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

Q296. How is it possible to remove all at once and not gradually the illusions that we have made up for decades?

A. Our practice is like trying to brighten an old room that has been dark since it was made, even though it is installed with a nice electric light. We are looking for the light switch of the old room that has never been lit so far. The key problem is that we have no idea of the switch; where it is and what it is like, because we have never used it, or even seen it before. We can be said to be fumbling for the switch in the dark room. It may take time to find it, but it doesn’t take time to lighten the room once you find the switch. The moment you switch on the light, all the darkness will disappear. Likewise, all illusions disappear at the moment you attain enlightenment.




Student: “How can I remove all the illusions in an instant that I have made up for decades?”

Master: “It takes no time and no effort to remove them because they are empty.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q227. In Buddhism it is said that only humans can attain enlightenment. This seems to put humans on a pedestal and make them separate from other animals. How can this be true when we also say that everything is one?

A. The words ‘only humans can attain enlightenment’ have the same meaning as ‘only you can attain enlightenment’. This doesn’t mean that you are superior to others but that no one else can take the place of you in both attaining enlightenment and getting the whole world enlightened. In other words, only when you yourself are enlightened can you have all other things including other animals enlightened.



We can’t realise the truth that humans are one with and not separate from other things such as plants and animals or the living and the non-living, until we attain enlightenment. It is said that once you attain enlightenment, all the universe attains enlightenment as well at the same time. That is, you can have a firm belief that we are not separate from other animals and that everything is one, only when you can see things as they are. Even if all other people of the world should get enlightened, their enlightenment can never allow you to enjoy the truth that everything including you is perfectly one, as long as you stay unenlightened.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, Religion, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q188. How can we be reborn in the Pure Land?

A. Many people think that the Pure Land is a very special, heavenly place somewhere else other than the Earth where ardent believers will be reborn after death. In fact, the Pure Land is where you can go only when alive, not after death.



The Pure Land symbolises our mind, our true-self free from illusions. Now we can be said to be living in an impure land in that our mind, the Pure Land, seems to be an impure land covered with illusions because of our discrimination.   To be reborn in the Pure Land doesn’t mean to be reborn somewhere else other than the Earth, but to realise your true-self or attain enlightenment. That is to realise the truth that we are already living in the Pure Land by removing illusions. Attaining enlightenment is compared to a rebirth since, after enlightenment, we start to live a different life from the life we have lived so far, free from birth and death.


Student: “Where is the Pure Land?”

Master: “You will be in an impure land the moment you seek it.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway