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Q. What is the difference between understanding and enlightenment?

A. Understanding without experience can be said to be imperfect understanding as a kind of knowledge. Enlightenment is perfect understanding through personal experience. We, for example, can understand how to swim by reading books on it and even explain it to others. However, understanding how to swim merely as knowledge is quite different from swimming in person in a pool.

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In the same way, many people, with a lot of understanding about the Buddha and enlightenment, say that the Buddha is with them all the time, but few can really see Him in person. Regarding literal understanding as enlightenment is like thinking of the literal understanding of swimming manuals as being good enough to save us from drowning. Zen meditation is to help people to internalise their knowledge through personal experience, that is, help them to turn their knowledge into their experience.

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

 

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