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October 11, 2018


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No need to secluded yourself, you can get it while walking in the street. Just contemplate it day and night

Hmm, a small correction as I inadvertently inserted same characters twice. Here below in traditional zōngpái (vertical alignement);

The ordinary translation engines online, will translate this as "Retreat Spirit" but in essence the entire meaning is;

To close of the world
dwelling in seclusion,
(attaining) the highly perfected Essence (Divine Spirit.)

I know exactly what you meant with your article.

The value of Bi Guan, the cutting off the worldly and gazing of the mysterious essence, is not in question here, it is the fact that you used a loose reference to a few scholars to deconstruct a spiritual giant like Bodhidharma into mere myth when he was not.

If one were to use the same deconstructive methodology to make a point, one could for example question the reality of the Chinese great sage Tánmó-chèn (Dharmaksena) who translated the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra into Chinese, and despite great reverence today, in reality, was quite an audacious and highly eccentric fellow of many talents (and trades), and to put it plainly, one whom basically could have made the whole thing up. The stories around him, especially his travels in Himalaya are to say the least adventurous, and many times, humoristic.

I am sure you agree with me that that is not the fact, but I take it you get my point.

Now, going back to my initial comment, biguan 閉關

Has in chinese a very intrinsic meaning. The first characterl, Bi, means to obstruct, to close the passes, but it also means to shut, close depending on context.

Guan means to turn off, to involve, to close.

Together these characters also mean - seclusion, as in monastic practice by Chan Buddhists. But it also means combined with


(highly perfected, mysterious, supernatural being, essence, divine spirit)



To close of the world, dwelling in seclusion attaining the highly perfected Essence, or Divine Spirit.

Jung: To the extent that I have deconstructed Bodhidharma by presenting in the blog what scholars have already presented, my overarching reason was to correct the meaning of 壁觀 hoping to show westerners that Bodhidharma's penetration into the unconditioned (asaṃskṛta 無為) did not depend upon physical practices (facing a wall) but direct intuition which is 'sudden' removing all mentation thus to reveal bodhi-citta which is adamantine.

Like most Buddhists I treat Bodhidharma "as if" he was an actual person. In this regard, I am more interested in his words which point to the unconditioned which, as you must know, comes with many different names, e.g., One Mind, Mind-ground, true Mind, pure Mind, etc. I look for a rebirth of Chan in China, but it will take a person who sees beyond the limiting veil of the conditioned world.

Unfortunately your "probably" doesn´t hold muster with what actually was, and of course is there for everyone to see, should they wish to.

No Chinese has ever in Chinese history dared to falsify an Imperial commemoration, or decree. I suppose if you are not a Chinese, it is difficult to understand the role and immense power and authority an Emperor had over his subjects during any given dynasty. Every encounter any Emperor had with persons of lower, or higher rank, was always noted by the Grand Secretariat (內閣; Nèigé), and Bodhidharmas visit before Emperor Wu, was no exception.

He did encounter the Indian sage and did command that on the North side, and lower flank of the Bear Ear Mountain in Luotyang a stupa should be built as to honor Bodhidharma burial and also in a way expose the great shame of the emperor of having missed an opportunity to be taught and awake to the dharma offered by this great sage.

You can as tourist visit this stupa today, it is a beautiful one as is the surroundings. Upon it one can read the Emperor's beautiful commemoration;

” I have heard, that within the blue sea, there is a Black Dragon[4] with a lustrous white pearl, and that neither gods nor men have ever seen it. But my teacher has done so [5], the great teacher Bodhidharma. He is said to have come from India, though his home is unknown. We don´t know his family name. This great teacher took mind to be the essence and the yin and yang as the device. His nature was provided by heaven and his wisdom given by gods. His bearing was like the sea and the mountains, his spirit like billowing clouds. He possessed Udana-like clarity, with profound learning like Dharmaruci. The entire Buddhist canon was within his mind-stream. The five skandhas are transported on the sea of words. Riches turn to dust, and golden speech [scriptures] fall short. Vowing to spread the Dharma, he came east from India, planting his staff in China. He expounded the wordless truth [6], like a bright candle in a dark room, like the bright moon when clouds open.
Further down the memorial stele we read:
Heaven is vast and blue. Wild beasts cry out. Sweet springs gush forth! Another cry! Non-action arrives, and all action is gone, the Way is manifested, and birth and death are exposed. Bodhidharma died on the fifth day of the twelfth month in the early morning hours at Yu Gate. His age was unknown. He was buried ceremoniously at Bear Ear Mountain. His disciples were grief-stricken. Their lamentation moved heaven and earth, and their tears drenched their bodies. They were overcome, mourning as though their fathers and mothers had died. All the disciples, eyes closed mourned in this manner.
Further down the memorial stele we read:
Though his body was interred there ina grave, his appearance [7] traveled to the western regions. It was as if he came but did not come, left but did not leave. None known as holy or wise have attained Bodhidharma´s wisdom. My imperial actions lack merit and only comprise unworthy karma. Above this karma has harmed heaven´s yin and yang. Below it has damaged the happiness of all beings. At night I am greatly troubled and unable to eat. Within all that are great functions, there is Buddhism´s Mind. Though I have not gained the merit of nine years of sitting meditation to benefit beings, I still seek the meaning of Dharma, this eternal and miraculous gate. Practised in peace it is the essence, the sublime. Those who transmit it by word and deed are the Great Teacher´s progeny. Alas! I saw him and didn´t see him! [8]. I have only regret and distress aboutthe past and present. Though I am an ordinary person, I dare take the role of teacher and say that which I have not attained in this life will create tthe conditions for my future rebirth. One cannot engrave mind onto a stone, so how can the dharma be demonstrated? I fear heaven will change and the earth will be transformed, and then teachings of the Great Teacher will not be heard.



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