Bodhidharma was the first Ch'an/Zen patriarch to ever step foot in China. He had given a wonderful discourse on anatta.

 On No-Mind
In one fascicle
By Bodhidharma
(T85n2831 translated by Urs App, in The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring 1995), pp. 82-107)
The ultimate principle is without words; one needs to borrow words to make this principle apparent. The great Dao is without equivalent; [yet] to touch the uncultivated it reveals shapes. Let us now for expedience sake posit two persons holding a discussion on the subject of no-mind.
The student asks the Reverend, "[Do you] have a mind or not?"
"[I] have no mind."
"Since you say that you have no mind: who then has the ability to see, hear, feel, and know? Who knows that there is no mind?"
"Just no-mind is seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing. And it is no-mind that has the ability to be aware of the absence of mind."
"If one accepts that there is no mind, it must follow that there is no seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing. Say: how can there be any seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing [without mind]?"
"Though I have no mind, I can ver well [1269b] see and hear and feel and know."
"Just the fact that you see, hear, feel, and know proves that you have mind! How can you deny this?"
"This very seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing is no-mind! Where could there be another no-mind apart from seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing? Now I am afraid that you do not understand; so let me explain this to you step by step in order to let you realize the truth. Take seeing: [I] see throughout the day - but since it is seeing without seeing, it is without mind. Or take hearing: [I] hear all day long - but as it is hearing without hearing, it is without mind. Or feeling: [I] feel all day long - but as it is feeling without feeling, it is without mind. Or knowing: [I] know all day long - but as it is knowing without knowing, it too is without mind. Engaged in actions day in and day out, [I] do without doing - which is nothing other than no-mind. Therefore it is said: Seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing are all no-mind."
"But how could one [even] gain the ability to know that it is no-mind [that sees, hears, feels, and knows]?"
"Just try to find out in every detail: What appearance does mind have? And if it can be apprehended: is [what is apprehended] mind or not? Is [mind] inside or outside, or somewhere in between? As long as one looks for mind in these three locations, one's search will end in failure. Indeed, searching it anywhere will end in failure. That's exactly why it is known as no-mind."
"Reverend, since you have said that all is no-mind, neither evil nor meritorious deeds ought to exist. So why are people transmigrating in the six spheres of existence, ceaselessly embroiled in life-and-death?"
"In their confusion, people for no reason conceive an [an entity called] 'mind' within no-mind. Deludedly clinging to [mind's] existence, they perform action upon action, which in turn makes them transmigrate in the six realms and live-and-die without respite. It is as if someone would in the dark mistake a contraption for a ghost or [a rope] for a snake and be gripped by terror. That's just what people's deluded clinging [to a mind] is like. In the midst of no-mind they deludedly cling to a 'mind' and perform action upon action - yet this results in nothing but transmigration through the six realms. If such people come across a great teacher who instructs them in seated meditation, they will awaken to no-mind, and all karmic hindrances will be thoroughly wiped out and [the chain of] life-and-death cut through. Just as all darkness disappears with a single ray of sunlight that penetrates it, awakening to no-mind wipes out all evil karma."
"I am dull, and my mind is still not quite made up. But observing the one who is everywhere making use of the six sense organs, responding to questions, speaking, and performing all kinds of action - and [the existence of] delusion and wisdom, or life-and-death and nirvana, [I wonder if all of this] really is nothing but no-mind?"
"Indeed it is! Just because people deludedly cling to having mind, they have all their illusions and life-and-death as well as supreme wisdom (bodhi) and total release (nirvana). If they awaken to no-mind, then there are neither illusions nor life-and-death and nirvana. Thus the Tathagata said to those who [think that they] have mind that there is life-and-death. Bodhi is so named as a counterpiece to illusion, and nirvana as a counterpiece to [1269c] life-and-death; all of these [concepts are but contermeasures. If no-mind obtains, both illusion and bodhi are nowhere to be found; and the same is true for life-and-death and nirvana."
"[You state that] bodhi and nirvana are nowhere to be found - but one can say that all the buddhas of the past have attained bodhi, can one not?"
"Only in terms of the phraseology of conventional truth, but not from the point of view of genuine truth. Hence the Vimalakirti sutra's statement: 'Bodhi can neither be attained by a body nor by a mind.' Again, the Diamond sutra says: 'There is not the slightest object to be attained; the buddhas and the Tathagata simply attained through the unattainable.' Which goes to show that with mind everything arises, while with no-mind there is nothing at all."
