The zen tradition is well-known for use of the kyosaku (sometimes spelled keisaku), a stick that is whacked on the shoulders and backs of meditators in order to keep them awake. When the whack is administered correctly, it’s an efficient anti-sleep tool. In Kosho Uchiyama’s classic book Opening the Hand of Thought, he suggests that in his practice centers and temples, that a kyosaku should not be used during long retreats.
Bringing Toys Into Retreats
Uchiyama argues against the use of kyosaku during a retreat because it ends up being used like a toy. If someone is walking around with a stick, a meditator will attempt to sit up right and appear awake in order to avoid being hit. Instead of actually meditating and being forced to deal with the boredom that comes from hours of long sitting, they’re actually just playing a game. Continue reading »