Chapter 4: Buddhas Don’t Practice Nonsense
Or.that you should have one door and only one window and the question is whether the window should be on the right side of the door or on the left side of the door. And there are great rabbis discussing the point that it has to be on the right or it has to be on the left, and they are giving great arguments why. And it has not to be big, it has to be small - how small.?
In the name of precepts, disciplines, all kinds of nonsense is being practiced - devotions, or doing good works, opening hospitals, schools, orphanages. Only a man like Bodhidharma can say, “No, you cannot attain to enlightenment or buddhahood by such stupid things.” There is only one way and that is to know your being, that is to know your self-nature.
And why not?
If you attain anything at all it’s conditional.
Now this is very significant and you have to understand it. Anything that is conditional you can lose if the condition is removed. Enlightenment has to be unconditional for the simple reason that it cannot be taken away. Your life is conditional: anybody can murder you, you can commit suicide. But your enlightenment has to be unconditional.
You cannot do anything to demolish, to destroy anything that is unconditional. You cannot make any effort to go backwards, because there is no condition, there is no cause; it is free from being destroyed. For example, you are having a bonfire - but it is conditional. If you remove the wood, the fire will be gone. That wood was absolutely necessary for the fire to remain in existence. It was not unconditional, it was an effect of a cause. The cause removed, the effect disappears.
That is the difference between the spiritualist and the materialist. The materialist says in philosophical terms that life, consciousness, are all conditional, are all effects. When causes are removed they will disappear. When in death the five elements of which your body is made fall apart, back into their original sources - water into water, earth into earth, air into air, fire into fire, space, sky into sky - then nothing is left. There is no soul that survives; it was only an effect. If causes were present, the effect was present - when causes are removed, the effect disappears. In other words Karl Marx says, “Consciousness is only a by-product; in itself it has no existence.”
Bodhidharma is saying:
If you attain anything at all, it’s conditional, it’s karmic. It results in retribution. It turns the wheel. And as long as you’re subject to birth and death, you’ll never attain enlightenment.
Enlightenment has not to be an effect of some cause, not an effect of some practice, not an effect of some conditions that you have fulfilled. It has not to be an attainment, but only a discovery. It is already there.