Sat Naam and many blessings.
My heart resonates deep gratitude, and I bring you this message from China.
Recently, I received the blessing to ride on the wings of reverence to journey to China to answer a calling and fulfill a longing.
In this lifetime, since the time I was little boy, I longed to step on the sacred land of China – the land of Lao Zi, the land that called on Bodhidharma to plant the seed of Chan, the land that has been a main container of many sacred ancient spiritual teachings.
For many long years, I have longed to bow at the cave of Bodhidharma.
As seekers long for Dharma, Dharma is also seeking the rich soil of seekers’ hearts in which to plant its seed.
About 1,500 years ago, Bodhidharma left India, and spent 3 years traversing the ocean before he finally landed in China. When he arrived, he could not find a student who was ready to receive his teachings. So, he sat in a cave facing a wall and waited for a humble recipient to show up to receive.
During his years in China, at first Bodhidharma was ridiculed — people threw stones at him. Then ridicule turned into persecution — people tried to poison this harmless, contemplative being.
No matter. None of this perturbed Bodhidharma. He sat, unmoving, in deep meditation, a perfect expression of perfect Dhyana. Nine years passed.
In his years-long sitting lay the key. Because eventually true seekers heard about his profound sitting; hearing of him awakened their longing. They journeyed to find Bodhidharma. They sat with him and became impregnated with the Dharma.
The light of Dharma was then passed down to 5 disciples who imbibed Bodhidharma’s teachings and became the first Chinese Chan masters. Over the next 100 years, as he predicted, “One flower bloomed into 5 petals” (一花开五叶，which means 5 schools of Chan Buddhism evolved from Bodhidharma’s teachings), and these teachings spread to Japan and around the world.
The teachings are like the river. The river just flows. It flowed from India, where the teachings were called Dhyan; in China, they became Chan; in Japan, they evolved into Zen. And bowing before Bodhidharma’s cave, I felt 1,500 years and the journey of many lands just dissolved. My heart and Bodhidharma’s heart meet now. We are one.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to be with these Chinese seekers. They were receptive, and we sat together to awaken the presence of Bodhidharma in our hearts. Together we chanted The Heart Sutra.
Before China, I had been in Japan where a monk gifted me a beautiful walking stick that contains the entire Heart Sutra carved on it. Now, I walk in the footsteps of Bodhidharma and with these Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese seekers, it is a collaborative effort that we spread the Dharma. We continue to carry out the Bodhidharma mission. His mission and our mission are one.
Together, let’s walk the path of Dharma.
I bow to all those who have walked
the path of Dharma.
And I bow to those who are walking
the path of Dharma.
And I bow to all the rest, who — in one lifetime or another — shall walk the path of Dharma.
© Yogi Amandeep Singh