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.




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

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

Q274. You say that everything is from the true-self. Is suffering also from the true-self?

A. Yes, it’s from the true-self as well. There is nothing that is not from the true-self. Everything from the true-self, however, is empty and neutral since the true-self is empty. It follows that not only the cause of suffering but also suffering itself is inherently empty and neutral. Whether a phenomenon is seen as a blessing or suffering is determined by our discrimination. A thing, or an incident, becomes suffering only because we think of it as suffering. Rain, for example, can be a blessing to umbrella sellers but a suffering to fan sellers, even though the rain has no intention to do good to the former or harm to the latter.



To conclude, suffering is from our discrimination that comes from ignorance of the emptiness of everything. To realise the truth that suffering is empty is to escape from suffering.


Student: “How can I remove my suffering?”

Master: “Don’t be deceived by yourself.”



©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.



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, Enlightenment, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, self, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q233. What’s the best way to act if I find someone’s behaviour really irritating and distracting?

A. Try to associate everything good or bad with your practice. Imagine you are being tested by a master and remember the following. Everything is neutral. Everything is non-dual. Everything is created by your discrimination. Everything is an action of your true-self. See and hear it as an action of your true-self or a Dharma talk. If you get angry, you don’t have to remember all of these things but only one of them, and try to trace your anger to its root. When you are faced with irritating and distracting behaviour, it will disappear by itself if you don’t think of it as irritating and distracting.



Student: “How can I avoid getting angry?”

Master: “Why do you try to avoid your true-self? Getting angry is none other than the action of your true-self that you are anxious to see.”



©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, Meditation, Practice, Truth, Zen

Q49. Do we become emotionless, not feeling sad or happy after reaching the final goal?

A. Many people think we will not have feelings like sad, anger, pride, lust, happiness and so on after reaching the final goal. Some people use being emotionless as a scale to measure how much progress they have made in meditation progress. This is one of the most common wrong ideas about Zen meditation. Why should we continue our life, not to mention practising to reach the final goal, if we become emotionless like a wooden craft? We have the same feelings: feel sad when seeing sad things, angry when encountering unjust situations, and happy when seeing happy things.

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When we’ve reached the final goal, we can see things as they are, which means we can see things as neutral. Then we see things like a movie: we are sad during a sad movie and happy during a comic play. What counts is that we never become frustrated however sad the movie is and never become so attached to the movie as to disturb our life, since we know it is not real. Likewise, when coming upon a sad situation in reality, we feel sad but never feel so frustrated as to damage our life because we know it is neutral in itself. Meeting with a good thing, we feel happy but never become so proud of, or attached to it, as to mess up our life because you know it is also neutral in itself.
In a word, we have the same feelings but in a different dimension.

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.

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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.