No Attachment, No Hindrance: A Case Study of Zen Teachers’ Support for Students Facing Mental Distress During Retreats (75606)

Session Information: Counselling, Guidance & Adjustment in Education
Session Chair: Arden Jang

Thursday, 23 November 2023 17:05
Session: Session 5
Room: Room 704
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

Psychological distress is an oft-reported challenge for Buddhist students during extended meditation retreats. Academic and popular literature often label this phenomenon “the dark night of the soul,” periods of practice in which students report not the expected feelings of elation associated with spiritual transformation, but instead feelings of mental distress and spiritual crises. This case study research on the Kwan Um School of Zen (KUSZ) focuses on better understanding the support meditation teachers provide to students confronting spiritual crises, specifically before, during, and after bi-annual 3-month periods of intensive practice (Korean: kyol che). This study aims to showcase the KUSZ teachers' understanding and support for students through semi-structured interviews with meditation teachers. Bolstered by archival research on the school’s literature and broader research on the subject, these interviews highlight the school’s Zen Buddhist framework for understanding a spiritual crisis as well as underscore protocols to support students during these experiences. As meditation and long-term retreats become increasingly subject to scrutiny, a modern Buddhist school’s perspective can both add to the growing literature on the subject and offer valuable perspectives to practitioners from any Buddhist schools facing similar challenges.

Hugh Schuckman, University of Utah, United States
Arden Jang, University of Utah, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Hugh Schuckman is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at University of Utah, Asia Campus in South Korea

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00