"You have already said, Reverend, that everything everywhere is no-mind; so trees and rocks are also no-mind. But [no-mind] is not the same as trees and rocks, is it?"
"Our mindless mind is not identical with trees or rocks. Why? It may be compare to a celestial drum which, though just lying there without mind, by itself emits various wondrous teachings, thus guiding the people. Again, it is like the wish-fulfilling gem that, though also without mind, is by nature able to produce a variety of different apparitions. Our no-mind is just like that: though without mind, it is very well able to thoroughly perceive the true form of everything. Equipped with true wisdom (prajna), its threefold body enjoys utter freedom, and its activity is without constraint. Therefore the Ratnakuta sutra says: 'Without any mental intention, it is manifestly active' How would thus [no-mind] be identical to trees and rocks? Indeed, no-mind is nothing other than true mind. And true mind is nothing other than no-mind."
"At present, I am involved in [dualistic] mind; so how should I practice?"
"Just be totally aware in all affairs! No-mind is nothing other than practice; there is no other practice. Thus you'll realize that no-mind is everything, and that extinction (nirvana) is nothing other than no-mind."
At this, the disciple all at once greatly awakened and realized for the first time that there is no thing apart from mind, and no mind apart from things. All of his actions became utterly free. Having broken through the net of all doubt, he was freed of all obstruction.
As he rose and bowed with folded hands, he engraved no-mind in producing the following verse:
Mind is marvelously tranquil;
It has no color or form.
Looking at it, one does not see it;
Listening to it, it has no sound.
Seeming obscure, it is not so;
Appearing bright, it is not bright.
Try to discard it, and it does not vanish;
Attempt to grasp it, and it does not arise.
At large, it covers the entire universe;
Yet in the minute it does not obstruct a hair.
Embroiled in passions, it is not soiled;
In the serenity of nirvana it is not pure.
As suchness it is by nature without discrimination;
Yet able to distinguish between sentient and not sentient.
When it gathers in, nothing is left out;
When dispersing, it is common to all people.
[1270c] Wondrous beyond the grasp of knowledge;
Genuine awakening that cuts off the path of practice.
Though extinguished, one does not witness its demise;
Though present, its becoming is unseen.
The great Dao is tranquil and marked by no form,
Its myriad appearances silent and marked by no name.
Hence its activities are totally free -
All of this is the essence of no-mind.
The Reverend then told him: "Among all forms of wisdom, I regard the wisdom of no-mind as the highest. Thus the Vimalakirti sutra says: "Neither having a conscious mind nor mental impressions and processes, he sees through the ignorant and submits those of different creed." Again, the Sutra of the Great Dharma Drum states, "If you know that there is no mind that can be attained, no objects whatsoever are grasped; neither are sincs and meritorious activities, nor life-and-death and nirvana. Indeed, nothing at all can be grasped - not-grasping included!"
Then [the disciple again] produces a verse:
In the past, when I was deluded, I held that there is a mind;
But now that I am awakened, there's no mind, that's all!
Though there is no mind, it perceives and is active;
Its perception and activity ever calm, it is pure suchness.
And he added:
No mind, no perception, and no activity at all -
No perception, no activity: that's wuwei.
This is the genuine Dharma-realm of the Tathagata,
Different from that of bodhisattvas and pratyeka buddhas.
What is called no-mind is nothing other than a mind free from deluded thought.
[The questioner] continued asking: "What is 'taishang,' the supreme?
"Tai signifies 'great,' and shang 'lofty.' It is called 'supreme' because it is the highest wondrous principle. Tai also signifies the primordial stage. Though there are longlived ones of Yankang in the heavens of the three realms, their luck runs out, which is why they end up again transmigrating in the six spheres of existence. That 'ultimate' (tai) is not yet sufficient. And the bodhisattvas of the ten stages, though having escaped life-and-death, have not yet plumbed the depths of this wondrous principle. Their ultimate is also not yet [the one I am talking about]. Cultivation of mind in the ten stages gets rid of being in order to enter nonbeing; this is again not yet the ultimate since it does not get rid of both being and nonbeing and sticks to a middle path. But even if one has thoroughly discarded that middle path and the three locations [of inside, outside, and in between], and any place is that of wondrous awakening - and even if a bodhisattva gets rid of these three locations - one remains unable to free oneself of the wondrous. This again is not yet the ultimate.
Now if one discards the wondrous, then even the very essence of the Buddha Way has no place to abide; since no though is left, no discriminative thinking takes place. Both the deluded mind and wisdom have forever expired, and perceptions and reflections are at an end - calm and without ado. This is called tai; it means the ultimate of the principle. And shang means 'without peer.' Hence it is called taishang, the ultimate. This is simply another designation for Buddha, the Tathagata."
[End of] Treatise on No-Mind in one fascicle.

Wúxīn lùn
No. 2831
夫至理無言。要假言而顯理。大道無相為接麁而見形。今且假立二人共談無心之論矣 弟子問和尚曰。有心無心 答曰。無心 問曰。既云無心。誰能見聞覺知。誰知無心 答曰。還是無心既見聞覺知。還是無心能知無心 問曰。既若無心。即合無有見聞覺知。云何得有見聞覺知 答曰。我雖無心能見能聞能覺能知 問曰。既能見聞覺知。即是有心。那得稱無 答曰。只是見聞覺知。即是無心。何處更離見聞覺知別有無心。我今恐汝不解。一一為汝解說。令汝得悟真理。假如見終日見由為無見。見亦無心。聞終日聞由為無聞。聞亦無心。覺終日覺由為無覺。覺亦無心。知終日知由為無知。知亦無心終日造作。作亦無作。作亦無心。故云見聞覺知總是無心 問曰。若為能得知是無心 答曰。汝但子細推求看。心作何相貌。其心復可得。是心不是心。為復在內為復在外為復在中間。如是三處推求覓心了不可得。乃至於一切處求覓亦不可得。當知即是無心 問曰。和尚既云一切處總是無心。即合無有罪福。何故眾生輪迴六聚生死不斷。
答曰。眾生迷妄。於無心中而妄生心。造種種業。妄執為有。足可致使輪迴六趣生死不斷。譬有人於暗中見杌為鬼見繩為蛇便生恐怖。眾生妄執亦復如是。於無心中妄執有心造種種業。而實無不輪迴六趣。如是眾生若遇大善知識教令坐禪覺悟無心。一切業障盡皆銷滅生死即斷。譬如暗中日光一照而暗皆盡。若悟無心。一切罪滅亦復如是 問曰。弟子愚昧心猶未了審。一切處六根所用者應 答曰。語種種施為煩惱菩提生死涅槃定無心否 答曰。定是無心。只為眾生妄執有心即有一切煩惱生死菩提涅槃。若覺無心即無一切煩惱生死涅槃。是故如來為有心者說有生死。菩提對煩惱得名。涅槃者對生死得名。此皆對治之法。若無心可得。即煩惱菩提亦不可得。乃至生死涅槃亦不可得 問曰。菩提涅槃既不可得。過去諸佛皆得菩提。此謂可乎 答曰。但以世諦文字之言得。於真諦實無可得。故維摩經云。菩提者不可以身得不可以心得。又金剛經云。無有少法可得。諸佛如來但以不可得而得。當知有心即一切有無心一切無 問曰。和尚既云於一切處盡皆無心。木石亦無心。豈不同於木石乎 答曰。而我無心心不同木石。何以故。譬如天鼓。雖復無心自然出種種妙法教化眾生。又如如意珠。雖復無心自然能作種種變現。而我無心亦復如是。雖復無心善能覺了諸法實相具真般若三身自在應用無妨。故寶積經云。以無心意而現行。豈同木石乎。夫無心者即真心也。真心者即無心也 問曰。今於心中作若為修行 答曰。但於一切事上覺了。無心即是修行。更不別有修行。故知無心即一切。寂滅即無心也 弟子於是忽然大悟。始知心外無物物外無心。舉止動用皆得自在。斷諸疑網更無罣礙。即起作禮。而銘無心乃為頌曰。
 心神向寂  無色無形  覩之不見
  聽之無聲  似暗非暗  如明不明
  捨之不滅  取之無生
 大即廓周法界  小即毛竭不停
  煩惱混之不濁  涅槃澄之不清
  真如本無分別  能辯有情無情
  收之一切不立  散之普遍含靈
  妙神非知所測 正覓絕於修行
  滅則不見其懷  生則不見其成
  大道寂號無相  萬像窈號無名
  如斯運用自在  總是無心之精
 昔日迷時為有心  爾時悟罷了無心
  雖復無心能照用  照用常寂即如如
 無心無照亦無用  無照無用即無為
  此是如來真法界  不同菩薩為辟支
又問。何名為太上 答曰。太者大也。上者高也。窮高之妙理故云太上也。又太者通泰之位也。三界之天雖有延康之壽福盡。是故終輪迴六趣。未足為太。十住菩薩雖出離生死。而妙理未極。亦未為太。十住修心妄有入無。又無其無有雙遣不妄中道。亦未為太。又忘中道三處都盡。位皆妙覺。菩薩雖遣三處。不能無其所妙。亦未為太。又忘其妙則佛道至極。則無所存。無存思則無思慮。兼妄心智永息。覺照俱盡。寂然無為。此名為太也。太是理極之義。上是無等色。故云太上。即之佛如來之別名也。

