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

Q268. Why do I neither understand any words of Zen, nor feel any advance or change, even though I have practiced calming my mind for over 30 years?

A. Practising hard is very important. However, what is more important is practising in the right way. Practising hard in the wrong way can lead you nowhere, or far away from your goal. For instance, after strong determination to reach London on foot from Manchester, you decide to walk 8 hours a day without fail. If you take the right path, you will be sure to get nearer and nearer your destination with time and reach there some day. If you, however, walk hard only in your garden, or in the opposite direction, no matter how hard and long you may walk, you will still be in the same place, your garden or farther away from your destination in spite of your vigorous effort.


So, checking whether you are taking the right way is as important as practising hard. You seem to have tried in vain to calm your mind by holding it firmly while not knowing what it is. The purpose of Zen meditation is not to keep your mind still but to realise what your mind is. Try to see what your mind is from now on instead of trying to calm it. If you see it clearly, you don’t have to try to calm it because it is always calm.




Student: “Why can’t I calm down my mind?”

Master: “Because you try to calm it down.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q228. Student: “What would you do if you are caught in a shower on the way?”

A. Master: “I would avoid it by entering an old shelter.”




Fish don’t think that they are wet.



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q187. How can we do our best in our practice without being attached to enlightenment?

A. Let’s suppose you want to go for an excursion by car to New York City, across the Continent of North America from San Fransisco, California. In order to reach your destination, which side do you think you should pay more of your attention to, your goal, New York City or careful and safe driving? Safe arrival at your goal is the result of your careful driving. If you are more preoccupied with your destination rather than with safe driving, you are likely to be impatient and want to reach there as soon as possible. The impatience to reach your goal quickly can tempt you to drive too fast, which can cause your car to have trouble or an accident. That can make your journey take longer than it should, or make it difficult for you to continue your journey.



Focus on how to practise well. You should pay all your attention to your practice and not to enlightenment. Attachment to enlightenment can cause you to have yet another strong illusion that brings negative side effects such as being neglectful of your family, your business or your health. This just is making matters worse while trying to improve things.  Just as it is not the attachment to your destination but safe driving that takes you to your destination, so it is not the attachment to enlightenment but diligent practice that leads you to enlightenment.


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway