Q. Why should I discard what I can keep in order to attain enlightenment?
A. The purpose of Zen meditation is not to know what you have but to know what you are. The reason why you can’t see yourself as you are is that you regard what you have as yourself. What you can keep, or discard is not you any more than your car is, because they can be taken away from you anytime.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should give up all your possessions such as your family, your house, your money, and so on. It means that you should discard all the names, or labels that define your identity like person, man, woman, your name, your age, your position in your job and so forth since they are not you but just names that define you and that can be changed or taken away anytime. So, ancient masters would say, “When all names that define you are discarded, your true-Self reveals itself just as the trunk and stems of a tree reveal themselves when all its leaves have been blown away by the autumn winds.” Asking yourself what you are when you are stripped of all the labels attached to you is a good practice.
Student: “How should I answer without labels if I am asked what I am?”
Master: “What do you mean by ‘I’?”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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