Thursday, August 21, 2014

Zen monks risk death on extraordinary journey

The Monks Risking Death On An Extraordinary Journey (Produced by ABC Australia. Ref - 2471)
The lionized Bodhidharma
The "Journeyman PicturesMarathon Monks" of Japan undertake a perilous journey to "enlightenment" (satori, which is not enlightenment in Zen or kenshō but only an "epiphany") -- choosing suicide if they fail to complete the journey, and often dying en route. 

The world's greatest athletes may well live on top of a sacred mountain in Japan. As part of their spiritual training, the monks run 84 km every day for over three months.
"First Day of Zen Garden School" (Dan Piraro/
Genshin Fujinami runs through the forest for 17 hours every day. His straw sandals offer him little protection from the venomous snakes and jagged rocks. His feet are blistered and bruised.

But if he stops, he would be obliged to immediately kill himself (in a foolish act of hari kari or honor killing to save face).

What endogenous drugs are created by asceticism?
"You must think positively," he explains. "I cannot allow myself to think, 'What if?'" The grueling Kaihygo is the conclusion of seven years of training. He must also go nine days without food, water, or sleep. If he completes the quest, he will become a living "saint."

But only 46 monks have completed it in the last four centuries, and fewer and fewer people are attempting it.

[These are the ascetic extremes the Buddha warned about, self-mortification, the clinging to rites and rituals as if they could ever lead to actual enlightenment. The way to enlightenment is calm-and-insight (systematic contemplation founded on profound concentration), nothing more, nothing less.]

"Japanese culture is gradually dying away," Fujinami laments. The monks may have a wonderful history, but their future is one of uncertainty.
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