A. When seeing self-sacrificial or wise figures in someone, people tend to feel the same way as you did. This is one of the new experiences that Zen students can go through. What matters is to see Buddha inside you. Only Buddha can recognise Buddha. To Buddha, everything is Buddha, and there is nothing that is not Buddha. If you can see Buddha only in a certain person, or in a certain place for a certain time, that is an illusion. Once you see Buddha, from that moment everything including yourself looks and sounds as Buddha all the time, forever.
However, the fact that you felt you saw Buddha in someone is showing that you are very much involved in Zen meditation because it is a very common experience in Zen practice. If you keep practising hard, you will have such experiences more frequently. This is good evidence that you are making progress. However, you should not cling to pleasant experiences or try to repeat them. However wonderful or terrible they may appear, don’t care about them. Even if Buddha appears, leave him alone. That is to kill Buddha when meeting Buddha.
Student: “I saw Buddha in someone.”
Master: “You saw yourself.”
Student: “Then, why can’t I see Buddha again?”
Master: “Because, then, you were Buddha, but now you are not.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway