, in whatever form, shakes together pre-existing knowledge in the recipient's head, so they see what they (in principle) already know but didn't see. The right slap can bring two thoughts together that had been sitting next to each other, but unconnected, for a long time... or a set of thoughts needing only one more to make a complete set. At the wrong time, a slap (finding only the one thought) only hurts. The art of the master is to recognize when the thoughts are there.
It must be noted that a ZenSlap is a compassionate act, although if it does not have its intended effect then it will not feel like it at the time! Also, I must disagree with comments above and below, since it implies that a ZenSlap is used to bring about a new logical perspective. This is not the case. That is a different slap - a WhackOnTheSideOfTheHead. A ZenSlap is to stop conceptual thinking altogether.
- There is an old story from India, which I only vaguely recall. It may have both Hindu and Buddhist versions. The gist is that a guru treated his chela with the utmost contempt, making him do all the work, cook all the meals, and carry both their possessions wherever they went. The chela bore all this with equanimity. Finally one day, the master took off his sandal and hit his student in the face with it - at that moment, the student attained enlightenment. There are many zen stories in which people attain enlightenment upon receiving a slap or a blow from their master. -- EdBuffaloe
- I have heard a slightly different version of this story, which seems to speak more clearly to me. A student undertook to study with a master, who did not give the student a moment's peace. At any time the student might be subject to a blow from the master's stick - while he was asleep, while he was cooking, any time. Finally, after years of this treatment, the student decided to kill the master. He waited until the master would be off balance - when the master was crouched over a fire, smelling a pot of stew that was cooking there, holding the lid in one hand. He quietly snuck up on the master with a heavy stick, intending to knock him out and throw him into the fire. But the master parried the blow with the lid of the pot. At that moment the student was enlightened. -- AndrewKoenig
- The version I read was more like the second: Before the invention of Zazen, (sitting in meditation), The only method the master had was abruptness. A student undertook to study with a master, who did not give the student any peace. At any time, night or day, the master would sneak up on the student and hit him. After many years, one day when the student was tasting what he was cooking in the pot, the master came up behind him and gave him a tremendous blow. The student, concentrating on the pot, automatically parried the blow with the pot lid in his hand. The master said, "Go find yourself another master; I have nothing more to teach you." -- IanRichmond?
- These sound like bastardized versions of the story of Matajuro. Yagyu Matajuro was a young member of the Yagyu family, famous for the family tradition of swordsmanship. However Matajuro's father was disappointed in his son's tendency towards laziness and banished him from the dojo. Matajuro resolved to seek out a master and return as a great swordsman.
Matajuro journeyed to the Kumano shrine in the province of Kii, where he had heard of a great teacher called Banzo. The monks at the shrine told him that Banzo lived as a hermit in the nearby mountains, and showed him the trail to follow. Eventually he found Banzo asked to be accepted as a student."How long will it take me to learn swordsmanship?" he asked. "The rest of your life," was the reply. "I can't wait that long. I will accept any hardship, and will devote myself completely to the study of swordsmanship." "In that case, ten years." "What if I train twice as hard?" tried Matajuro. "In that case, thirty years." "Why is that? First you say ten then thirty years. I will do anything to learn, but I don't have that much time." "In that case, seventy years."
Sensing the direction of the conversation, Matajuro capitulated and agreed to work as long as it took, and do anything he was told. However, for the first year all Banzo had Matajuro do was to perform simple physical tasks such as chopping wood. After a year of this Matajuro was disappointed and demanded that Banzo teach him some swordsmanship. Banzo merely insisted that he chop wood. Matajuro went to the woodpile and was chopping, but inwardly he was furious. He resolved to leave Banzo the next day. But while he was chopping Banzo crept up behind him and struck him painfully with a wooden sword. "You want to learn swordsmanship, but you can't even dodge a stick," he said.From that day on Banzo would creep up on Matajuro and attack him with a wooden sword.
Eventually Matajuro's senses became heightened, and Banzo had to change tactics. Now Banzo would attack repeatedly, even when Matajuro was asleep. For the next four years Matajuro had not a moment's rest from the fear of unexpected attack. One day, when Matajuro was stirring some food on the fire, Banzo crept up and attacked him by surprise. Without thinking Matajuro fended off the blow with the lid of the pot without taking his mind off stirring the food. That night Banzo wrote out a certificate of mastery for Matajuro. --Michael Stone
Longer version: http://xiphius.tripod.com/MUSHIN.html
The above stories reminded me of Peter Sellers movie [Pink Panter series] with the detective and his valet who would keep springing surprises. - Sri Sridharan
Once there was a goat who was walking to town to eat with his friend the llama. As the goat was walking, he came upon a man who was looking like he was either about to scream or cry. The goat asked the man, "what's wrong?" The man replied that his wife had just left him. The goat said, "well, that's nice, gotta go," but the man said, "wait! I sense that you are an enlightened master who has come to teach me the way to enlightenment in my time of need. Please teach me all that you have to know." The goat reluctantly agreed, and took the man on as a student.
