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

Q355. If everything is the true-self, even birds, are they nearer to enlightenment than humans because they kill only for food, not for pleasure?

A. In fact, whether we do good conduct or bad conduct is one thing and attaining enlightenment is another. You can make good karma by doing good conduct, but you can’t attain enlightenment by doing it. In other words, you might enjoy a temporarily better life as a result of good conduct, but you can’t get eternal happiness, or solve the matter of life and death.

According to the Sutras, one of Buddha’s students attained enlightenment although he had killed 99 people before becoming Buddha’s student.




Doing good conduct, or making good karma, is compared to banking money little by little, and attaining enlightenment is likened to attaining eternal life and inexhaustible wealth. However how much money you may put aside in the bank, the money will run out some day. Above all, your wealth, no matter how great it is, becomes of no use to you once you pass away.


However, we become eternity itself by transcending life and death through enlightenment, which is called eternal life in Christianity. Christianity also says that we can’t enter heaven unless we believe in God, no matter how much good conduct we may do. ‘Believe in God’ here means to see God, which means to see everything as it is. This is to attain enlightenment in Buddhism.


Student: “Can I attain enlightenment by doing good things?”

Master: “No, not at all.”

Student: “Should I do bad things?”

Master: “Of course not.”

Student: “Then, what shall I do?”

Master: “Do nothing.”

Student: “How can we live without doing anything?”

Master: “Do good things, but don’t let even your right hand know what it does.”


©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, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q248. In the Bible, Matthew 5:48 it says, “You must be perfect – just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How could we be perfect like God?

A. In fact, we have always been and will be perfect forever, and there is nothing imperfect. ‘Perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ are all the products of our discrimination. How could there be ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’, without discrimination? It is because of our discrimination that all things including us look imperfect.



To be perfect just as your Father in heaven is, means to realise the truth that you are perfect and not to turn ‘imperfect you’ into ‘perfect you’. In order to realise the truth, we must cease to discriminate, or remove illusions, and see everything as it is. Matthew 5:45 says, “He makes his sun shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.” This is showing that God also doesn’t discriminate between good and bad.


Student: “How can I be perfect like Buddha?”

Master: “Don’t stain yourself with ‘perfect’.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q201. Student: “What is the true-self?”

A. Master: “Do good things and don’t do bad things.”

Student: “Even a five-year-old child could know it.”

Master: “Even though a five-year-old child can say it,

even an eighty-year-old man can’t easily put it into practice.”





Don’t try to distinguish good things from bad things, but try to realise what their root is.



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q191. What is freedom from thoughts?

A. Freedom from thoughts is not to be free from thoughts but to be free from bad thoughts. It doesn’t mean to be free from good thoughts. Bad thoughts are the thoughts whose root we don’t know, which are called illusions. Good thoughts are the thoughts whose root we do know, which are called form. For instance, when we see pictures on a screen as pictures, while watching a movie, they are called form. However, if we see them as real, not pictures, they are referred to as illusions, which are the source of our suffering.


To see things as they are, is to see things as form, which is like seeing pictures on a screen as pictures, knowing they are not real while enjoying them. When we can see things as they are, whatever thoughts you produce are good thoughts. Then, you are said to be free from thoughts.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway


Happiness, illusion, master, meditaion, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, now, Practice, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q155. Why did masters say, “Don’t try to do good things”?

A. When you have a stick, can you remove either end of it? Even if you cut off one end of it, there will still remain two ends even though the stick becomes a little shorter. No matter how many times you may cut off either end of it, you will still have both ends and find that the middle part becomes the end. The fact is that you can’t avoid having one end as long as you have the other end. This shows that there is no fixed end and that any part can be an end according to circumstances.



When we have an intention to do something good, we can’t avoid having an idea of something bad because there can’t be a good thing without a bad thing. As long as we have an intention to do good things, we can’t avoid discriminating things. Discriminating things is against the purpose of Zen meditation.
So masters said “Don’t try to do good things” in order to advise their students not to have discriminating minds.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

compassion, illusion, love, Meditation, Practice, Zen

Q137. Are compassion and love also illusions?

A. Suppose that you unconditionally helped someone who is in need. There can be two scenarios.

The first is that you want to show off or are secretly proud because you think you had compassion for a suffering person. The moment you thought that you had compassion, your compassion was not compassion any longer but an illusion. This is because you created a new illusion of compassion concerning your act.

The second is that you never had the idea that you helped someone because you took it for granted, just as if you had fed yourself because you felt oneness with the other person. Then you can be said to have had true compassion because you didn’t have any thought of compassion. In this case, your kindness is not an illusion.


We should know how to do nothing, or how to do without doing. This means that we should not leave any trace in our mind after doing something, just like a flying bird never leaves any trace in the air. Everything is both the truth and an illusion at the same time. Your act becomes an illusion at the moment you label it.

So, the Sutras say that to do good without doing good brings about immeasurable merit.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway