Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, love, master, Meditation, One, Photography, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q358. Is love just a label and not actually the true Self?

A. The truth is that there is nothing that is not the true Self. At the same time, it is also true that everything is an illusion. Whether everything is an illusion, or the true-self, depends on whether or not you can see it as it is. When you can see everything as it is, everything is the true-self, but when you can’t see things as they are, everything is an illusion.

 

When you can see things as they are, your love is the action of the true-self. Then your love is referred to as compassion, true love or wise love.

A couple enjoy the sunset off the Keralan coast, India.. Image shot 01/2007. Exact date unknown.

 

However, when you can’t see things as they are, both you and the object of your love are illusions. In other words, when you don’t know what you are and what the object of your love is, how can you say that you love someone or something without knowing who loves whom or what?

 

Then you are said to be attached to and deluded by an illusion, love, which can often lead you to frustration and unhappiness.

 

Student: “May I, as a practitioner, love?”

Master: “I don’t tell you to not love but advise you to know who loves whom.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, illusion, love, meditaion, Photography, Religion, root, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q340. In the Bible, Proverbs 13:20 it says “You are the company that you keep.” What is this warning about?

A. If you are the company you keep, the company you keep is you. In other words, you are one with the company you keep. Whoever you keep as company, your company is you. Whoever you meet, a wise man, foolish man, a thief, a robber or an imposter, he is you. If he is a thief, he is a thief because you think he is a thief. If he is a wise man, he is a wise man because you think so. In other words, seeing a person as a thief means having an illusion of a thief in your mind.

File0509a_thumb

 

This scripture means, therefore, that you should not discriminate when you meet people but see them as you or one with you. When you become one with others and other things, you can love your neighbours as yourself.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, God, illusion, Meditation, Practice, Prayer, Religion, root, self, student, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q245. How should I accept the part of the Bible, Matthew 10:37 that says, “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples.”?

A. Zen has a similar saying, ‘Kill Buddha and your parents if you are to see your true-self’. Even Buddha, while alive, would say to his disciples, “If you see me, kill me.” Here, killing Buddha and your parents means removing the illusions of them and not actually killing Buddha and your real parents. Logically speaking, how would it be possible to kill the historical Buddha who passed away about 2500 years ago? The reason why masters would use such a radical expression is that the illusions of Buddha and your parents are among the illusions that are the most difficult to remove.

Likewise, in order to see God, you have to remove all illusions, among which those of God and your parents die hardest. So, the above scripture can be interpreted: ‘Those who love the illusions of their parents without trying to see their true-self are not fit to be my disciples. Those who can’t remove the illusions of their parents can’t see God, the true-self.’

SRH_1687a_thumb

Student: “When we kill our parents, we can repent of our sin of killing them before Buddha. However, where can we repent of our sin when we kill Buddha or God?”

Master: “When you come into your kingdom after a successful rebellion, there is no one who can judge you.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, desire, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, love, Meditation, Mind, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q239. If love and hate are neutral and both are illusions, then, what difference does it make whether I am loving or cruel?

A. It’s true that love and hate are neutral and both are illusions. In fact, it doesn’t make any difference whether you are loving or cruel. To realise the truth means to realise that everything is empty and feel oneness with the whole universe. Then, your feeling of love and hatred cannot help but be different from the feeling that you have had before realising the truth.

Above all, when you feel your hate as empty, your hate seldom develops into being cruel. Your cruel feeling, if or when it occurs, is not as strong or acute as before and doesn’t last long even though you don’t struggle to control your emotion. Rather, your cruel feeling turns into sympathy as you feel oneness. That is called compassion.

SRH_5738a_thumb

 

In fact, as many people become unhappy because of love as do those who become unhappy because of hatred. As often as not cruel feelings result from love. If you realise the truth mentioned above, you will not be obsessed with, or attached to love, to the extent that your love makes people feel burdened or even tortured rather than happy. And you will not become so frustrated by the loss of love, if it happens, that you stray from your normal life. That is called wisdom.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, compassion, desire, emptiness, empty, illusion, love, master, Meditation, Mind, Photography, Practice, self, sex, sexual, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q236. I was unfaithful to my wife, and she wanted to get divorced from me. I apologised to her for my misdeed with all my heart and she promised to forgive me. We, as Buddhists, thinking that everything is empty, agreed to forget the matter. However, she still keeps bringing up the matter, which leads to arguments and we still talk about divorce.

