Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, Truth, Zen

Q85. Why am I still unhappy even though I know that all is an illusion?

A. Let’s suppose there is an sick man whose illness is so serious that he can’t move around. You give him medicine that can cure him of the illness. The next time you meet him, finding him still ill, you wonder if he took the medicine. You ask, “Did you take the medicine I gave to you?” He answers, “Of course, I did.” You say, “You don’t seem to have taken it. You still don’t look well.” He says, “I did take it. I will show you the evidence that I took it.” He throws up the medicine you gave him in front of you and shows it to you. It must be the very medicine you gave to him. Do you think he took the medicine? This is the way we accept spiritual teachings and read spiritual books.

When a patient takes medicine, the medicine must be absorbed into the system of his body and its form should disappear, in order to help him. The evidence that the patient took the medicine is not that he keeps the medicine intact in his stomach, not feeling better, but that he acts energetically and is in good shape after the medicine disappears into his tissues of his body.

We often regard remembering teachings from masters and the contents of books you read as mastering it. Knowing something as knowledge is one thing and experiencing it is another. Just keeping the truth as your knowledge without experiencing it through your body is like keeping medicine undigested in your stomach. Zen knowledge without experiencing the truth is no more helpful to your life than undigested medicine is to your body.


Don’t say you know that all is an illusion.
You are not aware of the truth at all.
What is worse,
you are not conscious of even the fact that you don’t know the truth.

You don’t know what you say since you can’t see yourself as you are.
When all is an illusion, you are also an illusion.
Who on earth is unhappy when you are an illusion?

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.

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