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Legend has it that more than a thousand years ago, an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma arrived in China. His approach to teaching was unlike that of any of the Buddhist practitioners who had come to China before him. Bodhidharma confounded and infuriated the emperor with cryptic dialogues before traveling the country and eventually settling into a cave behind Mount Song, where he meditated for nine years, waiting to transmit his teachings to the right person. He would later be credited as the founder of Chan Buddhism.

Bodhidharma had such an impact on Chinese Buddhism because of the directness of his teaching. We are intrinsically free from vexations and afflictions, he taught, and our true nature is already perfect and undefiled.

Two Entries and Four Practices is one of the few texts that Bodhidharma composed. This short scripture contains the marrow, or essence, of all his teachings. Chan teacher Guo Gu offers a translation of this significant text, as well as an elaboration on the teachings on life and practice that it presents, which reflect the essence of Chan itself.

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