Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, mindfulness, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q258. Master: “When a guest comes, you should take care of him, but when a thief comes, you should turn him away.”

A. Student: “What is a guest?”

Master: “Just passed by.”

Student: “What is a thief?”

Master: “A guest.”

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Commentary:

What you think is a guest is a thief, and what you think is a thief is a guest.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, final goal, illusion, master, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q208. During my practice, I sometimes feel fear, as well as joy and bliss. Is this normal? How should I react to it?

A. It’s a very common feeling that you can experience during practice. Whatever scenes and whatever emotions, good or bad, neither avoid nor follow them. They are all illusions. Just try to trace them back to the root from which they come. The purpose of Zen meditation is to realise what the root of all illusions is. It is because you are making a little progress that you have such feelings. From now on, do think of them as a gate to the final goal, your true-self, and your practice will make big progress.

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Student: “Sir, I feel fear during my practice.”

Master: “That is an action of your true-self.”

Student: “You said that fear is an illusion.”

Master: “It is when you don’t know that fear is an action of your true-self that it is an illusion.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q204. Student: “How is a tree when it withers and all its leaves are fallen?”

A. Master: “It totally reveals its body.”

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Commentary:

It stands on the Earth supporting the sky and filling the universe to the full.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q202. Is it okay to go on with my worldly job in order to make money, while seeking to attain enlightenment?

A. Enlightenment is to realise that everything is empty and so there is nothing to gain or lose. That means that there is nothing that you should or shouldn’t do in the world. Zen meditation is to try realise the truth.

The key point is not what you are doing for a living, but whether or not you try to realise the truth in the right way, that is, try to realise what you are when your body is not you. If you try to realise what makes your body do your work while doing it, that is good practice. In terms of that, your job can be a good gate to enlightenment. Work and practice are one to a good Zen man.

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Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “It is what is asking me the question now.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, Practice, present, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q190. Why do illusions arise?

A. They arise because you don’t know what they are. In fact, you don’t know what an illusion is even though you often mention it. You can’t remove or stop it from showing up because you don’t know what it is.

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In fact, there are no illusions at all. There is only the truth, or the true-self. The problem is that you are mistaking the truth for illusions. Enlightenment is to realise that all illusions are the truth, or the true-self. As the Diamond Sutra says, to realise that a flower is not a flower, but emptiness, is enlightenment. To realise that an illusion is not real, but empty, is enlightenment. Realising that an illusion is not an illusion, but the truth, or the true-self is enlightenment.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, root, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q176. How can we control our thoughts?

A. A foolish man tries to control his thoughts while a wise man tries to control his mind. If you want to control your thoughts as you please, you should conquer your mind, that is, realise your mind. Trying to control each of your thoughts is like trying to win the battle by fighting individually each of the thousands of enemy soldiers in the battle field. There is no hope for success in this way. The most efficient and best way to win the battle is to capture the General who directs all the enemy soldiers. To realise your mind which is the root of all your thoughts is to capture the General.

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What makes it difficult to capture the General is that we can’t recognise him easily because he is hidden disguised as one of the enemy soldiers. You should capture a soldier and interrogate him deliberately to find out who orders him. If he dies, get another captive and examine him more deliberately. Be determined to continue this to the end. Before long, the General will appear and say, “Why are you wasting your effort while I am always with you?”  

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q169. I was told to put my mind down and not to think of anything by my ex-master. How can I put down my mind?

A. That is like telling a baby who can’t even stand on his own feet to run as fast as a sprinter. The first thing you should do in order to put your mind down is to know what your mind is. How would it be possible for you to put your mind down when you don’t know what it is? The key point in Zen meditation is whether or not you realise what your mind is, and not whether to put it down or not. Once you realise what your mind is, holding it or putting it down is up to you.

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One of the most common mistakes we make is to think that we know what we don’t know. You seem to be making the same mistake of trying to put your mind down, thinking that you know your mind while in fact you don’t know it. If you are anxious to put your mind down, do try to realise what it is before trying to put it down in vain. In fact, once you realise what your mind is, you can be said to have completed your practice, or to have attained enlightenment. Should you see your master again, first of all ask him what your mind is.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q168. Student: “What are you when your body is not you?”

A. Master: “True-self.”
Student: “Could you open your mind and show it to me?”
Master: “Of course. Flower. Sky. Tree. Stone.”

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Commentary:
A breeze stirs revealing the air.
The inside of the air is showing clearly.
Is it air or wind?
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, desire, Enlightenment, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, root, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q161. Is desire the motivation of life or the root of suffering?

A. This question is like asking whether we should view food as a cause of illness, such as obesity and diabetes, or a necessary thing for survival. Desire itself is neutral. It depends on you whether it is the motivation of life or the root of suffering. Try to see the root of your desire clearly when it occurs. When you realise it clearly, it is not only the motivation of life but also the root of happiness. It is when you don’t know what it is that it becomes the root of suffering.

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However beautiful a thing may be, it is no more than an illusion as long as you don’t know the root from which it is from.
However ugly a thing may be, it is the truth itself when you know its root.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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