Martial Artist. ~ Bodhiron Johnson {Poem}

Via Bodhiron Johnsonon Dec 7, 2013



To Be A Poet

it doesn’t hurt to also

be a martial artist—

like those sturdy monks

defending the Shaolin Temple.


Bodhidharma himself

brought the exercises from India

along with his theory of no-merit,

which he presented to the disgruntled Emperor,

who had built a hundred temples

hoping to gain Nirvana.



A slight miscalculation.


Emperor Wu asked

about the first principle of holiness.

“Vast emptiness,” replied Bodhidharma,

“And nothing holy!”




“Who then stands before me?”

asked Wu impatiently.

“I know not, Sire,” responded B.D.

Old story.

Old no-name.


He might have been less terse.

He might have said, “All activity lies

outside being, Sire.”

He might have been kinder.

“Name, too, is added, Sire.”

Emperor’s would take more crap

back then.


Bodhidharma shrugged and left for a cave

behind Shaolin.

The cave is still there, my friend.

He sat there many years

facing a wall, pi-kuan,

while the cave and walls

went up in his mind.


So it says

in the Record of the Transmission

of the Lamp,

in the section known as Pieh Chi,

special document of prior existence.



after nine years of Zazen,

his legs were a little stiff.

Some accounts say they

rotted off, but

I believe

he began doing stretching

and all the other monks around there

followed the amazing master.

Then when some robbers attacked

for the conscientious monks’

stores of grain,

the disciples

fought them off,

noticing a certain zing,

a certain effectiveness

in their technique,


Kung Fu was born.

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Photo Credit: Bodhiron

Editor: Dana Gornall

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About Bodhiron Johnson

Bodhiron is a counselor, writer, yoga teacher and devotional musician living in Portland, Oregon, who publishes both poetry and academic articles on the topic of consciousness, mindfulness and spiritual awakening. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and religious studies from UC Santa Cruz, and a masters in writing from University of Oregon. In spite of all this, he believes wholeness and the ultimate satisfaction of one’s being lies in going beyond identification with the personal self.


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