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Thread: Shouting at Students

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Shouting at Students

    Don't know about you all, but I always thought zen 'masters' shouting at zen studnets was nothing but old fashioned bullying. I saw someone in a Dojo once get a right shout out of the blue (for no reason) in the middle of zazen. The person was shaking after the shout. It took some arrogance for the shouter to think this was going to bestow sudden enlightenment. It was clearly an act of violence, as far as I could see.

    I have no time for this bulls**t in zen. Maybe it's more in the Rinzai way, and our Soto way is more gentle. Although it was in a Soto Dojo I heard that shout.

    Some people need to be shouted at, sure. But hardly a person sitting down on the "diamond throne" of zazen.

    Well, that's what I think anyway. OKAY!!!!!!!!! :wink:

  2. #2

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Shouting and screaming as teaching methods has no place in the bodhisattva way. It's never an expedient, it's never skillful.

    The only time I have experienced it was when I practiced kendo, and I saw japanese senseis scolding kendokas when they did something wrong. Accompanied with physical abuse. Drove me away from that martial art. I hope I never see that kind of behavior in a zendo.

    That's my opinion.

  3. #3

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Shouting and screaming as teaching methods has no place in the bodhisattva way. It's never an expedient, it's never skillful.
    Hello Anista,

    Would you be of the mind, then, to say that using a shout or some other similar means of waking up a drowsy meditator is not in the realm of skillful action?

    I'm not saying that it's always appropriate, but I would be disinclined to say that, as an example, a carefully considered strike from a compassion stick is inherently violent or angry in nature. Likewise, perhaps some are motivated by more aggressive techniques more than a similar soft technique (I'm thinking of one specific friend who, while she was trying to lose weight, asked her trainer to shout insults and obscenities at her. It worked.).

    Different strokes, no?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  4. #4

    Re: Shouting at Students

    I suppose for me it's on the grey line of intent.

    If I was meditating and the senior monastic (or whomever was in charge of the zendo) did a "HA!" or tapped me on the shoulder, followed by a short, snap of a stick to bring me back to the moment, then I don't think i'd have a problem with it. But what was the goal of that instruction I suppose what the practitioner needs to ascertain. If I perceived it was malicious, then I'd excuse myself from practicing with them, without exception.

    I had read a biography by Tanahashi on Hakuin recently. I have a great respect for Hakuin and was a bit 'put-off' after reading that he was quite aggressive with his students. Obviously, without knowing the particulars and intent of his actions, I could only hope it was done skillfully. However, I cannot judge his methods unless I was the one being taught. We each have our own level of tolerance for our teachers. Look at Jundo! :wink:

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  5. #5

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Hi.

    It still happens.

    If not done in a meaning and manner that is helpful and healthful, its just sad.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    From my own experience of having sat in three authentic Zendos, other than my own and Treeleaf's; shouting is out. If one were to receive a correction, you first felt the stick gently laying on your shoulder; to which you responded with a gassho and were given ample time to prepare for a sharp rap. I think I wrote in another thread a while back about the old Oso who would be sure to make his rounds of each of us at the first session of the New Year and you totally felt the love and compassion put into each of those raps. I sure miss that old guy. Maybe by the time Jundo gets old he'll have figured out the technology that will enable him to treat us that way every new year. That would be something special, for sure! 8)

  7. #7

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Giving up preconceived ideas

    Teachers can be of immeasurable service

    I expect my zen teacher to be an iron mountain? Then I find him/her playing and laughing like a kid
    I expect my zen teacher to be warm, approachable, easy to interact with, and found one who was just-like-that...and then on retreat during interview (dokusan, sanzen) with them
    and zowie! a stony faced,all -serious -business person I have never seen or encountered before was seated in front of me YIKES!

    Throwing away preconceptions
    How does anyone learn to do this? How does anyone teach someone else to do this?

