Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, master, Meditation, Photography, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q351. Why did Joshu rate the same actions of the two hermits differently?

A. Joshu went to a hermit’s place and said, “Hello, anybody in?” The hermit lifted up his fist. Joshu said, “The water is too shallow to anchor here,” and went away. Joshu visited another hermit a few days later and said, “Hello, anybody in?” The hermit raised his fist too. Then Joshu said, “You know how to release and how to catch, and how to kill and how to save.” And he bowed to the hermit.

_SRH5116a_thumb

 

 

Student: “Why did Joshu rate the same actions of the two hermits differently?”

Master: “Why do you blame Joshu for your fault?”

 

Commentary:

Who releases and catches whom?

Who kills and saves whom?

Don’t blame Joshu.

It was only for the sake of sentient beings

that Joshu soiled himself with mud and jumped into water.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, master, Meditation, One, Photography, Practice, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q348. Kyogen said, “Let’s suppose a man is hanging by his teeth from a branch of a tree that is leaning over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another man asks him, ‘Why did Bodhidharma come to China from the West (India)?’ If the man in the tree does not answer, he misses the question, and if he answers, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”

A. Student: “How can you both answer the question and save your life?”

Master: “In danger.”

Student: “Who is in danger?”

Master: “You are in danger.”

_SRH9861a_thumb

Commentary:

Don’t stumble over the lines drawn on flat land by you.

They can’t catch your feet however tangled they are.

Don’t be scared of your shadow.

It can’t harm you however horrible it may look.

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, Photography, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q345. Christians say that Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins. How should we understand this?

A. Buddhism has similar metaphors. Buddha said, “Those who want to see me through my voice and body won’t see me.” He also said, “Kill me when you meet me if you do want to see me.”

 

According to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus once said, “When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father.” Who is one who was not born of woman? He is not one who is doomed to birth and death. You should know him. ‘Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins’ means that he died on the cross in public in order to teach people that his physical body was not him and tell them not to be deluded by the illusion of his body. If you cling to the idea that the young crucified person is Jesus, you are being deluded by an illusion. In other words, you can see the true Jesus when you are free from the illusion of Jesus.

SRH_8943a_thumb

 

 

Student: “Why did Jesus die on the cross, saying that his father was almighty?”

Master: “Don’t insult him. He didn’t die but gave his teaching.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, illusion, master, meditaion, One, Photography, Practice, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q344. What do you think of Easter in Christianity?

A. Easter is a Christian holiday when Christians remember the death of Jesus and his return to life. The death of Jesus means removing illusions, and his return to life means the revealing of the true-self. So, Easter is a great lesson that reminds us of the Christian teaching that we should remove illusions and see the true-self, the true Jesus.

The Bible describes well how the true-Jesus exists in Luke 24:15, 16: ‘As they walked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; they saw him, but somehow did not recognise him.’ He is always with us wherever we are. He is with you even at this moment when you are reading this writing. The problem is that we don’t recognise him, because we are deluded by illusions. The purpose of Christianity is to recognise him. To recognise him is to attain eternal life in Christianity, or enlightenment in Buddhism.

017_8141a_thumb

True Easter is not a specific day of the year but the day when we can recognise the true-Jesus. Following the literal meaning is being deluded by illusions and far from the true teaching of Christ.

Student: “How can I see the true Jesus?”

Master: “Thank you for showing the true Jesus.”

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, student, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q343. If everything is empty, why should I try to keep my empty life without giving it up?

A. Don’t be deluded by the word ’empty’ but try to experience through your whole body what it actually means. Saying that everything is empty doesn’t mean that everything is void and useless or nothing. This, on the contrary, means that it is unlimitedly useful and infinitely valuable beyond its labels. And the purpose of Zen meditation is to help people to realise the unlimited value of it that has been neglected so far because we are deluded by the labels. So, ancient masters would say, “Once you realise emptiness, all rubbish heaps turn into piles of treasure.”

017_8071a_thumb

 

 

Student: “Why should I try to keep my empty life without giving it up?”

Master: “When your life is empty, there is no life to give up.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, meditaion, Mind, mindful, Photography, Practice, Religion, root, student, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q342. “Why can’t I feel the same way as they did?”

A. The wind was blowing a temple flag, and two monks were arguing about the flag. One said, “The flag is moving.” The other said, “The wind is moving.” They could not agree, no matter how hard they debated. Then, the sixth patriarch, Huineng, happening to come by and overhearing this, said, “Not the wind, not the flag. It is the mind that is moving!” The two monks were struck with awe.

 

Student: “The two monks were struck with awe by the saying ‘The wind is moving’. Why can’t I feel the same way as they did?”

Master: “Because you think that he said ‘The mind is moving'”

Student: “What did he say?”

Master: “The mind is moving.”

SRH_7792a_thumb

 

 

Commentary:

Don’t regard an order to get out of a house as an invitation to go into another house.

The wise never enter any other house after getting out of a house.

You should stand alone in a barren field without any shelter to enter.

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q339. What is the True Dharma the Buddha entrusted to Mahakashyapa?

A. When Shakyamuni Buddha was at Vulture Peak, he held out a flower to his listeners. Everyone was silent. Only Mahakashyapa broke into a broad smile.

 

The Buddha said, “I have the True Dharma Eye, the Marvellous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of the Formless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate, independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine. This I have entrusted to Mahakashyapa.”

 

Student: “What is the True Dharma the Buddha entrusted to Mahakashyapa?”

Master: “Mahakashyapa broke into a smile.”

Student: “Why did he break into a smile when the Buddha held out a flower?”

Master: “Because he didn’t see the flower.”

SRH_1039a_thumb

 

 

Commentary:

Don’t be deluded to think that the Buddha entrusted the True Dharma to Mahakashyapa.

This is not what can be neither entrusted nor taken away.

Don’t be deluded by thinking that the Buddha held out a flower and Mahakashyapa broke into a smile at the flower.

Had he seen the flower, he would not have broken into a smile.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, God, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, Religion, root, student, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q338. What does the story of Noah’s Ark in Genesis mean?

A. At that time Noah was the only person that followed God. People who, following Noah’s direction, got aboard the Ark could save their lives. So, the Ark symbolises God’s teaching to attain eternal life. Buddhism has a similar metaphor to this. Buddha compared his teaching to a boat by which we can cross the river of birth and death, and said that we should abandon the boat after crossing the river without being attached to it.

_SRH9927a_thumb

 

 

Student: “How can we board the boat to cross the river of birth and death?”

Master: “If you don’t board it, you can’t cross the river, but if you board it, you will sink under the water with it.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q336. Every time an ancient Zen master gave a dharma talk, a certain old man would come to listen. He usually left after the talk, but one day he remained. The master asked, “Who is there?”

A. The man said, “I am not actually a human being. I lived and taught on this mountain at the time of Kashyapa Buddha. One day a student asked me, ‘Does a person who practises with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?’ I said to him, ‘No, such a person doesn’t.’ Because I said this I was reborn as a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes. Sir, please tell me the correct answer and free me from this wild fox’s body.”

Then he asked the master, “Does a person who practises with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?”

The master said, “He isn’t deluded by cause and effect.”

Immediately the man had great realisation.

My Pictures0192a_thumb

 

 

Student: “What answer would you have made if you had been in his shoes?”

Master: “I would have said, ‘Such a man doesn’t fall into cause and effect’.”

Student: “Why on earth do you copy the wrong answer?”

Master: “Because of cause and effect.”

Student: “What would the old man have become if he had given a correct answer?”

Master: “A fox.”

Student: “Why would he have become a fox if he had given a correct answer?”

Master: “Because of cause and effect.”

 

Commentary:

Everything is the gate to the enlightenment.

When you know clearly what cause and effect is,

it is also the gate to the enlightenment.

When you don’t know what it is,

it is a trap that turns you into a fox.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Photography, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q333. Student: “What is not changing when everything, including mountains and rivers, changes?”

A. Master: “Mountains and rivers.”

SRH_3196a_thumb

 

Commentary:

Master’s tongue is not long enough to say the answer.

You had better hear him with your eyes.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway