite kalpas, whatever you do, whoever you are, this is your real mind and this is your real buddha. That mind is buddha means the same thing. Outside this mind you will never find another buddha. To seek enlightenment or nirvana outside this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature, the absence of cause and effect, that is what mind means. Your mind is nirvana. You may think you can find buddha or enlightenment somewhere outside the mind, but there is no such place.