Difference between revisions of "Bodhidharma"

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Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an (Sanskrit: Dhyāna, Japanese: Zen) to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan.
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According to tradition, after the Taoists and  Hwa T'or laid down the early foundations, there came a Buddhist monk called Bodhiharma, who, in 500 AD left his Brahman tribe in southern India and crossed the Himalayas into China. After a long, slow and laborious journey across extremely rugged terrain, he eventually arrived at Chien K'ang, which was then the capital of the Liang province.
  
Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. The principle sources, given in various translations, vary on their account of Bodhidharma's origins. Two popular traditions exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins. An Indian tradition regards Bodhidharma to be the third son of a Tamil Pallava king from Kanchipuram, while the Japanese tradition regards Bodhidharma to be from Persia.
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It was well known that the Emperor Wu was a Buddhist with an  enthusiastic  interest  in  all Buddhist  doctrines. On learning this, Bodhiharma immediately sought an audience with the Emperor, and as a result the monk was given permission to teach and preach in the province.
  
The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386–534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.
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So Bodhidharma began spreading the word and the doctrine of Ch'an, which the Japanese later adapted and called Zen. However, at that time it was found that these teachings not only clashed with the beliefs and the philosophy of the Chinese, but they were also found to be so complex that everyone, including the Emperor, found it extremely difficult to grasp even the fundamentals. This therefore created a tremendous amount of friction, frustration, irritation, and eventually such bad feeling towards Bodhiharma that he was dismissed from the Emperor's service.
  
Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch'an and Zen-tradition.
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It was then that he decided to travel northwards, although nobody knows why he decided to take that particularly difficult direction.  The  roads  were  extremely  bad  and  in  some  cases almost non-existent, and he spoke very little Chinese so there was also a language problem, made worse by the fact that there would  have been  many  different  dialects  spoken  on  this  long journey. A greater hazard was the many roaming armed bands of thieves and robbers in the countryside along his chosen route. Small wonder then that it took him more than three years to cross the Yangtse River, and reach his intended destination of the Shaolin Temple at Sung Shan in Henan province.
  
Bodhidharma's teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra.
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He stayed at the Shaolin Temple for nearly ten years, teaching and meditating, and it was during the latter part of his stay that he realized that many of his pupils were not fit enough, either mentally or physically, to endure the physical austerity imposed by his teachings.
  
The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself.
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Ch'an Buddhism was based on very deep meditation with its aims being the unification of mind, body and spirit, and therefore Bodhiharma felt that physical endurance would help to equip his pupils for this objective. He borrowed a number of the Taoist stances and exercises, and hardened them up to create within the practitioners a sense of internal strength, and a feeling of inseparability of mind and spirit within the body. Thus he encouraged literally throwing yourself within yourself, becoming one single entity with all three parts becoming one, and so achieving constant harmony in the daily toil of life.
  
Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian. He is referred as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" (碧眼胡) in Chinese Chan texts.
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Many of these exercises would not be classed as entirely physical by today's standards, especially as the feet made no movement at all; even so, they soon earned the Shaolin monks the  reputation  of  being  China's  toughest  and the  most formidable unarmed fighters.
<ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma</ref>
 
  
==References==
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Strangely  enough,  though,  despite  the  monastery's nationwide reputation, Bodhiharma's pupils gradually dwindled away. This may have been due to the complexity and the severity of his teachings. However, part of his work and the foundation that he laid down still lived on, and to those basic exercises and movements, others were gradually added and further techniques evolved and so kung fu in its earliest form came into being.
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It has been established that Bodhiharma did actually exist during this period, but how much he actually contributed to the art of kung fu, as we know it today, will always remain a controversial subject. But there is no doubt whatsoever, that he did lay the foundation on which are built many of the hard styles and solid defensive systems of the art of the Chinese boxing art of kung fu.
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[[Category:Feng Shou]]

Revision as of 12:18, 1 September 2016

Bodhidharma.JPG

According to tradition, after the Taoists and Hwa T'or laid down the early foundations, there came a Buddhist monk called Bodhiharma, who, in 500 AD left his Brahman tribe in southern India and crossed the Himalayas into China. After a long, slow and laborious journey across extremely rugged terrain, he eventually arrived at Chien K'ang, which was then the capital of the Liang province.

It was well known that the Emperor Wu was a Buddhist with an enthusiastic interest in all Buddhist doctrines. On learning this, Bodhiharma immediately sought an audience with the Emperor, and as a result the monk was given permission to teach and preach in the province.

So Bodhidharma began spreading the word and the doctrine of Ch'an, which the Japanese later adapted and called Zen. However, at that time it was found that these teachings not only clashed with the beliefs and the philosophy of the Chinese, but they were also found to be so complex that everyone, including the Emperor, found it extremely difficult to grasp even the fundamentals. This therefore created a tremendous amount of friction, frustration, irritation, and eventually such bad feeling towards Bodhiharma that he was dismissed from the Emperor's service.

It was then that he decided to travel northwards, although nobody knows why he decided to take that particularly difficult direction. The roads were extremely bad and in some cases almost non-existent, and he spoke very little Chinese so there was also a language problem, made worse by the fact that there would have been many different dialects spoken on this long journey. A greater hazard was the many roaming armed bands of thieves and robbers in the countryside along his chosen route. Small wonder then that it took him more than three years to cross the Yangtse River, and reach his intended destination of the Shaolin Temple at Sung Shan in Henan province.

He stayed at the Shaolin Temple for nearly ten years, teaching and meditating, and it was during the latter part of his stay that he realized that many of his pupils were not fit enough, either mentally or physically, to endure the physical austerity imposed by his teachings.

Ch'an Buddhism was based on very deep meditation with its aims being the unification of mind, body and spirit, and therefore Bodhiharma felt that physical endurance would help to equip his pupils for this objective. He borrowed a number of the Taoist stances and exercises, and hardened them up to create within the practitioners a sense of internal strength, and a feeling of inseparability of mind and spirit within the body. Thus he encouraged literally throwing yourself within yourself, becoming one single entity with all three parts becoming one, and so achieving constant harmony in the daily toil of life.

Many of these exercises would not be classed as entirely physical by today's standards, especially as the feet made no movement at all; even so, they soon earned the Shaolin monks the reputation of being China's toughest and the most formidable unarmed fighters.

Strangely enough, though, despite the monastery's nationwide reputation, Bodhiharma's pupils gradually dwindled away. This may have been due to the complexity and the severity of his teachings. However, part of his work and the foundation that he laid down still lived on, and to those basic exercises and movements, others were gradually added and further techniques evolved and so kung fu in its earliest form came into being.

It has been established that Bodhiharma did actually exist during this period, but how much he actually contributed to the art of kung fu, as we know it today, will always remain a controversial subject. But there is no doubt whatsoever, that he did lay the foundation on which are built many of the hard styles and solid defensive systems of the art of the Chinese boxing art of kung fu.

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The Taoist Art of Feng Shou Hand of the Wind kung fu

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2006 reproduced with permission