Bodhidharma – a Trilogy on his Life and Teachings

A biographical sketch along with the essential teachings of Bodhidharma.

Bodhidharma, Daruma, Damu

Bodhidharma, often taught through his silence. At other times, he used a few words or actions to strike right at the crucial point, taking disciples straight to the heart of awakening. He conveyed the simplicity and openness of the Buddha’s teachings utterly free from religiosity.

He taught through resting and movement. The master who stayed in unmoving meditation for nine years, is also a well-known master of some of the most dynamic forms of martial arts and slow-moving forms for mind-body cultivation. He showed how to let go off the body and mind and then relax in the vast expanse of one’s own original nature. Together with that, he also showed how to cultivate a strong and agile body and mind.

The Bodhidharma’s teachings later spread widely as the Chan tradition of China, Zen in Japan, Seon in Korea and Thien in Vietnam. The synergy and the principles awakening that Bodhidharma brought to martial arts is visible even today in the harmonious underlying principles of Shaolin Kung Fur of China, Kalaripayattu of Kerala (India), Silambam of Tamil Nadu (India) and Angampora of Sri Lanka.

Back in South India, his home land, his stories are often shrouded in mystery. Many people have heard of him as an esoteric healer, a miraculous martial artist and as a man of many magical skills. But, hardly have they heard of his true teachings or his realization that turned him to a majestic figure representing a confluence of Buddhism as well as the healing tradition and martial arts traditions of South India and China.

Here, in a three part series, we explore the life and teachings of Bodhidharma. The first part of the trilogy sketches his life along with some short teachings. The second part goes into his teachings in detail. The second part also explores how Bodhidharma’s teachings (that later became the source of Chan / Zen) fit within the overall context of the Buddha’s teaching, and its commonalities and divergence with other traditions such as Dzogchen. The last part of the trilogy explores his connection to martial arts and healing traditions, and see how that supports and extends his core message of awakening to Buddhahood.

Table of Content

Part I – Transcending Movement and Stillness – The Life of Bodhidharma

 Bodhidharma Life Story

Part II – Breaking the Silence – The Teachings of Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma Teachings

Part III – The Wild Leaps of Awakening – Bodhidharma and Martial Arts

Authors – Yogini Abhaya Devi Yogi Prabodha Jnana

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