A. Discussions on Zen meditation and the Dharma are a very important part of our practice because we can help one another through them. In order to make the discussions efficient and helpful, special attitudes are required for these discussions, especially in the absence of a master who has can guide us.
When you ask your Zen friend a question, you should think you are not asking your friend, but Buddha the question and listen to him in the same way. When you are not satisfied with his answer, either because you don’t understand his answer or because you think he is giving a wrong answer, you should blame yourself for not understanding his perfect teaching rather than think he is wrong. You should keep in mind that he is telling you the truth regardless of whether his answer is right or wrong.
When you are asked a question, you should regard the questioner as Buddha and think you are being tested by Buddha. Be frank about your practice, and try your best to make the best answer you can. Be neither happy because he agrees with you, nor unhappy because he doesn’t, since his approval itself doesn’t advance your practice and his disapproval doesn’t disturb your progress.
When you ask, asking itself is important because the answer is in your asking. When you listen, listening itself is important because the answer is in your listening. When you answer, answering itself is important because the answer is in your answering. In summary, what matters is all in you, not out of you.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway