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

Q292. During practice I can keep my mind silent without any thoughts but I can neither stop thinking nor keep my mind calm when not practising.

A. Trying to keep your mind calm by stopping thoughts from arising without knowing where they are from, is like trying to remove weeds by cutting their leaves, while leaving their roots intact. Just as you will be bothered again by new weeds from the remaining roots sooner or later, so you cannot get permanent calmness without realising the root of your thoughts, or illusions. Then, the silent state with no thoughts becomes another illusion.


Masters’ words “keep your mind calm by stopping thinking” has two meanings: One is before enlightenment and the other is after enlightenment. The former is to have less thoughts by focusing all your attention to your question. The latter, the end of Zen, doesn’t mean literally to stop thinking but not to be deluded by thoughts through realising the truth that everything is empty. Once realising the truth, your mind becomes calm by itself regardless of whether you think or not, because you are not deluded by your thoughts. Masters would say, “You may have as many weeds as you want, but never let them take root.” Then you can enjoy calmness all the time no matter how many thoughts you may have because you are aware that they are empty.

©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q268. Why do I neither understand any words of Zen, nor feel any advance or change, even though I have practiced calming my mind for over 30 years?

A. Practising hard is very important. However, what is more important is practising in the right way. Practising hard in the wrong way can lead you nowhere, or far away from your goal. For instance, after strong determination to reach London on foot from Manchester, you decide to walk 8 hours a day without fail. If you take the right path, you will be sure to get nearer and nearer your destination with time and reach there some day. If you, however, walk hard only in your garden, or in the opposite direction, no matter how hard and long you may walk, you will still be in the same place, your garden or farther away from your destination in spite of your vigorous effort.


So, checking whether you are taking the right way is as important as practising hard. You seem to have tried in vain to calm your mind by holding it firmly while not knowing what it is. The purpose of Zen meditation is not to keep your mind still but to realise what your mind is. Try to see what your mind is from now on instead of trying to calm it. If you see it clearly, you don’t have to try to calm it because it is always calm.




Student: “Why can’t I calm down my mind?”

Master: “Because you try to calm it down.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, Enlightenment, Happiness, Zen

Q22. How can I calm down my mind?

A. Let me ask you a question. How can you wash your car? What is most important in washing your car? This question may sound ridiculous but shows how foolish we are. In order to wash your car, you should know where your car is parked above all. How could you wash your car if you didn’t know where it is, however good your car shampoo and a tool for washing it is? Likewise, to calm down your mind, you should know what your mind is first of all. How could you calm down your mind when you don’t know what it is? To calm down their mind seems difficult to most people because they strive to calm down their mind without knowing what it is.


To conclude, try to realise what your mind is so as to calm down your mind. When feeling angry, sad or frustrated, trace back to the root where all such emotions come from. The root is your mind. In the process of tracing back to the root, you will become calm before you know it. If you happen to reach your mind, you will get eternal happiness. That is called ‘enlightenment’.

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