Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Meditation, moment, now, Practice, root, self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q326. Should we see worldly life as an illusion and abandon, or be indifferent to it in order to attain enlightenment?

A. The purpose of Zen meditation is not to make people belittle, become indifferent to, or abandon worldly life but to help them to realise the truth that the realities of the life they are facing every day is no other than the heaven or the paradise they dream of. If you happen to have the slightest thought that, after enlightenment, you may be someone else, or somewhere else, other than exactly where you are now, you are far from the right way of practice.



Zen is telling us why we can’t see and how we can see the paradise that is spread out before us.  We can’t see it since our views are clouded by labels, which are called illusions. Zen doesn’t tell people to make light of or abandon worldly life, but advises them to try to see beyond the labels of worldly life and teaches how to do it. Zen encourages people to enjoy the eternal happiness that they have not recognised so far. To try to see beyond the labels when seeing things is Zen practice.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Mind, moment, now, One, Photography, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q323. How long do I have to wait to see my true-self?

A. Don’t wait for it. A waiting mind can rather blind you. See it at this moment. While you spend time here waiting for it, it is also waiting for you in the same place.


An ancient master would say, “A foolish man doesn’t realise the true-self although he is with it all his life, just like a spoon or a fork doesn’t know the taste of food. However, a wise man realises the truth as soon as he listens to a Dharma talk, just like a tongue senses the taste of food.”



You have lived on it all your life, and you are chewing it every moment, even at this moment when you read this writing. Why don’t you see it at this moment?


Student: “What is the true-self, Sir?”

Master: “You already said it.”

Student: “What is it like?”

Master: “You already showed it.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, master, Meditation, Mind, now, Practice, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q213. Student: “What is the true-self?”

A. Master: “A word”

Student: “Where is it?”

Master: “In your mouth”




It cooks, and chats.

It brings peace, and causes troubles.

It makes the light and the darkness.

It does all these things.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, Koan, Meditation, Mind, now, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q166. How can we use our Dharma discussion as part of practice?

A. Discussions on Zen meditation and the Dharma are a very important part of our practice because we can help one another through them. In order to make the discussions efficient and helpful, special attitudes are required for these discussions, especially in the absence of a master who has can guide us.
When you ask your Zen friend a question, you should think you are not asking your friend, but Buddha the question and listen to him in the same way. When you are not satisfied with his answer, either because you don’t understand his answer or because you think he is giving a wrong answer, you should blame yourself for not understanding his perfect teaching rather than think he is wrong. You should keep in mind that he is telling you the truth regardless of whether his answer is right or wrong.



When you are asked a question, you should regard the questioner as Buddha and think you are being tested by Buddha. Be frank about your practice, and try your best to make the best answer you can. Be neither happy because he agrees with you, nor unhappy because he doesn’t, since his approval itself doesn’t advance your practice and his disapproval doesn’t disturb your progress.

When you ask, asking itself is important because the answer is in your asking. When you listen, listening itself is important because the answer is in your listening. When you answer, answering itself is important because the answer is in your answering. In summary, what matters is all in you, not out of you.
©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.



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

Buddhism, Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, moment, now, present, root, Zen

Q128. How can I live now?

A. In brief you can live now if you do away with ‘now’. ‘Living now’ mentioned here means living out of the trap of illusions. You should realise the word ‘now’ is an illusion. Only when the illusions of present, past and future disappear can you live now. As long as you keep the illusion of now, you can never experience ‘living now’.


When the thought of ‘present’ or ‘now’ occurs to you, trace your thinking back to its root where it comes from. As mentioned earlier, everything is from the same root. Once reaching there, you will realise not just that you are the root itself but also that everything including present, past and future is nothing but an illusion created in and by you, the root. Then you will perceive that you are eternity itself. That is to live now all the time.

How can I live now?
Get out of now.
How can I get out of it?
Take a close look at its root.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway