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If the messenger is attached to the ego, then all the information gets dark and confusing...
Harada Roshi


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I would like to know more about the historical origins of keisaku. I find the keisaku very helpful but many of my Zen friends want to eliminate it.


The keisaku actually mentioned in a text is first to be found in the rules by Funnyo Zensho Zenji in the 11th century who had very few students yet all of them became famous zen masters later on. His temple was in a cold area and he employed the rule of sitting across from each other with a stick between one another, waking one another up with this. Yet we already hear a lot earlier about the keisaku, in its different forms as the Nyoi, Shakujo, Hossu, but more in the sense of a teaching tool, during the Sung Dynasty many koans revolved around the stick, symbolizing Buddha Nature. 
The rules of how the keisaku is being used nowadays were written down by Torei Zenji. The keisaku is around 110-120 cm long, used 2 times on each shoulder in the summer, 4 times in the winter. It is for supporting our training, that is why we bow to each other before and after receiving keisaku. When using the keisaku it is important to not hit to low on the back, only as far as the fingers reach when placed on the shoulder, energizing the meridian points there.


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