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

Q332. What does Zen meditation have to do with reincarnation?

A. All our life we try to make good causes for good effects tomorrow. Trying your best to make yourself happy is trying to make good causes for good effects tomorrow. However, the key problem is that we don’t know what a good cause is and what a bad cause is, partly because our view of it varies according to our viewpoint and partly because what we think is a good cause very often turns out to bring a bad effect. So, we can’t help being worried about what effect we will get tomorrow even though we do our best to make good causes today. Furthermore, whatever good causes we may try to make, we can neither avoid death nor know what will happen to us after death. As a way of settling this challenging problem, primitive people would depend on the gods created by their imagination.

 

The purpose of Zen meditation is to help people to escape from the trap of reincarnation by realising that everything is empty. When everything is empty, not only birth and death but also transmigration and souls are empty illusions. Then reincarnation that means endless rebirth through transmigration of souls is also an empty illusion. In other words, Zen is to help people to free themselves from reincarnation by realising that reincarnation implies an endless cycle of illusions that feed on themselves and reproduce. So, to become free from reincarnation means to obtain eternal life or escape from the trap of life and death, which is also referred to as enlightenment in Buddhism.

 

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Student: “What do you think you will be reborn as after your death?”

Master: “I couldn’t care less.”

Student: “What if you should be reborn as a cow after death?”

Master: “Not bad at all.”

Student: “How can you say being reborn as an animal is not bad at all?”

Master: “Because it is empty.”

 

©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.

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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