Chapter 6: Understanding Comes in Mid-sentence
The understanding of Bodhidharma and his insight into the secrets of human consciousness is so profound that it certainly can be said it is perfect. Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be edited out of it. He speaks telegraphically, uses only the most essential words.
You will see how a man can express something which eludes expression, something which has always been known as inexpressible. But Bodhidharma comes very close to expressing it. If you don’t understand, it is your fault.
Otherwise it is very difficult to find a master of the stature of Bodhidharma. In the whole legendary past of masters, Bodhidharma stands very aloof, very alone; his way of life, his way of teaching, everything is his own. Never before was there anybody like Bodhidharma, and there has never been another after him who can be called exactly equal in insight, in understanding, in profundity. And yet he does not use a jargon; he is not a philosopher, not a theologian. He is a very simple man. He uses direct words that go just like arrows into your heart. All that is needed on your part is to keep the doors of your heart open. He will not come uninvited within you, but invited he is sure to reach to your heart. Your receptivity is ultimately going to be the decisive factor.
In the sutras this evening, except for a few mistakes by the disciples who have taken the notes, almost everything seems to be authentically Bodhidharma’s.
If you envision a buddha, a dharma, or a bodhisattva, and conceive respect for them, you relegate yourself to the realm of mortals.
According to Bodhidharma, everybody is essentially a buddha. But if you start imagining buddhas and worshipping them, then you are doing tremendous harm to yourself. It means you have not understood the basic teaching. There is no one to be worshipped, no one to be envisaged, because you are a buddha yourself.
It is because of this point that Gautam Buddha denies the existence of one God. His denial is so great that its significance has not been understood. He denies one God, not because he is an atheist; he denies one God because he respects every living being as a god. There are as many gods as there are living beings. A few have attained to the realization of who they are, and most of the people among the living beings are still asleep. They do not know who they are but their ignorance does not change their nature.
So the first sutra is: If you envision a buddha, you relegate yourself to the realm of the mortals. You unnecessarily degrade yourself. Every worshiper in every temple, in every synagogue, in every church, is humiliating himself and is humiliating the god within. The god within needs no other god to be worshipped. All that it needs is an awakening, awareness, a consciousness of one’s own being.