Q. Why does Zen Buddhism use meaningless words?

A. You seem to be referring to words used as koans, Zen questions that may even sound ridiculous not to mention making no sense. For example, when a master was asked what the Buddha is by a monk, he answered, “Dry shit!” Interpreted literally, this answer might not only appear meaningless but also seems to sneer at the question.

However, the fact is that the master gave a perfect answer. The master made such an answer in order to express what can’t be expressed with words. To the enlightened, the answer leaves nothing to be desired. The reason why the answer is meaningless to you is that you try to grasp, through words, what cannot be expressed with words. If you really want to taste the core of Buddhism, you should comprehend that which is beyond what words portray.

Following words is no better than just licking the peel of a delicious apple without experiencing the true taste inside the peel. This is why ancient masters said that all the Sutras are just Mara’s talks if we merely follow their words.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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