Only One Shoe in an Empty Coffin:
Where Is the Patriarch?
Those who heard his tale retorted, "Patriarch
Bodhidharma? You must have seen a ghost! Patriarch Bodhidharma is
already dead. He was buried in such and such a place. How could you
have met him?" No one believed Song Yun's story. "He is already dead,
how could you have met him? Let's go together and dig up his grave."
When they arrived at the grave, they said, "He had already been dead a
long time when you say you saw him. Is it possible that he did not die after
So they dug up Patriarch Bodhidharma's
grave and opened the
coffin. It was empty. There was nothing inside but one
Patriarch Bodhidharma had taken one shoe with him, only one shoe
remained in the coffin.
Well, where did Patriarch Bodhidharma go? No
one knows. Perhaps he came to America. It's not for sure. But no one
would recognize him, because he can change his appearance at will.
He goes through thousands of transformations and myriad changes
according to his convenience. When he reached China he said he was
one hundred and fifty years old, and when he left he said he was
still one hundred and fifty years old. Where did he go? No one
knows. You may suggest that we look it up in the historical records,
but no historical references can be found. This has been a general
discussion of Patriarch Bodhidharma's life in China.