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Q292. During practice I can keep my mind silent without any thoughts but I can neither stop thinking nor keep my mind calm when not practising.

A. Trying to keep your mind calm by stopping thoughts from arising without knowing where they are from, is like trying to remove weeds by cutting their leaves, while leaving their roots intact. Just as you will be bothered again by new weeds from the remaining roots sooner or later, so you cannot get permanent calmness without realising the root of your thoughts, or illusions. Then, the silent state with no thoughts becomes another illusion.

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Masters’ words “keep your mind calm by stopping thinking” has two meanings: One is before enlightenment and the other is after enlightenment. The former is to have less thoughts by focusing all your attention to your question. The latter, the end of Zen, doesn’t mean literally to stop thinking but not to be deluded by thoughts through realising the truth that everything is empty. Once realising the truth, your mind becomes calm by itself regardless of whether you think or not, because you are not deluded by your thoughts. Masters would say, “You may have as many weeds as you want, but never let them take root.” Then you can enjoy calmness all the time no matter how many thoughts you may have because you are aware that they are empty.

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

emptiness, empty, Enlightenment, final goal, Happiness, illusion, Meditation, Mind, Practice, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q191. What is freedom from thoughts?

A. Freedom from thoughts is not to be free from thoughts but to be free from bad thoughts. It doesn’t mean to be free from good thoughts. Bad thoughts are the thoughts whose root we don’t know, which are called illusions. Good thoughts are the thoughts whose root we do know, which are called form. For instance, when we see pictures on a screen as pictures, while watching a movie, they are called form. However, if we see them as real, not pictures, they are referred to as illusions, which are the source of our suffering.

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To see things as they are, is to see things as form, which is like seeing pictures on a screen as pictures, knowing they are not real while enjoying them. When we can see things as they are, whatever thoughts you produce are good thoughts. Then, you are said to be free from thoughts.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

 

Buddha, Buddhism, illusion, Meditation, Mind, mindfulness, root, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q176. How can we control our thoughts?

A. A foolish man tries to control his thoughts while a wise man tries to control his mind. If you want to control your thoughts as you please, you should conquer your mind, that is, realise your mind. Trying to control each of your thoughts is like trying to win the battle by fighting individually each of the thousands of enemy soldiers in the battle field. There is no hope for success in this way. The most efficient and best way to win the battle is to capture the General who directs all the enemy soldiers. To realise your mind which is the root of all your thoughts is to capture the General.

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What makes it difficult to capture the General is that we can’t recognise him easily because he is hidden disguised as one of the enemy soldiers. You should capture a soldier and interrogate him deliberately to find out who orders him. If he dies, get another captive and examine him more deliberately. Be determined to continue this to the end. Before long, the General will appear and say, “Why are you wasting your effort while I am always with you?”  

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway