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Thread: Katsu

  1. #1

    Katsu

    [Forgive me if there's an existing topic on katsu; I couldn't find anything but this brief discussion of something that seems to have more content than is currently available.

    So, two days ago, Matto gave me this gift:

    I think... you think too much!
    As I replied, I think he's right! Of course, he also got me thinking about gestures that help me not think too much. :wink:

    I've learned enough by this point to realize that, sometimes, the thing I need most is for someone to shout, "Sit down and shut up!" (Usually, it's me both needing and shouting!) I don't know too much about it, but katsu seems to be the right name for this act.

    Here's what Wikipedia has to say about katsu:

    Katsu is a type of shout that is used in Chán and Zen Buddhism to give expression to one's own enlightened state (Japanese: satori) and/or to induce another person to move beyond rationality and logic and, potentially, achieve an initial enlightenment experience. ... The word in Chinese means literally "to yell" or "to shout", and in Japanese has also developed the meaning of "to browbeat", "to scold", and "hoarse". However, in the context of Chan and Zen practice, the word is not generally used in its literal meaning(s), but rather—much as with the martial arts shout of kiai—as fundamentally a means of focusing energy. ... The katsu shout, insofar as it represents a kind of verbal harshness and even violence, can be considered a part of the Mah?y?na Buddhist doctrine of "skill-in-means" (Sanskrit: up?ya-kau?alya), which essentially teaches that even an action or practice which seems to violate Buddhist moral guidelines—in this case, the Noble Eightfold Path's injunction against "abusive speech"—is permissible, and even desirable, so long as it is done with the aim of ultimately putting an end to suffering and introducing others to the dharma, or teachings of Buddhism.
    I've been snooping through this pdf of The Zen Teaching of Rinzai, where one can find lots of Linji/Rinzai katsu moments. My favorite:

    Linji asked a monk: "Sometimes a Katsu is like the precious sword of the Vajra king (Diamond King); sometimes a Katsu is like a golden-maned lion crouching on the ground; sometimes a Katsu is like a probing pole (for fishing) to which a grass bushel is fastened to cast shade; and sometimes a Katsu is not used as a Katsu. How do you understand that?"

    The monk hesitated and the master gave a Katsu.
    Compelling stuff, I think, that rubs against the "nice Buddhism" grain -- and for the record, I'm happy to have anyone katsu me here on Treeleaf at any time!

    Seriously, I'd be interested to know more about how everyone here -- including Jundo and Taigu, of course -- approaches this... technique? tool? approach?

  2. #2

    Re: Katsu

    personally thinking a lot can be a great help. Since at the end, our mind can never grasp any of this intellectually. But it will try, it will try to the point of surrender, to the point of giving up. When the mind gives up, we then dive straight into the present moment, completely unprotected. In that moment, we come face to face with that which we were never apart from. Our selves.

    Thinking causes some problems, since usually we are not seeing reality, only our idea of reality. A shout helps us realize this. An unexpected shout can really startle someone, in that moment of shock, thinking has stopped. Since an unexpected shout goes against what the mind's idea of reality should be. A teacher should be nice and humble, then he shouts...in that moment the mind can't grasp any longer, and when the mind stops grasping, we begin to see the reality itself out side of our perception of it.

    Just some ideas...

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  3. #3

    Re: Katsu

    Katsu!!!



    Seriously though, katsu is just another finger pointing at the moon.

  4. #4

    Re: Katsu

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Katsu!!!



    Seriously though, katsu is just another finger pointing at the moon.
    As is everything else...

    *SHOUTS*

    Seiryu

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Katsu

    Linji asked a monk: "Sometimes a Katsu is like the precious sword of the Vajra king (Diamond King); sometimes a Katsu is like a golden-maned lion crouching on the ground; sometimes a Katsu is like a probing pole (for fishing) to which a grass bushel is fastened to cast shade; and sometimes a Katsu is not used as Katsu"
    And sometimes......Katsu is just a delicious meal!

    Just a joke to remind you not to think too much :wink:

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: Katsu

    A shout, like anything has its place. Your child runs out into the street, you don't kindly whisper, "oh, please stop". you yell STOP!!!. Gets the point across, huh?

    But like anything, especially in Zen where people come with these esoteric ideas of shouts punches and mystical babble about something dealing with a dog's buddha nature, it can turn into an ineffective theatrical game. Shout shout shout and you end up red faced huffing and puffing for air.

    To Katsu or not to Katsu, that is the question. Meh. Drink tea.

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  7. #7

    Re: Katsu

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    To Katsu or not to Katsu, that is the question. Meh. Drink tea.
    I think if a zen master would katsu me I would smack him with the Keisaku and say I was expressing my Buddha nature in wrathful protector form. :twisted:

    :twisted:

    Seiryu

  8. #8

    Re: Katsu

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    ... especially in Zen where people come with these esoteric ideas of shouts punches and mystical babble about something dealing with a dog's buddha nature, it can turn into an ineffective theatrical game. Shout shout shout and you end up red faced huffing and puffing for air.

    To Katsu or not to Katsu, that is the question. Meh. Drink tea.

    Gassho,
    Taylor
    I agree, and it so often become just a bit of theatrics.

    Sometimes, though, these sudden surprises can be a bucket of cold water over the head ... a spitball or mooning to the "self" ... especially when someone is tangled up "in their own head", lost in chains of thought and emotion. I once commented like this on something Master Dogen wrote in Fukanzazengi ...

    "In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout — these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views?"

    Master Dogen, like all Zen teachers of every school of Zen, treasured that ineffable which is 'found' when we drop discriminative thinking. So, he often cited famous classic Koans wherein great Teachers would try to express the "unexpressable" (cause we drop words and concepts) by banging on the table, waving their fist in the air, putting a shoe on their head and such (those are all classic Zen stories he is referring to in that list of "finger, banner, shout" etc.). It is what there is when we drop the "self" (a kind of fiction created by the sense perpections and the brain's organizing the perceptions into labled "things" ... thus his reference to "beyond seeing and hearing", "being prior to knowledge and views" etc.). He also was saying that it is not a matter of magic, hocus-pocus, special supernatural powers ... but something we can all know for ourselves here and now.
    Remember, in our way ... silence and stillness is good (although, also remember that thinking it is all about being silent and still and without thought is usually not good, and chasing after silence and stillness or "no thought" is usually not good.)

    As well, in our way ... thought and emotion is good when seen and seen through clearly (although being tangled up in the barbed wire of chains of thought or lost in emotion is not good).

    So, neither thought or no thought is really what this is about. KATSU!

    Gassho, J

    Katsu is a finger pointing to the moon. Here is the moon.


  9. #9

  10. #10

    Re: Katsu

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Katsu is a finger pointing to the moon. Here is the moon.

    Makes me think of Foyin's fart.

  11. #11

    Re: Katsu

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA

    Makes me think of Foyin's fart.
    Ah, lovely story Chris ...


    Su Dongpo (1037-1101), a famous Chinese poet, wrote the following poem to describe a state he had experienced in meditation:

    I bow to the god among gods;
    His hair-light illuminates the world.
    Unmoved when the Eight Winds blow,
    Upright I sit in a purple-golden lotus.


    “He sent the poem to the Great Master Foyin (1011-1086), and the Master’s reply was two words: ‘Fart, fart.’ As soon as Su Dongpo saw the Great Master Foyin’s criticism, he couldn’t get it out of his mind, and he rushed across the Yangtze—he lived on the south side of the river and Great Master Foyin lived on the north side—to find the Master and scold him. He wanted to tell the Master that he had written an enlightened poem, and so how could the Master possibly have replied, ‘Fart, fart?’

    “In fact, when Great Master Foyin criticized him, not only did Su Dongpo fart, he blazed forth and wanted to scorch Foyin to death. And so he rushed across the river and burst unannounced into the Master’s quarters and shouted, ‘How could you possibly scold someone and slander him that way by writing “fart, fart”?’

    “Foyin replied, ‘Who was I slandering? You said that you were unmoved by the Eight Winds, but just by letting out two small farts I’ve blown you all the way across the Yangtze. And you still say that the Eight Winds don’t move you? You don’t have to talk about eight winds; just my two farts bounced you all the way up here.’

    “Then Su Dongpo thought, ‘That’s right. I said that I’m unmoved by the Eight Winds, but two words have been enough to make me burn with anger.’ Realizing that he still didn’t have what it takes, he bowed to the Master and repented.

  12. #12

    Re: Katsu

    I also like case 10 from the Blue Cliff Record http://perso.ens-lyon.fr/eric.boix/K...oku/index.html:

    Kaatz and katzu are interchangeable

    Case 10: Bokushu's "Idiot"

    Bokushu asked a monk, "Where have you come from?"
    At once the monk shouted, "Kaatz!"
    Bokushu said, "The old monk has been scolded by you with a 'Kaatz'!"
    The monk shouted again, "Kaatz!"
    Bokushu said, "After three or four shouts of 'Kaatz', then what?"
    The monk was silent.
    Bokushu hit him saying, "You idiot!"

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