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Q304. My life is still full of troublesome problems even though I practice Zen meditation. How can I be perfectly free from them?

A. There is no one who has no problems at all in the world. For a joke, it is said that even Buddha and God have a lot of troubles all the time because people don’t follow them and do a lot of bad things against their teachings. If you were perfectly free from troubles, the monotony of life might be your serious trouble.


You should know that Zen practice doesn’t change what happens to you but your view of what happens to you. As mentioned repeatedly earlier, everything is empty and neutral. Whether it is good or bad, useful or harmful, is in the eye of the beholder. Try to see everything as neutral even though you have not realised the truth. Why don’t you see your problems as good omens of good fortune to come? Why don’t you think that you are paying in advance for what you will enjoy later? When your view is changed, your thoughts are changed. When your thoughts are changed, your acts are changed. When your acts are changed, what happens to you will also be changed.




Student: “How can I get rid of enemies?”

Master: “Why don’t you make them your friends?”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q225. Student: “What is the true-self?”

A. Master: “Discriminating mind.”




Even an enemy becomes your friend once you get to know him.



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q200. How can I discard ignorance and attain wisdom?

A. Don’t try in vain to abandon one and attain the other. It’s like trying to discard the left and attain only the right. In fact, both are one when you know them. They only look separate and different from each other when you don’t know them. Try to realise what the ignorance is that you think you have, rather than striving to attain the wisdom you think you don’t have. Wisdom is none other than to know what ignorance is. Becoming Buddha is realising what a sentient being is.



Student: “What shall I do when I have a thief in my house?”

Master: “Once you know him, he is not an enemy any longer.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, Koan, Meditation, Mind, now, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q166. How can we use our Dharma discussion as part of practice?

A. Discussions on Zen meditation and the Dharma are a very important part of our practice because we can help one another through them. In order to make the discussions efficient and helpful, special attitudes are required for these discussions, especially in the absence of a master who has can guide us.
When you ask your Zen friend a question, you should think you are not asking your friend, but Buddha the question and listen to him in the same way. When you are not satisfied with his answer, either because you don’t understand his answer or because you think he is giving a wrong answer, you should blame yourself for not understanding his perfect teaching rather than think he is wrong. You should keep in mind that he is telling you the truth regardless of whether his answer is right or wrong.



When you are asked a question, you should regard the questioner as Buddha and think you are being tested by Buddha. Be frank about your practice, and try your best to make the best answer you can. Be neither happy because he agrees with you, nor unhappy because he doesn’t, since his approval itself doesn’t advance your practice and his disapproval doesn’t disturb your progress.

When you ask, asking itself is important because the answer is in your asking. When you listen, listening itself is important because the answer is in your listening. When you answer, answering itself is important because the answer is in your answering. In summary, what matters is all in you, not out of you.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

final goal, meditaion, root, self, true self, Zen

Q110. What shall I do when I have hatred for my friend for no particular reason?

A. Loving someone and hating someone, or loving someone today and hating him tomorrow, and the other way around is the way we live our lives. You don’t have to be worried about the fact that you hate your friend. The key point here is that you don’t know the root of the hatred you have for your friend. Saying you hate your friend, you actually don’t know who it is that hates your friend and who your friend is because you don’t know what you are. In brief, you don’t know who hates whom.


Either trace back your hatred of your friend to its root, or ask yourself what makes your body hate him, instead of repressing emotion. When reaching the root, that is finding the answer to the question, you will realise all emotions you feel are only illusions and then you can accept everything you experience like seeing a movie.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway