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Desire is the enemy

When Bodhidharma reached China to preach Buddhism, the king himself approached for advice. MN Kundu writes.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2011 00:05 IST
MN Kundu

When Bodhidharma reached China to preach Buddhism, the king himself approached for advice. He submitted, “I have opened educational institutions, monasteries and hospitals. I am feeding hundreds of monks. My treasury is open for charity. What shall be my reward?”

Bodhidharma sternly looked at the king and scolded, “No reward. Rather, you will go to seventh hell to suffer.” The king was taken aback. So far he has received praises for his deeds and predictions for heavenly abode after death. But Bodhidhar-ma continued, “Had you understood the teachings of the Buddha, you would know that craving is the root cause of our entanglement into the endless web of suffering.

Hence you must not do the right deed for the wrong reason.” The king argued, “Should I then stop all my benevolent acts?” Bodhidharma again rebuked, “Not at all. Do charity as much as you can but never expect any reward other than self-purification and enlightenment to go beyond craving and suffering.”

That upset the king. “Desire dominates all my deeds. How can I control my mind and be desireless?” Bodhidharma told the king to come next morning alone.

The next morning, Bodhidharma instructed the king, “Sit motionless with closed eyes and try to catch hold of your mind. What do you observe?” The king replied: “Recollections of life, memory of sense perceptions and fleeting thoughts.”

Bodhidharma asked him to observe more and report. The king said, “I observe my emotions like love and hate, likes and dislikes, worries and anxieties, feeling for all creatures.” Bodhidharma asked him to continue and report. The king said, “I observe the veil of my sense of I am-ness enveloped over my perceptions and feelings.”

The king was told to watch more. After a long time, he reported, “I went into deep slumber, a negative state of existence compared to the awakened state.” Bodhid-harma suggested, “Make it a state of positive awareness beyond this duality.” This time the king could not answer anymore. His observing mind got entirely dissolved into its source of sublime silence beyond the dual scales of existence.

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