9 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    The proper path should b , imvho, to strip away everything, totally release and let go all, only den can true essence b discovered...

  2. Soh Says:

    You are still talking about I AMness insight, Stage 1 --

    Bodhidharma is talking about Stage 5 here.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Either yr right, and youve attained hard-to -come-by stage,which means(almost) everbody simply r at lower stages, or (sorry 2 say) all these stages these years u set to defend r simply conceptual ....

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Well, if you r truly right , den i can say u must had one hell of mountaineous loads of merit frm previous lives ...or else progress couldnt be like dis ...

    Again : Do you comprehend how many lifetimes upon lifetimes( Or how hard) it took for realization to occur? DO YOU ?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    By caging the path into certain fixed stages, more disservice than benefits had been done ,imvho....

    again, if im wrong on yr stages and attainment, i still will say yr too rigid as a teacher and not fluid enough ....

  6. Soh Says:

    Bahiya attained arhantship right on the spot the first time he met Buddha, upon hearing a single verse from Buddha.

    When conditions are ripe, conditions are ripe.

    I took much longer than Bahiya -- I knew Thusness in 2004 and only realised anatta 6 years later. I already had conceptual understanding of anatta and emptiness in 2006. I can assure you my realizations are non-conceptual and direct. I also know of many who got it even faster than me.

    In Mahasatipatthana sutta, the Buddha assured that by practicing according to his four foundations of mindfulness, one will attain either anagami or arahantship as quickly as 7 days and no more than 7 years. The problem is who is truly following his instructions and practicing seriously?

    Don't believe those teachers that say you have to practice 20, 30 years, or take many lifetimes. They either don't know what they're talking about, have no skill to guide students, or are being very dogmatic, and frankly is going against what Buddha said in Mahasatipatthana Sutta.

    Although Stephen Norquist is only at Stage 4, I agree with him on this:

    ...Basically any practice that can shock you into seeing what is really going on is acceptable. But understand, you want to know what’s really going on, to feel it, to contact reality. It shouldn’t take long, a few years at most, less for some. If a practice or a teacher tells you it will take 10 or 20 years, find a new practice or teacher. Remember you are your own salvation, ultimately it is you who will wake you up. Any method that can shock you into seeing what is really going on is acceptable but the perspective shift must occur...

    ...99.999% of the spiritual books and teachers out there are completely wrong. They are wrong for one simple reason, they are not enlightened, they don’t know what’s going on...

  7. Soh Says:

    "By caging the path into certain fixed stages, more disservice than benefits had been done ,imvho...."

    Well, I completely disagree with this. The world lacks a very clear spiritual map. Without a map, we are just talking past each other, you are talking about A when I am talking about B. Just confusion all around.

    This blog, me and Thusness, have helped 25+ people reach realization of anatta/emptiness. The results speak for itself -- there is clarity in what we say.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    "Truth is a pathless land"

  9. Soh Says:

    That statement is usually interpreted in terms of nihilism to mean 'no need for path, or practice'. Such a person falls into nihilism and there is no progress in practice and realization for such a person.

    I prefer the clarity of Daniel M. Ingram: