Chapter 2: A Pilgrimage to Your Own Being
For example, Bodhidharma spoke in Chinese, which was not his mother tongue. He was born in India. He learned Chinese. Even in your own mother tongue, to give expression to the experiences of your innermost life sources, silences of your heart, and blissfulness of your being, is difficult - even in your mother tongue. But to speak in a language which he has just learned, and Chinese is not a simple language.. If one really wants to be a scholar it needs at least thirty years, because it has no alphabet, it is a pictorial language. It is a very primitive sort of language.
The alphabet brings language to a very simple phenomenon. But a non-alphabetical language, like Chinese or Japanese, is very difficult for one who is not born in those lands. You have to remember thousands of pictures. Those languages are pictorial. Each thing has a certain symbolic picture and unless you remember thousands of symbolic pictures, it is impossible to speak, it is impossible to write. Bodhidharma had only three years while he was moving towards China to learn as quickly as possible before he reached there. He did in three years, almost thirty years’ work.
Naturally, what he has said is far from his experience. And the difficulty is again multiplied because these sutras are translated from Chinese into English. For example, I will just give you one word which is very central to these sutras, the word mind.
Anybody reading these sutras is going to understand exactly the opposite of what Bodhidharma must have meant, and the reason is the word mind.
In English there is only one word for your thinking process, and that is mind. And in the English language there is no word which can denote something beyond the thinking process. The whole philosophy of Gautam Buddha and Bodhidharma is how to go beyond the thinking process. In Sanskrit, in Pali, there are different words: manus, which is the root of the English word mind, exactly means thinking process; then chitta means consciousness beyond the thinking process.
Those who are very alert, and those who have not only been just scholars but have also experienced something about meditation - wherever in these sutras you find the word mind, a meditator would put just its opposite, no-mind. English has no word for no-mind, so it is just an arbitrary creation. Everywhere in these sutras, where mind is mentioned, please read no-mind. Otherwise you will go absolutely on a wrong track.
Everything that appears in the three realms leads back to the no-mind.
The translator says, “to the mind.” Mind is something to be transcended, mind is a disease; meditation is an effort to go beyond it. Hence, I will read everywhere instead of ‘mind’, ‘no-mind’, to correct the translation. The translation is done by somebody who understands language but who does not understand meditation.