    Some storm clouds bring rain, some bring thunder and lightning some bring both some pass through without a sound, without leaving a drop
    Phenomenon is dependent on conditions. Teaching is like this.
    What isn't like this?

    hunger dreams of omlettes. Reality breaks eggs

    It is a mistake to be too precious about my conceptions, but if it weren't for my mistakes I wouldn't encounter what is


    In deep gratitude to all teachers: past, present and future.
    To my zen teachers with lineages and robes and bowls, to my zen teachers who never heard of 'zen'

    may we all realize the Buddha way together!

  8. #8

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Different tools for different times I suppose. Power can definitely be abused and I guess it all comes down to intent and how it's being used. I personally no longer respond to bootcamp tactics, that's probably why they recruit younger, not older men, into the army. In any case, I recently read a book called "Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers." It was about various Rinzai teachers. It wasn't my cup of tea, not because I have anything against Rinzai, I just don't "feel" it if you know what I mean. There is a chapter about Hakuin, and I really couldn't relate to his methods; they did seem extreme.

    But then again, I'm so far removed from the culture in which his Zen developed it's easy for me to point fingers.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  9. #9

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    In any case, I recently read a book called "Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers." It was about various Rinzai teachers. It wasn't my cup of tea, not because I have anything against Rinzai, I just don't "feel" it if you know what I mean. There is a chapter about Hakuin, and I really couldn't relate to his methods; they did seem extreme.
    Another book that details this is Eat, Sleep, Sit by Nonomura. It's is a detailed account of his year at Eiheiji...some parts were quite disturbing and I couldn't help but feel that I would not make it in the door...

  10. #10

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Shouting and screaming as teaching methods has no place in the bodhisattva way. It's never an expedient, it's never skillful.
    Hello Anista,

    Would you be of the mind, then, to say that using a shout or some other similar means of waking up a drowsy meditator is not in the realm of skillful action?
    It depends. Why is there a need for a shout? Is that the only way to wake up someone who is drowsy? But, with that said, when I said "shouting and screaming" I was thinking of a more aggressive attitude than for example a "Hey Joe!", which can be said with a raised voice but which I wouldn't classify as "shouting or screaming". I see now that I should have been clearer on this.

    I'm not saying that it's always appropriate, but I would be disinclined to say that, as an example, a carefully considered strike from a compassion stick is inherently violent or angry in nature.
    Again, why is there a need for a stick? It's like parents who can't raise their children without corporal punishment, saying it's all done out of compassion. I don't think it is. Compassion doesn't rise from hitting, screaming, pushing. In the same vein, I do not think it is proper to have a compassion knife, gently pricking someone to make them see the fragility of their body. Or something. Is that skillful means? In my humble opinion, no.

    Likewise, perhaps some are motivated by more aggressive techniques more than a similar soft technique (I'm thinking of one specific friend who, while she was trying to lose weight, asked her trainer to shout insults and obscenities at her. It worked.).
    If she asked for it herself, then, perhaps that is another question altogether?

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    First a bully is a bully. Then a bully is not a bully. Then a bully is a bully again.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes.

  13. #13

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Nothing like Groucho to take things to the next level. Thank you Shokai.

    On topic, though, I would say that corporal punishment is not a bad thing in and of itself. How it's used is the issue.

    My own father spanked me exactly once in my life. The rest of the time, he would tell me to stop once, then let me learn for myself why something was a bad idea. Which was more compassionate? Which was more effective?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    Shawn wrote:
    Another book that details this is Eat, Sleep, Sit by Nonomura. It's is a detailed account of his year at Eiheiji...some parts were quite disturbing and I couldn't help but feel that I would not make it in the door..
    Hi Shawn,
    Eat Sleep Sit is the first thing that entered my mind when i read this post. I, like you, don't think I would have stayed past the first night. And that wasn't even at Eiheiji. It got more severe(my opinion) once he was in. Eihiji is as Soto as you can get so it's not just a Rinzai thing! It's a fine line between being helpful and abusive. However I will relate it to an Aikido story. There was this one Sensei who would say "don't confuse pain with a good stretch"
    I think the same principal can apply here too.

    P.S. I must add though that same Sensei tore one of my friends elbows so badly he had to be put in a cast and never returned! The moral is that regardless the motive things can be taken to far.

    Gassho,
    John

  15. #15
    Stephanie
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    I can appreciate a hard-assed teacher who knows how to use a sharper teaching method with skill, and with the right intent. There's no point in yelling and slapping and carrying on if it's only making students more confused, fearful, and closed down. But my thought is, if you're too delicate to be yelled at, how the hell are you ever going to wake up? Facing reality and the unreality of all your hopes and dreams takes a strong constitution, a stronger one I believe than it takes to cope with a slap or a yell.

    That said, it takes the right student and right teacher, I think in this day and age people are very delicate and precious, I mean in America we sue each other over things that really aren't anyone's fault. Much less an actual "physical assault" or "verbal assault." I think most teachers know a harsh approach isn't likely to work, and could get them in trouble. But I've seen teachers effectively take a more hardline approach, w/o the slapping and such. John Daido Loori would often castigate his students for being lazy or whining too much, when they/we were indeed being lazy or precious about ourselves, and usually with that great Jersey City/New York sense of humor; I appreciated that. And if you couldn't stop squirming during zazen, a monitor would address you, and then eventually escort you out of the zendo. I appreciated that too, in a way it was more compassionate than just ignoring someone in an obvious state of distress or who really wasn't that serious about it.

  16. #16

    Re: Shouting at Students

    SHUT UP! :evil:

    Actually, there is a time for a bit of "tough love" (emphasis on the 'love' part), and some folks benefit from the marine drill instructor. Not my style so much or Taigu's, and for some folks it just backfires. However, there is a time to push push push some folks forward to attain that 'no where to attain' ...

    Dogen relates this story about his teacher ...

    When staying at Tendo Monastery in China, while the old master Nyojo was abbot there, we sat zazen until about eleven o’clock at night and got up at about half-past two to sit zazen. The abbot sat with the assembly in the sodo, never taking even one night off.

    While sitting, many monks fell asleep. The abbot walked around hitting them with his fist or his slipper, scolding them and encouraging them to wake up. If they continued to sleep, he went to the shodo, rang the bell, and called his attendants to light the candles. On the spur of the moment he would say such things as; “What is the use of sleeping? Why do you gather in a sodo [monk's hall]? Why did you become a monk and enter this monastery?”

    One time, his immediate attendant said, “The monks in the sodo are tired and sleepy. They may fall ill or lose their aspiration because of the long hours of sitting. Please shorten the time of zazen.”

    Angrily the abbot replied, “We must never do that. People without bodhi-mind who temporarily stay in the sodo would sleep even if we sat for only half an hour or less. Practitioners with bodhi-mind who aspire to practice are happier the longer they are able to sit and therefore, practice much harder.


    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 02-25.html

    However, we have to be very cautious ... because sometimes a well meaning "spank" can turn into teasing and abuse and power trips, as sometimes seen in that book mentioned on Eiheiji.

    Gassho and 40 blows, J

  17. #17
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    Sorry, this is not really related:
    My own father spanked me exactly once in my life. The rest of the time, he would tell me to stop once, then let me learn for myself why something was a bad idea. Which was more compassionate? Which was more effective?
    This is also true for me, and being paralyzed from the waist down I can't even feel my ass :roll: but it was damn effective. Whatever I did, I know I never did it again. I'll leave the rest of that lesson to you.

    My other reactions to this thread belong elsewhere....

  18. #18

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    SHUT UP! :evil:

    Actually, there is a time for a bit of "tough love" (emphasis on the 'love' part), and some folks benefit from the marine drill instructor. Not my style so much or Taigu's, and for some folks it just backfires. However, there is a time to push push push some folks forward to attain that 'no where to attain' ...

    Dogen relates this story about his teacher ...

    When staying at Tendo Monastery in China, while the old master Nyojo was abbot there, we sat zazen until about eleven o’clock at night and got up at about half-past two to sit zazen. The abbot sat with the assembly in the sodo, never taking even one night off.

    While sitting, many monks fell asleep. The abbot walked around hitting them with his fist or his slipper, scolding them and encouraging them to wake up. If they continued to sleep, he went to the shodo, rang the bell, and called his attendants to light the candles. On the spur of the moment he would say such things as; “What is the use of sleeping? Why do you gather in a sodo [monk's hall]? Why did you become a monk and enter this monastery?”

    One time, his immediate attendant said, “The monks in the sodo are tired and sleepy. They may fall ill or lose their aspiration because of the long hours of sitting. Please shorten the time of zazen.”

    Angrily the abbot replied, “We must never do that. People without bodhi-mind who temporarily stay in the sodo would sleep even if we sat for only half an hour or less. Practitioners with bodhi-mind who aspire to practice are happier the longer they are able to sit and therefore, practice much harder.


    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 02-25.html

    However, we have to be very cautious ... because sometimes a well meaning "spank" can turn into teasing and abuse and power trips, as sometimes seen in that book mentioned on Eiheiji.

    Gassho and 40 blows, J
    Please have a look at that other thread posted by Al today ... and "playing with fire" ...

    viewtopic.php?p=52041#p52041

    Gassho, J

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Shouting at Students

    With a wet noodle?? :lol:

  20. #20

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Seems I'm late to the discussion, but I'd like to step in and call for more yelling. Not more anger or bullying, just yelling. Many of us come to Zen with very set ideas about what constitutes violence, Zen, the role of the teacher, and the role of 'me' and I think it is useful to carefully set those ideas aside. My former Zendo in New York was part of an Aikido dojo, and it was not unusual to hear a shout during Zazen. There was no meanness--just a wake up. Since most of the students were also Aikido students, they were accustomed to kiai--the 'spirit-shout' or energetic vocalization that you sometimes hear in the martial arts. We also used the kyosaku regularly: but only when 1) a student requested being struck by placing her/his hands in gassho as the jikijitsu walked past during zazen; 2) if someone actually fell asleep--but then only as a nudge or tap and only if the student didn't wake up when the jiki approached. The kyosaku is the 'encouragement stick'.

    My larger point is, it is easy to categorize yelling during Zazen as 'violent' or 'bullying.' I think it is important to let those categories fall away; yelling, silence, angry teacher, happy teacher, violent, non-violent. It is all just zazen. That doesn't mean that violence doesn't exist--it is all around us. Many of us were, as Ammon Hennacy said, born into the world carrying an arsenal: the weapons of sexual privilege, the weapons of racial privilege, the weapons of economic privilege. I think Zazen is one way to set down our own weapons.

    I'll let Cat Stevens (Yusef Mohammed) play me off.

    Well
    If you want to sing out
    Sing out.
    And if you want to be free
    Be free.
    'Cause there's a million things to be.
    You know that there are.
    And if you want to live high
    Live high.
    And if you want to live low
    Live low.
    'Cause there's a million ways to go.
    You know that there are.

    You can do what you want.
    The opportunity's on.
    And if you find a new way

    You can do it today.
    You can make it all true.
    And you can make it undo
    You see.
    Ah
    It's easy.
    Ah
    You only need to know.

    Well
    If you want to say yes
    Say yes.
    And if you want to say no
    Say no.
    Cause there's a million ways to go.
    You know that there are.
    And if you want to be me
    Be me.
    And if you want to be you
    Be you.
    Cause thee's a million things to do.
    You know that there are.

  21. #21

    Re: Shouting at Students

    Well, that's what I think anyway. OKAY!!!!!!!!!
    You don't have to shout

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