Bodhidharma

 

Bodhidharma was the third son of King Simhavarman. He received the Dharma from Patriarch Prajnatara and was instructed to go to China to pass on the decree.

He was the twenty-eighth and the last Patriarch in India since Mahakasyapa.
 
The twenty-seven Patriarch instructed Bodhidharma:
 
"Tathagata bestowed Mahakasyapa with the absolute dharma-eye, and was transmitted as such until it reached me. Now I shall instruct you: Even though China of the east is vast, there is no other path. The future shall depend upon our uncle’s descendants to carry on. A golden cock is holding a single grain of seed to nourish and feed all the saints and monks everywhere."
 
‘A golden cock is holding a single grain of seed’ represents the one and only Golden Thread of Tao that was transmitted from one Patriarch to another Patriarch through a lineage that is also called the Decree of Heaven. It will nourish and feed all the saints and monks everywhere implies the life’s line of spiritual salvation for all people who cultivate Tao.
 
Bodhidharma is the Patriarch of millions of Zen Buddhists and students of kung-fu. He also brought tea to China and to keep him from falling asleep while meditating, he cut off his eyelids, and where they fell, tea bushes grew. Since then tea has become the beverage of not only monks but also everyone in the Orient. Faithful to this tradition, artists invariably depict Bodhidharma with bulging lidless eyes.
 
Shortly after he had transmitted Tao to Huik’u, Bodhidharma died in 528 A.D. on the fifth day of the tenth month, poisoned by a jealous monk. Three years later, an official met Bodhidharma walking in the mountains of Central Asia. He was carrying a staff from which hung a single sandal and he told the official that he was going back to India. Reports of this meeting aroused the curiosity of other monks, who finally agreed to open Bodhidharma’s tomb. All they found was a single sandal and ever since Bodhidharma has been pictured carrying a staff from which hangs the missing sandal.