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.’

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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, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, God, illusion, master, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, self, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q244. How do I know if I am enlightened or not?

A. If you practice Zen meditation in the right way, you can experience small and big changes in the course of your practice. You can come across a moment when you feel a big unexplainable change. During this experience, feeling oneness with the whole universe, you realise simultaneously that everything is empty and you are eternity itself.

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From then on, you can see things as form and emptiness at the same time. Then masters’ records, or the Sutras, read like your own stories, and you can understand them as clearly as if experiencing them through your whole body rather than understanding them with your head. Then, you have nothing to ask others since there is nothing that you don’t know. An ancient master once said, “When you are full after hearty food, you need not ask others whether or not you are full.” If you experience the changes mentioned above, you can be said to be enlightened even if you are not checked by a master.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Meditation, Mind, Practice, Religion, root, self, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q242. What would they think of people?

A. People think that a cow is very beneficial and that a snake is very harmful because the former gives us milk, sometimes working power and even gives its body as food, but the latter makes poison and can harm us with it. It is said that we should be altruistic like a cow.

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A cow has no intention to sacrifice itself to help people although it produces milk and has a huge body and a lot of power.

A snake has no intention to harm people although it produces poison.

It is only because of people’s discrimination that a cow is helpful and a snake is harmful.

What would they think of people?

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q241. Is it necessary to practice Zen meditation for many years in order to attain enlightenment? How can I, a Westerner, expect to achieve enlightenment?

A. Nobody knows how long it will take for you to attain enlightenment. It may take some time, or you may get enlightened at the sound of birds tomorrow morning or at a word of my talk during the next retreat. However, don’t be impatient but pay attention only to your question. Impatience won’t help with but will disturb your practice by causing you to make more illusions. However, you should not be too relaxed. Practice just like a hen incubates eggs.

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You must remember that everything is not dual but one. We are divided into a Westerner and an Easterner by our discrimination. They are only imaginary lines or labels produced by us. They are referred to as illusions because they are empty. The purpose of Zen meditation is to remove such illusions. Why do you keep the illusion, Westerner? That is going against your practice. Enlightenment is just to remove all the labels attached to you. Thinking that you can’t attain enlightenment because you are a Westerner is like thinking that Koreans can’t attain enlightenment because they are not Indian like the Buddha.

 

©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.

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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, emptiness, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q237. Student: “All forms return to emptiness. Where does emptiness return to?”

A. Master: “Waves never leave the sea.”

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Commentary:

Winds never return to air because they never leave air.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, final goal, illusion, Koan, master, Meditation, Mind, Practice, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q231. Student: “What is the true-self?”

A. Master: “What do you think it is?”

Student: “I have no idea.”

Master: “You are right.”

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Commentary:

Master opens the shell and offers the flesh.

Why do you try in vain to eat only the hard shell?

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, master, Mind, moment, Practice, present, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q229. I practise Zen meditation no more than two hours a day. My problem is that my busy life doesn’t allow me to practise as much as I want. Could you recommend any way to help with my practice?

A. Remove all your time lines. They are only imaginary lines created by your imagination. There is no fixed time in the universe. Time is a typical illusion. Remove all time lines and you will become eternity itself. Think of eternity as your practice and you will become practice itself. Then, whatever you may do, whether eating, talking, or working, just question what makes your body do it. That is practice. In other words, you make yourself one with the question or your practice. Then, you can practise 24-hours a day 7-days a week. You can’t stop practising.

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Student: “What is the best way to practise well?”

Master: “Don’t practise.”

Student: “Why do you tell me not to practise when I ask you the best way to practise?”

Master: “If you practise 24-hours a day, your practice is not practice any longer. That is true practice.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q227. In Buddhism it is said that only humans can attain enlightenment. This seems to put humans on a pedestal and make them separate from other animals. How can this be true when we also say that everything is one?

A. The words ‘only humans can attain enlightenment’ have the same meaning as ‘only you can attain enlightenment’. This doesn’t mean that you are superior to others but that no one else can take the place of you in both attaining enlightenment and getting the whole world enlightened. In other words, only when you yourself are enlightened can you have all other things including other animals enlightened.

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We can’t realise the truth that humans are one with and not separate from other things such as plants and animals or the living and the non-living, until we attain enlightenment. It is said that once you attain enlightenment, all the universe attains enlightenment as well at the same time. That is, you can have a firm belief that we are not separate from other animals and that everything is one, only when you can see things as they are. Even if all other people of the world should get enlightened, their enlightenment can never allow you to enjoy the truth that everything including you is perfectly one, as long as you stay unenlightened.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q209. I was advised to forget and give up ‘self’ by my former master. How can I do it?

A. If you are to forget and give up yourself, try to know what ‘yourself’ is prior to seeking to forget and give it up. One of the most common mistakes we make in Zen meditation is trying to do something we don’t know at all. The reason why you find it difficult to forget and give up yourself is that you don’t know what yourself is.

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How could you forget and give up yourself without knowing what it is? Make every effort to realise what ‘yourself’ is, which is the core of Zen meditation. If you succeed in realising what it is, you will become oneness with the whole universe and realise that there is nothing worth being labelled as ‘you’; then, there is nothing to forget or give up.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway