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ZEN  BUDDHISM                    Zen Founder, Bodhidharma                    SHAOLIN  ZEN

Bodhidharma Headlines

Bodhidharma's VW Van?
  short story...

Meeting The Emperor
  brief essay...

Surfing The Yellow River
  brief essay...

Those Fat, Lazy, Monks
  short story...

Shaolin One-Handed Bow
  full story...

BodhidharmaBodhidharma Drives A VW Van?

The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma, also founded Shaolin Kung Fu. He didn't call his new religion, "Zen," because that word didn't exist in China.

Someone, named this new offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism, CHAN Buddhism.

My favorite translation of this Chinese word, Chan, is, "Universal Mind."

They didn't create a new sect of Buddhism, they didn't change anything. They just ADDED Kung Fu to their Buddhism.

So, to be a Chan Buddhist (Zen Buddhist), you needed to practice Kung Fu daily.

When the Japanese came to the Shaolin Temple on Mt. Songshan in Northern China, hundreds of years later, they were amazed by these Shaolin Kung Fu Monks. These visiting Japanese Monks took this radical Shaolin Kung Fu Buddhism back to Japan. Today, there are only a couple of remote Buddhist Temples in Japan who still continue to do Kung Fu.

Martial arts were illegal in Japan, just like carrying a gun is illegal in America, so the Japanes Buddhists took the Kung Fu out and were left with this new warrior Buddhism, without being warriors.

This resulted in many Japanese concepts like, "focus," and meditation, remaining--but without their original intentions. This caused the Japanese Buddhists to evolve the Kung Fu Warrior Buddhism into sit down, shut up, and keep your legs crossed Buddhists, who cut off the circulation in their legs instead of enhancing their health with exercise.

What a shame. Another good idea for a religion going astray because of the weaknesses, insecurities, and laziness the religious leaders harbored.

In 1970, a teenager in San Diego, named Richard Del Connor, was driving a VW van, loaded with his pot smoking friends. Little did he know he'd be the reincarnation of Bodhidharma. Later, locked in isolation in a San Diego jail, Richard read the Holy Bible from cover to cover. His parents were divorced, his friends were sent to prison, but Richard, known then as, "Dicky Dare," was deported to Canada. His parents and the judicial system sought to save their money and keep him out of trouble by isolating him on the Island province of Newfoundland where he graduated High School at Prince of Wales Collegiate, and attended MUN Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. Johns.

In 2009, Richard Del Connor became a 3rd Degree Master Mason of the California Free and Accepted Masons, in a temple dedicated to the St. Johns. The weird worldly wheel of Dharma.


Meeting The Emperor of the World

When Bodhidharma met the Chinese Emperor, he had walked from India, to the Chinese northern capitol, alone. He was a spiritual warrior monk who obviously did not need to be protected, or he probably would not have survived the hundreds of miles of bandits, and wild animals.

As the 28th Patriarch of the original Indian Buddhism of Siddhartha Gautarma, (who became the Shakyamuni Buddha, or Original Buddha), Bodhidharma carried an impressive calling card: he was the Pope of Buddhism.

The Chinese Emperor at that time was a Buddhist, so he welcomed this venerable monk of the highest level to meet him at his court. He said to this Buddhist Patriarch, "I've been building temples and monuments all over China to spread and support Buddhism. This has certainly earned me a high place in Buddhist Heaven."

Bodhidharma calmly replied, "your actions will not alter your place in Heaven."

Bodhidharma could be compared to Martin Luther, who also did not believe that the Catholic Church had the right or ability to promise people places in Heaven by making donations to the church.

As with Martin Luther, the reigning powers didn't like this message of truth. The Emperor was reluctant to punish this esteemed monk so they encouraged him to leave.

Politics doesn't exist in Zen Buddhism, that is why it often referred to as, "The Truth," by many cultures in Asia. If you are going to be a politician, you would be advised to join Catholicism, unless you really want to make the world a better place. If you are making the world a better place, then you are already a Chan Buddhist.

In 1993, Shifu Richard O'Connor, as he was then known in Utah, was given the title of, "Honorary Chinese Citizen," by the Chinese community of Utah. He performed Chinese New Years events and represented the Chinese in multicultural events. So, Shifu Richard needed a Chinese name. Although the Chinese community is large in Utah, due to the concentration camps of World War II when the American Government couldn't tell them apart, it was a recently migrated family from the Chen Village below Mt. Wudang, (where Tai Chi was invented by the Daoist Monks), that decided to bestow this Chinese name upon him. They wanted to adopt him into their CHEN FAMILY, but Shifu Richard was reluctant to accept this name since he was already famous for his Yang Family Tai Chi that was stolen from the Chen Family a century ago. So they named him ZHEN instead. Zhen Shen-Lang, which translates to SPIRIT WOLF of TRUTH.

"Truth" is another translation of "Chan Buddhsim." The dharma wheel spins again.


Surfing The Yellow River

All carvings and pictures of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, depict him carring a staff.

There is a Kalaripayattu martial arts school in India, that claims they were the Kung Fu school of Bodhidharma before he walked to China to meet the Chinese Emperor.

The Kalaripayattu martial art is surprisingly similar to the Shaolin Kung Fu attributed to Bodhidharma, so I am inclined to accept this information. They also teach the staff, which became the foremost weapon taught to every Zen Buddhist of the Shaolin Temple Monks for 1500 years.

Many pictures and statues depict Bodhidharma with his sandals hanging from his staff as he surfs the Yellow River of Northern China on a raft or sometimes surfing a big leaf.

Bodhidharma crossed the Yellow River twice, so most people believe this event to be the return to the Shaolin Temple AFTER meeting the Chinese Emperor. He is on his way to the Shaolin Temple Monastery to create Shaolin Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism.


Those Fat Lazy Shaolin Monks

Despite being the POPE of Buddhism at that time, it seems that the monks and priests of the Songshan Mountain Shaolin Buddhist Temple Monastery didn't appreciate having him around.

Bodhidharma tried to teach the monks his Kalaripayattu martial arts, but they were as interested in learning Kung Fu 1500 years ago, as adults are today.

Bodhidharma, or Da Mo, as the Chinese refer to him, was displeased by these fat lazy monks. The Shaolin Temple has been burned down several times and its books destroyed, so we lack any good solid evidence of what really took place.

Perhaps, Bodhidharma wanted to go live in a dirty little cave, far from water, on the side of the mountain near the Shaolin Temple because he couldn't stand hanging out with fat lazy priests.

Perhaps, the monks, told him to get out and stop bothering them with health and fitness concepts.

Either way, all stories tell of Bodhidharma's refusal to accept any disciples after he moved into his hole in the hill.

Ironically, the Shaolin Temple had been built almost 100 years before his arrival there, by another Buddhist Monk from India, who prophesized that, "In 100 years a monk will arrive from India to renovate and improve Buddhism in China." I guest they didn't recognize him. He never lived in the Temple built for him.


The Shaolin One-Handed Bow

Our ostracized hero, Bodhidharma, would have died an inglorious and unnoticeable life had it not been for his first Disciple, Hui Ke.

There are some wild tales and legends about Hui Ke, but there is no possible way he would have cut his arm off, as some Zen Buddhists will tell you.

After being shunned and left to rot on the hill, some young monks must have pursued Bodhidharma's radical enlightenment and Kung Fu skills. One monk, Hui Ke, was persistent, but this still did not win the favor or attention of our highest ranking Buddhist on Earth, at that time.

Bodhidharma told this persistent pesky Buddhist, "I'll teach you my Buddhism when the snow rains red." This was the Chinese equivalent of saying, "When pigs can fly."

Hui Ke was undaunted and in some manner, on a winter day, he stood in the snow outside of Bodhidharma's Patriarch Penthouse cave and cut his LEFT arm with his right hand. I have no idea what he used, but it was either a knife or perhaps a sword, since Bodhidharma may have possessed a sword for practicing his Kalaripayattu martial arts during his 8 years of isolation.

With this blood in the snow, it had, "rained red," and Bodhidharma consented to take Hui Ke as his disciple and teach him his Kung Fu.

That is why all Disciples of Shaolin Kung Fu bow with our left arm hanging limp at our left side and hold only our Right Prayer Hand, as if praying with only one arm, in memory and appreciation of Hui Ke.

Without Hui Ke's sacrifice of cutting his arm, Zen Buddhism would not exist.


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