Open Way Zen Brisbane
Open Way Zen Brisbane

Questions and Answers


When meditating I understand that any sensation (be it a gross, tickling, heat, cold, stabbing etc. any sensation) we are to give it no attention; we are to see it with equanimity. So when these sensations occur not to own them, not to attach to them, not to go "Ahh!, my aching back", or "mmm, I like that feeling". However, in reality, Day to Day life, if I am to say "This is my husband" or "my daughter" or "my home" or "I am that person". If by saying, "I", "my", "mine", "me", etc. am I not forming more attachments (by owning)?

How can I look at this? What is the Zen approach to this question? A friend once said to me; that by not saying "I", "my", "mine", when you are talking that you are not being direct with, or owning your true feelings. Could you help my understanding? Thank you.


Even if you do not say or use "I", "my", "mine", or any words which express or imply our possession or owning sense, or a self-centred manner, and even though we try to be so indifferent and not to be attached to anything in our daily lives, we are usually still remaining in the same realm of strong attachment in our subconscious or unconscious or even very conscious level, aren't we?! Of course, in the midst of our specific meditation practice, we should have no focus, no object, no struggle, no playing, no attachment to anything at all, but in our daily life, or throughout our lifetime(s), can we keep such an artificial way of sense or sensitivity? Do we really need to do so? For us all, pain is pain (which may need to be acknowledged or to be treated by a good healer), because after all we are such weak children. "No attention" you say, but isn't the attitude to ignore or to pay no attention such an especially big "attention" of a different kind?! Don't you think so?

To see, to look, to observe deeply (without personal preferences and without the interference of any biased attitudes or distorted tendencies) means to act, to help, to work directly, in response to the occasion or encounter or emergency, that is the natural function of our original nature when we are truly empt, and that is nothing but real compassion and love. This is one of the essences of the ultimate Trinity. We should not become like a stone statue or a sitting machine, or a dead tree, which has lost the active function of emptiness.


I work in a stressful profession, constantly dealing with problems and unethical and unprofessional business behaviour of others (i.e. builders, manufacturers etc.). I seem to spend my days going from one problem to another. I sometimes wonder if I should find more spiritual work, or whether I am meant to try and influence others and maybe help change how business is done.


It all depends on your own deepest voice (deepest life-wish) whether you should change your work and your life or not. In reality you are so deeply learning something (the realities of karmic suffering and problems and experiences and, after all, the meaning of them all).

Your present situation is so special to learn to observe and understand (with new eyes) the realities of human beings and society. You can find the places where you need to continue or change the practice of your daily work if you are guided by your deepest life-direction. If you really understand and clarify, in your depth, what you are doing in your work and life, you can determine or confront the situation, whether or not you decide to continue or change it. You need to look clearly at the situation with the newly discovering, open eyes or acceptance. It is the matter of your own highest aspiration, the ultimate life-direction to go beyond all, or penetrating everything.


If life is emptiness, what is the personal or individual substance and essence of ourselves that is continuing and reincarnating and transmigrating through many lifetimes?


In the Heart Sutra, we find the emptiness of ourselves, empty of separate self. Everything cannot exist separately as an independent self by itself.

If so, what is the substance or entity that is continuing through days and nights, reincarnating through many lifetimes? This is a huge subject for us all, isn't it?

But we really need to clarify anew by ourselves. Quite recently, I have done this homework of mine, as the biggest subject of 1997 (for me), since we had the last sesshin here in 1996.

The substance (or essence) of ourselves which is penetrating through many lifetimes (or reincarnations and transmigrations) is our own, my own, one's own deepest life work - which is each ones deepest karmic inevitability, our innate or inherent, ultimate purpose. This is nothing but the real freedom to pursue our own deepest life-direction beyond all our miscellaneous (intellectual) choices.

This deepest life force (or karmic nature) is, even now, creating our bodies and minds as the one penetration of life through our many life-times. Our deepest purpose remains, usually, dormant until we discover it or are aware if it in our depth. Until then, throughout our lifetimes we are unconsciously travelling (reincarnating) towards such an awakening. Once we discover or are aware of it in our depth we begin our new lives for that, and the more we work with such an awareness, the more the meaning and the works are emerging in the depths of ourselves as individuals.

Unless we complete such a penetrating life-work, we are as unfinished beings, coming and going, travelling and unaware that we are continuing such a unique, special work that contains the very meaning of one's own life existence itself.

We cannot create our own deepest life-work (highest aspiration), but it has been creating and even now is creating ourselves; it is the cause of ourselves, we are not the cause of it. Throughout this process, we are inter-relating, life after life, within all our relations with everything, so deeply interdependently - this is nothing but emptiness. This is the real meaning of emptiness. Please do not misunderstand about emptiness which is not empty, nor vacant, nor "no-substance", but is, in fact, full of life and everything, selflessly.

This one penetration of our own lives and deaths through so many reincarnations, is nothing but the long process of our own self-realisation of our deepest life-meaning. This is our self-substance or self-essence which is formed, supported, influenced, nurtured interdependently with all others, not able to exist by itself. Therefore, it is emptiness, we all are emptiness, as everything is. All our reincarnations and transmigrations are possible, in reality, because of the emptiness of ourselves. We (everything) are not fixed entities.

So, finally, what we find is the fact that there is no death. Life only, NOW by NOW. This is life, this is NOW, this is emptiness. Everything as it is. Svaha!!!

So now we can say:

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form;

Every formation (substance, essence) and all our reincarnations (transmigrations) are emptiness,

Emptiness is every formation (essence, substance) and all our reincarnations (transmigrations).

Death does not exist, life only that is this white lotus opening NOW, as just once in eternity, that is life (NOW). Each one of us (everything, one by one) is the real example of this fact.

Since my second son died, I have thoroughly investigated and confirmed thoroughly about this huge subject, about the fact of our reincarnations and transmigrations.

Is there any one who remembers your previous lives? Usually not.

To forget everything is to be totally born anew,

completely this is new life each time, each life!,

forgetting everything, life by life, one by one!!

How many lifetimes have we spent so far? Each life we have completely forgotten, but surely each life, each of us had unfinished works to pursue and complete in the ultimate stage (NOW). So how many more lifetimes or lives do we need to realise the real NOW, or to complete our own real home-work (penetrating life-work), one penetration of our own meaning (which is life itself)? But all reincarnations, all processes of them are just this NOW only. Nothing else.

What we should do is to realise, to awake, in this penetrating our own deepest wish, deepest life-direction in our depth. When? Why not NOW?! This is the time to do it! Otherwise, we need 1000 more lifetimes. What are they?! That is this one moment. This is it!