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.

017_8543a_thumb

 

 

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

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.

My Pictures0192a_thumb

 

 

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, desire, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Photography, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q266. How can I be free from all past karma if causation is inevitable?

A. ‘Cause and effect’ is a rule for explaining the world of form. No one can escape it. Buddha, while alive, said that he himself couldn’t avoid it as well as long as living in the world of form. To become free from karma is not to remove, or do away with it, but to realise that karma is empty.

Let’s suppose there is a golden cup. It can be dented, or crushed when dropped from a height, or hit on a hard thing. It is dented in just the same way regardless of whether a foolish man drops it or Buddha does. This is called karma, or cause and effect.

To be free from karma is not to remove it, but to change our view of it.

People who see the cup only as a cup, without realising that its essence is gold, will get upset and disappointed when the cup loses its form of a cup, or is disfigured by any number of causes such as dropping or hitting it. Thinking that all of its value is gone, they are sometimes so frustrated that they may even give it up.

srh_5939a_thumb

However, those who are aware that the cup is made of gold know that the essence and its intrinsic value never change regardless of what form it takes on. They are not swayed by the change of the form of it because they know that the essence of the cup is not the form of a cup but gold itself, and that there is no change at all in the essence. To realise the emptiness of things and not to be swayed by the change of them is said to be freedom from karma.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, Koan, Meditation, Mind, Truth, Zen

Q27. Can’t people move away from the wrong doings of former lives?

A. What do you think your former life is? Yesterday was your former life and tomorrow is your future life. Suppose you had no meal yesterday. Now you can’t move away from feeling very hungry, but whether you will continue to be hungry, or not, depends on whether you eat food now or not. Every moment is not just the result of your former life but also the cause of your future life.

File14421a_thumb - Copy

What counts here is that how you accept the result of your former life determines your future life. So it is said that we can know what your former life was like and what your future life will be like by seeing your present life. The result you face today may look advantageous to you but you should not be too much attached to it. It may look unfavourable to you but you should not be frustrated. You should see things as neutral. What is the best today can be the worst tomorrow and what is the worst today can be the best tomorrow. History shows that many of the great figures who helped mankind were those who accepted their misfortune as their stepping stone. In fact nobody can move from the result of his former life. However, if you can see it as neutral, you feel no need to move away from it. Then we say, “You’ve moved away from the result of your former life.”
When you can see things as they are, you can see things as neutral.

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