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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
24 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 4 Authentic practice is always available to us, but it doesn’t come cheap. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj reminds us what’s really at stake. OK, Here’s the Deal Book of Serenity, Case 2: Bodhidharma’s “Emptiness” A man presented a jewel three times but didn’t escape punishment. When a luminous jewel is thrown to anyone, few do not draw their sword. For an impromptu guest there is no impromptu host; what’s appropriate provi- sionally is not appropriate for the real. If unusual treasures and rare jewels cannot be put to use, I’ll bring out the head of a dead cat—look! Emperor Wu of Liang asked Great Teacher Bodhidharma, “What is the highest meaning of the holy truths?” Bodhidharma said, “Empty—there’s nothing holy.” The emperor said, “Who is this facing me?” Bodhidharma said, “Don’t know.” The emperor didn’t understand. Bodhidharma subsequently crossed the Yangtse River, came to Shaolin, and faced a wall for nine years. Empty—nothing holy; The approach is far off. Succeeding, he swings the axe without injuring the nose; Failing, he drops the pitcher without looking back. Still and silent, coolly he sat at Shaolin; In silence he completely brought up the true imperative. The clear moon of autumn turns its frosty disc; The Milky Way thin, the Dipper hangs down its handle in the night. In succession the robe and bowl have been imparted to descendants; From this, humans and divinities have made medicine and disease. —translation by Thomas Cleary Introduction Case Verse