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So is Bodhidharma just a fable?

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  • So is Bodhidharma just a fable?

    To anyone out there who's ever heard the legend about Bodhidharma (Da Mo) and how he allegedly founded Shaolin Gongfu, I urge you to take this link and read the full article.

    http://www.hunggar.org/his_sub1e.html

    So now that you've read it, if you have any insights into the REAL origins of Shaolin Gongfu (and please, if you're a monk and actually know these sort of things, do share with us) I'd love to read them.
    Thank you all, and be mindful.
    Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

  • #2
    whats the word..

    whats the word im lookin for...

    oh yea...... ha

    lol mr tang is and idiot..

    i guess the shoalin monks invented chan all by themselves
    "did you ask me to consider dick with you??" blooming tianshi lotus

    Comment


    • #3
      Who is this Mr. Tang fellow? Mr. Tang seems to hold the esteem of the writer of the article. Furthermore, Mr. Tang claims to be a well versed scholar and historian. I would like to know where Mr. Tang claims to have found all this information. Could the author of this article write Mr. Tang anymore. I'm sure he could have done this....MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG MR. TANG. Seriously, though I've never heard that version of the Da Mo story. From what I have read, is that the exercises he created, were developed when he was meditating in the cave. I though Da Mo also wrote some things down, not that proves he existed. Just remember two things, just cause Mr. &*$! says its true doesn't make it so, and secondly "Tang, it's a kick in the glass!"

      Comment


      • #4
        To clarify.

        Woah there, this elicited quite some response, must be a touchy subject. I didn't intend to ruffle everyones feathers via this post, I simply wanted to share a very interesting article I read. I'm not saying this article is true, I just thought people should read it. In my opinion it's pretty well researched and drives home some very good points about the theory that allegorical history is often far far different from factual history and I think it does expose some very valid points about chinese culture and the problems with verifying the legend of Da Mo.

        I think it's extremely important that if we as mature practitioners of gongfu intend to continue to pass on this and other legends to the next generation of disciples (no matter whether they are our children, our students, or both) we must make sure that the message of those legends is something we truly want to teach to them.

        And to be quite honest, the message of any teaching IS NOT WHAT THE TEACHER MEANS TO SAY, but rather the message of the teaching is that which the students gleam from the teacher. This is what makes teaching difficult. This is why we bear great respect and awe for a good teacher. Therefore I believe it is of utmost importance to evaluate the myths, legends, and allegorical tales we pass on. Even if we know these tales are fantasies and never really happened, we should make sure they bear a message worth receiving, or we should put them aside. Never totally discard the tales of old, for we must always consider the possibility that we simply don't understand them. Instead, put them aside and perhaps pick them up another day.

        Perhaps it is time to evaluate whether the legend of Da Mo should be put aside.
        Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would have to disagree with you on a number of different points. I think, the message of any teaching depends greatly on what the teacher means to say. What the students gleen from it, depends greatly on what their mindsets are set on. Teachers come in many forms, and many have different things to say. I view a teacher like a stepping stone. Whatever path you chose to the raging river of life, you are going to need certain stepping stones to get to where you want to go. So you seek out a teacher, who can help you get there. Is the Da Mo story really teaching? Maybe, maybe not. It hasn't taught me much, with the exception that now I know the story of how Shaolin Kung Fu was started. Why then should we set it aside? Because it's supposedly not true? According to a lot of people, the Bible isn't true. But should we set that aside? I would be ridicolous to. Much of how the world has developed is greatly influenced due to that book. Mien Kompf written by Mr. Adolf Hilter about his master plan is probably not the best thing to be teaching our children about. But in a way, it can be. We can show them that was a person, who destroyed millions of people. We should let them learn these things to have a sense of how history has developed who we are now. We could set aside all things, that we don't like or don't agree with, but that would remove a chance to see history from a more complete and rounded view. I would never encourage children to be narrow minded. In fact, some children look up to me for an example. What am I teaching them? That it is okay to push aside and narrow our thoughts to only the agreeable and the provable. Or I could tell them different ideas and theories about a subject and let them come to their own conculsions. It's like East and West medicine. Is either one really better or more correct than the other? They both can be right. Back to the question of REAL origins of kung fu. It is my opinion, that Da Mo is not the sole creator of kung fu. But can we accredit anyone as the real creator of an art. Who invented the punch? Who was it that figured out that by making a fist and striking with it, it caused damage? What about the kick? If anything Da Mo took an idea already out there, and molded it differently to suit his needs. Whether he developed the exercises to help his meditation, or knew them from his warrior caste life or both, he developed them none the less and passed them on to the monks, and they in turn took his exercises and turned them into their own. Or so the story goes. Now it looks to me, like you are a Hung Gar practicioner. Maybe I practice Judo or Karate or Sambo or Wrestling or Shoot Fighting or Muay Thai or Capeoria or Savate. Do we all owe our systems to Da Mo? Of course not, but he is a historical figure worth mentioning. He is like Kano, Ueshiba, Bruce Lee, the african slaves brought to Brazil, and so on. Anybody who seriously studies an art, should know the root of their art or the supposed root of their art. History helps the art develop and change. Who knows maybe we or Mr. Tang will go down in history and people will wonder if we ever existed.

          Comment


          • #6
            missing the point

            you guys seem to be missing the big picture here...

            for one thing its no wonder to me everyone but my dao disagrees with this supposed "mr tang"

            frankly that paper wasnt interesting..or well researched imho anyway

            and saying bodhidarma didnt exist..yea ok who then transmitted the teachings of chan to shaolin? because ummmm we are talking about a temple here and bodhidarmas sole purpose was to teach them chan..NOT the basis of kung fu

            i dont even think kung fu is even nearly as important as chan..even though i know it and everything else are integral parts of chan, im just saying..who really cares?

            the way i see it..damo or someone like him some guy around his time.. came to shaolin transffered chan in a heart to heart or mind to mind manner and that was the begining of chinese chan

            now i think its alot more important to realise that bodhidarma did exist because of chan..i dont care what some idiots say..no chan is not just a later developement of taoism(lol) any serious student of both religions can verify this easily,

            so where did chan come from? thin air? noooo i dont think so, bodhidarma introduced it to the monks, and he taught them some exercises that helped them stay healthy enough to meditate(nough said about damo)

            now kung fu...shaolin isnt the birth place of kung fu...but its basically where most if not all major(and complete) kung fu styles got their origin

            anyone who says different is probably full of it, because one way or another..in a big way shaolin has had a huge impact on almost every major kung fu style

            now talking about kung fu and chan..i think whats interesting about these two is to wonder..did bodhidarma recognize the ability to cultivate for enlightenment through kung fu or even his exercises?

            or was that purely a chinese developement? because i mean yogas have been doing the same thing just not with chop suey kicks and all that..but they are still using exercises and meditation combining them..so i think thats an interesting subject

            what i dont think is interesting is the bs that damo didnt exist..i mean come on...no one ever is really going to know for sure...and for most people(chan buddhists..shaolin-kung fu practs) theres no question in the first place...people absorb the teachings and thats all thats important imo..and what dao said about understanding the message for yourself..well isnt that just the dumbest thing ever..how can you know what your understanding if your interpreting it in relation to what you already know..thats so stupid people go to teachers to learn things they dont already know...understanding is the last step in a teachers work...no one truly understands algebra after 1 lesson..you work at it, just like any language you cant just pick up a math book and "interpret" it for yourself and have complete understanding..its why people read the bible and the tao te ching(the two most printed written works ever) over and over and over..for understanding..to make things clearer......

            so nough ranting

            peace to everybody

            lol
            "did you ask me to consider dick with you??" blooming tianshi lotus

            Comment


            • #7
              Hmm, don't go misconstruing me now. I've never said that I agree with the author of the article, simply that it raises interesting questions. And by the way, Mr. Tang is not the author. Anywho, I think its quite obvious that chan buddhism is a derivative of theravada buddhism which migrated into china via the trade routes. We have no idea whether it was one monk or a hundred who brought buddhism to the little forest (shao lin).
              Frankly I think its best not to assume at all. I wasn't there, I don't know what the hell happened. Neither do any of you. But who knows, maybe one of you does know. In that case, share your wisdom oh enlightened one.
              Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

              Comment


              • #8
                Sorry to burst your bubble (no offense mend!)
                but for people who have studied Chinese history for years
                it is well known that Da Mo being involved in the start of Shaolin and all
                that is just legend.
                It wasn't even mentioned anywhere in Chinese books until centuries after
                and that was in a novel.

                Comment


                • #9
                  it's generally agreed that indian martial techniques and religion at least indirectly started the tradition of the shaolin temple.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by zachsan
                    it's generally agreed that indian martial techniques and religion at least indirectly started the tradition of the shaolin temple.
                    It is not generally agreed, that idea was started by a couple of modern karate based "history" books that presented the idea as as theory.

                    China has plenty of native martial art styles that are the root of Shaolin forms without having to go outside.
                    Shuai Jiao is over 4,000 years old (the art of takedowns or throws) and EVERY Shaolin forms contains
                    sequences of movements that are IDENTICAL to Shaui Jiao.
                    If you know Shuai Jiao, you can do any Shaolin form as a Shuai Jiao sequence of takedowns.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      well you certainly seem to know what you're talking about, so i'll take your word for it.

                      indian influence on the martial arts would at least serve as an explanation for why there was a bodhidharma fable in the first place. are there any clues as to why that might have come about? obscure political reasons maybe?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, no one is saying he didn't exist at all,
                        he might very well have sparked off the Ch'an sect of Bhuddism,
                        just that he wasn't associated with Shaolin
                        until centuries later.

                        The stuff attributed to him can be found elsewwhere in China.
                        The Shaolin "chapter" of the Ch'an Sect had much cross influence with
                        Taoism. Shaolin and the Ch'an sect is really a hybrid of Bhuddism and Taoism.

                        1 - Muscle Tendon Changing / Brain- Marrow Cleansing exercises are identical to Taoist
                        excercizes that were documented were very ancient.
                        2. 18 Lohan - as a chi gung this is unique to Shaolin, as self defense moves, they
                        are a mixture of Shai Jiao and Boxing, both were things that military people had to rank high in
                        in order to get promoted or even keep their positions.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sal Canzonieri
                          Well, no one is saying he didn't exist at all,
                          he might very well have sparked off the Ch'an sect of Bhuddism,
                          just that he wasn't associated with Shaolin
                          until centuries later.
                          so are you saying that certain martial techniques originated in shaolin, but not ch'an buddhism? if so, it would seem that the linking of ch'an buddhism and the legend of bodhidharma with shaolin martial arts is mostly an invention to lend credibility to shaolin gongfu.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think it's probable that Da Mo did indeed teach the monks some Qigong. In fact, since he was a sage, he has to have been a Neigong master anyway, so why wouldn't he teach them anything?

                            Shaolin methods in general are more fire based compared to similar Taoist methods. There is a lot of stuff like holding the breath, locking certain body parts, packing etc which is more common in Indian Yogic practices than in Taoist systems. Lao Tsu can't be the only Taoist who decided to travel west of the border. Da Mo may have been exposed to Taoist practices earlier in his life and combined them with Indian methods to develop his own techniques.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by emre
                              I think it's probable that Da Mo did indeed teach the monks some Qigong. In fact, since he was a sage, he has to have been a Neigong master anyway, so why wouldn't he teach them anything?

                              Shaolin methods in general are more fire based compared to similar Taoist methods. There is a lot of stuff like holding the breath, locking certain body parts, packing etc which is more common in Indian Yogic practices than in Taoist systems. Lao Tsu can't be the only Taoist who decided to travel west of the border. Da Mo may have been exposed to Taoist practices earlier in his life and combined them with Indian methods to develop his own techniques.
                              Well, sorry, but have you actually done any research on Da Mo?
                              There are very very few mentions of him anywhere in real historical items.
                              The most that was found was that he was a green/blue eyed prince from Persia (Iraq) and that he studied
                              Buddism and he disiked the way that the religion had changed over time to become all ritual and no substance.

                              He wasn't mentioned as connected to Shaolin until the Ming Dynasty.
                              None of the ancient Shaolin manuals that were still around by then had any mention of him anywhere.
                              None of the these even mentioned anything about brain-marrow cleansing and so on in their chi-gungs.

                              No where is it said he did anything other than he came to Shaolin and sat in Za-zen position for years.

                              When you say "he was a sage so that makes him a neigung master anyway" that sounds like you just picked that up from hearing other people say it. Where is there a rule that every sage is a neigung master?

                              Yes, Shaolin seems to be more fire, but there are a lot of fire chi gungs in Taoism too.
                              Certainly there were people coming from India / etc to China and many temples let people come and lecture and give seminars on their sect's ideas. Many people were going back and forth, so who knows who brought what over.

                              Sun Lu Tang's books mention that Xing Yi comes from Shaolin and Shaolin comes from Muscle Tendoning Changing and Brain-Marrow Cleansing exercises and these come from Da Mo.
                              But he was making an observation that the final conclusion was based on what was common "thought" of the times.
                              Yes, inside the Lohan forms built in there is these Chi-gungs, that is apparent when you do them, but they don't have any proof that it was Da Mo that devised them.

                              Comment

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