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

Q241. Is it necessary to practice Zen meditation for many years in order to attain enlightenment? How can I, a Westerner, expect to achieve enlightenment?

A. Nobody knows how long it will take for you to attain enlightenment. It may take some time, or you may get enlightened at the sound of birds tomorrow morning or at a word of my talk during the next retreat. However, don’t be impatient but pay attention only to your question. Impatience won’t help with but will disturb your practice by causing you to make more illusions. However, you should not be too relaxed. Practice just like a hen incubates eggs.



You must remember that everything is not dual but one. We are divided into a Westerner and an Easterner by our discrimination. They are only imaginary lines or labels produced by us. They are referred to as illusions because they are empty. The purpose of Zen meditation is to remove such illusions. Why do you keep the illusion, Westerner? That is going against your practice. Enlightenment is just to remove all the labels attached to you. Thinking that you can’t attain enlightenment because you are a Westerner is like thinking that Koreans can’t attain enlightenment because they are not Indian like the Buddha.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, Practice, Zen

Q127. Can I reach the final goal in a year if I focus all my attention to practising Zen?

A. Who could say, “No”? However, the fact is that no one knows how long it will take. Be determined but don’t be impatient. Impatience can cause attachment, which can raise side effects. The harder you try to reach it, when you are impatient, the farther you can get away from it. Watering a flowering plant twice as much as usual doesn’t make it grow and bloom twice as fast as usual; rather it can damage its root. Likewise, a hen, however hard it incubates its eggs, can’t shorten the period of incubation and move the hatching time a few days forward. You should be patient enough to wait for the time to grow ripe. If you get lost in your practice, you will reach the stage where you become indifferent even to the final goal. That is a sign of your being close to the final goal.


If you tune the string of a violin too loosely, it doesn’t make a sound.
If you tune it too tightly, it breaks.
Only when you tune it properly does it make a beautiful sound.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway