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

Q241. Is it necessary to practice Zen meditation for many years in order to attain enlightenment? How can I, a Westerner, expect to achieve enlightenment?

A. Nobody knows how long it will take for you to attain enlightenment. It may take some time, or you may get enlightened at the sound of birds tomorrow morning or at a word of my talk during the next retreat. However, don’t be impatient but pay attention only to your question. Impatience won’t help with but will disturb your practice by causing you to make more illusions. However, you should not be too relaxed. Practice just like a hen incubates eggs.



You must remember that everything is not dual but one. We are divided into a Westerner and an Easterner by our discrimination. They are only imaginary lines or labels produced by us. They are referred to as illusions because they are empty. The purpose of Zen meditation is to remove such illusions. Why do you keep the illusion, Westerner? That is going against your practice. Enlightenment is just to remove all the labels attached to you. Thinking that you can’t attain enlightenment because you are a Westerner is like thinking that Koreans can’t attain enlightenment because they are not Indian like the Buddha.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, Zen

Q131. Do we have to keep practising to maintain the final goal after reaching it?

A. Would you try to reach the universe even while knowing that you are part of it? Once you realise the fact that you cannot escape being part of the universe whatever you may do, why should you keep struggling to reach the universe? Likewise, once you reach the final goal, you don’t have to make any effort to maintain or stay in it because you can’t escape from it; you are the goal itself. Instead, you may well pity and help those who strive to reach the final goal to realise that they are already there.

There are people who insist that we should continue to practice even after reaching the final goal. They believe that we will fall back to what we were if we do not continue practicing. In fact, we can no more return after reaching the final goal than a hatched chicken can go back into its egg. Once we reach the final goal, we will even feel that all the effort made was useless because we will realise that we were like a man struggling to reach his home while sitting in his living-room. If someone makes even a little effort to reach or stay in the universe, it shows that he still doesn’t know what the universe is. Likewise, if someone makes an effort to maintain or stay in the final goal, that is evidence that he is still blind to what the final goal is.


Though medicine is essential to a patient,
It is of no use to him any more once he gets well.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway