bodhidharma

  • (Meta)Physical Education: Washing Your Own Bowl Paid Member

    This is the second post in a three-part series on the Buddhist lessons Alex Tzelnic has learned as an elementary school teacher. You can read his first post here. Montessori, like Zen, is one of those words that many people are familiar with and yet few understand. When I tell someone I’m going away for the weekend on a Zen retreat, they get a faraway look in their eyes, no doubt imagining scented candles and a Yoda-like guru with a background in Swedish massage, and say, “That must be so relaxing.” Little do they know that the majority of the weekend is spent staring at a wall, planning an escape route.  More »
  • Consider the Source: Why did the Ancient Zen Masters Seldom Mention Emptiness? Paid Member

    Early Chinese Zen masters seldom spoke about ideas like emptiness. Early writings also lack discussions about sutras, including texts like The Diamond Sutra, which is strongly linked to the Zen tradition. The Heart Sutra is hardly mentioned, and the bodhisattva ideal also gets very little ink in early records. Often, when such ideas and texts are mentioned by the old masters they are referred to with a dismissive, even derisive, tone. More »
  • Consider the Source: Why is Bodhidharma Credited as the "First Ancestor" of the Chan (Zen) School? Paid Member

    Although Bodhidharma is honored as the “First Ancestor” of Zen Buddhism in China, historians know well that Zen not only preceded Bodhidharma, it was also widely practiced centuries before his arrival. So how did Bodhidharma acquire the honored title of “The First”? The foreign Parthian monk An Shigao is credited with introducing Zen to China in the 2nd century, roughly 300 years before Bodhidharma arrived in China. Plenty of evidence indicates that Zen gained popularity soon thereafter, with historical records indicating that Zen flourished in China’s Northern Liang Dynasty at least 50 years before Bodhidharma came on the scene. More »
  • Who discovered tea? Paid Member

    Was it Bodhidharma (the Indians and Zen Buddhists think so) or Emperor Shen Nung (all of China thinks so) who discovered tea? The emperor found that it kept his soldiers alert, while Bodhidharma, marathon meditator that he was, discovered that it helped keep him awake in meditation (in his commitment to stay awake, Bodhidharma severed his eyelids, from which sprang forth the first tea plant). You decide whose uses are most noble. So who was it? It'll depend on where you are when you ask—in other words, there is no answer—but there are good and reliable tips for everything from choosing the right tea to brewing a cup to cleaning your teapot. More »