Bloodstream Sermon

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? Someone who sees his own nature has found the Way, even if he can’t read a word. Someone who sees his nature is a buddha. A buddha’s body is intrinsically pure and can’t be defiled. Everything he says is an expression of his mind. Since his body and expressions are basically empty, you can’t find a buddha in words. Nor anywhere in the Twelvefold Canon.

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 midsentence. What good are doctrines?
- Bodhidharma (440-528)