Q. Can one ever come to realise thoughtlessness? Isn’t it a thought in itself to know that you are thoughtless?

A. Thoughtlessness is one of the most misunderstood or misinterpreted words in Buddhism. It can be classified into two different types; one before enlightenment and one after enlightenment. The first type, before enlightenment, can be experienced when we are lost in concentration during practise. As you said, it is true that during thoughtlessness we cannot realise this, because recognising it as thoughtlessness is no other than a thought itself. When we look back upon this afterwards, we can realise that it was thoughtlessness.

However, such thoughtlessness is not the ultimate state of thoughtlessness symbolising enlightenment. Mistaking this for true thoughtlessness and clinging to it is referred to as staying in a den of ghosts. True thoughtlessness is not such an unconscious state free from thoughts but means that you are free to think whilst not being deluded or swayed by thoughts since you see them as empty. This is possible only when you can see and hear things as they are.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

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