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

Q353. I have read the Diamond Sutra every morning for over 20 years. Is reading the Sutra helpful?

A. Reading thousands of books and the Sutras is not as good as grasping a single word out of the books you read. Trying to realise the true meaning of a single word of the Sutra is much more beneficial than reading the Sutra a thousand times.


You should know that all books including the Sutras are not the essence of the true-self but only a kind of manual that describes the true-self. In other words, the core of what the Sutra says is not in the Sutra but in you who are reading the Sutra. You should know that the true Sutra is not the one made of paper put before you, but your true-self that is making your body read it.



You should also know that each word of the Sutra contains all the contents of the Sutra. So, if you can grasp only a single word from the Sutra, you can know the rest of the Sutra, which is enlightenment. You should think that each word is the gate to enlightenment, and try to understand it clearly rather than read many books, or read a book many times. Then it takes longer to read the Sutra than before. It may take more than a year to read the Sutra that you could previously read in two hours. Then your reading is not reading any more but practice. This is the way of reading the Sutra that I’d love to recommend.


Master: “What did you do last night?”

Student: “I read the Diamond Sutra.”

Master: “What does it say?”

Student: “It says that everything is empty.”

Master: “Did you read only that one sentence?”

Student: “I read many other sentences as well, but I don’t remember all of them.”

Master: “Don’t say that you read the Sutra after picking up and eating black beans.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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, desire, emptiness, empty, Meditation, Photography, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q350. My grandmother, a Buddhist, always says that our greed is the main root of our unhappiness. Is she right?

A. She is not wrong, but in order not to have greed we should know why we have greed. The reason that we have greed is that we can’t see things as they are. For example, when we mistake a piece of broken glass for a piece of diamond, we come to have greed and strive to attain it. When we fail to attain it, we feel disappointed and even frustrated. Even when we succeed in attaining it, we often hurt our hands in the middle of grasping it. After getting it, we are disappointed to find that it is not diamond but glass, or we keep hurting our hands while playing with it.



In conclusion, we come to have greed because we can’t see things as they are, and we try to satisfy our greed only to fail. As a result of this failure, we become unhappy. So, the main root of our unhappiness is not greed itself, but rather our foolishness in that we can’t see things as they are.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway