DARUMA [Bodhidharma]
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The historical Bodhidharma was an Indian sage who lived sometime in the fifth or sixth century AD. He is the undisputed founder of Zen Buddhism, and credited with Zen's introduction to China during his travels to the Middle Kingdom. There are countless legends (some conflicting) about this sage. The best-known legend says he attained enlightenment (satori) after meditating in a cave for nine years without blinking or moving his eyes. Other tales contend he was facing the wall of a room at the Shorinji Temple in China. During those years of meditation, his arms and legs atrophied, shriveled up, and fell off. Legend also credits Bodhidharma with cutting off his eyelids. Apparently he dozed off during meditation, and in anger, he cut off his eyelids, which fell to the ground and sprouted into China's first green tea plants

Zen is one manifestation of Buddhism: the primary aim of Zen is personal enlightenment through meditation rather than study of sutras and practice of rituals. The foremost symbol of Zen is its first patriarch, Daruma (Sanskrit: Bodhidharma), the legendary meditation master who traveled from India to China in the sixth century. His teachings were radically different from the elaborate, ritualistic schools of Buddhism that were then prevalent.

Daruma’s teaching is often summarized as "Enlightenment is not found in books or in the performance of empty rites." In Zenga (Japanese: Zen-picture), the artist is not painting Daruma as a historical figure for veneration but as a symbol of penetrating insight, ceaseless diligence, and the rejection of all externals. These were qualities to be strived for by a monk who hoped to succeed in achieving enlightenment. To bring the image of Daruma alive with brush and ink, the artist must, through meditation, become Daruma. A Daruma painting is therefore a spiritual self-portrait based on the individual experience of each Zen master.
This painting of Daruma (Bodhidharma), the Indian monk who traveled from India to China in the sixth century and founded Zen Buddhism, has a traditional attribution to Unkoku Toeki on the basis of interpolated seals. The calligraphy is of greater interest than the portrait, with which it shares a highly simplified style.

The fluid brushwork seen here, with its contrast of wet and dry, light and dark ink, captures the typically irreverent Zen spirit of the inscription, which calls the subject (Daruma) "the old clot."

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