Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, self, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q233. What’s the best way to act if I find someone’s behaviour really irritating and distracting?

A. Try to associate everything good or bad with your practice. Imagine you are being tested by a master and remember the following. Everything is neutral. Everything is non-dual. Everything is created by your discrimination. Everything is an action of your true-self. See and hear it as an action of your true-self or a Dharma talk. If you get angry, you don’t have to remember all of these things but only one of them, and try to trace your anger to its root. When you are faced with irritating and distracting behaviour, it will disappear by itself if you don’t think of it as irritating and distracting.



Student: “How can I avoid getting angry?”

Master: “Why do you try to avoid your true-self? Getting angry is none other than the action of your true-self that you are anxious to see.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, present, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q199. I am always so disturbed by the noises of my family members during my practice that I end up getting upset and spoiling my practice. What can I do to solve this problem?

A. Don’t think of them as obstructions but as helpers. Your idea is like complaining that the wind is preventing you from finding air when you are diligently looking for air. The wind can be likened to your family members and air to your final goal. In fact, they are what you are looking for even though they look different from what you are seeking. They only look so because you can’t see them as they are.


Everything is the gate to enlightenment. If you can see only a single thing, whatever it is, as it is, you will reach the final goal. Your family members are also the gate to enlightenment even though they appear otherwise. Ask yourself what makes your body hear the noises and makes your body get angry. Ask yourself what they are when their bodies are not them and what causes their bodies to make such noises. Sooner or later, you might feel more grateful rather than angry with them. If you can find the correct answer to either of these two questions, you can be said to have attained enlightenment.




Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “There is nothing that is not it.”

Student: “Why can’t I see it?”

Master: “Because you seek something else other than what you see and hear.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, desire, Enlightenment, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, poisons, Practice, true self, Truth, Zen

Q122. What are the antidotes for the three poisons against happiness?

A. The antidote for the poison of ignorance is wisdom, which means the ability to see everything as it is. That enables us to see a piece of broken rope as a piece of broken rope and rotten food as rotten food.

The antidote for the poison of greed is the precepts, which aim to control greed. We should suppress greed artificially before getting enlightened. To obey the precepts in the strictest sense, however, is not to suppress greed artificially but to have no greed to control through realising that everything is an illusion. Only then can we be said to obey the precepts. For example, when we have the wisdom to see everything as it is, we don’t have any desire to run away from the piece of broken rope, or to chase after rotten food because we can see rope as rope and rotten food as rotten food.


The antidote for the poison of anger is stillness, which naturally comes about when we obey the precepts. That is, when we obey the precepts, we have no greed. Then we need not struggle to fulfill our greed. When we don’t have to strive to satisfy our greed, there is no anger or disappointment that comes from the failure to meet our greed. Then our life becomes still.

In fact, the core of the three poisons is ignorance, and that of the three antidotes is the wisdom to see things as they are.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, self, Truth, Zen

Q66. Though I know everything is an illusion, I still get angry easily with small things, and regret it later. The regret lasts long, bothering me, which, in turn, makes me angry again. What shall I do?

A. Though you know everything is an illusion, it can be said, you have never experienced the fact in person. Knowing everything is an illusion is quite different from experiencing in person the truth that everything is an illusion. If you were aware that everything is an illusion, why wouldn’t you know that you yourself are also an illusion and that your anger and your regret are also an illusion? What else would matter when not only your anger and regret but also you are an illusion?

Don’t rule out anything from everything.

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Trace back your agony to its root, and you will experience the truth that everything including you is an illusion.

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.

Buddhism, Happiness, Meditation, Mind, Practice, Zen

Q23. I too often lose my temper with even small things. People say I am too sensitive to what others say about me. What shall I do when angry? (How can I control my anger?)

A. This is a good question. Many people have a similar question, I think. Now I will ask you back, “What makes you angry?” “I can’t control my anger when people speak ill of me for what I have never done. “I think your words make sense. The reason you mention can be a part of the cause that makes you angry. All people, like you, have their own reasons why they are angry when angry. They tend to try to evade the responsibility for being angry by justifying their anger. However, I will ask you one more question. “Are you angry when you don’t know the fact at all that others spoke ill of you?” I think you aren’t because we can’t be angry, or happy, with what we don’t know. How could you be angry with what you don’t know? In fact, no matter how much someone speaks ill of you, their act itself doesn’t lead you to lose your temper, unless you know the fact.

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It means that the fact that others speak ill of you unduly is not the direct cause that makes you angry. If the fact were the direct cause, it would make you angry regardless of whether you know the fact or not. Then what will be the main cause that makes you angry? It is you that are responsible for being angry. You are angry only when you perceive the fact and feel it is undue. You won’t be angry if you don’t think it is unwarranted even though you perceive the fact. In a word, everything is up you. Whatever others may say about you, their words can make you neither angry, nor happy, if you don’t accept them as bad or good. You are angry when you accept them as names or abuse, and happy when you accept them as praises.
I remember Buddha’s answer to a question one of his disciples asked. One day one of his disciples said to Buddha, “I am very sorry and angry these days because a person never sees me without calling me names for no reason. What shall I do?” Buddha asked, “Whom does the gift belong to if you don’t accept it when someone gives it to you?” The disciple answered, “Of course, it belongs to the giver.” Then Buddha said, “Then, who do the names he calls you belong to if you don’t accept them?” The disciple was very happy to understand what Buddha said. Likewise, whatever others may say about you, their words can have no influence on you unless you accept them. After all it is not others but your discriminating mind that makes your angry. So the purpose of Zen practice is also said to remove our discriminating mind because seeing things as they are means seeing things without a discriminating mind.
When angry, never try to hold back or push down your anger. Admit that the main cause of your anger is within and not without, and trace your anger back to its root, or ask yourself what you are when your body is not you. Your body can’t be angry for itself. Ask yourself what makes your body angry and your anger will quieten down by itself. Killing two birds with one stone: practising Zen and removing anger.

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.