Buddha, Buddhism, emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, master, Meditation, Practice, Religion, root, self, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q259. How can I grasp the core meaning of the Sutras?

A. What do you think the core teaching of the Sutras is? It is enlightenment. What all the Sutras say is nothing but how to attain enlightenment and what enlightenment is like, nothing else. If you are to grasp the core teaching of Buddha, don’t look for it in the Sutras. The Sutras are only like a map or an arrow pointing to your destination. They are not the place itself that you want to reach.

 

Don’t think of Zen meditation as being apart from the Sutras. Zen meditation is an expedient means to grasp the core teaching of the Sutras. The Sutras are maps and Zen is to move towards the destination indicated by the maps. So, the best way to grasp the core meaning of the Sutras is to experience what the Sutras say through practice.

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Student: “How can I grasp the core meaning of the Sutras?”

Master: “Discard all the Sutras.”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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Q254. You always advise us not to follow language, but how can we understand you unless we follow your language?

A. There is a well-known saying ‘If following words, you will fall into the hell. If not grasping the meaning of words, you will be deluded’. When I tell you not to follow my language, I don’t mean that you should ignore my language but that you should not follow the superficial meaning of it.

 

When pointing to the moon, we can use a finger, a wooden stick, a plastic stick or an iron stick. We can point to the moon even with a fork or a knife if we are asked what the moon is in the middle of eating. Regrettably, people pay all their attention only to studying and analysing the things used to point to the moon: what they are made of, how old they are, what shape they are and so on.

 

When I use a lot of different words and expressions to point to the true-self, my language is like the things above used to point to the moon. If you accept my words in the way you understand general knowledge, you are like a person who studies the stick or the spoon used to point to the moon. Then, you are said to follow or be deceived by language. If you are deceived by language like this, you will be immersed in illusions and even all Sutras and the Bible will become illusions.

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Student: “What’s the true-self?”

Master: “Don’t follow my language.”

 

 

©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

Q195. I think I am not seeing the Emptiness of questions and answers. Maybe I have just been seeing the form till now. Am I right?

A. As I said before, you have been seeing the Emptiness since your birth. You have never stopped seeing it even for a moment, and you can’t stop it. All the Sutras say that Emptiness is form and form is Emptiness. Accordingly, seeing form is seeing Emptiness.

The problem is that you can’t recognise it because your eyes and ears are covered by your discrimination.

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Student: “What is the Emptiness?”

Master: “What you see and hear is the Emptiness.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q179. You say that the Sutras are not different from the Bible. Could you interpret ‘Jesus’s walking on the water’ from the Bible in your view?

A. Water represents our illusions. ‘Walking on the water’ symbolises ‘living free from the trap of illusions’, that is, Jesus didn’t sink in illusions, which means he was not fooled by them. The scenario that they were fishing in the water is symbolising our life that we are leading in illusions. The fact that Peter started walking on the water to Jesus means that he had a strong faith in Jesus and believed the water to be an illusion, even though he didn’t realise the truth himself. The scene, where noticing the strong wind, Peter was afraid and started to sink down in the water means that he didn’t realise the wind was also an illusion because he was not enlightened.

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©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, illusion, Meditation, Religion, sutras, Truth, Zen

Q100. I don’t understand that the Sutras and the Bible are also illusions.

A. Ancient masters used to say that a nice saying which sounds reasonable can be a strong trap. A saying or a word, however great and nice, is nothing but an illusion. No one denies, for example, the truth that the sun is a mass of flames. However, your lips are never hot, not to mention being burnt, no matter how many times you may recite the word ‘sun’. In other words, sayings or words are not the truth itself but an illusion.

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The more reasonable a saying sounds, however, the stronger we tend to make our attachment to it while taking it for the truth itself. The Sutras and the Bible are very typical examples that have great sayings we are likely to be tempted to attach ourselves to. We have a very interesting metaphor for such cases that shows how we should accept spiritual teachings: Don’t look at the finger pointing to the moon but the moon itself. The Sutras and the Bible are just like fingers pointing to the moon for people who want to see the moon, but they are not the moon itself.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Truth, Zen

Q88. Why is it difficult to get the point of masters’ teachings?

A. You should remember that all sayings from the Sutras, the Bible and masters are all like a piece of broken tile for knocking on the door. Let’s suppose you are locked in a burning room and trying to get out of it. The room has a single window through which you can escape from it but unfortunately you are not aware of the window. I throw a piece of broken tile at the widow in order to let you know the existence of the window, the only exit.

What should you do now? As soon as you hear the strike of the broken tile on the window or see the broken tile thrown into the room, you should be able to escape from the burning room through the window.
However, most of you pick up the tile and try to analyse it: the elements of it, location of its production, its colour, its weight, the effect it can have on the room and so on. This is the way you accept masters’ teachings, so you can’t avoid finding it difficult to get to the point of the teachings.

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Which is your way of approaching Zen?

In order to catch the point of the teachings, don’t cling to the words themselves, but try to grasp the main

intention of their being spoken.

©Boo Ahm

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

intention of their being spoken.

©Boo Ahm

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

Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, Meditation, self, sutras, Truth, Zen

Q86. If all is an illusion, are koans also illusions?

A. Of course they are also illusions. When I want people to stop making noise in a room, I can say to them, “Be quiet, please.” My words, “Be quiet, please” are also noise. Then I can be said to use noise in order to remove noise. Likewise, Zen questions, which are known as koans, are illusions used for the purpose of eliminating other illusions.

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In fact, not only koans but also the Sutras and the Bible are illusions.

©Boo Ahm

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