The difference between before and after your Awakening

Question: Dear Zen Master, please let us know the difference between before and after your Awakening.

Answer from Zen Master Thich Dieu Thien:

Before Awakening:


  • From a young age, knowing there is an Awake world, I always had genuine concern and pondered upon how to return to it. When I had the good chance to read about the Buddha’s life, I realized clearly that only Awake can liberate me from the source of illusion; only Awake can free me from the suffering of birth, aging, sickness, and death; and only when I awaken can I help sentient beings wake up and liberate the source of illusion, ending the cycle of birth and death.


  • Before Awakening, I was blindfolded in every situation, not seeing, not knowing what to do for myself and others, deadlocked and distressed (even though at that time I had the opportunity to study the sutras, disciplinary codes, analytical doctrines. I practiced elaborately, applied all kinds of methods, greatly transformed the inner mind, but Awake Home was still in blind spot, feeling stuck and deadlocked within.)


  • I always pondered upon, questioned restlessly, and asked myself, “Why is it so many years after practicing that I am still stuck? The Awake Home is so close, yet so far away? How to soon return to live like Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Patriarchs, having  complete wisdom to see through the human mind, having immense compassion to love all sentient beings unconditionally,  with a myriad of awake tools to help sentient beings wake up and liberate from the source of illusion to become a Buddha, liberate from the suffering of birth and death?” This restless questioning manifested a power in me to go searching for the answer, even at the risk of losing my life.

After Awakening:


  • All of the questions above were answered upon my Awakening. Immediately, the source of illusion collapsed; the Awake light appeared. The pure, empty , serene, omniscient Essence, and the unconditional Compassion for all beings appeared naturally; subsequently, came the great vow to help all sentient beings merge into Awake Essence, ending the suffering of drifting in the cycle of birth and death.


  • Awake Seeing: Awake Seeing is the capacity to clearly see the serene nature, and understand thoroughly the source of illusion in each person, whether it is expressed or not. From the immaculate seeing Essence, the Awakened One is capable of awakening the Awake potential in each person, causing him/her to develop the vow to Wake Up, liberating the illusion source, and end the suffering of birth and death.


  • Awake Listening: Awake Listening is the capacity to listen clearly to the source of each being as is; knowing clearly what each being is thinking, saying, and why he/she says so, and from which source of illusion their saying is coming from. Even standing in front of thousands of people, Awake Listening emanates freely, boundlessly.


  • Awake Tools: The Awake light knows clearly the source of each being, emanating a myriad of means to wake up the Awake potential in each person, helping them to doubt deeply the suffering of birth and death, to develop the wanting to wake up to liberate themselves from the suffering of drifting in the cycle of birth and death.
    That Awake light emanates naturally, sees things as clearly as they are, without using the worldly mind such as consciousness, thinking, or judging...


  • Awake Compassion: Awake Compassion is immense, equal for all people, regardless of their status: whether they trust or distrust, are supporting or not, praising or fighting against, criticizing, or decrying… The Awake Compassion is never contaminated, never disturbed, because it understands thoroughly the suffering that fully covers people because of their ignorance, greed, and hatred. The more the Awakened One sees with Awake Compassion, the more she loves sentient beings, and the greater her vow is for all sentient beings in this world to soon awaken, ending the cycle of birth and death.

Therefore, in order to reach Awake and liberation, a Zen practitioner has to restlessly question about the suffering of birth and death. This restlessness is a force pushing practitioners to swim against the current of birth and death, overcoming millions of barriers and obstacles to reach the Awake source, and is also a levering force that levers practitioners to merge into the immaculate, serene Essence of Awake, collapsing the root of ignorance, greed and hatred, becoming one with the Awakened Ones.