No socks allowed!

No socks allowed!

Postby Luke » Sun May 11, 2014 11:40 am

One thing I was surprised to find out when practicing with a Zen group was that socks are forbidden in the zendo! The Tibetan Buddhist groups I had practiced with in the past didn't care whether people wore socks or not in their meditation halls.

Does anyone know the reason for this? Do the Japanese find socks to be "unclean" in some way which bare feet aren't?

I have no problem with this tradition. I just found it to be surprising.

Are socks also forbidden in the meditation halls of Chan and Seon?
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun May 11, 2014 12:18 pm

Sigh.
I can't answer your question but I do know that local rules are ... local rules.
The first Tai Chi group I joined practised out of doors, under a tree in a park, and bare feet were welcomed.
The next practised indoors, in a school hall, and insisted on shoes.
:shrug:

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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby seeker242 » Sun May 11, 2014 1:36 pm

Probably just the local temple rules. In our Soen zen temple and our Soto zen Center, socks are required. :smile:
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 11, 2014 2:23 pm

I heard about one temple where you have to cut your feet off before walking into the practice hall.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sun May 11, 2014 2:55 pm

Luke wrote:The Tibetan Buddhist groups I had practiced with in the past didn't care whether people wore socks or not in their meditation halls.



In many Tibetan Centres I know socks are even required for reasons of hygiene.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 7:44 pm

At my local temple socks are required. Apparently the sweat from people's feet made the floor very slippery.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 11, 2014 9:39 pm

Perhaps some require it as a form of asceticism or discipline?

There was a vipassana teacher who went to practice in Asia during the hot and humid summer. So he went inside to an air conditioned room. His legs were getting sore so he used a regular chair. Then his buttocks were getting sore so he put a cushion on the chair. Then he started getting irritated by the mosquitoes and flies so he put up a net all around him. Then his teacher came into the room and he realized how foolish he must look, trying to make the most comfortable environment for meditation, rather than accepting the way things are.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Luke » Sun May 11, 2014 9:55 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Perhaps some require it as a form of asceticism or discipline?

It doesn't feel like it--but perhaps in the winter it might feel that way! lol

I actually rather enjoy the free and naked feeling of being barefoot in the meditation hall! :D

But I am still curious if the preference for bare feet in the zendo is a Japanese thing or not....
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby plwk » Mon May 12, 2014 2:01 am

As far as I can recall, when I was following one Chán group some years back, I was told two things on why they don't use the socks
a. A towel is already provided for to drape / cover over one's thighs and feet to counter the cold (some centres are air-conditioned here and I anticipate the cold winter in other countries) and to keep warm
b. Socks are regarded as a distraction whilst doing the sitting practice and in this group, one is even told to take off other stuff like hand watches, malas (wrist or the conventional long ones), hand bands and others to obtain an optimal condition to be free from distraction and to be as comfortable as possible.
So, socks isn't the only thing discouraged or disallowed during the practice session.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Ayu » Mon May 12, 2014 3:24 pm

Then you can be glad not to be told to cut off your hair at the door. :tongue:
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Jetavan » Mon May 12, 2014 4:02 pm

It's probably a regional phenomenon. I heard a rumor that some Boston sanghas don't allow white socks; whereas in Chicago, red socks are forbidden.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Jikan » Mon May 12, 2014 4:26 pm

Luke wrote:
But I am still curious if the preference for bare feet in the zendo is a Japanese thing or not....


No, I've seen the opposite in fact. Clean socks, please. Or these wicked things (thankfully too small for my Flintstone feet):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabi
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Luke » Mon May 12, 2014 6:42 pm

Jikan wrote:
Luke wrote:
But I am still curious if the preference for bare feet in the zendo is a Japanese thing or not....


No, I've seen the opposite in fact. Clean socks, please.

Interesting.

Jikan wrote:Or these wicked things (thankfully too small for my Flintstone feet):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabi" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Ah! So that's where all these rumors about Shingon and Tendai Buddhists secretly being ninjas come from! lol

...At least they aren't made from tabby cats! :P
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby denny » Fri May 23, 2014 6:36 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:I heard about one temple where you have to cut your feet off before walking into the practice hall.


You must enter on hands and knees? Doing prostrations or what?

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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby Nemo » Fri May 23, 2014 8:48 pm

Public Health would like to remind you that socks are mandatory to prevent the spread of infectious fungal dermatophytes. Athletes foot can spread to other regions as well(jock itch) and infects approx. 15% of the global population.
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Re: No socks allowed!

Postby cj39 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:46 pm

It varies by temples. One of the nice Chinese temples in Atlanta does not allow barefeet. Our locale Chines temple doesn't mind socks but you will also find many barefeet there. I gave up trying to make sense of it and when showing up at new temple, I just wear shoes and socks and start taking things off from there.
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