Damo or Daruma

Bodhidarma (commonly called Damo in Chinese or Daruma in Japanese) was famous for meditating against a stone wall behind the Shaolin Monastery for nine years before he became the first patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism.

Bodhidarma was a firm believer in not following the spoken or written words.  One of the central point of Chan Buddhism is intuitive comprehensive.  To the Buddhists, Chan is not just a religious thing, they want to apply the Chan teachings to everything they do.  They learn to accept the suffering and unhappiness without complaints.

Chan’s teachings encourage the applications to everyday life, the spiritual and the practical become one.  According to Chan’s Teachings, all human beings are Buddhas or potential Buddhas.

Around 1200 A.D., Chan Buddhism spread from China to Japan where it is called Zen Buddhism.  The word “Zen” means meditation.  In meditation, one needs to be totally aware of the present in all things, including the surroundings, mind, body and so forth.

Zen Buddhism emphasizes Nature.  Total awareness of the present allows the mind to center and become true to its nature.  I think almost all of us can relate to the feeling of being completely alone in Nature, then you do start to see things differently.

Bodhidarma passed to Nirvana in 536 A.D., was buried in Shon Er Shan (Bear Ear Mountain) in He-Nan Province, China and a stupa was built for him in Pao-Lin Temple.

Later,  the Tang Dynasty Emperor, Tai Zhong, bestowed on Bodhidarma the name  of Yuen Che Grand Chan Master, and renamed his stupa as Kong Guang (Empty Visualization).

The 3 main teachings of Bodhidarma’s Chan Buddhism are as follows:

1.  You shall accept the suffering and unhappiness without complaints because it is your own karma.

2.  Understanding that all situations are the consequences of karma causes, you shall maintain equanimity in all circumstances, both negative and positive.

3.  Understanding that it is your own karma, you shall practice the essence of your Buddha Nature – Compassion and spiritual wisdom – to help obtain equanimity.


The following are my Chinese ink painting of “Damo.”  



The following is my calligraphy of Damo in traditional form of Chinese characters and in regular script (style)  and to be read from left to right.