But I can understand the problem: he did not want to disappoint his disciples, he did not want to disappoint the Chinese people. He did not want to tell them that there are fundamental questions which even an enlightened person cannot answer. So he goes on fabricating fictions. He cannot say that the Buddha is wrong, so he has to produce strange answers which don’t fit at all with what Buddha said – and they don’t fit absolutely with what Bodhidharma himself said earlier. His whole teaching was to be aware of the mind and to go beyond the mind, and that was absolutely perfect. Nothing was to be added to it.
Now he’s answering questions reluctantly, but he cannot stop. It needs tremendous courage to ignore your disciples’ questions and to simply say that this is not a question because it is ultimate. He has been trying in every way to satisfy the disciples and to satisfy the Chinese people that an enlightened man knows everything.
The reality is not so. The more you become enlightened, the less you know. At the ultimate peak of enlightenment, you simply know yourself…and nothing else. But at that peak, you yourself are the whole universe.
I will tell you where he’s still right – because he knows what is the truth – but he is compromising. He is not a rebel, he is a pacifying person. He does not want to say a single word to disturb the newly-converted Buddhists in China. It would have been all right if he had remained in India and never gone to China. Here he would have been his real self; there was no need even to consider others. The moment you start considering others, you fall from the height.
As far as I am concerned, my absolute commitment is towards the truth. Even if I irritate and annoy the whole world, I will not say anything just to console them, and I will not say anything that goes against my experience of truth. People have been asking me, “Why is the whole world against you?” The world is not against me. I am against the world because I have chosen truth. And I will say only that which is absolutely my experience. I will not compromise in any way, for any reason whatsoever.
But Bodhidharma started compromising. He may have been worshipped by people because he consoled them, but in my eyes he has lost his grandeur; he has lost his beauty and intelligence. He has come just too low to be understood.
This is the question of a disciple:
Throughout the sutras, the Buddha tells mortals they can achieve enlightenment by performing such meritorious works as building monasteries, casting statues, burning incense, scattering flowers, lighting eternal lamps, practicing all six periods of the day and night, walking around stupas…
Stupas are the graves of ancient enlightened people.
…observing fasts and worshipping.
In fact, this whole sutra is an invention of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Buddha never said anything like that, and if he said it he was wrong. That should have been Bodhidharma’s simple approach, because even at the time of his death Buddha’s last words were, “Don’t make my statues.”