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Chapter 2: The Radical Revolution

When Bodhidharma reached China and the emperor received him, the emperor asked one thing: “I have done many meritorious acts. I have made many Buddhist monasteries, thousands of Buddhist monks are fed from my treasure, millions of Chinese have been converted to Buddhism, thousands of temples have been raised for Buddha. What is going to be my merit for all this doing?”

Bodhidharma was very ferocious and he looked into the emperor’s eyes and said, “Your Majesty, there is no merit in it.”

The emperor was very shocked, because many Buddhists had come before - monks and missionaries - and they had all said to him, “This will be your merit: you will reach to the seventh paradise. Do more virtuous acts, donate more, make more monasteries, temples, Buddha statues; convert the whole country to Buddhism. Your merit is going to be great, Your Majesty.” And now here comes this Bodhidharma and he says no merit at all!

But the emperor was a very cultured man. He changed the subject, he dropped the subject before so many people. And this man looked dangerous. The emperor said, “Then tell me something about the holy truth of Buddha.”

And Bodhidharma said, “Nothing can be said about it because it is vast and, remember, there is nothing holy in it. Holy, unholy, is part of a dual mind. There is nothing holy, nothing unholy. It simply is.”

Now this was too much. The emperor was very offended. Bodhidarma is denying even Buddha’s truth and saying nothing is holy in it. The emperor became angry. For a moment he forgot all his courteous manner, courtly manner and politeness, and he said, “Then who is this fellow who is standing before me?”

And Bodhidharma bowed down and said, “Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

My sannyas is not spiritual, because I don’t divide the world into the material and the spiritual. It is nothing holy, because I don’t divide the world into the unholy and the holy. By becoming a sannyasin you have not become a saint, because I don’t divide people into sinners and saints. People are people. All are beautiful - sinners and saints and all.

In fact, if there are only saints in the world and no sinners, the world would not be worth living in. Just think of a world which consists only of holy saints. Can you conceive of any worse world than that? No, it cannot be of much value. The sinner and the saint, they are the warp and woof, they are together, they are one - the dark and the light. Death and life are meeting every moment.

So I don’t call it spiritual, because I have no condemnation for matter. In the very word spiritual you have denied something, you have condemned something, you have judged. You have already declared that “The material is wrong and I want to be spiritual.”

Can’t you see a simple fact that you exist in the body as the body? Have you ever seen any soul without a body, unembodied? Or have you seen any body alive without a soul? The bifurcation is stupid. The soul is nothing but the dynamism of your body and the body is nothing but the materialization of your soul. The body is your visible soul and the soul is your invisible body.

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