James418 wrote:You have to understand that monastaries are pressure cookers. If you have a good teacher, they will create similar pressures via correspondence (they are very good at it), and traditionally you should visit and stay for a week or so each year.
That's somewhat of a Japanese approach to monastic life that I've never agreed with. Some like the idea of torturing newbies as it supposedly fosters humility.
But it will always be about your practice in Daily Life - dealing with the emotional upsurges.
If your practice is done properly, you won't have emotional upsurges.
In Zen, traditionally monks won't be allowed outside the community to live as hermits until they had been in a community for at least 10 years, and I think the Cistercian said it was similar in their monastery for those who have a vocation to be hermits.
Maybe a century ago, but nowadays the lot of Zen priests go through seminary to get their certifications which enables them to carry on their hereditary duties as temple holders.
But it isn't brain washing or abuse. It isn't ridiculous. But they put you through it, and it is a lot like the boot camp training in the army.
I've experienced it. I didn't see the point of forcing visibly ill people to sit zazen for days on end instead of letting them rest and recover.
My old Zen master used to say when the Buddha started out he was already a Confucian gentleman i.e. at Bull herding picture no. 5. For most people that takes ten years in a traditional monastery dealing with what the emotional reactions to what doesn't suit "me". Meditation is only a small part of it, even in a Zen monastery.
That's just one opinion. It is probably better to cut away all the BS which causes those emotional reactions from the start rather than building up an emotional tolerance to it.
To complete the training there takes around 15 - 20 years, generally. A few leave after a couple of years to look after family temples, but they are not the one's who will be allowed to train others. Be wary of Westerners who have done a few years in a Sodo and then claim they are a Roshi. A real Zen person would not claim a title like that. Daito Kokushi lived as a beggar under a bridge.
You should come to my university (Komazawa University) which is Soto-shu's university. They got Zen priests teaching zazen who are barely even 20 years old!
Also, good luck finding a beggar zazen master under a bridge in Japan somewhere.
If you think any differently, you've never lived in one. The whole point is to get the deeply rooted emotional reactions to start revealing themselves so you can work with them. I noticed the Thai forest monks had similar ways. They were quite curt and blunt to subordinates and have definite lines of seniority.
I think the latter is a result of culture rather than some pre-programmed behaviour that is instituted for the sake of training juniors.
I'm pretty sure training was as difficult then as now. Zen is blunt and direct - maybe a bit too much for Westerners, but one day hopefully we will have an adapted version.
Actually it is a lot easier now. At Eihei-ji when you sneak McDonalds in for your pals stuck there doing their year of hell you have to bring a few extra burgers to bribe the guys in charge at the back door. That's against the rules, but provided the burger bribes are issued the guys in charge look the other way.
Trust me I know all about this sort of thing. I go to Komazawa University with real Soto priests. I've done Zen monastic training, too.
Honestly, you have an idealistic view of Zen which is not at all the reality.