Psychological Submission in Zen System of Practice

A serious Zen practitioner cannot proceed in practice without having his senses psychologically tranquillised, which D. Suzuki openly describes in his book "An Introduction to Zen":

1/   The requirement of absolute obedience to the master disables any questioning, and suppresses the seeking mind in the novice.  If a master disapproves of a novice monk's thinking, then the novice monk will not advance.  This means that: the maturity of the mind of the novice follower is conditioned by master's approval.

2/  In order to suppress the mind of intellect (in a new practitioner), irrational questions are given and a task of searching for irrational answers is made as a condition to develop a way of thinking set by the master.

D. Suzuki openly mention that Zen is beyond reason:

          "The koans ... are generally such as to shut up all possible avenues to rationalisation"                       page 78

And to confuse a practitioner further, Zen masters offer contradicting answers to presented questions:

          "To outsiders this 'systemisation' appears to be no systemisation,

          for it is full of contradictions and even among the Zen masters          

          themselves there is a great deal of discrepancy, which is quiet disconcerting.

          What one master asserts another flatly denies or make a sarcastic remark about it,

          so the uninitiated are at loss what to make out of all these hopeless entanglement".       


       page 82                                                                                                 


Free thinking in Zen tradition

A more profund procedure of psychological manipulation - where free thinking is not allowed - is described in the following:

          "... besides the lectures, the monks have what is known as 'sanzen'.  

          To do 'sanzen' is to go to the master and present their view on the koan they have for the master critical examination. ...'

          sanzen' will probably take place twice a day, but during the special time of 'thought collection' -

          the monk has to see the master four or five times a day. This seeing the master does not take place openly.

          The monk is required to go individually to the master's room, where the interview takes place

          in a most formal and solemn manner.  When the monk is about to cross the threshold, he makes three bows,

          each time prostrating himself on the floor; he now enters the room keeping his hands palm to palm in front of his chest,

          and he comes near the master he kneels down and makes still another prostration.  

          This ceremony over, no further wordily considerations are entertained,; if necessary from the Zen point of view,

          even blows may be exchanged".                                                                                                                 page 97

This outrageous way of humiliation and treatment of a younger person as inferior in all aspects, a system requiring a human being to prostrate on the floor - putting one's head at the same level of the master's shoes - and repeating this brainwashing technique "solemnly" several times a day - this may be a question for future advocates of human right to freedom from domination to consider - whether it can be viewed as a religious ritual or a cultish behaviour, inconsistent with the spirit of this age.  

The described way of initiating a monk (and controlling the way a monk thinks) - conforms with the atmosphere of the feudal mind of the past.  Being submissive to a system of authority, Zen literature shamelessly says that beating of a monk is acceptable "from the Zen point of view".

The following record of Zen master's "point of view" - is clear in how Zen literature does not see anything wrong in subduing the mind of practitioners monks, and proudly mentions the following:

          "One summer evening, when Hakuin came to present his view to his old master, who was cooling himself on the veranda,

          the master rudely said, "Stuff and nonsense!".  Hakuin repeated loudly, "Stuff and nonsense!".  

          Thereupon the master seized him, boxed his ear, and finally pushed him off the veranda.  

          As it had been raining, the poor Hakuin found himself rolling in mud and water.  When he recovered himself,

          he returned to the veranda and bowed to the master, who retorted, "O you denizen of the dark cavern".  

          Another day, thinking that the master failed to really appreciate the depth of his knowledge of Zen,

          Hakuin desired to have a settlement with him anyhow.  When the time came, Hakuni entered the master's room

          and exhausted all his ingenuity in contest with him, making up his mind this time not to give up an inch of ground.  

          The master was furious, and finally taking hold of Hakuin gave him several slaps and pushed him off the porch.

          He fell several feet to the foot of a stone wall, where he remained for a while almost senseless.  

          The master looked down at him and laughed heartily."                                        An Introduction to Zen, page 98

          "The history of Zen gives many such examples of great masters..."                     An Introduction to Zen, page 100     

Again, this is a proof that contemporary Zen followers are incapable of perceiving the quality of behaviour of masters beating their monks - (and still they call them "great masters").


Author: Safwan Zabalawi (Darshams)

Juvenile Mind of Zen Masters