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.



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, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, Religion, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q188. How can we be reborn in the Pure Land?

A. Many people think that the Pure Land is a very special, heavenly place somewhere else other than the Earth where ardent believers will be reborn after death. In fact, the Pure Land is where you can go only when alive, not after death.



The Pure Land symbolises our mind, our true-self free from illusions. Now we can be said to be living in an impure land in that our mind, the Pure Land, seems to be an impure land covered with illusions because of our discrimination.   To be reborn in the Pure Land doesn’t mean to be reborn somewhere else other than the Earth, but to realise your true-self or attain enlightenment. That is to realise the truth that we are already living in the Pure Land by removing illusions. Attaining enlightenment is compared to a rebirth since, after enlightenment, we start to live a different life from the life we have lived so far, free from birth and death.


Student: “Where is the Pure Land?”

Master: “You will be in an impure land the moment you seek it.”


©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway