i don’t know


 

Emperor Wu

of Liang asked Bodhidharma,

“I have built temples and had monks

ordained without number: what merit is there

in this?” Bodhidharma said, “There is no merit.”

The emperor said, “Why no merit?” Bodhidharma

said, “These are just the lesser fruits of gods

and men, causes of defilement: like

shadows following shapes,

though they’re there,

they’re not

real.”

 

The Emperor

said, “What is true merit?”

Bodhidharma answered, “The subtle

perfection of pure wisdom, its essence naturally

empty and still. Such merit is not to be sought with worldly

means.” Only then did the Emperor ask, “What is the

highest meaning of the holy truths?” Bodhidharma

answered, “Empty, without holiness.”

The Emperor said, “Who is facing

me?” Bodhidharma replied,

“I don’t know.”

 

The Emperor

did not understand, so

Bodhidharma crossed the river

into Wei. If you want to see real merit

right now, don’t look for it anywhere else,

just comprehend it in “I don’t know”.

If you can penetrate those three

words, the task of your whole

life’s study will be

completed.

 

Dahui