Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Meditation, moment, Photography, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q325. At the moment I die or when I fall asleep, does the world cease to exist?

A. Who, or what, dies or falls asleep when you die or sleep? When everything is empty, which of ‘I’, ‘death’, ‘sleep’ and ‘the world’ is not empty? Saying that everything is empty means that all of them are empty, too.

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However, when your sleep is not empty, the places such as your bed, your room et cetera where you sleep are not empty, either. When they are not empty, things and people related to the places are also not empty. When the things and people related to the places are not empty, other things and people related to these things and these people are also not empty. If we keep expanding in this way, we reach the conclusion that if your sleep is not empty, all the world is not empty, either. So, ancient masters would say that when even a grain of dust is not empty but real, all the world is real.

 

Therefore, saying that the world is empty but your sleep isn’t makes no sense at all. When your sleep is not empty but real, the world is also real. When your sleep is empty, the world is empty. To sum up, when you think that you fall asleep, the world exists. When you, however, think that your falling asleep is empty, the world is empty as well. Whatever things may happen, whether they exist or not depends upon your view.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Mind, moment, now, One, Photography, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q323. How long do I have to wait to see my true-self?

A. Don’t wait for it. A waiting mind can rather blind you. See it at this moment. While you spend time here waiting for it, it is also waiting for you in the same place.

 

An ancient master would say, “A foolish man doesn’t realise the true-self although he is with it all his life, just like a spoon or a fork doesn’t know the taste of food. However, a wise man realises the truth as soon as he listens to a Dharma talk, just like a tongue senses the taste of food.”

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You have lived on it all your life, and you are chewing it every moment, even at this moment when you read this writing. Why don’t you see it at this moment?

 

Student: “What is the true-self, Sir?”

Master: “You already said it.”

Student: “What is it like?”

Master: “You already showed it.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Meditation, Photography, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q321. Student: “What is emptiness?”

A. Master: “If I answer your question, I become menial.”

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Commentary:

Don’t blame the master for not answering.

He is soiling himself to answer the question.

What he is worried about is not his becoming menial but your becoming menial.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q319. Many people say that they know what enlightenment is and that their way is the true way. How can we tell if a teacher is really enlightened or not?

A. It is true that it is almost impossible for unenlightened people to tell whether a teacher is enlightened or not. Only the enlightened have an eye for the enlightened, just like only those who know maths can tell if a maths teacher has real capacity. However, I am going to tell you a few essential requirements that I think a teacher should be equipped with as a teacher, regardless of whether he is enlightened or not.

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A teacher should:

  1. Be able to give you a clear definition about what enlightenment, the final goal is.
  2. Be able to give you a persuasive explanation about what his way of practice has to do with enlightenment, or why you should practice in his way.
  3. Be able to give you sufficient Dharma talks explaining the True-self and how to see it in detail.
  4. Welcome all your questions and give you satisfactory answers to them.

 

If someone satisfies all these conditions, he is worth following as a teacher, I think.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Meditation, Photography, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q318. Student: “What is the quickest way to the true-self?”

A. Master: “Don’t ask me where your mouth is.”

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Commentary:

It is standing on its single foot facing you.

You don’t forsake it.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, illusion, Meditation, Photography, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q317. What does ‘an illusion is the true-self’ mean?

A. An illusion is to the true-self as wind is to air. We divide air into many kinds of winds such as breeze, gale, waft, gust and so on. No matter how many kinds of winds there may be, the essence of them is the same, air. In the same way, we divide the true-self, emptiness into many forms by drawing imaginary lines or through labelling, and the forms are referred to as illusions. However many forms there may be, the essence of them is the true-self, emptiness. Therefore, it means that all illusions are true-self, just as all winds are air.

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Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “An illusion is.”

Student: “What is an illusion?”

Master: “The true-self is.”

Student: “What is the difference between them?”

Master: “The difference is not between them at all but only in your view because they are one.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, illusion, master, Meditation, Photography, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q316. How can we neither be stained by dirt while in dirt nor be attached to purity when we happen to face it?

A. Interpreted more simply, this question means “How can we live without being deluded by illusions and without being attached to enlightenment when we happen to get it?” It is possible to know, through perfect realisation of the truth, that everything is empty. In other words, when everything is empty, we should realise that not only illusions but also enlightenment is empty.

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If we are attached to enlightenment after getting enlightened, this is making another illusion, just like making a new form of clay after destroying an old form of clay. You should realise that when everything is empty, you are emptiness itself, and then there is nothing to gain or lose. So, an ancient master said, “Don’t be stained by purity.” when his student asked him how he could remain pure. In other words, you should neither be deluded by illusions while living amid them nor be attached to emptiness.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Meditation, One, Photography, present, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q314. I started Zen meditation in my early twenties with the goal of enlightenment and was very peaceful and happy during practice. My life, as a single mum with four children, is so busy and messy that I can’t find time to practice Zen although I am very keen for practice.

A. The best way of Zen practice is not to practise only when and where nothing happens to you but to identify everything that you see and hear with your practice. In other words, you should not separate your work from your practice but identify the former with the latter. Then, 24-hours a day can be your practice time.

 

In fact, everything that makes you bothered and busy is no other than the true-self that you want to see. There is an interesting story about an ancient master. One day he was going through a busy and crowded marketplace, when he saw two people quarrelling, hurling abuse at each other. Upon hearing one of the names they were calling each other, the master attained enlightenment.

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Why don’t you think that the reason why your life is so busy is that the true-self is striving to show itself to you and attract your attention?  Don’t try to escape from your current situation into a better one for the sake of practice, but try to accept it as a Dharma talk and try to see and hear it as it is. The deeper your practice becomes over time, the easier and more peaceful your life will become.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, illusion, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q313. What is the true-self and what is an illusion?

A. The true-self is an illusion and an illusion is the true-self. When you can see, for example, the cup put before you as empty, it is the true-self, but it is an illusion when you can’t see it as empty and see it only as a cup. This is true of everything that you can see and hear; your wife, your friends, your puppy, et cetera. In other words, when you can see things as empty, everything is the true-self. When you can’t see things as empty, everything is an illusion.

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A thing doesn’t determine on its own whether it is seen as the true-self or an illusion, but it depends on whether or not you can see it as empty. When you can see everything as empty, you are said to have attained the eye of wisdom or enlightenment. So, an ancient master would say that if you get the eye of wisdom, all the rubbish heaps turn into treasure heaps. When you are enlightened, everything including yourself is perfection itself to you. That is referred to as the Pure Land or the Buddha Land.

 

Student: “What is the true-self?”

Master: “There is nothing that is not the true-self.”

Student: “Why can’t I see it?”

Master: “Because you seek it while seeing it.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, Meditation, One, Practice, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q312. Student: “Why is seawater salty and river-water sweet?”

A. Master: “Because both are from the same source.

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Commentary:

Sea-fish don’t think that seawater is salty, and freshwater fish don’t think that river-water is sweet.

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway