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.




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, 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.



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