Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, mindful, mindfulness, One, Practice, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q160. If everything, even enlightenment is empty and just an illusion, why should we try to attain enlightenment?

A. If we really know that everything is an illusion, we don’t have to make an effort to attain enlightenment since enlightenment is also then an illusion. The reason for trying to obtain enlightenment is that we have not realised in person the truth while saying that everything is empty. The knowledge of enlightenment is not enlightenment itself. The former is as different from the latter as the knowledge of a meal is different from eating the meal. The knowledge of enlightenment can no more give us eternal happiness than the knowledge of food can satisfy our hunger. We practise in order to experience, in person, the truth that everything is empty.

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©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Koan, Meditation, Mind, mindful, Practice, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q159. How can I clap with one hand?

A. You already did.

Commentary:
The banker informs him that he is a billionaire, but he is still worried about his next meal.

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©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, Religion, root, self, Uncategorized, Zen

Q158. How can we, sentient beings, know Buddha?

A. I never ask you to try to know Buddha that seems to be far above us. Now I am encouraging you to realise what a sentient being is because you know that you are a sentient being.
The key problem, however, is that you don’t know what a sentient being is, because you don’t know what you are even though you say that you are a sentient being. What matters is that Buddha is he who knows what a sentient being is, since Buddha is he who can see himself as he is because Buddha and sentient beings are from the same root. In brief, Buddha is none other than a sentient being who can see himself as he is.

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A Buddha who can’t see his True-self is a sentient being.
A Sentient being who can see his True-self is a Buddha.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Happiness, illusion, master, meditaion, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, now, Practice, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q155. Why did masters say, “Don’t try to do good things”?

A. When you have a stick, can you remove either end of it? Even if you cut off one end of it, there will still remain two ends even though the stick becomes a little shorter. No matter how many times you may cut off either end of it, you will still have both ends and find that the middle part becomes the end. The fact is that you can’t avoid having one end as long as you have the other end. This shows that there is no fixed end and that any part can be an end according to circumstances.

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When we have an intention to do something good, we can’t avoid having an idea of something bad because there can’t be a good thing without a bad thing. As long as we have an intention to do good things, we can’t avoid discriminating things. Discriminating things is against the purpose of Zen meditation.
So masters said “Don’t try to do good things” in order to advise their students not to have discriminating minds.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, God, Happiness, meditaion, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, Prayer, Religion, root, Uncategorized, Zen

Q154. How do you think Zen meditation can help Christians to overcome original sin?

A. According to the Bible, man can’t have eternal happiness or find salvation because of the original sin he committed in the beginning of time. The sin was eating the fruit of the tree of life, and as a result, our mind became discriminating, which prevents us from seeing God. The Bible says that we can be forgiven for the sin and find salvation only by believing in God.

To find salvation means to return to the original state prior to eating the fruit. And to believe in God means to see God, just as the old saying goes, ‘Seeing is believing’. Seeing God is possible by removing the discriminating mind.

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The Sutras say that whatever good things we may do, we can’t enjoy eternal happiness without life and death, even though we can enjoy temporary happiness, unless we realise the true-self by removing the discriminating mind.

The core teachings of Christianity and Buddhism are the same in that we can enjoy eternal happiness by eliminating the discriminating mind. Zen meditation is a practice to remove the discriminating mind.

So, to help Christians to remove their discriminating mind is to help them to overcome original sin.

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q148. Is happiness obtained through filling our mind or through emptying our mind?

A. This is not a matter of whether to fill or empty, but a matter of realising what the mind is. The ultimate end of Zen meditation is to realise what the mind that you are going to fill or empty is.

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This question shows well how unaware we are of what we say and how imprudently we are seeking happiness. How could we fill or empty the mind while not knowing what it is? In fact, it is because you don’t know what your mind is that you have such an idea of filling or emptying it. Once you get to see it clearly, you will realise that it can’t be filled or emptied because it is perfect, and that you are happiness itself.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, present, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q139. Do you think that all kinds of meditation can lead to enlightenment like the saying, ‘All roads lead to Rome’?

A. It is true that all roads lead to Rome. However, why have most people who have tried to reach Rome failed to do so? Even if we take the right road but go in the wrong direction we will never get to Rome. Only when we take the right road in the right direction can we reach Rome. If we go in the wrong direction, then the harder we try the further we will get from Rome.

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Which road we should take doesn’t matter since all roads lead to Rome. However, in order to take the right road in the right direction, we should first of all know exactly where we are. The most important and the first thing to do in order to reach your destination, is to find out where you are standing when you are lost in a strange place. When you can realise your location, then your destination, Rome will reveal itself.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Zen

Q119. Does my mind use me or do I use my mind?

A. Does the air move the wind or does the wind move the air? The air is to the wind what your mind is to you. You and your mind are not two but one just like the air and the wind are. As the action of the air is the wind, so the action of your mind is you.

What matters here is that you think that you are separate from your mind and that you should cultivate your mind, just like taming a wild animal. Trying to cultivate your mind can make matters worse because it implies that you and your mind are separate from each other and the former tries to tame the latter. This is a very common mistake that people make because they don’t know what their mind is.

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You should try to know what your mind is before trying to control it. How can you do that while not knowing what it is? The moment you realise your mind, you will feel oneness with your mind just as the wind is with the air.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, self, true self, Truth, Zen

Q118. Where is the true-self when my mind is full of illusions?

A. Your mind is no other than the true-self and all the illusions are the actions of your mind. What matters here is that, while saying that your mind is full of illusions, you, in fact, don’t know what your mind is. If you knew it clearly, you could be said to be enlightened.

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In order to know your mind clearly, try to trace illusions back to their root and know it clearly instead of trying to avoid or remove them in vain. Their root is your mind, which is the true-self. So you, it is said, can realise your true-self through illusions.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Meditation, mindful, mindfulness, true self, Truth, Zen

Q87. Student: “What are you when your body is not you, sir?”

A. Master: “Take a look carefully.”
Student: “What shall I look at?”
Master: “Listen carefully.”

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Commentary:
Don’t seek to approach it.
If you put your face near it in order to see it closely, you will have your face burnt.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.