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

Q332. What does Zen meditation have to do with reincarnation?

A. All our life we try to make good causes for good effects tomorrow. Trying your best to make yourself happy is trying to make good causes for good effects tomorrow. However, the key problem is that we don’t know what a good cause is and what a bad cause is, partly because our view of it varies according to our viewpoint and partly because what we think is a good cause very often turns out to bring a bad effect. So, we can’t help being worried about what effect we will get tomorrow even though we do our best to make good causes today. Furthermore, whatever good causes we may try to make, we can neither avoid death nor know what will happen to us after death. As a way of settling this challenging problem, primitive people would depend on the gods created by their imagination.

 

The purpose of Zen meditation is to help people to escape from the trap of reincarnation by realising that everything is empty. When everything is empty, not only birth and death but also transmigration and souls are empty illusions. Then reincarnation that means endless rebirth through transmigration of souls is also an empty illusion. In other words, Zen is to help people to free themselves from reincarnation by realising that reincarnation implies an endless cycle of illusions that feed on themselves and reproduce. So, to become free from reincarnation means to obtain eternal life or escape from the trap of life and death, which is also referred to as enlightenment in Buddhism.

 

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Student: “What do you think you will be reborn as after your death?”

Master: “I couldn’t care less.”

Student: “What if you should be reborn as a cow after death?”

Master: “Not bad at all.”

Student: “How can you say being reborn as an animal is not bad at all?”

Master: “Because it is empty.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, master, Meditation, Photography, student, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q330. Student: “Where is the land without light and shade?”

A. Master: “That’s where light and shade is.”

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Commentary:

Light and shade is no other than the land without light and shade.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q327. Student: “How can I keep my plot of mind free from light and shade?”

A. Master: “Telling you the way is very easy. But I am afraid that I may induce you to make light and shade.”

Student: “Please, tell me the way.”

Master: “Everything is empty.”

Student: “I already know that, too.”

Master: “That is making light and shade in your plot.”

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Commentary:

However efficacious medicine may be, an internal medicine will cause trouble if put into eyes or ears.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, One, Photography, Practice, root, student, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q324. Student: “How should I cultivate my plot of mind?”

A. Master: “Don’t try to pull out weeds by force, and never let crops take root.”

Student: “Why shouldn’t I pull weeds out by force?”

Master: “Because they become crops when not taking root.”

Student: “Why shouldn’t I let crops take root?”

Master: “Because they become weeds when taking root.”

Student: “What shall I do in order to carry out your teaching?”

Master: “Keep your plot free from light and shade.”

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Commentary:

Your plot is originally free from light and shade unless you make them.

 

©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.”

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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, emptiness, empty, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q322. The main idea of Buddhism is ‘non-I’. What on earth are we if there is no ‘I’?

A. Saying that there is no ‘I’ means not that there is no ‘I’, but that there is nothing specific worth mentioning as ‘I’. However, if there were no your ‘I’, what would get your body to read this writing now?

 

In fact, ‘non-I’ is another expression of the fact that everything is empty and one. When everything is empty, everything is oneness as emptiness. When everything including you is oneness, oneness is part of you and you are part of oneness. When everything including you is oneness, there is nothing else but oneness. Then oneness is all and nothing else. This means that all is you and there is nothing else that is not you since oneness is you. When there is nothing else but you, all is you and you are all.

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In order for you to become you, there must be someone or something else that is not you that you can be discriminated from. When all is you and you are all, you are not you any more, just as red is not red any more when all is red. So ‘non-I’ means not that there is no ‘I’ at all but that there is only ‘I’. So, Buddha said, “In the whole universe, only I exist” when he was born.

 

Student: “What happens when there is no ‘I’?”

Master: “All becomes you.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q319. Many people say that they know what enlightenment is and that their way is the true way. How can we tell if a teacher is really enlightened or not?

A. It is true that it is almost impossible for unenlightened people to tell whether a teacher is enlightened or not. Only the enlightened have an eye for the enlightened, just like only those who know maths can tell if a maths teacher has real capacity. However, I am going to tell you a few essential requirements that I think a teacher should be equipped with as a teacher, regardless of whether he is enlightened or not.

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A teacher should:

  1. Be able to give you a clear definition about what enlightenment, the final goal is.
  2. Be able to give you a persuasive explanation about what his way of practice has to do with enlightenment, or why you should practice in his way.
  3. Be able to give you sufficient Dharma talks explaining the True-self and how to see it in detail.
  4. Welcome all your questions and give you satisfactory answers to them.

 

If someone satisfies all these conditions, he is worth following as a teacher, I think.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Meditation, Photography, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q318. Student: “What is the quickest way to the true-self?”

A. Master: “Don’t ask me where your mouth is.”

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Commentary:

It is standing on its single foot facing you.

You don’t forsake it.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q316. How can we neither be stained by dirt while in dirt nor be attached to purity when we happen to face it?

A. Interpreted more simply, this question means “How can we live without being deluded by illusions and without being attached to enlightenment when we happen to get it?” It is possible to know, through perfect realisation of the truth, that everything is empty. In other words, when everything is empty, we should realise that not only illusions but also enlightenment is empty.

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If we are attached to enlightenment after getting enlightened, this is making another illusion, just like making a new form of clay after destroying an old form of clay. You should realise that when everything is empty, you are emptiness itself, and then there is nothing to gain or lose. So, an ancient master said, “Don’t be stained by purity.” when his student asked him how he could remain pure. In other words, you should neither be deluded by illusions while living amid them nor be attached to emptiness.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway