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

Q226. How can I motivate myself to practise Zen when I feel that there is nothing to attain?

A. When we say that there is nothing to attain, this means that everything is so perfect that there is nothing to be desired. That is, there is nothing to attain because all is already yours. Our problem is that we are not aware of the truth and struggle to make our life perfect in our own way. In other words, we are like a rich beggar who is struggling for a living, not knowing that he has great wealth in his bank account.



Student: “Sir, why is there nothing to attain?”

Master: “Because everything is already yours.”

Student: “Why do I have to practise Zen when there is nothing to attain?”

Master: “Because there is still something for you to attain.”

Student: “You said that there is nothing to attain because everything is already mine. Why do you say there is still something for me to attain now?”

Master: “Because you don’t know the fact that everything is already yours. The purpose of Zen is to enable you to confirm the fact that all is already yours. It is like no matter how much money you may have in your bank account, you can’t be said to be rich if you, not conscious of the fact that you have the money,  still struggle to make a living.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway


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

Q221. I have heard that we are already enlightened but we don’t realise the fact. Why do we need to strive to attain enlightenment?

A. The expression ‘We are already enlightened but we don’t realise the fact’ is a very incorrect expression. The right expression is ‘We are already perfect but we don’t realise the fact’. To realise the fact that we are already perfect is enlightenment. Then, you might ask, “Why should we try to attain enlightenment when we are already perfect?” The key problem is that we are not aware of the truth. However perfect we are, we can’t be said to be perfect if we struggle in vain to become perfect while not conscious of the truth that we are already perfect.



We are like a billionaire who is living as a beggar because he is not aware of the fact that he has a great deal of money in his bank account and a lot of real estate to his name. Even though he is told that he is very rich, he can’t accept the fact easily since he has never seen the huge wealth and never lived a rich life lavishing the money freely. Can we say that he is rich? Whatever we say, he is no more than a poor beggar until he realises the fact that he is wealthy. Likewise, we cannot be said to be perfect until we realise and enjoy the truth that we are perfect. Enlightenment is to confirm the truth that we are perfect just like a rich beggar confirms that he is a billionaire.



©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?


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

Buddhism, Enlightenment, Meditation, Truth, Zen

Q43. How can we remove our attachment?

A. You should know what attachment is and where it comes from before trying to remove it. It comes from your misunderstanding things. When you can’t see things as they are, you come to misunderstand them, or make illusions of things. Taking the illusions for real, we overestimate them just as we regard a piece of broken glass as a piece of diamond and a piece of rope as a snake, when we struggle to obtain or to run away from them by all means. In a word, attachment is our strong desire to possess or avoid something.

To eliminate our attachment we should be able to see things as they are, that is, see things as neutral, when our attachment will disappear of itself. However, we might hold it down for a time, but we are likely to fail to remove it permanently if we try to fight it off. We can persuade ourselves not to have attachment and hold it back for a time, in the way we give up a big sum of money beyond our reach, by fooling ourselves into saying to ourselves, “More money than is necessary for an ordinary life can ruin people, so I don’t like such big money.” However, the attachment can come out any time again when such big money seems to be within our reach because we still have the root of it.

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Either focus on your question, or trace your attachment back to its root and you will feel it becoming weaker with time. On reaching the root of it, you will realise that its root is the very final goal you long to reach and that it is the same root from which your compassion stems, when your attachment turns into compassion of itself.

Not until we realise the fact that everything we value is neutral in itself: neither valuable nor worthless, can we root out our attachment.

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