One night, it began to snow. The snow fell so heavily that by morning, it was up to Huike’s knees. Seeing this, Bodhidharma finally spoke to his visitor, asking, “What is it you seek?”
“Your teaching,” Huike told him.
“The teaching of the Buddha is subtle and difficult. Understanding can only be acquired through strenuous effort, doing what is hard to do and enduring what is hard to endure, continuing the practice for even countless eons of time. How can a man of scant virtue and great vanity, such as yourself, achieve it? Your puny efforts will only end in failure.”
Huike drew his sword and cut off his left arm, which he presented to Bodhidharma as evidence of the sincerity of his intention.
“What you seek,” Bodhidharma told him, “can’t be sought through another.”
“My mind isn’t at peace,” Huike lamented. “Please, master, pacify it.”
“Very well. Bring your mind here, and I’ll pacify it.”
“I’ve sought it for these many years, even practicing sitting mediation as you do, but still I’m not able to get hold of it.”
“There! Now it’s pacified!”
[Huike – Zen Masters of China: 48-51]