Principle-centered Living

"In the one text generally agreed to summarize Bodhidharma's teaching, two 'entrances' to the Buddhist path are discussed: principle and practice... The Chinese term used by Bodhidharma is only poorly translated by 'principle' or 'reason.' Early uses of the term were in the context of dividing land into areas for cultivation according to natural topography. Including the graph for 'jade' in its written form, the term was also used to refer to the grain patterns in natural stone and wood. Such features express the distinctive character of particular stones or pieces of wood and must be carefully taken into account when being shaped or crafted. That is, the patterning in a stone or a piece of wood is at once a record of its conditioned arising and a portrait of natural dispositions according to which it can be transformed. Like such generative patterns of relating, the 'principle' of Bodhidharma's teaching consists of opening oneself to the patterns of relationship or interdependence obtaining among all things and seeing in these patterns their one true nature. This is not a process of identifying some identical substance or essence in each thing but of recognizing that they participate in a shared meaning, each uniquely contributing to a profoundly common movement. Entering the path by way of principle or patterning is actively realizing partnership with all things."

from Chan Buddhism by Peter Hershock