Hui Ko, whom he had chosen as his successor, when asked by Bodhidharma, “What is my essential teaching?” simply fell to his feet, tears rolling down from his eyes, not uttering a single word. Bodhidharma helped him to stand up and said, “Although you have not answered, I accept your answer. Although you have not said a single word, your tears are enough to convey the message. You have understood me and I can understand why you are silent. Your silence is saying more than you could have managed by saying anything. You are my very soul; you will represent me when I am gone.”
But Hui Ko has not written a single word. So it is a strange fate: those who can understand find it hard to make anything but a confused statement. They would prefer to remain silent rather than commit a mistake. And those who do not understand fear nothing. They don’t know that they are committing mistakes, mistakes of profound meaning and significance.
And I will show you that on the surface the notes look perfectly right, but just underneath, in many places they cannot be the statements of Bodhidharma. They cannot be the statements of anyone who has attained to ultimate consciousness, of one who has reached to the destiny of self-realization.
But suppose I don’t see my nature, can’t I still attain enlightenment by invoking buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, observing precepts, practicing devotions, or doing good works?
No, you can’t.
This no is certainly from Bodhidharma. The statement above is what all the religions are doing in the world. The so-called religious people are doing all these things; they are invoking God, they are invoking buddhas, they are invoking jinnahs, they are invoking prophets, messiahs, saviors. They are reciting sutras, holy Koran, holy Bible, holy Gita, holy Dhammapada. They are making offerings in temples, in mosques, in churches, in synagogues, in gurudwaras. They are observing precepts, fasting, not eating in the night, not drinking in the night. Thousands of different kinds of precepts are being followed by different religions.
Just the other day I was looking at the Talmud, the holy scripture of the Jews, and I could not believe…. Many times before I have also opened it and closed it, because just to read one paragraph is enough to see the stupidity. You open anywhere and things are said which seem to have no relevance at all to any spirituality. For example, on the holy day of the sabbath you can go to your farm or your garden or your field, but not to the very end. You can go very close to the end, but not to the very end. And this is part of a holy scripture! And then there are commentaries on it; one rabbi says, “Why is it said?” Then another rabbi says something else. Then another rabbi…. Hundreds of commentaries on such a stupid statement.