Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, self, student, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q352. If hand-copying the Sutras is meditation, can anything be regarded as meditation?

A. Hand-copying the Sutras itself is not meditation just like wheat flour itself is not bread. It can be meditation only when you keep the question, ‘Who or what is making my body copy this Sutra?’ just as wheat flour becomes bread only when you knead the flour and bake it.



If you can keep such curiosity, all of your acts, whatever you may do, can be meditation. During a walk, you can practice walking meditation. When drinking tea, you can practice tea meditation. When talking with others, you practice talking meditation. If you can turn all your acts into meditation like this, you can be said to have become one with your practice. This means that you are very near the final goal. However, hand-copying the Sutras without such a question may enhance your penmanship, but it has nothing to do with enlightenment.


Master: “How do you practice these days in order to attain enlightenment?”

Student: “I hand-copy the Diamond Sutra.”

Master: “How long does it take to hand-copy the Sutra?”

Student: “It takes almost a day.”

Master: “You still don’t know how to copy the Sutras. You should be able to do it in a second.”

Student: “How can you do that in a second?”

Master: “Shall I show you how?”

Student: “Of course, Sir.”

Master: (slapping the student in the face) “Do you see the Sutra?”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q290. I have made it a rule to read the Diamond Sutra and Zen books every day for over ten years. Is this a good way?

A. It is said that going one kilometre by studying books is not as good as going one metre by practising. It’s because the former adds to illusions whereas the latter decreases them. The former regresses rather than advances us in Zen meditation. So, ancient masters would say, “Trying to attain enlightenment through books is like trying to pick the moon with a pole.”


Instead of spending so much time reading the Sutra and Zen books, I would like to advise you to allocate 90% of this time to practising meditation. The remaining 10% of this time can still be used for reading.



Whatever you do, wherever you are, you are practising well only if you keep questioning what is making you do what you are doing. Reading the Sutras for ten hours is not as good as drinking tea, or washing the dishes for an hour with the question in your mind.


Master: “What did you do last night?”

Student: “I read the Diamond Sutra.”

Master: “How much did you read?”

Student: “I read three pages.”

Master: “You didn’t see the Sutra, let alone read it. The true Sutra has no pages.”


©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway


emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, Practice, present, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q190. Why do illusions arise?

A. They arise because you don’t know what they are. In fact, you don’t know what an illusion is even though you often mention it. You can’t remove or stop it from showing up because you don’t know what it is.



In fact, there are no illusions at all. There is only the truth, or the true-self. The problem is that you are mistaking the truth for illusions. Enlightenment is to realise that all illusions are the truth, or the true-self. As the Diamond Sutra says, to realise that a flower is not a flower, but emptiness, is enlightenment. To realise that an illusion is not real, but empty, is enlightenment. Realising that an illusion is not an illusion, but the truth, or the true-self is enlightenment.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway