Filed in Zen (Chan)

The Snaggletoothed Barbarian

With Dharma Discourse From Bodhidharma

Jisho Cary Warner

Wisdom Collection

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Bodhidharma, the first Zen ancestor, conveyed the dharma from India to China. His practice was "wall-gazing," or zazen, According to legend, he sat facing a wall for nine years and cut off his eyelids to stay awake.


© Hoju Zenbyo, Private CollectionZen lineages all begin with Bodhidharma, the mythic first ancestor of Zen, who came to China from India, and who, by inaugurating Zen, also transmitted the true teaching beyond words that begins with Shakyamuni Buddha. For years I felt irritated by Bodhidharma; he glares out of innumerable portraits with a thick odor of machismo clinging to his robes. Image after image offers up a pair of round, bulging eyes popping out between beetling eyebrows and a bulbous nose, the face framed by immense pendulous ears and an untrimmed beard. He is a solid, bull-necked figure, muscular running to fat—a dharma linebacker.

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