Q. What does ‘leave home’ mean?
A. ‘Leave home’ usually means to become a monk or a nun because one is supposed to stay in a temple for good after becoming a monk. However, the real meaning of it is to attain enlightenment.
Our worldly life is compared to a burning house that will collapse sooner or later. Sentient beings are likened to children who are involved in playing in the house without knowing the fact that the house is burning and that it will fall down soon. ‘Leave home’ means to get out of the burning house, which means to attain enlightenment.
The purpose of Zen meditation is to get out of the burning house, whether we are monks or laymen. If you are enlightened, you have left home even though you may live as a layman in mundane world. If you are not enlightened, you are still in the burning house even though you are living a monastic life in a temple remote from worldly life.
Student: “How can I get out of the burning house?”
Master: “Don’t move even a step.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/Cr7lO