He did not say it because in China the Buddhists were trying to make as many monasteries, as many temples, as many statues as possible. One temple exists in China with ten thousand statues of Buddha. The whole mountain has been carved as a temple. This is the biggest temple in the world, where there are ten thousand statues of Buddha, and to say anything about this not being right would go against the very Buddhists who have been working to convert the Chinese. And they had been giving the certainty to the Chinese that they would become enlightened if they fed the monks, if they worshipped the Buddha, if they gave donations to the monasteries.
Bodhidharma must have hesitated a moment, but finally he fell into the trap of being part of an organized religion. Organized religion always insists on these stupid things which don’t lead you anywhere, but they help the organized religion to exploit you; otherwise, who is going to feed one million Catholic nuns and monks? Who is going to take care of all the expenses of thousands of Catholic monasteries? It has to be continuously emphasized by the sermons of the priests every Sunday, people have to be reminded to donate, reminded that, “Donation will bring you salvation.” Salvation is the Christian word for enlightenment.
The disciples can see it, so they are asking:
But if beholding the mind includes all other practices, then such works as these would appear redundant.
If a single method of beholding the mind creates enlightenment, then what is the need of all these things? These are all things that come out of the mind; they will strengthen the mind. But all that you have to do is to weaken the mind, go beyond it…so beyond that it cannot take any energy from you and it dies out of hunger and starvation. And when you don’t have any mind, but just a pure silence of no-mind, you have attained enlightenment.
The disciples are perfectly right to ask the question, “You yourself have been saying, ‘Just behold the mind and that’s enough.’ Then what is the need of all these rituals?” Now he is caught in a catch-22…. If he says, “These words are not from Buddha,” he goes against Mahayana Buddhism and he belongs to that sect.
That’s why I insist: Don’t belong to any sect, to any creed, to any religion; otherwise, you cannot be absolutely committed to truth. Any other commitment side by side with the commitment to truth is dangerous. Then you would like somehow to also console that other commitment.
And if a man like Bodhidharma could not manage to say the truth, because he could see that if he says it – and he was the first enlightened man to enter China – if he says it, the whole edifice that thousands of Buddhist monks had created in six hundred years, the whole atmosphere that you can become enlightened by worshipping Buddha, by burning incense, by offering flowers, by making temples, statues, monasteries would simply flop, because none of them was enlightened. The whole of China was waiting to hear what is actually the truth from an enlightened man. But because he also belonged to a certain business firm, he decided in favor of the business rather than in favor of the truth.