A. First of all, never try to satisfy your curiosity about Zen or enlightenment by reading books. When you hit upon a question during practice or when reading books concerning Zen, don’t depend on books for the answer to your question. The books will present you with new questions, which will lead you to read more books and they will pose yet more questions. This will be endless. That is like trying to meet your hunger with pictures of food. You can not reach the final goal through reading books any more than you can satisfy your hunger by looking at pictures of food.
When you encounter a question beyond your understanding, ask yourself the question rather than consult another book. It might take some time, but you will never fail to get the right answer from yourself. So, ancient Masters would say that reading for a day is not as valuable as practising for an hour.
Remember that Buddha attained enlightenment not by reading books but by practice. When he was asked by his disciples on his deathbed how they should practice after he passed away, he replied, “You should practice depending on the lantern of yourself and the Dharma”.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway