Arts of Asia in Reach
Bodhidharma/Daruma Doll Lesson Plan
4. Assessment & Closure


Students' knowledge/understanding will be tested by asking review questions, such as:

Who was Bodhidharma?
The historical Bodhidharma was an Indian sage who lived sometime in the fifth and sixth century AD., credited with bringing Zen Buddhism to China (and later spread to Japan).

What was another name for Bodhidharma?

According to the legend, why does Bodhidharma have no eyelids or lashes?
In order to stay alert/awake while he was meditating, Bodhidharma allegedly cuts off his eyelids and lashes.

What happened to Daruma's eyelashes after he cut them off?
According to legend, after Daruma cut off his eyelashes they fell to the ground and took root in the soil. They later grew to become the green tea plant, used to increase alertness!

Why does the Daruma doll have no eyes (pupils) when you first get (or make) one?
The Daruma doll has no pupils when he is first purchased or produced with the idea thatthe owner can make his wish or set his goal, paint in the first eye, and make an "agreement" with Daruma that he will paint in the second eye when he has either reached his goal or his wish has come true at the end of the year.

When do you paint in the second eye?
The second eye is painted in when the goal has been reached or the wish has come true.

According to the legend, why does Daruma have no legs or arms?
Daruma has no legs or arms according to legend because while he was deep in meditation for such a long time both his legs and arms atrophied and withered away.

What does the beard/mustache on the Daruma doll represent?
On some Daruma dolls the beard or mustache is painted to represent the tortoise, a symbol of long life. In Japan, the tortoise is said to live for 10,000 years.

What do the eyebrows on the Daruma doll symbolize?
On some Daruma dolls the eyebrows are painted to represent the crane, another symbol of long life. In Japan, the crane is said to live for 1,000 years.


Students will participate in the Daruma game!
  • Teachers and students sit in a circle with their arms and legs folded.
  • Participants sway from side to side in rhythm and chant in unison:

    Daruma-san, Daruma-san
    Nira Miko Shimasho
    Waratara Dame Yo
    Ichi Ni San Shi Go
    (Mr. Daruma, Mr. Daruma)
    (Let us stare at each other)
    (You had better not laugh)
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

  • Everyone must be serious as they stare at each other!
  • The first person to laugh is out!

Students will learn the Zazen meditation posture.
  1. The posture
    • Traditionally, one sits in the center of the zafu (round cushion), crossing legs into the lotus or the half-lotus position. Students will sit on the floor (preferably carpet) and fold their legs in front of them.
    • Keep spine aligned straight. Have students imagine that they are marionettes being pulled up straight by a string attached to their heads.
    • Keep shoulders parallel to ground.
    • Eyes should be gently closed—open enough to let some light in but closed enough so that students cannot focus.
    • Mouths should be closed, but teeth should not be clenched. (Clenching jaw and teeth creates stress on the body and mind) Tongues should be positioned so that the tip touches the roof of the mouth (the palate). This allows the mind to focus on meditating.
    • Have students put left hands on top of the right hands, with the palms turned towards the sky, thumbs touching each other and forming a straight line.
    • Hands rest on top of the feet, with the edges of the smallest fingers gently against the center of the abdomen.
    • Shoulders are relaxed. The tip of the tongue touches the palate.

  2. Breathing
    • Zen breathing was long ago called "Anapanasati" in Sanskrit; it can only occur with correct posture. The most important goal of zen breathing is to establish a strong yet slow and natural rhythm based on a soft, long, and deep breathing out. Air is exhaled slowly and silently through the nose, while the push created by breathing out goes down into the stomach. At the end of the exhalation, inhalation takes place naturally. The masters compare the zen breathing to the mooing of a cow or to the breathing out of a baby who cries as soon as he is born.

  3. State of Mind
    • During zazen, let images, thoughts, and mental shapes appearing from the unconscious, pass like clouds in the sky, without fighting them, without grasping them. At this point, one ideally reaches the deep unconscious-- without thinking, beyond thought (hishiryo), true purity.
    • The zazen state of mind emerges naturally from a deep concentration on the posture and breathing, allowing the control of mental activity resulting in better cerebral circulation.

Across the Curriculum

Have students explore the history of Buddhism throughout India, China, and Japan. Make a list of similarities and differences or create a Venn diagram.

Research the origin of green tea. Find out what (if any) ingredients promote alertness or help you stay awake!

Language Arts
Have students write a brief essay describing their goal (set with the Daruma doll) and how they will achieve it.

Have students create a classroom graph, marking when each person's goal is reached!

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