Case 1 never ends, yet now comes ...

CASE 2 - Bodhidharma's Vast Emptiness

In a further conversation during this case, Emperor Wu asked, "I have built and endowed hundreds of temples and monasteries, and sponsored the ordination of thousands of monks and nuns; what is my merit?" Bodhidharma replied, "No merit." :shock: (Good thing the emperor didn't toss this rude guy in the dungeon!)

"No merit" to earn ... "Vast emptiness, no holiness" as Buddhism's holy truth ...

Yet Bodhidharma then headed straight down to holy Shaolin Temple (a place probably supported by Imperial cash), sitting Zazen diligently for nine years!

Why? It would seem like there is no point if "no merit" and "no holiness", just "vast emptiness". Why bother ... why sit? Likewise, was he actually telling the Emperor not to do these good works, and that they really had no worth or merit?

Or, perhaps that "no merit ... emptiness no holiness" is the very reason to sit and donate ... and the greatest Holy Merit Fullness!?

Then, when Bodhidharma was asked "who stands before me," he replied "I don't know!"

Did that mean that Old B'dharma actually "just didn't have a clue", or ... for he already was surely a Great Master whose reputation proceeded him ... did this "I don't know" manifest a most profound Knowing? Maybe a Knowing, but without some pesky "I" in the way, no separate things to be known, no names and labels and other outside facts to hammer down ... just Not Knowing Knowing?

But then, if there was already actually Knowing ... why sit??If no 'I', why sit his ass down?

Added Suggested Question:

Can you think of some activities in your life that would be/are richer when undertaken dropping completely all thought of reason or merit or goal or holiness/specialness to it?

Could/can you still manage to diligently and sincerely pursue the activities nonetheless (like Bodhidharma so diligently sitting for so long) working toward its successful accomplishment?

How would you accomplish (or "non-accomplish") such a thing? What's such accomplishing-non-accomplishing like?


Gassho, I Don't Know

PS - If you haven't had a chance, please hear Taigu's wonderful advice on Koans and such (part of his series on the 10 Oxherding pictures) ...

"The way to live with a question is not to answer it. The way to live with a question is actually to let it bloom."

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