Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, Meditation, Photography, Practice, root, sutras, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q335. If everything is empty, is it important to actually attain enlightenment? After enlightenment, can you really hold on to it? Are you then walking around as ‘an enlightened being’? In my opinion, it’s impossible to sustain that experience because it’s empty. Is it a bit like trying to hold onto quick sand?

A. Enlightenment doesn’t mean ‘void’ or ‘valueless’ but means ‘perfection’, ‘perfect freedom’, ‘perfect happiness’ or ‘unlimited possibility’.

 

Attaining enlightenment is compared to a patient’s recovering perfectly from serious illness after taking good medicine. A patient is always ill wherever he is, whatever he does. He walks around as an ill being, and drinks tea as an ill being. However, once he has recovered perfectly from illness, he is well all the time whatever he does, wherever he is. He walks around as a healthy being and drinks tea as a healthy being. He is quite different from what he was when he was ill. He never wants to return to the previous state because he remembers how terrible he felt while ill and can feel how much happier he is now than before.

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The difference between attaining enlightenment and recovering from illness is that you, once getting enlightened, can’t return to the unenlightened state, while you can lose your health again if not taking care of it. Whatever you do, wherever you are, you are always in the state of enlightenment forever without any effort to stay in, or sustain the state. So, a Sutra says that once you pass the gate of enlightenment, the gate is closed behind you forever.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Photography, root, self, suffering, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q329. Why does Zen compare us sentient beings to a patient?

A. As soon as we are born, we are all doomed to an incurable illness, ageing, which leads to death, that no one can avoid. While we have many kinds of painkillers for the illness, there is no medicine to cure it. Whenever we feel the pain of hunger, we take a painkiller, food.

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However, over the course of time, the illness worsens to the extent that no painkiller can help us, and leads us to death in the end. Therefore, we sentient beings are compared to a patient. The purpose of Zen is to help people to be cured of the fatal illness, ageing. So, ancient masters would refer to enlightenment as the solution to the matter of birth and death.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q220. What does commitment to Zen practice really mean if Zen practice is also an illusion?

A. It is true that Zen practice is also an illusion. However, the point is that, while saying that everything including Zen practice is an illusion, we actually don’t know the truth clearly because we have never acquired it through experience. It follows that we still mistake illusions for reality while saying that everything is an illusion with our mouths. If you can see everything as an illusion, you don’t need Zen practice any more. Ancient masters would say, after enlightenment, that all the efforts they had made in order to attain enlightenment were of no use at all. However, you should remember that only after enlightenment did they mention such words as a token of their realisation that everything is empty and an illusion.

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As long as you are not enlightened, Zen practice is important and necessary as a means to enlightenment until you realise the truth that everything is an illusion. Zen practice can be compared to medicine for a patient. However effective and essential a medicine may be to a patient, it is of no use at all or even harmful to a healthy person. Once the patient becomes well, the medicine is not medicine any more to him. However, it is very useful and important as a medicine to a patient until he gets well.

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway