MauiThe First Patriarch of Zen, Bodhidharma, was an Indian guy on a mission to spread Mahayana Buddhism to China.  Here’s what he preached:

“I don’t talk about precepts, devotion, or ascetic practices… These are fanatical, provisional teachings.  Once you recognize your moving, miraculously aware nature, yours is the mind of all buddhas.” (1).

What does this mean?  What’s he saying?  Bodhidharma is saying: “Hey, you, you aren’t just this conceptual you that you think you are, you aren’t just this self-concept.  No!  You are Conscious Matter.  You are Living, Breathing, Moving, Dynamic Nature itself.”

At least, that’s what I get from this.

Here’s what Emperor Wu (of Liang dynasty, 6th century) got from Bodhidharma.  Emperor Wu bragged to Bodhidharma about what a great sponsor of Chinese Buddhism he is and then asked: So, have I acquired any merit?

Bodhidharma’s reply was: Nope!  No merit!

This, of course, confused the Emperor.  But hopefully the lesson is not lost on you: Buddha-mind cannot be bought.  Why?  Because you already have it: “Buddha mind, the state of consciousness discovered through meditation, is the same for all people, peasants and kings alike.” (2)


Same am-ness, different skulls.

Let me clarify before we part ways for now: when you think-feel “I am…” and I think-feel “I am…,” the am-ness that we experience, the presence of our existence that we tune into, this very ground of our being that we stand on… is the same.  We are of the same root consciousness.

Put differently:

Same ground, different trees.

Grok it?




Resources: Lotus Effect

(1) Pine, 1989, 42-43

(2) C. A. Simpkins & A. Simpkins, Simply Zen, 1999, 11

Creative Commons License photo credit: Bananawacky



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    Last reviewed: 12 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2012). Same Am-ness, Different Skulls. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from


Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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