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, master, Meditation, One, Photography, Practice, root, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q311. What shall we do when we have no master around us?

A. Don’t think that you have no master around but think that you are not ready to meet him. Ready yourself to meet a master by asking yourself the questions that you will ask a master when you meet him. When a student is ready, a master will appear. When not ready, a student can’t recognise a master even though he appears before him. In fact, he is already beside you and always ready to help you. He is waiting to be recognised by you.



All the people and everything around you are your master. Even you yourself are your master, too. They are giving Dharma talks to you every moment. Even you yourself are giving Dharma talks all the time. The point is that you are still not ready enough to hear the Dharma talk. Make yourself ready to meet him by practising hard and, sooner or later, he will suddenly appear before you.

©Boo Ahm


All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Enlightenment, final goal, Koan, Meditation, true self, Truth, Zen

Q91. What do you mean by ‘Everything is the gate to the truth’?

A. It means that everything you hear and see is teaching you. You can reach your final goal if you grasp this teaching. Let me give you an example.

Once upon a time a monk who had been practising Zen meditation with the Zen question, ‘What was your original face like before you were born?’ happened to be walking across a market place. He saw a group of people making a great fuss around a humble looking man. The fact was that this man was caught stealing some money from an elderly woman. Some bystanders in the crowd blamed him and some were feeling pity for him. One of them said to him, “You’ve lost your face now. How can you save your face before your family?” The poor man answered with his head bent, “I have no face to lose any more.” The moment the monk heard the phrase ‘I have no face to lose’, his question ‘What was your original face like before you were born?’ was solved perfectly. The trivial word from the humble thief was the greatest teaching to the monk that he had ever heard in his life. What would not be a gate to the truth, if even such a trifle as the thief’s words is the greatest teaching?


Do you want to hear the teaching of the truth?
Listen carefully to your family and neighbours.
©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway