With great fear, emperor Wu asked the question, and Bodhidharma said, “Nothing, no reward. On the contrary, be ready to fall into the seventh hell.”
The emperor said, “But I have not done anything wrong – why the seventh hell? I have been doing everything that the Buddhist monks have been telling me.”
Bodhidharma said, “Unless you start hearing your own voice, nobody can help you, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. And you have not yet heard your inner voice. If you had heard it, you would not have asked such a stupid question.
“On the path of Gautam Buddha there is no reward because the very desire for reward comes from a greedy mind. The whole teaching of Gautam Buddha is desirelessness and if you are doing all these so-called virtuous acts, making temples and monasteries and feeding thousands of monks, with a desire in your mind, you are preparing your way towards hell. If you are doing these things out of joy, to share your joy with the whole empire, and there is not even a slight desire anywhere for any reward, the very act is a reward unto itself. Otherwise you have missed the whole point.”
Emperor Wu said, “My mind is so full of thoughts. I have been trying to create some peace of mind, but I have failed and because of these thoughts and their noise, I cannot hear what you are calling the inner voice. I don’t know anything about it.”
Bodhidharma said, “Then, four o’clock in the morning, come alone without any bodyguards to the temple in the mountains where I am going to stay. And I will put your mind at peace, forever.”
The emperor thought this man really outlandish, outrageous. He had met many monks; they were so polite, but this one does not even bother that he is an emperor of a great country. And to go to him in the darkness of early morning at four o’clock, alone…. And this man seems to be dangerous – he always used to carry a big staff with him.
The emperor could not sleep the whole night, “To go or not to go? Because that man can do anything. He seems to be absolutely unreliable.” And on the other hand, he felt deep down in his heart the sincerity of the man, that he is not a hypocrite. He does not care a bit that you are an emperor and he is just a beggar. He behaves as an emperor, and in front of him you are just a beggar. And the way he has said, “I will put your mind at peace forever.”
“Strange, because I have been asking,” the emperor thought, “of many, many wise people who have come from India, and they all gave me methods, techniques, which I have been practicing, but nothing is happening – and this strange fellow, who looks almost mad, or drunk, and has a strange face with such big eyes that he creates fear…. But he seems to be sincere too – he is a wild phenomenon. And it is worth to risk. What can he do – at the most he can kill me.” Finally, he could not resist the temptation because the man had promised, “I will put your mind at peace forever.”