Q49. 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.

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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.

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

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