Referencing the Ch’an “language of action” concept, the Action Method is an instructional technique in which the teacher directs the student’s attention to chores unrelated to the student’s central problem until a moment when the teacher can overwhelm the student with a mind-blowing revelation about the unrelated chores. By avoiding rational solutions, students gain insight through a startling wonderment.
In essence, the Action Method is a way to break the mind of its natural conceptual logic so that it can respond in the moment without inhibitions, biases, stereotypes or preconceived notions about looming obstacles. In the Ch’an context, abstractions are viewed as misleading illusions that must be transcended. Enlightenment comes not through intellectual reasoning but through self-realization.
At times a teacher may put a single student in the hot seat for such an Action experience, and at times an entire classroom of students.
© 1977-2012 by Paul Maslak, Revised and Reprinted by Permission of the Author