Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Photography, Practice, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q319. Many people say that they know what enlightenment is and that their way is the true way. How can we tell if a teacher is really enlightened or not?

A. It is true that it is almost impossible for unenlightened people to tell whether a teacher is enlightened or not. Only the enlightened have an eye for the enlightened, just like only those who know maths can tell if a maths teacher has real capacity. However, I am going to tell you a few essential requirements that I think a teacher should be equipped with as a teacher, regardless of whether he is enlightened or not.



A teacher should:

  1. Be able to give you a clear definition about what enlightenment, the final goal is.
  2. Be able to give you a persuasive explanation about what his way of practice has to do with enlightenment, or why you should practice in his way.
  3. Be able to give you sufficient Dharma talks explaining the True-self and how to see it in detail.
  4. Welcome all your questions and give you satisfactory answers to them.


If someone satisfies all these conditions, he is worth following as a teacher, I think.


©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

Enlightenment, Koan, Meditation, Mind, Truth, Zen

Q50. Student: What are you when your body is not you?

Master: Two plus three is five.
Student: I know that, too.
Master: Then you are a master, too.
Student: I didn’t ask you about numbers.
Master: I didn’t talk about numbers, either.

SRH_0343a_thumb - Copy

Master is pointing to the moon with his finger.
Why aren’t you looking at the moon but the finger?
If I were the student, I would say, “You are wrong, sir. Two plus three is seven.”

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