The Weeekend, Reflection

No tournament for me this weekend, so a bit of time to reflect on teaching and work on scholarship. As a full time faculty member, debate teaching is just one part of my job. Teaching and research are the other 2/3rds of it.

Anyway, here is a great quote about teaching that I recently found about kensho the Japanese word for the Buddhist concept of "enlightenment" or "getting it" or "realization." I think the term applies to debate teaching just as well in this quote.

"Don't misdirect your efforts. Don't chase around looking for something apart from your own selves. All you have to do is to concentrate on being thoughtless, on doing nothing whatever. No practice. No realization. Doing nothing, the state of no-mind, is the direct path of sudden realization. No practice, no realization - that is the true principle, things as they really are. The enlightened ones themselves, those who possess every attribute of Buddhahood, have called this supreme, unparalleled, right awakening."
People hear this teaching and try to follow it. Choking off their aspirations. Sweeping their minds clean of delusive thoughts. They dedicate themselves solely to doing nothing and to making their minds complete blanks, blissfully unaware that they are doing and thinking a great deal.
When a person who has not had kensho reads the Buddhist scriptures, questions his teachers and fellow monks about Buddhism, or practices religious disciplines, he is merely creating the causes of his own illusion - a sure sign that he is still confined within samsara. He tries constantly to keep himself detached in thought and deed, and all the while his thoughts and deeds are attached. He endeavors to be doing nothing all day long, and all the while he is busily doing.
But if this same person experiences kensho, everything changes. Although he is constantly thinking and acting, it is totally free and unattached. Although he is engaged in activity around the clock, that activity is, as such, non-activity. This great change is the result of his kensho. It is like water that snakes and cows drink from the same cistern, which becomes deadly venom in one and milk in the other. 
~Hakuin Ekaku, c. 1700

What does this mean? I think it has a great application to what we think we are doing in debate and what we actually do in debate (just like that meme everyone is annoyed by right now).

If you think you are studying how to do civic engagement, how to persuade mass audiences, how to create motives in other human beings by studying debate with the idea of winning tournaments as the goal, you only have part of the story. You might also be creating an impassible barrier to this goal.

If you study debate without these things in mind, but you realize the samsara nature of the tournament cycle, you will be like the cow.