it felt like friday
Emperor Wu of Liang asked the great master Bodhidharma, “What is the main point of this holy teaching?” “Vast emptiness, nothing holy,” said Bodhidharma.
“Who are you, standing in front of me?” asked the emperor. ” “I do not know,” said Bodhidharma.
The emperor didn’t understand. Bodhidharma crossed the Yangtze River and went to the kingdom of Wei.
Later, the emperor raised the matter with his advisor, Duke Zhi. The advisor asked, “Majesty, do you know who that Indian sage was?” “No I don’t,” said the emperor. “That was Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, carrying the seal of the Buddha’s heart and mind.”
The emperor felt a sudden regret and said, “Send a messenger to call him back.” Duke Zhi told him, “Your Majesty, even if everyone in the kingdom went after him he wouldn’t return.”
I’ve read this koan many, many times before, in John Tarrant’s book “bring me the rhinoceros.” While I was out walking this early afternoon they came into my head. It felt like Friday.