Straight from the Bodhidarma’s Mouth

Zen(or Ch’an if you prefer), in China, was started by Bodhidarma, a cool dude from India. Bodhidarma’s writings are interesting, mystic, and straight forward. And yet, after reading them I don’t feel like I understand Zen any better than I did before reading them. But, I guess that is the point.
I think that Zen deals nicely with a problem religion seems to have with written word. The problem that religion has with written words is that no matter what you write, you cannot record your religious experiences in a way understandable by people who have not yet experienced similar things.
Writing also poses the problem that, by writing something down, you remove a lot of metadata, and contextual information that would be expressed by spoken word. Without this, writing often loses the emotional connection. For example, a good public speaker’s speech, no doubt will be an interesting read, but the feelings are transmitted more effectively by their voice.
The other problem with writing, like any other artifice, is that there is a tendency to build them up. Look at any major religion, and you are bound to see volumes upon volumes of text. If understanding a religion involves reading as many texts as possible, it quickly becomes impossible to be an expert at it.
Reading about experience can also inoculate one towards belief in whatever it is because things that seem silly on paper can often be taken quite seriously in person.
Zen avoids a lot of this crap by attempting to change focus. The writing, the study, they are not important. The Buddha-like nature is already within you. That’s what Bodhidarma is saying.
Don’t look to books, sutras, study etc to find enlightenment, it is always within you.

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