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

Q336. Every time an ancient Zen master gave a dharma talk, a certain old man would come to listen. He usually left after the talk, but one day he remained. The master asked, “Who is there?”

A. The man said, “I am not actually a human being. I lived and taught on this mountain at the time of Kashyapa Buddha. One day a student asked me, ‘Does a person who practises with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?’ I said to him, ‘No, such a person doesn’t.’ Because I said this I was reborn as a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes. Sir, please tell me the correct answer and free me from this wild fox’s body.”

Then he asked the master, “Does a person who practises with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?”

The master said, “He isn’t deluded by cause and effect.”

Immediately the man had great realisation.

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Student: “What answer would you have made if you had been in his shoes?”

Master: “I would have said, ‘Such a man doesn’t fall into cause and effect’.”

Student: “Why on earth do you copy the wrong answer?”

Master: “Because of cause and effect.”

Student: “What would the old man have become if he had given a correct answer?”

Master: “A fox.”

Student: “Why would he have become a fox if he had given a correct answer?”

Master: “Because of cause and effect.”

 

Commentary:

Everything is the gate to the enlightenment.

When you know clearly what cause and effect is,

it is also the gate to the enlightenment.

When you don’t know what it is,

it is a trap that turns you into a fox.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Koan, master, meditaion, Mind, Photography, Practice, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q267. Student: “What is the matter when the gate won’t open, however hard I try to open it?”

A. Master: “It’s already open”

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Commentary:

If you stick to ‘open’, it’s already locked.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q202. Is it okay to go on with my worldly job in order to make money, while seeking to attain enlightenment?

A. Enlightenment is to realise that everything is empty and so there is nothing to gain or lose. That means that there is nothing that you should or shouldn’t do in the world. Zen meditation is to try realise the truth.

The key point is not what you are doing for a living, but whether or not you try to realise the truth in the right way, that is, try to realise what you are when your body is not you. If you try to realise what makes your body do your work while doing it, that is good practice. In terms of that, your job can be a good gate to enlightenment. Work and practice are one to a good Zen man.

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Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “It is what is asking me the question now.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Mind, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q174. Student: “What is your true-self?”

A. Master: “A gate.”

Student: “How can I see it?”

Master: “Open it.”

Student: “How can I open it?”

Master: “Break it open.”

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Commentary:

All gates are wide open.

Don’t bump into the gate itself, just pass through the gateway.

Trying to open it is turning your back on it.

 

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Meditation, true self, Truth, Zen

Q91. What do you mean by ‘Everything is the gate to the truth’?

A. It means that everything you hear and see is teaching you. You can reach your final goal if you grasp this teaching. Let me give you an example.

Once upon a time a monk who had been practising Zen meditation with the Zen question, ‘What was your original face like before you were born?’ happened to be walking across a market place. He saw a group of people making a great fuss around a humble looking man. The fact was that this man was caught stealing some money from an elderly woman. Some bystanders in the crowd blamed him and some were feeling pity for him. One of them said to him, “You’ve lost your face now. How can you save your face before your family?” The poor man answered with his head bent, “I have no face to lose any more.” The moment the monk heard the phrase ‘I have no face to lose’, his question ‘What was your original face like before you were born?’ was solved perfectly. The trivial word from the humble thief was the greatest teaching to the monk that he had ever heard in his life. What would not be a gate to the truth, if even such a trifle as the thief’s words is the greatest teaching?

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Do you want to hear the teaching of the truth?
Listen carefully to your family and neighbours.
©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway