Zen Meditation Introduction, Questions & Answers

Zen meditation-related Questions, together with their answers, are displayed below here. Remember, there are no foolish questions, only foolish answers, so please feel free to ask by scrolling to the bottom of this page.

Firstly, an introduction to Zen follows:


Introduction To Zen

Why are we here?
Here we are going to discuss what Zen is, and why we should practice Zen. Now, I'm going to ask you this question. Why are you here? That is to say, why do you, we, all of us, want to learn and practice Korean Zen meditation? I think this is a reasonable question for us to ask ourselves at this moment. I think each of us can have a lot of different answers to this question. However, at least one of the most common answers, one of the most popular answers, is, I think, in order to be happy because, whatever we do, whether moral, immoral or unmoral, we do what we do in order to be happy.



Why aren't we happy enough?
Yes, we do a lot of things to make, not only ourselves but also our families happy.
Then what can we do to be happy? What do we do to be happy in reality? What have we done to make ourselves happy so far? We struggle to make as much money as possible thinking the more money we have the happier we will be. We have religions because we expect them to bring us happiness. We go on a picnic, play sports, go dancing, have a party, even go gambling or and take drugs. There are too many things we can do, many things we do and many things we have done. However, many people are still unhappy. Many people have not been successful in achieving happiness. Why are we still unhappy, or why aren't we still happy enough while we are surrounded by countless things we can do to make ourselves happy? Why don't we succeed in achieving happiness, even though we are always doing our best to be happy? It's because we can't see happiness itself while pursuing (seeking, going after) happiness. In other words, we don't know what happiness is, and we don't know where it is because we cannot see it. That is, we are looking for something. However, unfortunately we don't know what it is and where it is. It doesn’t make any sense. Do you think we can win the game? The chances are very slim. We are playing a game we can not win. We are playing a hopeless game.



Why can't we see happiness?
Let me ask you a question. Why can't we see happiness? Why do you think we can't see happiness? Does it hide itself when we try to see it? No, I don't think so. Then why can't we see it?
It is not because happiness hides itself but because we can not see things as they are. Since we can't see things as they are, we misunderstand things, that is, we have illusions about things. We mistake what we don't know for what we know. Although we don't know what happiness is, we believe we know it. And our misunderstanding, or illusion, is the main source or the main root of our unhappiness.
Let me give an example of the misunderstanding that comes from not seeing things as they are. One day I had an opportunity to talk with some Christians. One of them said that he was anxious to feel the answer from God when he prayed God. He was very sorry that he couldn't receive the answer from God. I said to him, "How long have you been a Christian?" He said, "More than 20 years." I asked him, "Have you ever seen God?" He looked somewhat embarrassed to hear my question, and replied, "What? How is it possible? God is God and we are human beings. How can we human beings see God? What a nonsense!" My response was, "How is it possible? We say Seeing is believing. How could you believe in God for 20 years without seeing him? It means you have believed what you don't know, or can't prove. You have not known what you believe. How can you expect to receive the answer from God, while you don't know what God is or who God is? Then how can you say that you have believed in God? What a nonsense! As far as I know, the Bible says that God is everywhere and anywhere at any time, and there is no place where he is not. Then why can't we see him? We should be able to see him anywhere and at any time, unless what the Bible says is false. I believe what the Bible says is true. Then why can't we see him? It's not because the Bible is telling a lie, but because we can't see things as they are. You have no one but yourself to blame. You have had an illusion of God without knowing what he is. You have had a misunderstanding of God."
This is the way we live our life when we don't see things as they are.
Then, do you think you are different from the person I have just mentioned above? I am afraid I don't think so. You are the same in the sense that you are seeking something you don't know.



What shall we do to be happy?
Then what shall we do now to be happy? We should try to see everything as it is. To be happy we should be able to see everything as it is. Zen is a kind of Buddhist practice to see everything as it is. However, don't misunderstand me. Don't think I want to make you Buddhist. My job is to help you to see everything as it is. I am not here to persuade you to be Buddhist but to help you to see everything as it is. I would never encourage you to change your religion but I encourage you to try to see everything as it is. I would never ask you to live a monastic life, or ascetic life, but ask you to try to see everything as it is. I would never discourage you from doing something, but encourage you not to give up trying to see everything as it is. I will only ask you and help you to see everything as it is, because you can be happy all the time when you can see things as they are.

When you can see things as they are, you can see what you couldn't see before. You can hear what you couldn't hear before. Your life changes as you can see things as they are. When we can see things as they are, we can see things more objectively than before. When we can see things more objectively than before, we can make wiser decisions and wiser choices than before. As we can see, our life is a series of decisions and choices. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration that our happiness depends on the decisions and the choices we make every moment. Our wise decisions and wise choices will lead us to happiness. I am sure you can become a better husband, a better wife, better father, better mother, and a better Christian if you are Christian. So we can be happy all the time by seeing everything as it is. You can see happiness when you can see everything as it is. So, Zen is a kind of way to happiness.



Then, how can we see everything as it is?
How do you think we can see everything as it is? It's very simple, and much easier than you think. We can see everything as it is if we can see ourselves as we are, because we can see things only through ourselves. I can see everything as it is when I can see myself as I am. So, Zen is also said to be a kind of a practice to see ourselves as we are. Then how can we see ourselves as we are? How can you see yourself as you are? OK. Now, I am asking you a question? Do you have a car? Do you have a house? Do you have a mobile-phone? I believe all of you have one of them at least. When you say, "My house is small but very convenient" or when I say, "My car doesn't work well these days", what do they mean? When you say, "My house", it means you own a house. It means a house belongs to you. It never means that you are your house. It never means your house is you. When I say, "My car", it never means I am my car. It never means my car is me. Am I wrong? Likewise, when we say, "My body", it never means I am my body, just like I am not my car when I say, "My car". Then our final question is "What am I when my body is not me?" This is the very ultimate question we should solve, but it might take a lifetime. This is a very simple question but also a very important question for our happiness. Let me ask you one more very similar question. What is your wife when her body is not her, just like your body is not you? What are your mum and dad when their bodies are not them? In fact, we really don't know what our wives are, what our children are, what our friends are, and so on, just like we don't know what we are. Let's suppose I say, "I love my wife." In this very short sentence I mentioned, I don't know what the subject "I" is, I don't know what I am and I also don't know the object "my wife", I don't know what my wife is. In summary, we don't know what we say when we don't know what we are. How can I know what I say, when I don't know what I am? How can I love my wife, when I don't know what she is? What does it mean when I say to you, "I love you" when I don't know what you are? In reality, we often say, "I want to be happy". It is a very natural idea we can have as a human being. However, how can I be happy when I don't know what I am? How can I be happy when I don't know who, or what, wants to be happy? This is the way we live our lives without knowing what we are(the essence of our being).

From now on, you take a (long) journey for the purpose of realizing what you are when your body is not you. I want to call this a journey for happiness, because I am sure that this journey will bring you happiness. I invite you to join our journey to happiness.



Questions & Answers

Q. What is Zen meditation?
A. It is a kind of Buddhist practice to attain enlightenment.



Q. What is enlightenment?
A. Enlightenment is to be able to see everything as it is.



Q. How can we see everything as it is?
A. We can see everything as it is when we can see ourselves as we are because we can see things only through ourselves. So Zen meditation can be said to be a kind of practice to see ourselves as we are.



Q. Why should we attain enlightenment?
A. By attaining enlightenment we can be happy all the time.



Q. Do we need to be a Buddhist to practice Zen meditation?
A. Do we need to be a Korean to eat Korean food? Anyone can try it if he thinks it is good for his or her health regardless of his or her nationality. Likewise, anyone can practice Zen meditation regardless of his or her religion.



Q. You say we can only be happy when can know what we are when we are not this body, but is it not that peace and happiness is found when we let go of needing to understand what we are and learn to just be?
A. It is one thing to say we can be happy, when we let go of needing to understand what we are and learn to just be, and it is another to be able to just be and be happy when you are faced with unexpected and frustrating tragedies in reality. You say you let go of bad things. It is fine if you can. However, how can you let go of something when you don't know what you are, that is, you don't know who lets go of? We can read such good words in books but it is another story to put them into practice until we can see things as they are.



Q. Do we have to have God or religion in Zen meditation?
A. No. As I said, I neither ask you to do something nor discourage you from doing something. I only ask you to try to see things as they are. When you see things as they are, whatever you do depends on you. Now how can you have God when you don't know what you are and what God is?



Q. Is seeing things as they are the same as uncovering the truth and is uncovering the truth the same as finding happiness?
A. Yes, uncovering the truth, you will be able to see everything as it is. Then you can see happiness. You will find you yourself are happiness itself. However, don't think the truth is covered with something. The truth is always revealing itself everywhere at all times. The problem is that we are covered with fixed ideas or stereotypes. So our practice is to trying to see ourselves as we are without any stereotypes or fixed ideas.



Q. What is the best way to continue the meditation?
A. The strong point of Zen meditation is that it doesn't require any special time or special place. As I said, if you can keep the question, it is a good practice, or a good meditation, wherever you are and whatever you do. Continue to ask yourself the same question you asked during our weekend program until you find the right answer. There's no other way than it. Just as I said, ask yourself what makes your body do what you do whatever you may do. As time passes, your question will be part of you. Then the meditation will become much easier and even interesting, and work by itself in spite of you. Then you will begin to see what you couldn't see before and hear what you couldn’t hear before.
What is it that is wondering ‘what is the best way to continue the meditation?’ A dead body can't wonder. If you just keep wondering it, you are just wondering and thinking. But if you ask yourself what makes your body wonder, you come to practice Zen meditation. How simple!



Q. Will there be any courses that combine Zen meditation and photography?
A. Yes, Zen meditation has a strong connection with different art forms and we will seek to explore this in some of our workshops.



Q. How does Zen help us connect with the present moment and with people around us?
A. Why can't we connect ourselves with the present moment and people around us now? The key problem is that we can't see ourselves as we are, that is, we don't know what we are. Therefore we can't see things as they are, and we don't know what the present moment is and what people around us are. How can you connect yourself with them when you don't know not only yourself but also them? What you need now is to try to see yourself as you are. When you can see yourself as you are, you can see things as they are. Then you are free to connect yourself with the present moment and with people around you, or separate yourself from them.



Q. We were asked, "You are bound at the wrist and feet and holding on to a branch by your teeth above a canyon....a guy comes along and shouts ....’Give me your name, or I will shoot you!’ What would you do?” I meditated on this for some time, then asked “is the answer to let go?”......as in to achieve enlightenment, do we have to learn to let go of everything we have been programmed to believe and look beyond the here and now?
A. 'Let go of' or 'put down' are very popular words among people who are interested in meditation, or how to keep their mind calm. They are very nice phrases and I never discourage you from letting go of or putting down. I do hope you can let go of or put down all things. In order to let go of things, we should be able to see everything as it is, by seeing ourselves as we are. If we can’t see things as they are, we can't let go of things. As far as I know, some people are so anxious that they sometimes tend to fool themselves into believing that they let go of everything, pretending to let go of everything.



How can we let go of things when we don't know what we are? When we can see everything as it is, by seeing ourselves as we are, we come to let go of things without any effort. So, I encourage you to try to see things as they are, rather than try to let go of things. When you focus all your attention to seeing yourself as you are, all your troubles will steal away and you will find that your problems are not a problem at all. The key point of letting go of things is not to let go of things, but to realize there is nothing to let go of.

Don't try to let go of things.
That will only impose one more work on you.
How could you let go of things while not knowing what you are?
When you can see everything as it is, all your troubles will disappear before you let go of them.

Q. Whenever I practice Zen meditation, a lot of thoughts and ideas prevent me from focusing my attention to my question. I spend most practice time struggling to get rid of the thoughts. How can I remove my thoughts and concentrate on my question?
A. Very good question. That is the most common problem we are faced with during practice. Even very old memories of your childhood you have forgotten so far come into your mind and keep you from focusing your attention to your question. Don't try to stop your thinking or remove your thoughts. The harder you try to do away with the thoughts, the more thoughts will arise. So, don't try to fight against your thoughts. You will lose the battle exhausted. If you repeat the same pattern many times, you will be so exhausted and discouraged that you might come to give up your practice in the long run. However, the solution to the problem is very simple and easy.



Just trace back to the root which the thoughts stem from. When you are angry, just trace back to the root from which your anger comes out. The moment you see or reach the root, you will see yourself as you are, or reach your final goal. What an easy and nice practice this is! Then, the more thoughts come to you, the more practice you can do. Why should we struggle to remove our thoughts? In this way you can turn your problems into practice.

Q. Is the question 'What are you, when your body is not you?'
A. Exactly right. You will become happiness itself the moment you reach the answer.



Q. I focus on the question and my mind tends to empty. Is this the idea? It is quite pleasant and I felt a sensation of being very heavy.
A. When you focus on the question, you can feel something new you've never experienced before. The feelings you mention are very normal phenomena which you can feel during the practice. What is important is that you should not attach to such feelings; that is, you should not try to maintain the feeling. Instead, you should focus on the question regardless of the sensation.



Q. To counter act any thoughts that would come into my head I would repeat the question.
I had to repeat the question many times in the 30 minutes. I assume that this will be required less with practice?

A. When thoughts come into your head, trace back to the root from which the thoughts come. When you repeat the question in your mind, do doubt what listens to the question. That is a very good practice as well. If you keep practising as directed, you will become one with the question and need not repeat it any more.



Q. How can I calm down my mind?
A. Let me ask you a question. How can you wash your car? What is most important in washing your car? This question may sound ridiculous but shows how foolish we are. In order to wash your car, you should know where your car is parked above all. How could you wash your car if you didn't know where it is, however good your car shampoo and a tool for washing it is? Likewise, to calm down your mind, you should know what your mind is first of all. How could you calm down your mind when you don't know what it is? To calm down their mind seems difficult to most people because they strive to calm down their mind without knowing what it is.



To conclude, try to realise what your mind is so as to calm down your mind. When feeling angry, sad or frustrated, trace back to the root where all such emotions come from. The root is your mind. In the process of tracing back to the root, you will become calm before you know it. If you happen to reach your mind, you will get eternal happiness. That is called 'enlightenment'.

Q. I too often lose my temper with even small things. People say I am too sensitive to what others say about me. What shall I do when angry? (How can I control my anger?)
A. This is a good question. Many people have a similar question, I think. Now I will ask you back, "What makes you angry?" "I can't control my anger when people speak ill of me for what I have never done. “I think your words make sense. The reason you mention can be a part of the cause that makes you angry. All people, like you, have their own reasons why they are angry when angry. They tend to try to evade the responsibility for being angry by justifying their anger. However, I will ask you one more question. “Are you angry when you don't know the fact at all that others spoke ill of you?” I think you aren't because we can't be angry, or happy, with what we don't know. How could you be angry with what you don't know? In fact, no matter how much someone speaks ill of you, their act itself doesn't lead you to lose your temper, unless you know the fact.



It means that the fact that others speak ill of you unduly is not the direct cause that makes you angry. If the fact were the direct cause, it would make you angry regardless of whether you know the fact or not. Then what will be the main cause that makes you angry? It is you that are responsible for being angry. You are angry only when you perceive the fact and feel it is undue. You won't be angry if you don't think it is unwarranted even though you perceive the fact. In a word, everything is up you. Whatever others may say about you, their words can make you neither angry, nor happy, if you don't accept them as bad or good. You are angry when you accept them as names or abuse, and happy when you accept them as praises.
I remember Buddha's answer to a question one of his disciples asked. One day one of his disciples said to Buddha, "I am very sorry and angry these days because a person never sees me without calling me names for no reason. What shall I do?" Buddha asked, "Whom does the gift belong to if you don't accept it when someone gives it to you?" The disciple answered, "Of course, it belongs to the giver." Then Buddha said, "Then, who do the names he calls you belong to if you don't accept them?" The disciple was very happy to understand what Buddha said. Likewise, whatever others may say about you, their words can have no influence on you unless you accept them. After all it is not others but your discriminating mind that makes your angry. So the purpose of Zen practice is also said to remove our discriminating mind because seeing things as they are means seeing things without a discriminating mind.
When angry, never try to hold back or push down your anger. Admit that the main cause of your anger is within and not without, and trace your anger back to its root, or ask yourself what you are when your body is not you. Your body can't be angry for itself. Ask yourself what makes your body angry and your anger will quieten down by itself. Killing two birds with one stone: practising Zen and removing anger.

Q. If we are one, why bother to multiply? If we are one, why do we divide?
A. Some people prefer one to multiple and others like multiple better than one, believing that one will bring them more happiness than the other. Some of them regret the choices of their own making.



One is multiple and multiple is one.
Why not multiply?
Whichever choice you may make, one or multiple, the result is all the same when you can see things as they are.
Why not be free to make a choice as you like?

Q. Why do we fight and tear the planet apart if we are one? Surely preservation should prevail?
A. As I mentioned earlier, we do whatever we do for the purpose of attaining happiness. So we fight and tear the planet apart, it can be said, to increase our wealth in the hope that the more wealth we have, the more happiness we will have. The key problem here is that we don't know what we are because we cannot see things as they are. Regarding ourselves as separate from nature, we very often don't realize the fact we human beings are also part of nature.



In fact, fighting and tearing the planet apart is fighting and tearing ourselves apart. This happens, I think, because we don't experience in person the fact we are one, even while saying we are one with our mouth. If we can truly feel that we are one and that nature is part of us, how couldn't we try to preserve her as we try to keep ourselves healthy?

Q. How can I attain a mind that abides nowhere?
A. Mind is boundless and formless. It is neither lacking nor surplus.
Don't exert yourself to attain mind.
It is neither attainable, nor disposable.
If you were to attain mind, it would not be mind any more.
Don't strive to clean or empty your mind.
That is to stain your mind.



Q. Can't people move away from the wrong doings of former lives?

A. What do you think your former life is? Yesterday was your former life and tomorrow is your future life. Suppose you had no meal yesterday. Now you can't move away from feeling very hungry, but whether you will continue to be hungry, or not, depends on whether you eat food now or not. Every moment is not just the result of your former life but also the cause of your future life. What counts here is that how you accept the result of your former life determines your future life. So it is said that we can know what your former life was like and what your future life will be like by seeing your present life. The result you face today may look advantageous to you but you should not be too much attached to it. It may look unfavourable to you but you should not be frustrated. You should see things as neutral. What is the best today can be the worst tomorrow and what is the worst today can be the best tomorrow. History shows that many of the great figures who helped mankind were those who accepted their misfortune as their stepping stone. In fact nobody can move from the result of his former life. However, if you can see it as neutral, you feel no need to move away from it. Then we say, "You've moved away from the result of your former life."
When you can see things as they are, you can see things as neutral.



Q. In Zen practice, it seems that we try to find our way of a kind of trap. Furthermore, it appears that we make this more complicated by our use of language and thinking. How is it that we initially find ourselves in this situation? Is the idea that we are even in such a predicament, not itself also an obstacle to our understanding of truth?
A. In Zen practice, you can feel the same way as if you were in caught in a trap. It seems that the harder you struggle to get of it, the more complicated you make it. As a matter of fact, that is the way you feel when you strive to find your way out of it by the use of language and thinking. Such a Zen practice is compared to a struggling insect caught in a spider's web.



Trying to free yourself from it through language and thinking is like trying to wash a mud-stained dress with muddy water because it is your language and thinking that are the trap keeping you bound. We are so addicted to the trap that we cannot distinguish ourselves from the trap. Actually, we can't see a trap as a trap because our eyes are veiled by the trap. To rid yourself of the trap of language and thinking and see yourself free of the trap is the purpose of Zen practice and that is to see yourself as you are. Remember you can't escape the trap by means of your language and thinking, and keep the question "What am I when my body is not me?" When your practice is going well, your life seems to become simpler.

Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. A piece of cake.



Commentary:
A piece of cake,
It is neither soft nor tough.
How deplorable!
Numerous people have tried to eat it so far,
Few of whom swallowed it.
Countless people have tried chewing it,
But no tooth-mark is left on it.

If I were asked the question,
I would answer, "Why do you ask me the taste of the food you are chewing?"

Q. When we help others we get such a great feeling....is this just us patting oneself on the back, or is it because that we are all one and by helping others we truly are helping our self?
A. If you get a great feeling, as most people do, it is likely to be a kind of sense of accomplishment. We have been taught and told to help others in need since our kindergarten days. However, we usually feel that we have not helped others as much as we think we should, and we always feel guilty or burdened unconsciously, for it as though we didn't do our homework. When we help others, we get a kind of accomplishment we would feel when no one but I in the class did the homework in our school days and, enjoying secret pride, we pat ourselves on the back just like our teachers did to us.



Let me ask you a question. Do you happen to get such a great feeling when you feed yourself? In fact, if you had helped others because you felt oneness with them, you would have felt it natural rather than great. The Bible says, "When you help others, don't let your left hand know what your right hand does." However, Zen books say, "When you help others, don't let even your right hand know what your right hand does." This is a saying that shows the essence of Zen. You should not have even the idea that you helped someone. You should feel as natural as if you buy yourself lunch, when you serve a nice lunch to a hungry man. That is, to love your neighbours as yourself - just like the Bible says

Q. Are we living in an ideal world or aiming for it?
A. We are both living in an ideal world and aiming for it. We can be said to be pursuing an ideal world in that we doing something, practising Zen, for a better life. However, the truth is that we are living in the ideal world as part of it. Therefore, the purpose of practising Zen is not to create an ideal world, or reach an unknown ideal world other than this world where we live, but to realise that we are already residing in the ideal world we are anxious to reach. We are like a fish looking for water in the water.



Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. A rat.

Commentary:
Don't be deluded into thinking that it is crazy about chocolate and frightened by a cat.
It swallows the whole universe in a mouthful and gives birth to a cat.



If I had heard the answer, I would have said, "Very nice to meet my species."

Q. When I go to temple, I feel protected while praying there, by something or someone and feel more comfortable in a temple than at home. Is my going to temple wrong?
A. If you feel as you mentioned in your question without knowing what you are, or what the Buddha is, it shows that you are addicted to the illusion of the Buddha. That is, you are enslaved by the illusion of the Buddha.

I never discourage you from doing anything but encourage you to ask yourself what it is that makes your body do what you do whatever you do, whether going to temple or going to church. Why do you go to the temple? If you go to temple to pray to the Buddha, you should know at least two things: What you are and what the Buddha is. Not knowing what you are, how can you say that you pray while not knowing who prays? Not knowing what the Buddha is, how can you pray to the Buddha? You should know that a temple is not a place for praying to the Buddha, but a place for realising what you are when your body is not you.



When freed from the illusions of all things including the Buddha, you can realise what you are when your body is not you. Supposing you pray while not knowing the object of your worship; what is the difference between you and the primitive people who prayed to a huge tree, or a gigantic rock and the sun, or the moon?

Q. Would you recommend any other way to practice Zen, when I feel tired of the question 'What am I when my body is not me?'
A. If you feel tired of asking yourself the same question, I'd say two things.
One is that you may take another Zen question that is likely to stimulate your curiosity. I plan to provide a new Zen question a week.
The other is that you ask your question of the things around you instead of yourself. Seeing a tree, you can ask the tree your question 'Hi, tree. What am I when my body is not me?' or a little different question 'Hi, tree. What are you when you are not a tree?' You can ask such a question of anything such as a car, a puppy, a bird, a desk, spoon, a cup and so forth that you can see in your everyday life. My words might sound ridiculous but they, whenever you ask them the question, never fail to tell you the correct answers. The problem is that you can't grasp their answers because your eyes and ears are veiled by illusions. To try to understand their answers is a good practice, too.



Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. I don't know.



Commentary:
Don't take the answer to be wrong. It leaves nothing to be desired.
If I were asked the question, I would answer, "I can't answer your question because I have no mouth."

Q. What is a koan in Zen meditation? Why can't I understand koans even though I have read a lot on meditation? They make no sense to me.
A. A koan is a sort of dialogue between a master and his students that is used to check whether they have reached the final goal. At the same time, it can be a good question you can practice with. It is just like a maths question in maths, in that a question can be used to test students on one hand and can be material to study on the other hand; so it can be referred to as a Zen question. If you understand perfectly the principle of a question, you can solve other questions easily. Koans might seem to be funny and even look like a joke. Sometimes they may seem to make no sense at all. However, once you have reached the final goal, you will understand how clever, correct and beautiful they are.



Some people think that each question has a single answer, and, memorising it, say they know the correct answer. The truth is that each koan has so many answers that we can't say all the answers, even if we spend all our life saying the answers to a single question.
It is just like when five year old children are asked a maths question, “What is 3 + 2?” Not all, but most of them can provide only a single answer 5, because they have not mastered the four rules of arithmetic. However, most secondary school students know that though the answer to the question is 5, it can be said in countless other ways, such as 6 - 1, 1.5 + 3.5, 4 + 1, 4.8 + 0.2, 100 - 95 and so on. They also know that although each of the answers seemingly has a different form, all of them are perfectly correct answers.
If you expect to understand koans by reading books, it is natural for them to seem to make no sense at all. Trying to grasp them through reading is like trying to wash a mud-stained cloth with muddy water; it will make things more complicated, since koans are asked to check whether Zen students are freed from the illusions with which we are bound, but reading books is to create illusions. Only when you are freed from illusions can you understand them clearly.

Q. Some masters advise us to stop thinking. How can we live our life without thinking?

A. When masters advise you to stop thinking, to stop thinking has two kinds: before and after reaching the final goal. When they use it in the former sense, they usually mean not that you should stop thinking in your life, but that you should not try to find the answer to the Zen question through thinking, or knowledge, during the practice. Since the purpose of Zen practice is to free you from the web of illusions but thinking produces illusions, the more thinking you do, the more complicated you make it. That is why masters urge you to stop thinking.



However, the latter is to stop thinking in the truest sense that is possible, when you have reached the final goal, which means to think without being trapped in illusions. In a word, when they tell us to stop thinking, what they mean is not to stop thinking, but to think without being trapped in illusions.

Q. Student: “What are you when your body is not you?”
A. Master: (Kept silent)



Commentary:
Don't say the master kept silent.
His answer sounds deafening like thunder.
If I heard the answer, I'd say, "Thank you for your kind answer."

Q. Could you describe what we are when our body is not us?
A. In fact it is beyond description and can't be reached through words, but it is not separate from words and can't be explained without words. When reading a text, or hearing a talk about it, you should take it as more than words.



It is called the truth, the mind, the true nature, the true self, or the Buddha in Buddhism. In Christianity, it is referred to as the truth, the spirit in you, the word, the lord, or God - as John 8:32 says, "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Everything, whether living or nonliving, or whether saints or sentient beings, belongs to nothing but the truth. The truth is neither blue nor yellow, and has neither any frame nor any form. It is neither existing nor nonexistent, and since it is boundless like the empty air, not only does it have no inside and no outside but also it can't be measured. It is with us all the time, and we can't escape it even for a moment.

Why can't you hear and see?
Whether a new born baby or an old person,
There is no one but answers your question.
Whether dead or alive,
There is no one but answers your question.
Whether a young flower or a broken bike,
There is nothing but answers your question.



Your eyes, your ears and even your mouth are full of the answers.
Oh, not hearing the answers is as difficult as hearing them.
Hearing and seeing nothing, you would be said to know the answer.

Student: “What are you when your body is not you?”
Master: “Did you have lunch?”
Student: “Yes, sir.”
Master: “Why don't you wash your dish?”




Commentary:
The master was very kind but too talkative.
If I had been the student, I would have thrown my dish at him

Q. Why can't we see things as they are?

A. It is not because things don't show themselves as they are, but our eyes and ears are veiled by illusions that have been accumulated since our birth.

I remember reading an article about implanting false memories. It said it is possible to manipulate and create false happy memories in mice during sleep, adding that they succeeded in creating false and happy memories in mice. The fact is that numerous information or knowledge has been implanted in us and the process is ongoing even at this moment; it will continue to our death and remain in us in the name of memory.

Memories become verbalised or are turned into languages for expression and conveyance, which makes languages essential to our life. Over time, we are so used to our languages that we can't stop identifying words with our memories. A word always reminds us of a set memory associated with the word, which we are so accustomed to that we take words for reality. For example, a lady was so shocked to hear the terrible news that her daughter, studying abroad, had been killed by a car accident that she passed out and got sick in bed. A few days later, the news turned out to be wrong and she found that her daughter was in fact alive and could be around as usual soon. The lady was shocked and fainted because she took the words about her daughter for reality regardless of the truth. This is a good instance that shows how we mistake words for reality. In short, to identify words with reality is called 'illusion,' 'form,' or 'boundary' in Zen.



In our life, we not only get illusions implanted in ourselves but also implant them in others, and we often manipulate them in order that we may implant the ones that seem favourable to us. What counts here is that, when making our decisions, or choices, like whether a certain illusion is favourable to us or not, we depend on the illusions implanted in us. In a word, illusions create illusions, and we are so addicted to illusions that we cannot tell them apart from our reality, that is to say, we are trapped in the world of illusion. The purpose of Zen is to free people from the trap of illusion.

Of course, our life requires a lot of illusions and our education might mean to provide students with illusions that are thought to be necessary and useful in their future. Who dares to deny the fact that all the civilisations modern people enjoy rest on illusions? However, languages can be an obstacle in seeing things as they are, and conveying memories as they are, just as water gets in the way of a ship’s speeding up - though it is essential in the ship’s moving.

The purpose of Zen, it can be said, is to enable people to enjoy both the world of illusion and the world free of illusion at once.

Q. How can we remove our attachment?

A. You should know what attachment is and where it comes from before trying to remove it. It comes from your misunderstanding things. When you can't see things as they are, you come to misunderstand them, or make illusions of things. Taking the illusions for real, we overestimate them just as we regard a piece of broken glass as a piece of diamond and a piece of rope as a snake, when we struggle to obtain or to run away from them by all means. In a word, attachment is our strong desire to possess or avoid something.

To eliminate our attachment we should be able to see things as they are, that is, see things as neutral, when our attachment will disappear of itself. However, we might hold it down for a time, but we are likely to fail to remove it permanently if we try to fight it off. We can persuade ourselves not to have attachment and hold it back for a time, in the way we give up a big sum of money beyond our reach, by fooling ourselves into saying to ourselves, "More money than is necessary for an ordinary life can ruin people, so I don't like such big money." However, the attachment can come out any time again when such big money seems to be within our reach because we still have the root of it.



Either focus on your question, or trace your attachment back to its root and you will feel it becoming weaker with time. On reaching the root of it, you will realise that its root is the very final goal you long to reach and that it is the same root from which your compassion stems, when your attachment turns into compassion of itself.

Not until we realise the fact that everything we value is neutral in itself: neither valuable nor worthless, can we root out our attachment.

Q. What are you like when your body is not you?
A. The East gate, the West gate, the South gate and the North gate.



Commentary:
Don't be pulled around to the four gates in vain. His answer is so detailed as to make people confused.
If I were asked the question, I would say, "Take a close listen."

Q. How can I be mindful?
A. Very simple. If you know what your mind is, you can be mindful all the time with no effort. Most people try to mindful only to fail because they strive to do what they don't know. In other words, to be mindful is difficult since you don't know what your mind is. Actually, most people don't know how to start to be mindful when they try to be mindful because they don't know their mind.



Anyway to be mindful, you must know what your mind is. How could you try to be mindful without knowing what your mind is? Try to find what your mind is and you will become mindful with no effort. What are you when your body is not you? Mind is the name of you when your body is not you, which is also referred to as true-self, true-nature, the nature, the truth, the Buddha in Buddhism and the God in Christianity. Whatever it is called, the name itself doesn't matter. We should know what it is beyond the name.

Q. I seem to have a lot of lust within me. How can I eliminate it from me?
A. If you do want to eliminate your lust and have compassion, don't struggle to do away with the former, but try to know what it is. How could you remove it without knowing what it is? To know it, trace your lust back to its root whenever you feel it. On reaching the root, you will realise not only that lust comes from the same root that compassion is from, but that the root is the very final goal you long to reach, when you will be compassion itself. Remember that everything is from the same root.



Don't try to remove your lust,
since it is another face of your compassion.
Don't be attached to compassion,
since it is another face of lust.

Q. Student: What are you when your body is not you?
A. Master: A piece of cake.
Student: How does it taste?
Master: Bitter.
Student: What happens when we eat it?
Master: All die.



Commentary:
How mysterious!
It tastes bitter and kills all.
Why do people struggle to eat it?

When all die, all illusions die.
When all illusions die, you are eternity itself.

Q. When practising at home alone, how can I know whether I am doing well or not? Can I feel any change when doing well as told?
A. In the beginning you might feel it difficult to focus on your question, but it becomes easier and easier over time and the question will be internalised sooner or later.
Once your question becomes one with you, your practice feels very easy and even interesting, and you feel as if it is going on of itself, with little effort. Whatever you do, you feel your work is not separate from your practice, when we say work and practice are one. Then you start to feel what you couldn't feel before: see and hear what you couldn't see and hear before. For example, you can be surprised or shocked to hear a sound from a bird, a dog, a car, a person, the wind or anything. On hearing a sound, not knowing what it means, you feel it as the sound of the truth, feeling yourself becoming one with the universe. Sometimes you may feel as if your body has disappeared or collapsed down, becoming one with the universe. You are so happy at that moment that you might burst into tears.



The feeling doesn't last long but your practice seems to go better and you get more confidence. Experiencing such changes, you come to grasp the words 'see with ears and hear with eyes'. What is most important here is that you must not be attached to them, nor must you try to avoid them.
No matter how good or marvellous things are that you may experience; you must not attach yourself to them, keeping it in mind that it is also no more than an illusion. You should not be attached even to enlightenment.

Q. Do we become emotionless, not feeling sad or happy after reaching the final goal?
A. Many people think we will not have feelings like sad, anger, pride, lust, happiness and so on after reaching the final goal. Some people use being emotionless as a scale to measure how much progress they have made in meditation progress. This is one of the most common wrong ideas about Zen meditation. Why should we continue our life, not to mention practising to reach the final goal, if we become emotionless like a wooden craft? We have the same feelings: feel sad when seeing sad things, angry when encountering unjust situations, and happy when seeing happy things.



When we've reached the final goal, we can see things as they are, which means we can see things as neutral. Then we see things like a movie: we are sad during a sad movie and happy during a comic play. What counts is that we never become frustrated however sad the movie is and never become so attached to the movie as to disturb our life, since we know it is not real. Likewise, when coming upon a sad situation in reality, we feel sad but never feel so frustrated as to damage our life because we know it is neutral in itself. Meeting with a good thing, we feel happy but never become so proud of, or attached to it, as to mess up our life because you know it is also neutral in itself.
In a word, we have the same feelings but in a different dimension.


Student: What are you when your body is not you?

Master: Two plus three is five.
Student: I know that, too.
Master: Then you are a master, too.
Student: I didn't ask you about numbers.
Master: I didn't talk about numbers, either.



Commentary:
Master is pointing to the moon with his finger.
Why aren't you looking at the moon but the finger?
If I were the student, I would say, "You are wrong, sir. Two plus three is seven."

Q. What does it mean when masters say our true-self is holy?

A. When it is said to be very pure or holy, it means that it is perfectly free of illusions. All words and ideas are illusions, so even the idea of its being pure or holy is an illusion and defiles it. The fact is that it neither pure nor dirty and can't be dirtied or stained by anything. That is why ancient masters would keep silent as an answer when they were asked what they were when their body was not them.



Q. What shall I do when I don't seem to make any progress in my Zen practice?
A. That is a very common feeling novice practitioners can have. You don't have to think you are not making progress because you don't know what progress is like, and I wonder what your standard of making progress is. If you can keep good focus on the question, you are doing well regardless of whether you feel a change or not. If you can't make concentration on your question, ask yourself what thinks you can't make concentration and you are not making progress. In other words, trace back your negative thinking to its root.
Your negative thinking is the very form of your final goal.



Q. If the heaven and the earth are from the same root, what is the same root?
A. Your question is also from it.



Commentary:
Why don't you grasp it clearly though the answer is showing even the inside of it?
If I were asked the question, I would answer, "It is revealing itself."

Q. What do masters mean when they insist that we possess nothing?
A. It means we should escape perfectly from the trap of illusion without having a single illusion left. Ancient masters said that if we have a single illusion, it will fill the whole universe with illusions in no time. The Bible says that the poor are blessed. The poor here are those who have no illusion. People who have escaped from the trap of illusion are aware that everything in the universe is an illusion. Such people can be said to have nothing however much they have because they know all they have is nothing but an illusion.



Q. How can I remove my ego?
A. Don't try to remove your ego until you know what it is. You are likely to try hard in vain because you strive to eliminate something you don't know. Though you say that you want to remove your ego, you actually don't know what your ego is because you can't see yourself as you are. How could you know what your ego is while not knowing yourself? You had better try to see yourself as you are instead of trying to eliminate your ego. When you can see yourself as you are, your ego will vanish of itself.



Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. Everyday mind.



Commentary:
What is everyday mind?
Don't say you don't know it.
Happiness, sadness, anger, cooking, chatting, drinking and so on.
Everything is from it.

Q. Do we have to do away with all illusions in order to see the truth?
A. Absolutely not. You should know that escaping from illusions means not removing or destroying them but realising that all illusions are also the truth. We are apt to judge what seems, or sounds nice or holy, to be the truth and what seems bad or ugly to be an illusion. In fact everything we can see, hear, feel and imagine, whether good or bad and right or wrong, is the truth. There is nothing but the truth, which we can't escape from even a moment. Not seeing it is much more difficult than seeing it.

Why can't we see it? It is because our eyes are covered with the truth and not because it is too far away. In other words it is so near us that we don't recognise it.

Don't look away from illusions for the truth. That is to go after illusions turning your back on the truth. The truth is not separate from illusions. What you regard as illusions is the truth and what you look upon as the truth is illusions. Don't try to do away with illusions. You can't make it because they are not illusions but the truth. People who strive to eliminate illusions are those who don't know what they are. How can you remove them when you don't know what they are? Faced with what you think is an illusion, trace back to the root which the idea of the illusion stems from instead of making efforts to get rid of it. That is the very Zen practice.



Never avoid illusions.
Never go after the truth.
If you stop avoiding and going after,
You will be motionless.
That is the way the truth is.

Q. Now I try to live at the present moment, trying not to think of the past or the future. Am I right?
A. Don't try to live at the present moment. You can't but live at the present moment. There is no one who doesn't live at the present moment. Whether you think of the past or the future, your doing is happening at the present moment. If not thinking of the past or the future increases our happiness, why do schools teach history to students, and why do many people try to make correct forecasts about the future?




If you do want to live at the present moment, break away the present moment. As long as you are attached to the present moment, you can't escape from the past and the future since the present moment exists based on the past and the future. How could the present moment exist without the past and the future? The moment you break the present moment, the past and the future will disappear as well. Only then can you be said to live at the present moment. 'Live at the present moment', referred to as 'Live here now' in Zen, is to live out of the illusions of time and place and not to be attached to the present moment.

Q. How can I see myself as I am?
A. Hasten past where you are not.
Don't stay where you are.



Commentary:
Shall I move now or not?
Watch carefully what you are stepping on.

Q. How can I obey the precepts (Buddhist commandments) well?
A. Once upon a time there lived an old man in a village, who was well known as a good Buddhist and respected by all the people in the village. People often came to him for advice when they had problems in their lives. One day he happened to talk with an old monk.

Monk: I've heard that you are much respected as a very good Buddhist. How do you lead your life?
Old man: I always try to obey five precepts.
Monk: (looking surprised) Do you still obey the precepts?
Old man: (looking surprised) Of course, don’t you obey the precepts?
Monk: No, I don't.
Old man: (looking more surprised) Do you break the precepts then?
Monk: Of course not.
Old man: What do you mean by that?
Monk: I neither break the precepts nor obey them.



Let me take an example. What do you think is the most important to keep your life? Of course, to be alive we need a lot of things such as food, water, air and so on. However, no one can deny that air is the most essential of all we need to keep our life because we can't maintain our life even for a few minutes without air though we can stay alive for a few days without water and even for over a month without food. In other words, not a moment can we live without breathing. Then do we feel ourselves breathing every moment we breathe because breathing is very important?
Of course, we don't feel ourselves breathing as long as we are healthy even though we can feel it if we try to feel it consciously. If someone, feeling himself breathing every moment, tries hard to breathe, he must have a problem in his health, especially in his breathing system of his body. Likewise, if someone, Buddhist or Christian, conscious of the precepts every moment, has to try to obey them, he must have a problem in his life.

How can we obey precepts as naturally as a healthy person breathes? In a word, the precepts should become part of ourselves, and we should be able to obey them so naturally that we can obey them unconsciously just as we breathe.
Only then can we be said to obey the precepts perfectly.
Strictly speaking, to obey precepts perfectly means not that we hold back our desires to break the precepts but that we have no precepts to obey in our mind because we have realised by practising that everything including desires to break the precepts and even the precepts themselves, is an illusion.

I don't mean that we need not obey the precepts until we realise that everything is an illusion. We should try to obey the precepts consciously because trying to obey the precepts is not only part of practice but also the minimum moral attitude we must take as human beings. Whenever you are tempted to break a precept, trace back the temptation to its root and the temptation will die away before you know it. That is a good Zen practice as well as a way to obey the precepts. With time the precepts will become part of you naturally like breathing.

Q. Masters say that we should eliminate discriminating mind. How can we live without discriminating mind?

A. It seems to leave room for misunderstanding. It is impossible to live without discriminating mind in our everyday life. Our life is a series of discrimination every moment: crossing the street, buying things, meeting people and so forth. In a word we are living in the world created by a discriminating mind, which is also referred to as the world of illusion. The happiness and the success of our life can be said to depend on how good the decisions and choices that we make are, which rests on how well we discriminate things in our life. Our education is to provide us with the methods by which we can make good discrimination.



When masters advise us to eliminate discriminating mind, they mean not that we should not discriminate at all but that we should see both the world of illusion and the world out of illusion at the same time. In order to see the world out of illusion, we should be able to stop discriminating, when we can see the essence of things which is covered with an illusion. When we can see not just the illusion of a thing but also the essence of it, we can make better decisions and choices in our life. That's why masters are encouraging people to eliminate discriminating mind.

(Master was ill and a student visited him to ask a question.)
Q. Student: Sir, what are you when your body is not you?

A. Master: Not ill.
Q. Student: What is it that is not ill when you are ill?
A. Master: Ouch! Ouch!



Commentary:
Master reveals himself naked when he who is not ill cries, "Ouch! Ouch!"
Why don't you see him instead of hearing “Ouch! Ouch!”?

Q. I once practised Zen for ten days with little sleep, but I only got some problems with my body without getting anything. How hard should I practice?
A. You seem to be in a hurry. "Don't make haste where you should take it easy, and don't be idle where you should be in a hurry." "Practice just like putting out a fire on your head." "Practice just like a hen incubates its eggs." These are very well known maxims in Zen meditation practice.

Don't make haste where you should take it easy, that is, you should not be impatient for the final goal. The purpose of Zen is to do away with attachment and illusions. To intend to obtain something fast is also a kind of attachment or an illusion that prevents you from concentrating on practice. Be unconcerned about when or how soon you will reach the final goal as if it were none of your business. No one knows when you will reach the final goal. However, when the time is ripe, you will reach it as easily and naturally as you touch your nose while washing your face, and (you will feel) as if it reached you. Leave it alone until the time is ripe of itself just like a hen incubates its eggs. The more impatient you are, the farther you will get away from the final goal.



