Chapter 8: For the Sake of Harmony
Anando, do your thing and do it truly. Never compromise. Never compromise with anybody, not even with God. No compromise. You be yourself. That is the only prayer there is.
The second question:
When will I be ready to cut off my hand and give it to you as a sign?
The question comes from the parable I told you - the parable about Bodhidharma and Hui Koju Bodhidharma sat for nine years facing a wall. People would come to him and ask questions but he would not answer. And people would say to him, “Why do you go on looking at the wall?” And he would say, “I am waiting for the right man to come. When he comes I will turn and look at him.” Then came Hui Koju. It was a very cold morning and snow was falling. He stood there in the falling snow and the snow gathered all around his body and he was freezing.
One day passed and then he said to Bodhidharma that now he would make his offering. He cut off one of his hands with his sword, gave it to Bodhidharma and said, “Now turn towards me otherwise I will cut off my head.” Bodhidharma turned immediately and said, “Wait! There is no need to go that far. So you have come. I was waiting for you for nine years. I have a message to deliver to you. Once the message is delivered I will disappear.”
Hui Koju became the second Zen master in China. The message was delivered.
After four years, when Bodhidharma was departing from his disciples, he asked four disciples the question, “What is truth?” The first disciple answered that truth is not in the scriptures, not in the tradition, not in the words. And Bodhidharma said, “You have my skin.”
And he asked the second and the second said, “Truth has to be experienced, it is not a concept, it cannot be thought about. It is not philosophy. It is existential.” And Bodhidharma said, “You have my flesh.”
And he asked the third and the third said, “Truth is when you are not, when the ego disappears. Truth is when the mind is no more. Truth is a state of no-mind.” And Bodhidharma said, “You have my bones.”
Then he asked the fourth disciple - this disciple was the same Hui Koju who had given his hand to him. When he asked Hui Koju, he looked at the master, fell down at his feet and remained silent. Bodhidharma took him up, hugged him and said, “You have my marrow. And now I am ready to depart. You have all that I have. To a question about truth, only silence can be the answer.”
The others were sad but still they were saying something. Without saying anything the fourth disciple said it. This was Hui Koju.
The question comes from this same parable. “When will I be ready to cut off my hand and give it to you as a sign?”