Buddha, Buddhism, final goal, Happiness, illusion, master, Meditation, Mind, Photography, self, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q281. Can Zen help us to deal with our physical problems?

A. The physical problems that we experience due to aging, unexpected injuries from accidents and illnesses are, if not desirable, unavoidable challenges that all of us are subject to. The key point here is how to confront them. Our mind is to our body as a driver is to a car. In the same way that how long and how well a car runs depends upon the driver, our physical health counts on our mind.



Zen helps us to see everything as it is, so that we can avoid worsening situations by overreacting to them when faced with difficulties. For instance, there is a saying that the unreasonable fear of cancer is more dangerous than cancer itself. This is because the fear of cancer, if not surmounted, can harm patients more than cancer itself can. This is true when people can’t see things as they are. Zen meditation, by enabling us to see things as they are, helps us to know how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared. For that reason, I think Zen can help us to deal with our physical problems.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway


Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q187. How can we do our best in our practice without being attached to enlightenment?

A. Let’s suppose you want to go for an excursion by car to New York City, across the Continent of North America from San Fransisco, California. In order to reach your destination, which side do you think you should pay more of your attention to, your goal, New York City or careful and safe driving? Safe arrival at your goal is the result of your careful driving. If you are more preoccupied with your destination rather than with safe driving, you are likely to be impatient and want to reach there as soon as possible. The impatience to reach your goal quickly can tempt you to drive too fast, which can cause your car to have trouble or an accident. That can make your journey take longer than it should, or make it difficult for you to continue your journey.



Focus on how to practise well. You should pay all your attention to your practice and not to enlightenment. Attachment to enlightenment can cause you to have yet another strong illusion that brings negative side effects such as being neglectful of your family, your business or your health. This just is making matters worse while trying to improve things.  Just as it is not the attachment to your destination but safe driving that takes you to your destination, so it is not the attachment to enlightenment but diligent practice that leads you to enlightenment.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, meditaion, Meditation, self, true self, Truth, Zen

Q109. If everything is the true-self, can I say that I am looking at my true-self while looking at this cup?

A. No, you can’t, because you are looking at a cup. As long as you see a cup as a cup, you can’t say that you see your true-self. Seeing a cup as a cup means seeing a car as a car and a person as a person, which means that all the labels or lines dividing one into many still remain. Your eyes, it is said, are covered with illusions or you are an open-eyed blind man.


The Buddha said, “If you realise that form is not form, you will see your true-self.”
Being able to see the cup as non-cup means that a car is not a car, a person is not a person any more to you and you are not you because all illusions have disappeared. The disappearance of all illusions means the disappearance of the lines that divide one into many. When all the lines disappear, many become one. There is no seer and no seen and no speaker and no listener in the situation where a cup is not a cup. It can be said that the seer is one with the seen, and speaker is one with the listener. There is nothing to mention, and speech is not speech any more here. Then everything, it is said, is the true-self. To experience this through your body in person is to realise the true-self.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway