Emperor Wu of Liang asked the great master Bodhidharma, 

“I have funded many monestaries. What merit have I earned?”

No merit,” said Bodhidharma.

“What is the main point of this holy teacing?”

Vast emptiness, nothing holy,” said Bodhidharma.

“Who are you, standing in front of me?” asked the emperor.

I do not know,” said Bodhidharma.

With this Zen

Koan, we can take each of Bodhidharma’s responses as its own indvidual reflection.

What would your day be like if everything you did, you did without expectation of merit? There are no awards, no badges of honor, no deeming good or bad. Everything you did was done for its own sake. How would that change how you interact with your day and the people in it?

Vast emptiness; if we were to let all of our beliefs, our expectations and our judgements fall away, what would be left? Enough emptiness and space so that we could see each present moment exactly as it is? Without carrying the past or imagining the future, could emptiness actually be clarity? Could a moment be just a moment without like, dislike or story inserted to fill that empty space?

I do not know; before every thought, if we were to remember to pause and ask, “what do I really know in this moment?” how would our ability to listen change? How about our expectations and beliefs? What do I really know to be true in this moment?

If this koan calls to

you, pick one of these phrases and let it live with you for a day or a week. See how colors your interactions with your life. Please share your thoughts with me in class or on social media!