A. To think that everything is empty seems to be a good way to solve your problem. Try to keep thinking that way even though you’ve not realised the truth and your life will gradually become more stable with your Zen practice growing mature. The most important thing that you should realise now is that if everything is empty, your wife’s attitude is also empty just like your misdeed is empty. Then, your situation is not a problem anymore.

You might think that she also should see your past deeds as empty and not be so angry with you, but she should take responsibility for her own behaviour. If she also viewed things as you want her to, it would be the most ideal solution. However, if you really believe that everything is empty, why does her attitude, rude or polite, matter. If you can’t accept her attitude as empty while saying that everything is empty, you are being self-contradictory after all.

Why don’t you think of her attitude as her struggle to forgive you. Her head may have forgiven you but her heart still might not since the latter takes longer to forgive you. She, I think, is determined to forgive you since she still loves you and wants to keep your family together, but she still feels suffering from the incident because her wound has not yet healed perfectly. It is your duty as her husband to comfort and help her to surmount her suffering and become what she used to be.

SRH_8311a_thumb

 

Seeing others’ suffering as yours is compassion.

Seeing your suffering as empty is wisdom.

 

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, God, Happiness, Meditation, Mind, One, Practice, Prayer, Religion, root, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q203. If I find myself affixed to a single path to truth: the path of prayer and praise, or the path of kindness and love, or the path of wisdom and meditation, or any other path of a singular mode, am I going in the wrong way?

A. No, you are not wrong at all. Feel free to choose any path that appeals to you and concentrate on seeking the root from which the path comes. Whichever path you may take, you will come to take the same way after all because they are from the same root, the truth that is not dual.

20160509_195019a_thumb

 

We should realise the fact that all other things, as well as all paths, are from the same root even though they may look different from each other. The root is the very truth. To realise what the root is should be the final goal of all religions.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, mindful, mindfulness, Practice, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q202. Is it okay to go on with my worldly job in order to make money, while seeking to attain enlightenment?

A. Enlightenment is to realise that everything is empty and so there is nothing to gain or lose. That means that there is nothing that you should or shouldn’t do in the world. Zen meditation is to try realise the truth.

The key point is not what you are doing for a living, but whether or not you try to realise the truth in the right way, that is, try to realise what you are when your body is not you. If you try to realise what makes your body do your work while doing it, that is good practice. In terms of that, your job can be a good gate to enlightenment. Work and practice are one to a good Zen man.

_SRH8467a_thumb

 

 

Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “It is what is asking me the question now.”

 

©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.”

SRH_0226a_thumb

 

 

Commentary:

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

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.

_SRH7732a_thumb

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

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, God, Meditation, Practice, Prayer, Religion, Zen

Q136. What do you think of praying to God or Buddha?

A. We can see a lot of people not only pray to them but also offer plenty of money to temples or churches as a token of their faith in Buddha or God, while ignoring many suffering people who are in need. People want to make a deal with God or Buddha, just like they may bribe public officials to do something they want to be done. In brief, they take advantage of their prayer to Buddha or God as a means to satisfy and justify their greed and hypocrisy.

It is said that God or Buddha is love itself, compassion itself and justice itself and that he is so almighty that he can fulfill our prayers. Why are so many starving in the world and why do endless wars break out and disasters befall people at this time while so many clergymen, priests and monks are praying all around the world? Why does a charitable God who says, “Love your neighbour as yourself” always seem to side with rich, strong countries or people? Why have so many countries been engaged in wars throughout history in the name of religion?

SRH_0014a_thumb

I don’t think that prayer itself is bad. However, why do these things happen in spite of so much prayer by so many people around the world? It is because they don’t know whom they pray to or worship because they don’t know themselves and therefore they do not know who is praying. They also don’t know how to worship or pray because they don’t know whom they worship or pray to. Therefore, they commit brutal carnage while speaking of Jesus’s love with their mouths, and spend an untold sum of money on producing weapons while saying their prayers.

I never discourage you from praying, but encourage you to pray in the right way. In order to pray in the right way, you should know at least who prays to whom. When you don’t know this, trying to find out who prays to whom it is a true prayer.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway