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Huike’s Settled Mind

Chan Master Shenguang Huike walked through falling snow to Shaolin Temple to pay respects to Patriarch Bodhidharma, and to ask if he could be his disciple. Bodhidharma was sitting in silent meditation, so Shenguang stood outside until the snow came up to his knees. When Bodhidharma saw how earnestly Shenguang was seeking the Dharma, he said to him, “You have been standing in the snow. What is it that you seek?” Shenguang said, “My wish is that you open the gate of the sweet dew and liberate all beings.” Bodhidharma answered, “The supreme and wondrous Way of the Buddhas, after kalpas of dedication, practice, and enduring what is difficult to practice and endure, still cannot be attained. You, frivolous and arrogant, longing for the true vehicle, toil in vain.” Shenguang, hearing this reply, immediately cut off his arm. Bodhidharma responded, “All Buddhas seeking the Way disregard their physical form. Now that you have cut off your arm, what else are you seeking?” Shenguang answered, “Please settle the mind for me!” Bodhidharma shouted, “Bring forth the mind. I will settle it for you!” Shenguang said, “I cannot find the mind!” Bodhidharma grinned and said, “I have already settled the mind for you.” Afflictions are fundamentally empty; unwholesome karma has no intrinsic nature. If you are able to preserve a true mind of equanimity, your Buddha nature will be revealed.