Bodhidharma’s Zen: the Perfect Way, the Ultimate Truth

Bodhidharma, founder of Zen Buddhism

The following are excepts I’ve compiled from the Bloodstream Sermon of Bodhidharma (the founder of Zen Buddhism) as translated by Red Pine. What do you think?


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.


The ultimate Truth is beyond words.

Doctrines are words. They are not the Way.

The Way is wordless.


If you see your nature, you don’t need to read sutras or invoke Buddhas.

Erudition and Knowledge are not only useless but also cloud your awareness.

Doctrines are only for pointing to the mind. Once you see your mind, why pay attention to doctrines?


People, though, are deluded. They’re unaware that their own mind is the Buddha. Otherwise they wouldn’t look for a Buddha outside the mind.

Buddhas don’t ferry Buddhas to the shore of liberation. If you use your mind to look for a Buddha, you won’t see the Buddha.

As long as you seek Buddhas outwards, you’ll never see that your own Heart is the Buddha.


To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha.


If you don’t see your nature and run outwards to seek for external objects, you’ll never find a buddha.

The truth is there’s nothing to find.


If you attain anything at all, it’s conditional.


All practices are impermanent.


The sutras say, “Go beyond language. Go beyond thought.”

Basically, seeing, hearing, and knowing are completely empty.

Your anger, Joy, or pain is like that of puppet.


Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form.

It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab it.

5 thoughts on “Bodhidharma’s Zen: the Perfect Way, the Ultimate Truth

    1. We must differentiate between “brain” and “mind”, then consider all the various “levels” of mind. Purity of mind is unshackled. If you feel you must grab it, that is not mind. If you recognize that it must flow freely, you’re on the right path.


    2. The ordinary mind is not the Buddha. The original mind that is uncut and unconditioned by learning, knowledge, education, culture, passions, thoughts, is the Buddha mind.


  1. You are the perfect way and the ultimate truth. You are your nature and your mind. You express both of them through your beliefs and your opinions. You are ‘beyond’ thoughts and words, because you generate them. Whereas they are illusion and temporary, you forever remain.


    1. When the sutras say your own mind is Buddha, it is not referring to the ordinary mind, or the aware mind.
      It is referring to the true mind, the original mind, the Tathagathagarbha. The Conditioned mind is the false Refuge.


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