The Beardless Barbarian

Allan Marett explores Case 4 of the Wumenguan (The Gateless Barrier), Huo-an’s Beardless Barbarian. The Barbarian in this case is, of course, Bodhidharma, the fifth century monk who brought Zen Buddhism from India to China. He is usually depicted with a flourishing beard, and his beard is also referred to in the books and poems. So what does it mean to say that he has no beard? Perhaps this points us in the direction of emptiness, or no-thing, but the koan does not simply say that he has no beard, it also asks why this is the case. Why is it that the barbarian has no beard?


2017 Rohatsu sesshin – Day 3