However, don't be idle where you should be in a hurry, that is to say, you should pay all your attention to your question when practising as if you were being chased alone by hungry lions. There is no time to lose in producing an original idea, no one to help you and no shelter to hide yourself. The only way you can avoid being devoured by them is to run faster than them. Don't try any other way than focusing on your question. Don't try to have the same experience as you heard from others, or read in books, that seem to be nice or mysterious. Don't take understanding for the final goal, which is you are serving your enemy as your father or mother. Never try to understand it. It can't be explained and understood, but must be felt or experienced through the whole body. Don't care about how far away the final goal is, but care about only whether you can keep your question. The harder you try to find a better way, the farther you will get away from the answer. Focus all your attention to the question just like putting out a fire on your head. You will undergo something new sooner or later. What is important here is that you should never attach yourself to the new experience. Just keep your focus on your question, leaving it alone, however nice or novel it is.

Q. How can I stop smoking?
A. Why can't we stop doing things as we please? Many people, for example, can't stop smoking though they are eager to stop it and some are suffering intense agony because they can't stop bad memories they want to forget from reviving. It is because we don't know what, or who, allowed our body to do something in the past and wants it to stop doing it now. Saying, "I allowed myself to do it," we don't know who or what I am when my body is not me. Likewise, saying, "I want to stop smoking," we don't know who or what wants to stop smoking, since we don't know what we are when our body is not us. How could you stop doing something when you don't know who permits your body to do something and wants it to stop doing it?



The Bible 1 John 4:4 says, "The spirit who is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong to the world." 'The spirit who is in you’ means your true-self, the final goal, and 'the spirit in those who belong to the world,' implies your body, which is an illusion. Only when you know what you are when your body is not you, can you become more powerful than the spirit in those who belong to the world.

If you realise what you are, you can be as free to stop doing it as you were to start to.

Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. Let me tell you the answer when you have drunk all the water in the Pacific Ocean.



Commentary:
Don't mistake the wrapping paper for the content.

If I were asked this question,
I would say, "The bottom of it is already dry because you drank it all, sir"

Q. Though I know everything is an illusion, I still get angry easily with small things, and regret it later. The regret lasts long, bothering me, which, in turn, makes me angry again. What shall I do?
A. Though you know everything is an illusion, it can be said, you have never experienced the fact in person. Knowing everything is an illusion is quite different from experiencing in person the truth that everything is an illusion. If you were aware that everything is an illusion, why wouldn't you know that you yourself are also an illusion and that your anger and your regret are also an illusion? What else would matter when not only your anger and regret but also you are an illusion?

Don't rule out anything from everything.



Trace back your agony to its root, and you will experience the truth that everything including you is an illusion.

Q. People say a certain place is good for practising Meditation because they can get more energy. Is there really such a place? If there is, where is the best place for practice?
A. Not just a few people seem to have such an idea wandering around in search of a good place. It is like going around looking for Buddha, or God. In Zen, everything including God and Buddha is said to be an illusion. What is not an illusion when everything is an illusion? Is such a place not an illusion? The best place is also an illusion created by people's discriminating mind.
Zen meditation is to eliminate illusions, but looking for such a place is creating and following another illusion. Looking for such a place for Zen practice is like making an illusion with one hand while trying to eliminate it with the other hand. The best place for practice is just where you are at this moment. The root which your idea of the best place comes from is the best place where you should be.



The best place for practice
should be where you can stay your whole life,
and be where others can't come.

Life
Life is sometimes sunny.
Life is sometimes moonlit.
Life is sometimes rainy.
Life is sometimes windy.
Life is sometimes snowy.
Life is sometimes cloudy.
Life is sometimes blooming.
Life is sometimes autumn-tinted.



What is your life like at this moment?

Whatever your life is like,
All of these are from the same root, your mind.

Q. What are you when your body is not you?

A. A grandmother is female.



Commentary:
Don't say you know a grandmother is female.
If I were asked this question, I would say, "A grandmother is male."

Q. Can we feel something good only when reaching the final goal?

A. This is not an all or nothing game. In the course of trying to get there you can experience something new and positive. Everything looks more beautiful than before and your life feels simpler and easier. You find it easier and simpler to tackle your demanding life than before, feeling sometimes your problems solve themselves. Becoming more understanding and considerate, you are less apt to lose your head in a bad situation where you used to. You have less ups and downs and your life becomes more stable. You can feel your life becoming much happier than before with practice.



Q. Why should we not read books?
A. Ancient masters always advised us not to read books if we hoped to reach the final goal. However good a book on enlightenment you may read, you can't reach the final goal through reading books without practice. Masters discouraged us from reading books because reading leads us to feel as if we were approaching the final goal as we get more knowledge on the final goal. In fact, getting more knowledge is collecting more illusions and strengthening the solidity of your illusions while reaching the final goal means breaking illusions. Actually we are going farther away in the opposite direction from the final goal against our intention.

Why do few people reach the final goal though so many people are reading so many books including the Sutras and the Bible around the world? Are the Sutras and the Bible telling a lie? It is not because they are telling a lie but because we can't digest what they mean. The final goal, the truth, is compared to a cure-all that gives an eternal life to ill people who take it. But the cure-all is so invisible that it is almost impossible to discern it. And what all books, including the Bible and the Sutras, are saying about it is not the cure-all itself but wrapping papers that can help people to recognise the contents, the cure-all. Most people mistake swallowing the wrapping paper for taking the contents, or cure-all. If we had taken a true cure-all, we would have become well instantly.



I don't want to discourage you from reading books, but I'd like to invite you to change the way of reading books in order to take the cure-all, instead of swallowing the wrapping paper. You should bear it in mind that every single word of the book you read is the gate to the truth, the final goal. If you digest only a single word through your body from any book you read, you can reach the final goal. If you have not reached the final goal after reading so many books, it means that you have not understood even a single word of so many words you have read. You took only wrapping papers. Trace back to the root the word or a sentence you believe you understand, or you like. That is to try to see beyond the word, an illusion. This can be compared to tearing the wrapping paper. If you can see the root, you can be said to have digested the book perfectly, to have reached the final goal. Try to see the root of each word or each sentence as perfectly as possible, instead of trying to read as many books as possible. That is a kind of Zen practice as well.

Q. What are you when your body is not you?
A. Don't eat lees but drink wine.



Commentary:
What is wine? And what are the lees?
Don't make believe that you drank wine after eating the lees.
He who eats the lees plays a drunken frenzy.
He who drinks wine steals the whole universe.

©Boo Ahm

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

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