Q28. 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.

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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.

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

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