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.

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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, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, One, Photography, present, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q314. I started Zen meditation in my early twenties with the goal of enlightenment and was very peaceful and happy during practice. My life, as a single mum with four children, is so busy and messy that I can’t find time to practice Zen although I am very keen for practice.

A. The best way of Zen practice is not to practise only when and where nothing happens to you but to identify everything that you see and hear with your practice. In other words, you should not separate your work from your practice but identify the former with the latter. Then, 24-hours a day can be your practice time.

 

In fact, everything that makes you bothered and busy is no other than the true-self that you want to see. There is an interesting story about an ancient master. One day he was going through a busy and crowded marketplace, when he saw two people quarrelling, hurling abuse at each other. Upon hearing one of the names they were calling each other, the master attained enlightenment.

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Why don’t you think that the reason why your life is so busy is that the true-self is striving to show itself to you and attract your attention?  Don’t try to escape from your current situation into a better one for the sake of practice, but try to accept it as a Dharma talk and try to see and hear it as it is. The deeper your practice becomes over time, the easier and more peaceful your life will become.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, God, Meditation, Mind, Religion, root, sex, sexual, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q260. Why do you think that some Christians and Catholics deny and even detest homosexuals?

A. If they think that God is always perfect and everything is created by Him, they should accept the fact that homosexuals are created by God as well. To deny them is to deny God. If God, as they say, is perfect, He never makes a mistake. Then everything made by Him is perfect. To speak ill of homosexuals for being what they are is to find fault with what is created by God and blame Him for His error. That means that they don’t believe in God’s perfection.

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When God made homosexuals what they are, He had His intention. What they are is the exact expression of God’s intention. The reason why they deny and detest homosexuals is that they are still lacking faith in God and don’t know His intention. Finding fault with and even cursing the perfect work by the greatest artist reveals their inability to appreciate His masterpiece, which runs counter to their belief that God is perfect.

Instead of showing their own self-contradiction, they had better try to know what God created homosexuals for.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, master, Meditation, Practice, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q259. How can I grasp the core meaning of the Sutras?

A. What do you think the core teaching of the Sutras is? It is enlightenment. What all the Sutras say is nothing but how to attain enlightenment and what enlightenment is like, nothing else. If you are to grasp the core teaching of Buddha, don’t look for it in the Sutras. The Sutras are only like a map or an arrow pointing to your destination. They are not the place itself that you want to reach.

 

Don’t think of Zen meditation as being apart from the Sutras. Zen meditation is an expedient means to grasp the core teaching of the Sutras. The Sutras are maps and Zen is to move towards the destination indicated by the maps. So, the best way to grasp the core meaning of the Sutras is to experience what the Sutras say through practice.

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Student: “How can I grasp the core meaning of the Sutras?”

Master: “Discard all the Sutras.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q258. Master: “When a guest comes, you should take care of him, but when a thief comes, you should turn him away.”

A. Student: “What is a guest?”

Master: “Just passed by.”

Student: “What is a thief?”

Master: “A guest.”

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Commentary:

What you think is a guest is a thief, and what you think is a thief is a guest.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, God, illusion, master, Meditation, Mind, Practice, Prayer, Religion, root, self, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q257. I have been a Christian for over 20 years and believed that God is perfect. Why does He make my life so troublesome?

A. If you have true faith in God and His perfection, you should not think that your life is troublesome. Thinking that your life is problematic is contrary to the truth that God never makes any mistakes since He is perfect. When He made you what you are, He had his intention. What you are is the exact expression of his intention. The reason why you think that your life is spoiled and troublesome is that you don’t understand his intention. Instead of blaming God for making your life troublesome, you had better try to know what God intends you to be like.

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Student: “Why does God make my life so hard?”

Master: “Why don’t you ask God in person?”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q256. What does ‘being like a mirror’ mean?

A. An ancient master said, “Everybody has a mirror. An unenlightened person’s life is like a monkey looking in a mirror, but an enlightened person’s is like a mirror looking at a monkey.” A monkey, when looking in a mirror, mistakes its reflection as another monkey and tries in vain to do something with it. However, a mirror, when something or someone is before it, just reflects the thing or the person as it is or as they are. It neither names, evaluates nor loves or hates it or them. In other words, it never discriminates. So, ‘being like a mirror’ represents the undiscriminating mind of the enlightened.

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Student: “How do you feel when you are like a mirror?”

Master: “I become a big liar if I answer your question.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q255. Student: “How can I distinguish the true-self from an illusion?”

A. Master: “What you think is the true-self is an illusion and what you think is an illusion is the true-self.”

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Commentary:

Both the true-self and an illusion are illusions.

It is the true-self that tries to distinguish the true-self from an illusion.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q254. You always advise us not to follow language, but how can we understand you unless we follow your language?

A. There is a well-known saying ‘If following words, you will fall into the hell. If not grasping the meaning of words, you will be deluded’. When I tell you not to follow my language, I don’t mean that you should ignore my language but that you should not follow the superficial meaning of it.

 

When pointing to the moon, we can use a finger, a wooden stick, a plastic stick or an iron stick. We can point to the moon even with a fork or a knife if we are asked what the moon is in the middle of eating. Regrettably, people pay all their attention only to studying and analysing the things used to point to the moon: what they are made of, how old they are, what shape they are and so on.

 

When I use a lot of different words and expressions to point to the true-self, my language is like the things above used to point to the moon. If you accept my words in the way you understand general knowledge, you are like a person who studies the stick or the spoon used to point to the moon. Then, you are said to follow or be deceived by language. If you are deceived by language like this, you will be immersed in illusions and even all Sutras and the Bible will become illusions.

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Student: “What’s the true-self?”

Master: “Don’t follow my language.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q252. Student: “What is Buddha?”

A. Master: “It’s in the Buddha hall.”

Student: “Isn’t it just a statue made of clay?”

Master: “Yes, it is.”

Student: “What is Buddha then?”

Master: “It’s in the Buddha hall.”

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Commentary:

It is a top secret.

Keep away all your acquaintances when looking and listening.

Look and listen by yourself.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway