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The marathon monks of Mt Hiei

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Written by   216
1 year ago

Let’s go to Japan to find out about this unconventional way of enlightenment developed and practiced by a sect of Tendai Buddhist monks living in Mount Hiei. This mountain in located near Kyoto.

It is called the 1000 days challenge and is completed over a period of 7 years and is called kaihogyo in Japanese. As per record since 1885 only 46 monks have been successful in completing this challenge. The rule is such that either one has to complete the program or if he is unable to complete it then he has to commit suicide or die trying it. The route has many unmarked graves indicating monks have died or committed suicide on this tract. It is rare that someone decides undertake this challenge and even rarer to complete it.

There is more to it. In the fifth year the monk has to spend nine days without food water sleep or rest. There are certain rules to be followed like the monk has to be in robe and hat, no deviation from the path, no stopping for rest or refreshment, prayers have to be performed on all the temples on the route and no smoking and drinking.

The 1000 days are distributed over 7 years like this:-

Year 1 – 30 km per day for 100 consecutive days.

Year 2- 30 km per day for 100 consecutive days.

Year 3- 30 km per day for 100 consecutive days.

Year 4 - 30 km per day for 200 consecutive days.

Year 5- 30 km per day for 200 consecutive days. After these 200 days he has to undergo nine days without food water sleep or rest.

Year 6- 60 km per day for 100 consecutive days.

Year 7 - 84 km per day for 100 consecutive days and another 30 km per day for 100 consecutive days. That’s 200 days.

During the first 100 days a monk can decide to withdraw but from the 101st day one is not allowed to withdraw. So the options are complete it or die attempting to complete it or else commit suicide. The monk carry a rope and a small sword with them, the purpose of which is quite clear.

Those who complete it are given the title of Daigyoman Ajari, or Saintly Master of the Highest Practice. They were highly revered and were to only people allowed to go before the Emperor wearing their shoes.

But why do they do it. They say that through extreme physical exhaustion and nearing death they understand the futility of the outer core and realize the inner self and wisdom. Enlightenment is achieved through extreme self denial. Either something is important to you to complete it or else kill it. They say if you commit to nothing then you get distracted by everything.

Such extreme endurance is absolutely amazing and I am sure will be extremely difficult for even world level endurance athletes. But in a quiet corner of the world history has been made.

Buddhist monk Genshin Fujinami, one of the few monks to have completed the grueling endurance ordeal.

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Written by   216
1 year ago
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Comments

Really nice article! Like this last guy's hat!

$ 0.00
11 months ago

Another good article from you. You are welcome to submit it to https://read.cash/c/japanese-art-cultural-history-7c1f

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Done sir

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1 year ago

Are you a Japanese?

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1 year ago

I am not a Japanese. You can call me a pseudo spiritualist. I like reading and understanding various methods of spiritualism and follow a few. What ever I learn I try to share here. Some may be known to all and some may be new fact for them.

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1 year ago

Interesting story but I wonder if it is true (the reason why) if it comes on long term. For sure you will "meet yourself" in every way while walking around day after day. Well, the first year's only 1/3 of the year is the max. I wonder how they know how far they walked. They all walk the same route? Once back to a normal life (as far as a monk has a normal life at all) the mind goes back to the normal path too... The rest is memory.

I wonder about the photos. Are they made by you?

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1 year ago

As far as I know they are monks so rest of the time they stay in the temple doing meditation and temple work. The route has been measured now though previously it was one temple to other. Yes for a particular distance it is the same path as the temples are the cardinal points. Well its a system devised by them and survived so long so there must be some reason behind it. And it is true. The monks photo was taken from the net, not made by me, nor me.

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1 year ago

I guess even praying monks to need to have some challenges in life. Who knows after walking such distances without food, water, rest for some days you easily drop dead. I wonder who has the strength to cut off his own head being that exhausted. 🤔 I assume other people are instructed not to give a hand, save their lives?

Strange how suicides like these are accepted (what is the holy part of it?) and people who have a way harder life then these monks are called cowards if they commit suicide.

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1 year ago

The life of a monk is challenging because the basic thing is discipline and after that comes spiritual practice. The mind is such that they have renounced most worldly pleasures, that in itself is tough.

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1 year ago

Who says the life of a monk is challenging? Inside those walls you have time to invest in you, real life with it's challenges and burdens is not what they have to deal with. I can not agree with you. Not if it comes to these monks or any other monks (other religions).

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1 year ago

It depends on the sect the monk has joined.

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1 year ago

My God, so much endurance and pain is involved.

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1 year ago

Very interesting, but I don't know what to think. I think suicide is a very bad thing. I don't approve of people killing themselves for whatever reason

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1 year ago

Buddhism is a firm believer of rebirth till salvation is attained. So I guess these monks believed in it. I think sacrifice would have been a better word in place of suicide as per there understanding.

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1 year ago

I know that the Buddhists believe in reincarnation, yet even the Buddhists have not given themselves life. They have been given life, so they should not end it.

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1 year ago

That is also a way to look at life.

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1 year ago