Monks Debate in Tibet
Debate is an integral part of a Tibetan monk’s training, and is an effective means of expanding the mind, increasing mental sharpness, developing analytical capacity, and gaining internal clarity. There are two parties to the debate: a defender and a questioner, each with clear roles and strict rules of behavior which assure an orderly exchange of questions and answers. The defender is usually a novice, while the questioner is a more experienced debater.
These debates are usually cause for lots of fun, because it is easy to make mistakes in this very formal debate, but also the monks try to be very creative with their answers. Ways to hold a debate: the standing ‘attacker’ poses a statement and claps his hands, the opponet is sitting, and needs to defend himself with a logical answer. Then the attacker tries to undermine the logic of the defender, or comes up with a new argument.
If the questioner has been able to draw the defender into making errors and contradicting himself, the questioner wraps his upper robe around his waist, as a sign of his understanding and control. No longer bending forward, he stands tall and makes forceful sweeping gestures, clapping his hands loudly to stress the power and decisiveness of his arguments. Finally, after 2.5 hours, it all comes peacefully to an end.
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