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Q265. What am I when my body is not me?

A. Remove all the labels attached to you by others. Remove all words that can describe your identity. Let’s suppose you are a sixty-year-old British man named John who is living in London. When you say that you were born in London sixty years ago, what is left when all the labels are removed? ‘You’ or ‘I’, ‘were born’, ‘in London’, ‘sixty’, ‘years’ and ‘ago’ all are labels. You still have a lot of labels to represent your identity such as your parents, your job, your school records and so on. You think that you are human being, which is also an artificially coined label. Remove all artificial labels and see what is left, whatever it is. That’s it. What is it?



Master: “What is left now?”

Student: “Nothing is left.”

Master: “If nothing were left, what would be saying, ‘Nothing is left’?”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, One, Zen

Q25. Why do we fight and tear the planet apart if we are one? Surely preservation should prevail?

A. As I mentioned earlier, we do whatever we do for the purpose of attaining happiness. So we fight and tear the planet apart, it can be said, to increase our wealth in the hope that the more wealth we have, the more happiness we will have. The key problem here is that we don’t know what we are because we cannot see things as they are. Regarding ourselves as separate from nature, we very often don’t realize the fact we human beings are also part of nature.

My Pictures0030a_thumb

In fact, fighting and tearing the planet apart is fighting and tearing ourselves apart. This happens, I think, because we don’t experience in person the fact we are one, even while saying we are one with our mouth. If we can truly feel that we are one and that nature is part of us, how couldn’t we try to preserve her as we try to keep ourselves healthy?

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.