A. Trying to keep your mind calm by stopping thoughts from arising without knowing where they are from, is like trying to remove weeds by cutting their leaves, while leaving their roots intact. Just as you will be bothered again by new weeds from the remaining roots sooner or later, so you cannot get permanent calmness without realising the root of your thoughts, or illusions. Then, the silent state with no thoughts becomes another illusion.
Masters’ words “keep your mind calm by stopping thinking” has two meanings: One is before enlightenment and the other is after enlightenment. The former is to have less thoughts by focusing all your attention to your question. The latter, the end of Zen, doesn’t mean literally to stop thinking but not to be deluded by thoughts through realising the truth that everything is empty. Once realising the truth, your mind becomes calm by itself regardless of whether you think or not, because you are not deluded by your thoughts. Masters would say, “You may have as many weeds as you want, but never let them take root.” Then you can enjoy calmness all the time no matter how many thoughts you may have because you are aware that they are empty.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway