Bodhidharma Sutra 6 : “Understanding comes in mid-sentence”

If you envision a Buddha, a dharma or a bodhisattva and conceive respect for them, you relegate yourself to the realm of mortals. If you seek direct understanding, don’t hold onto any appearance whatsoever, and you’ll succeed. I have no other advice.   …don’t cling to appearances, and you’ll be of one mind with the Buddha.

But why shouldn’t we worship Buddhas and bodhisattvas?

Devils and demons possess the power of manifestation. They can create the appearance of bodhisattvas in all sorts of guises. But they’re false. None of them are Buddhas. The Buddha is your own mind. Don’t misdirect your worship. Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it’s all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path. And the path is zen. But the word zen is one that remains a puzzle. Seeing your nature is zen. Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature, yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a Buddha. The true way is sublime. It can’t be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the way, even if he can’t read a word …. Everything the Buddha says is an expression of his mind. But since his body and expressions are basically empty, you can’t find a Buddha in words.

…the way is basically perfect. It doesn’t require perfecting. The way has no form or sound. It’s subtle and hard to perceive. It’s like when you drink water. You know how hot or cold it is. But you can’t tell others. Of that which only a tathagata knows, men and gods remain unaware. The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as they’re attached to appearances, they’re unaware that their mind is empty. And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things, they lose the way. If you know that everything comes from the mind, don’t become attached. Once attached, you’re unaware. But once you see your own nature, the entire canon becomes so much prose. Its thousands of sutras and shastras only amount to a clear mind. Understanding comes in mid-sentence.

What good are doctrines?

The ultimate truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the way. The way is wordless. Words are illusions. They’re no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages …. Don’t conceive any delight for such things. They’re all cradles of rebirth. Keep this in mind when you approach death. Don’t cling to appearances, and you’ll break through all barriers. A moment’s hesitation and you’ll be under the spell of devils. Your real body is pure and impervious. But because of delusions, you’re unaware of it. And because of this, you suffer karma in vain. Wherever you find delight, you find bondage. But once you awaken to your original body and mind, you’re no longer bound by attachments.

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