Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, Meditation, Photography, Practice, root, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q335. If everything is empty, is it important to actually attain enlightenment? After enlightenment, can you really hold on to it? Are you then walking around as ‘an enlightened being’? In my opinion, it’s impossible to sustain that experience because it’s empty. Is it a bit like trying to hold onto quick sand?

A. Enlightenment doesn’t mean ‘void’ or ‘valueless’ but means ‘perfection’, ‘perfect freedom’, ‘perfect happiness’ or ‘unlimited possibility’.


Attaining enlightenment is compared to a patient’s recovering perfectly from serious illness after taking good medicine. A patient is always ill wherever he is, whatever he does. He walks around as an ill being, and drinks tea as an ill being. However, once he has recovered perfectly from illness, he is well all the time whatever he does, wherever he is. He walks around as a healthy being and drinks tea as a healthy being. He is quite different from what he was when he was ill. He never wants to return to the previous state because he remembers how terrible he felt while ill and can feel how much happier he is now than before.



The difference between attaining enlightenment and recovering from illness is that you, once getting enlightened, can’t return to the unenlightened state, while you can lose your health again if not taking care of it. Whatever you do, wherever you are, you are always in the state of enlightenment forever without any effort to stay in, or sustain the state. So, a Sutra says that once you pass the gate of enlightenment, the gate is closed behind you forever.



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q263. What is emptiness?

A. Emptiness is not void but being both existent and non-existent at the same time, as it were, before division into ‘being existent’ and ‘being non-existent’. That is a state or an appearance without any imaginary lines. When asked what emptiness is like, some masters would say that it is full and others that it is active. All you can feel is emptiness. Even your body is emptiness. There is nothing that is not empty. If you follow emptiness, you will forsake it.



Student: “What is emptiness?”

Master: “Don’t forsake it.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q250. What is the true-self like?

A. It has neither a figure nor a root, but it is active all the time without staying anywhere. When you go, it makes your body go, when you sit down, it makes your body sit down, and whatever you do, speaking or keeping silent, it makes your body do it.


Although it moves in countless ways, it has no fixed rule. The harder you look for it, the farther away it is, and the harder you try to obtain it, the more you forsake it. It is with you at this moment as usual, and you can’t separate from it even for a second. The problem is that you don’t recognise it. So, it is called an open secret.


What is it that is making your body read this writing now? Once you realise what on earth it is and what it is like, you will have completed your practice.




Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “Pardon?”

Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “Nothing else other than it.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway