Bodhidharma Crossing the River by a Reed

Publish Date:2021-11-22

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Bodhidharma, the founder of Chan Buddhism in China, was the disciple of Prajnadhara, the 27th patriarch of Chan Buddhism in ancient India.

One day, Bodhidharma asked his teacher master Prajnadhara: “Where I should go to preach dharma after my enlightenment?” Master Prajnadhara answered: “To Zhendan (China).” Bodhidharma, according to teacher’ s instructions, arrived in China later. He first met Emperor Liangwu in Jinling, the capital of the Southern Dynasties. He differed from Emperor Liang’ s points of view. And then he prepared to go toward the north crossing the river to Luoyang, the capital of Wei. 

Bodhidharma walked toward the bank, seeing wide river surface and the water deep and the current fast. But there was no boat to take him across the river. At this time he saw an elder sitting not far away with a bundle of reeds nearby. Therefore he walked toward the elder and asked: “Madam, are you going to cross the river by reeds?” The old woman raised her head and nodded without words. Bodhidharma thought an elder could cross the rive by reeds and why I cannot. Therefore he reverently asked: “Madam, please give a reed to help me across the river.” The old woman still did not speak but sent a reed to Bodhidharma. He took the reed in both his hands and said goodbye to the elder. Then he went toward the bank, putting the reed on the river. Bodhidharma lightly stepped on the reed and crossed the river smoothly. 

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