Buddha, Buddhism, master, Meditation, Mind, One, Photography, Practice, present, student, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q305. It is said that we should know the mind prior to thinking. How can we know the mind prior to thinking?

A. ‘Have to know the mind prior to a thinking’ is a very common saying in Zen circles. This makes sense. The problem is that people, not grasping the point of the saying, follow the words: They struggle to divide their mind into two, and distinguish the mind prior to thinking from the mind after thinking.

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The core teaching of Buddhism is non-duality, oneness. Your mind is not dual or multiple.  You should know that the mind which is producing thinking at this moment is not different and separate from the mind prior to thinking, but it is the very mind prior to thinking that you want to know. The mind that is reading this writing at this moment is the mind you should realise. There is no other mind than this.

 

Student: “What is the mind prior to thinking?”

Master: “Why do you ask me where your tongue is?”

 

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q265. What am I when my body is not me?

A. Remove all the labels attached to you by others. Remove all words that can describe your identity. Let’s suppose you are a sixty-year-old British man named John who is living in London. When you say that you were born in London sixty years ago, what is left when all the labels are removed? ‘You’ or ‘I’, ‘were born’, ‘in London’, ‘sixty’, ‘years’ and ‘ago’ all are labels. You still have a lot of labels to represent your identity such as your parents, your job, your school records and so on. You think that you are human being, which is also an artificially coined label. Remove all artificial labels and see what is left, whatever it is. That’s it. What is it?

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Master: “What is left now?”

Student: “Nothing is left.”

Master: “If nothing were left, what would be saying, ‘Nothing is left’?”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

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

Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Practice, student, Zen

Q135. Student: “What am I when my body is not me?

A. Master: “It can’t be explained with words.”
Student: “How can I experience what can’t be explained with words?”
Master: “You are doing it now.”
Student: “Why can’t I recognise it?”
Master: “Tell me what can’t recognise it.”

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Commentary:
Oh! Poor student!
He is talking in his sleep. Why doesn’t he know what is using his mouth while speaking?
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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

Q112. Why do you explain the true-self to us while saying it can’t be expressed with words?

A. It’s true that it can’t be explained with words, but paradoxically we can’t avoid using words to express it.
When masters, saying that it can’t be expressed with words, use words, we should know that they have another intention in using their words besides using them as a language. This alternative intention is primary and the language is secondary. So masters used to advise their students not to follow the secondary forsaking the primary. You should know their teachings are not the true-self itself, but signposts to the true-self.

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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