Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Meditation, Mind, One, Photography, Practice, root, sex, sexual, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q 361.When we resolutely pursue our awakening, do situations arise within the illusion to deepen our practice? For example, Mara’s daughters came to tempt the Buddha, so was his attachment to sexual desire being tested? So, where we have very strong attachments, will these appear more powerfully in our life as an opportunity for us to deepen our practice?

A. In Zen we have a saying that the higher your practice is, the more powerful Mara (temptation) is. In fact, this is one of the sayings that are very often misinterpreted. Most people think that this saying means that the more your practice grows, the more powerful Mara becomes. We have this interpretation because we usually make good progress when we face a big challenge in our life as a test of our practice and try to overcome it. However, it is not true that the more your practice grows, the more powerful Mara becomes, because this would mean that as your practice became higher and higher, it would attract more and more powerful Mara.


The correct interpretation is that the greater your practice becomes, the more powerful Mara that you can surmount grows. The better your practice becomes, the more capable you become of surmounting Mara. Although you can overcome only a small Mara when your practice is weak, you can overcome much more powerful Mara when your practice develops. In other words, the richer you become, the larger and the more expensive the house that you can buy becomes. The stronger your muscles become, the heavier the weights that you can lift become.




Speaking of sexual desire, not only the Buddha but also we sentient beings have attachment to it. So, it was not that Mara’s daughters came to tempt the Buddha since his practice was of a high level, but rather that he could overcome the temptation of sexual desire which is one of the most difficult instinctual desires to surmount.


When faced with a challenge in your life, don’t think that your practice has brought it upon you, but look upon it as a test of your practice. Then your challenge will turn into your practice, and you can deepen your practice and solve your challenge at the same time. Two birds with one stone.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, God, Meditation, Mind, Religion, root, sex, sexual, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q260. Why do you think that some Christians and Catholics deny and even detest homosexuals?

A. If they think that God is always perfect and everything is created by Him, they should accept the fact that homosexuals are created by God as well. To deny them is to deny God. If God, as they say, is perfect, He never makes a mistake. Then everything made by Him is perfect. To speak ill of homosexuals for being what they are is to find fault with what is created by God and blame Him for His error. That means that they don’t believe in God’s perfection.



When God made homosexuals what they are, He had His intention. What they are is the exact expression of God’s intention. The reason why they deny and detest homosexuals is that they are still lacking faith in God and don’t know His intention. Finding fault with and even cursing the perfect work by the greatest artist reveals their inability to appreciate His masterpiece, which runs counter to their belief that God is perfect.

Instead of showing their own self-contradiction, they had better try to know what God created homosexuals for.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, desire, emptiness, empty, illusion, love, master, Meditation, Mind, Photography, Practice, self, sex, sexual, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q236. I was unfaithful to my wife, and she wanted to get divorced from me. I apologised to her for my misdeed with all my heart and she promised to forgive me. We, as Buddhists, thinking that everything is empty, agreed to forget the matter. However, she still keeps bringing up the matter, which leads to arguments and we still talk about divorce.

A. To think that everything is empty seems to be a good way to solve your problem. Try to keep thinking that way even though you’ve not realised the truth and your life will gradually become more stable with your Zen practice growing mature. The most important thing that you should realise now is that if everything is empty, your wife’s attitude is also empty just like your misdeed is empty. Then, your situation is not a problem anymore.

You might think that she also should see your past deeds as empty and not be so angry with you, but she should take responsibility for her own behaviour. If she also viewed things as you want her to, it would be the most ideal solution. However, if you really believe that everything is empty, why does her attitude, rude or polite, matter. If you can’t accept her attitude as empty while saying that everything is empty, you are being self-contradictory after all.

Why don’t you think of her attitude as her struggle to forgive you. Her head may have forgiven you but her heart still might not since the latter takes longer to forgive you. She, I think, is determined to forgive you since she still loves you and wants to keep your family together, but she still feels suffering from the incident because her wound has not yet healed perfectly. It is your duty as her husband to comfort and help her to surmount her suffering and become what she used to be.



Seeing others’ suffering as yours is compassion.

Seeing your suffering as empty is wisdom.


©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

desire, Enlightenment, final goal, meditaion, sex, sexual, true self, Truth, Zen

Q106. What shall I do with my sexual desire?

A. Many people think that an ascetic life is indispensable in order to practice Zen meditation, but this is incorrect, unless you are a monk or a nun.

Why don’t you consider the same question regarding your hunger or thirst? Sexual desire is also a natural feeling that normal people have, just like feelings of hunger or thirst. What matters is how to accept it. As mentioned earlier, everything is neutral in itself. Sexual desire may either be holy, or impure lust, just as hunger may be either good or bad, that is to say harmful to us. Hunger is thought to be an essential feeling for our survival, that makes life happy, but it can also lead people to a disastrous situation if not controlled. Sexual desire should be accepted in the same way, I think.


To have sexual desire is the evidence that you are alive, healthy and normal, that is, you are very suitable for Zen meditation. In summary, Zen meditation has nothing to do with sexual desire just as it has nothing to with hunger. What matters here is not whether to have sexual desire or not, but whether or not to realise the root of it. Just try to realise the root, which is the root of compassion.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway