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No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 11:40 am
by Luke
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?

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 12:18 pm
by Kim O'Hara
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:

:namaste:
Kim

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 1:36 pm
by seeker242
Probably just the local temple rules. In our Soen zen temple and our Soto zen Center, socks are required. :smile:

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 2:23 pm
by Grigoris
I heard about one temple where you have to cut your feet off before walking into the practice hall.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 2:55 pm
by emaho
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.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 7:44 pm
by Zhen Li
At my local temple socks are required. Apparently the sweat from people's feet made the floor very slippery.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 9:39 pm
by DNS
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.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Sun May 11, 2014 9:55 pm
by Luke
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....

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 2:01 am
by plwk
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.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 3:24 pm
by Ayu
Then you can be glad not to be told to cut off your hair at the door. :tongue:

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 4:02 pm
by Jetavan
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.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 4:26 pm
by DGA
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Mon May 12, 2014 6:42 pm
by Luke
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;" 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
Image

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:36 pm
by denny
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?

:namaste:

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:48 pm
by Nemo
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.

Re: No socks allowed!

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:46 pm
by cj39
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.