The man followed the goat for many days, and tried to talk about spiritual things. Every time he did, the goat would bite him on the arm or leg, whatever was closest. The man realized the wisdom in this, and began to enjoy the journey itself. However, one day, he was feeling unsatisfied with the situation, and pleaded with the goat to teach him something about the nature of the Universe.
The goat reluctantly agreed, and after finding a good place for meditative thought next to a lake, began to instruct the man:
"Tell me, man, can these trees continue to grow if the sun stops shining?"
"No, Master, it cannot. Without the sun, the trees will die."
"And what of the rivers? Can they continue to flow without the rain?"
"No, Master, they cannot. Without the rain, the rivers will dry."
"And what of the teachings that lead to enlightenment? Can enlightenment occur without someone to teach the teachings of enlightenment?"
"No, Master, I do not believe that they can. Without a Master, all of the teachings will disappear, and no one will be able to be enlightened."
"Wrong!" the goat said sharply. "In the case of the sunshine and trees, and in the case of the water and the river, there was always a cause and an effect. For each effect within the world, you can be sure there is a cause, and for each cause, there must, by definition, be an effect. But the teachings of enlightenment do not exist, and therefore have no cause or effect. Why not? Can you tell me why not?"
The man looked confused, and said, "Master, I don't understand. Why do you say that the teachings of enlightenment do not exist?"
The goat breathed deeply, and said, "Okay, let me try my question in another way. You say I am an enlightened Master. How did I get to be an enlightened Master? Take your time and answer me correctly."
The man closed his eyes and thought deeply. Many different answers came through his head, but none of them felt correct. He waited until he thought of an answer that seemed so obvious, he wondered why he had not thought of it. "Through your past lifetimes, Master. You have been practicing for many lifetimes and you were able to overcome all hardships and reach enlightenment."
"Wrong!" the goat said again. "Please, think about the answer and try again."
The man sighed, and again closed his eyes and thought deeply. Again many answers came into his mind, and in fact many of the same answers came again and again. He began to doubt for a moment whether or not his first answer was correct, but he quickly removed all doubt from his mind with an effort of will. He then thought, in order for me to come up with the correct answer, I should stop thinking about anything at all. Then, all of a sudden, an answer came into his head. "Through the power of the Universe. You came to be a Master because of the power of the Universe, which somehow knew that I would need you. Everything works out! Everything has a plan! I understand now, Master!"
"Wrong again!" the goat said in the same tone as before. "This is the last time. Please, think about the answer and try again."
The man began to breathe heavily. He was discouraged and couldn't understand what the answer was supposed to be. He closed his eyes and tried to think deeply again. Something was bothering him, now. He thought that he had found some sort of new understanding, but now his doubt was now back, stronger than before. He tried and tried, but he couldn't ignore it or push it away as before. Then, all of a sudden, it hit him.
"Goats can't talk!"
The goat got up from where he was sitting and bit the man on the arm, and walked away.
The man was enlightened.
Now THAT is a Zen Slap! - lgstarn
Actually, it could also be a sign of severe sleep deprivation...
- Whilst meditating, Japanese Buddhist monks are watched by a supervising monk. Every couple of hours, the supervising monk will slap them hard across the back with a special flat stick (a Zen Stick?), WHAPWHAP. This slap is, depending on the school, asked by the monk when he feels that he's not focusing enough, or his back is not relaxed. The slap serves both the purposes: To relax the back and to help you focus again. (This can be seen to happen in the episode of one of MichaelPalin's travelling-around-the-world documentaries in which he visits a monastery in Japan.)
That stick is known as a Kyosaku, which means roughly "encouragement staff". Properly wielded, the strikes are on the shiatsu points on the upper back to either side of the neck. It's quite refreshing.
Sometimes you get stuck in a rut without really realizing it. A slap, or any interruption, can jerk you out of it.
I have trouble with anti-slaps. I see something new, and I think, "That's just like this old thing I already know" and so I think I already understand it. A slap should be so unlike business as usual
that it demands fresh attention. That is why pain sometimes works. Example:
- XP. Many people respond to XP by supposing it is like a bunch of techniques they have been using all along. I suspect the "extreme" naming is a kind of attempted slap.
- For a modern example of a ZenSlap, watch PushingTin?. Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) ZenSlap's Nick Calzone (John Cusack) with a 747. Yes, a big, big plane.
is an AttitudeAdjustmentTool
In this regard I guess the new UK rules on corporal punishment apply (as of yesterday in the house of Lords) you can ZenSlap
but you'd better not Zen Injure? :o) -- AndrewCates
See also: EmptyYourCup
See also BoiledFrogs
- those frogs needed a good slapping.
So it's a kind of epiphany but on a more, lets say, day-to-day scale?
A Japanese film called Visitor Q gives a nice example, I think at least, of a Zen slap, a broken family reunited by a strange visitor who clubs the father on the head with a stone...
. Except when I apply it to my children, they never seem to attain enlightenment :(