Shouting at Students

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  • Myozan Kodo
    Friend of Treeleaf
    • May 2010
    • 1901

    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:
  • anista
    Member
    • Dec 2009
    • 262

    #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.
    The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself
    The mind that fabricates perceptions is false; the mind without perceptions is nirv??a

    Comment

    • Saijun
      Member
      • Jul 2010
      • 667

      #3
      Re: Shouting at Students

      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
      To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

      Comment

      • Dokan
        Friend of Treeleaf
        • Dec 2010
        • 1222

        #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
        We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
        ~Anaïs Nin

        Comment

        • Tb
          Member
          • Jan 2008
          • 3186

          #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
          Life is our temple and its all good practice
          Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • Shokai
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Mar 2009
            • 6391

            #6
            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)
            合掌,生開
            gassho, Shokai

            仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

            "Open to life in a benevolent way"

            https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

            Comment

            • Keishin
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 471

              #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!

              Comment

              • Risho
                Member
                • May 2010
                • 3179

                #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
                Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                Comment

                • Dokan
                  Friend of Treeleaf
                  • Dec 2010
                  • 1222

                  #9
                  Re: Shouting at Students

                  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...
                  We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                  ~Anaïs Nin

                  Comment

                  • anista
                    Member
                    • Dec 2009
                    • 262

                    #10
                    Re: Shouting at Students

                    Originally posted by Saijun
                    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?
                    The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself
                    The mind that fabricates perceptions is false; the mind without perceptions is nirv??a

                    Comment

                    • Myozan Kodo
                      Friend of Treeleaf
                      • May 2010
                      • 1901

                      #11
                      Re: Shouting at Students

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

                      Comment

                      • Shokai
                        Treeleaf Priest
                        • Mar 2009
                        • 6391

                        #12
                        Re: Shouting at Students

                        Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes.
                        合掌,生開
                        gassho, Shokai

                        仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                        "Open to life in a benevolent way"

                        https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

                        Comment

                        • Saijun
                          Member
                          • Jul 2010
                          • 667

                          #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
                          To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

                          Comment

                          • Hoyu
                            Member
                            • Nov 2010
                            • 2020

                            #14
                            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
                            Ho (Dharma)
                            Yu (Hot Water)

                            Comment

                            • Stephanie

                              #15
                              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.

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