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Monk health

vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

I must be discreet (and therefore vague) here. I recently learned of a local monk who had some health issues a couple of years ago and was warned that he must get physical exercise (cardio in nature). Which he does not.

Which made me think about something that had never come to mind. Monks tend to be very sedentary. Certainly here in America (and in Thailand, as well), monks get little if any exercise. The local faithful does virtually everything for them.

I'm rambling, but does anyone have any thoughts about this?

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    My thought would be just that I like to exercise and the results on my body and mind. Is there any rule against exercise in the tenets of their vows?

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Good question, Jeffrey!

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I think like bodybuilding among monks would be an example of the extreme monks shouldn't go to as bodybuilders have to spend most of their time on making their body competitive with the other body builders. I saw a sports short drama with bodybuilders and one of the bodybuilders said it was an inherently selfish line of work.

    But surely a bit of calisthenics and cardio wouldn't take too much away from whatever else they are doing.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited June 4

    Yes, actually, the issue comes up for discussion in the world of Tibetan monks from time to time. I recall hearing about a Westerner who, I think, was teaching English in a monastery, and set up a basketball court, to get the monks moving. This caused a lot of debate about whether that was appropriate for monks. Monastic authorities tried to shut down the basketball games. Also, if you watch the film, "The Cup", by Bhutanese lama/filmmaker Dzongsar Khyentse, you'll see that any sports activity was frowned upon by abbots who were generations removed from the young monks. The concept of recreation for physical health was alien to them.

    A sedentary lifestyle, combined with copious cups of butter tea throughout each day, tends to lead to premature deaths among Tibetan monks and bureaucrats.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Interesting, Dakini. I would think blood clots could be a serious problem from all the sitting.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It's interesting when one thinks about the monks having to accept what's been offered so as not to offend ie, "Alms" ... Perhaps this has something to do with it... The act of showing acceptance and appreciation towards those lay-people who wish to practice Dana in whatever way they can, eg food offering....

    However just exercising the mind is somewhat extreme ...

    A healthy balance of body and mind exercise is needed :)
    Ie, The Middle way :)

  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran

    Why are you worried about his health? It his his issue that he should contend with, if it is an issue with him at all. If its not an issue for him, why are you worrying for him?

    Do you have health issues you think you could deal with if you did more physical exercise?

    Vastmind
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @satcittananda said:
    Why are you worried about his health? It his his issue that he should contend with, if it is an issue with him at all. If its not an issue for him, why are you worrying for him?

    Do you have health issues you think you could deal with if you did more physical exercise?

    I don't monks as non-human entities from whom we lay people should just take (counseling, knowledge, etc.). They are monks, but they are also human beings, and it seems to me that caring about other human beings' well being is a big part of the compassion aspect of Buddhism.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @vinlyn said:
    I must be discreet (and therefore vague) here. I recently learned of a local monk who had some health issues a couple of years ago and was warned that he must get physical exercise (cardio in nature). Which he does not.

    Which made me think about something that had never come to mind. Monks tend to be very sedentary. Certainly here in America (and in Thailand, as well), monks get little if any exercise. The local faithful does virtually everything for them.

    I'm rambling, but does anyone have any thoughts about this?

    Respecting discretion and vagueness, I must be equally be hit-and-miss, and resort to guesswork...

    Is there any way you can approach the Monk and tactfully enquire as to his health and any type of regimen he might undertake? Can you suggest anything to him, or maybe offer a companionable approach and partnership in which you might join together and approach this physical exercise together?

    Vastmindlobster
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    I saw pictures of the Dalai Lama training on a treadmill.
    Apparently it is not forbidden.
    And the Buddha suggested that we should take good care of our bodily vessel...

    Hozanlobstervinlyn
  • paulysopaulyso usa Explorer

    the body is the vehicle of awakening. physical exertion can be dharma enlightening.the component of the eight fold path is there,imo

    Dakini
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Ask the monk about whether suicide is acceptable dharma or depriving others of dharma. Then ask him about a dharma friend (who happens to be him) who is not following the dharma ... or talk to the abbot/hierarchy ... :)

    Then mind your own business/salvation/unfolding ... o:)

    Rinse and repeat ...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    i wonder how much of it is ignorance since they spend so little time engaged with the outside world. But then again, it is the nature of our bodies to want to move, since that is what they are designed for, so their lack of doing so has been taught, so perhaps it is a problem at the higher ends, whether they are directly telling monks not to be active or setting poor examples. My teacher is a runner. He has always stressed the importance of a healthy body in order to have a healthy mind.

    vinlyndhammachick
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    I saw pictures of the Dalai Lama training on a treadmill.
    Apparently it is not forbidden.
    And the Buddha suggested that we should take good care of our bodily vessel...

    I remember that photo! It was in a New Yorker magazine article, I think. Full-page photo. I think he said his doctor told him to get moving, lol. Seriously, he was advised to get regular exercise.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Many monks do prostrations. Prostrations are very good exercise. Just doing 100 of them is no easy task unless you are already in shape.

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    But doing prostrations is not so great for your knees, or so I have heard. Walking on a treadmill is probably lower-impact for the joints and spine.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    If a person only does one thing, no matter what that one thing is, it will eventually wear on the body parts that are most stressed. Walking is the lower stress of just about any movement we can do, but if it's all we do, it still stresses the joints if we don't walk properly. Our bodies really need a variety of movement to stay healthy, and that has to include both strength and cardio along with stretching/flexibility. What that is for any person can vary, of course, but our cardio vascular system needs to work as well as our joints and muscles. Prostrations can indeed be good exercise, but again, if it's all a person does, the repetitive nature of it will eventually cause problems.

    Our bodies are meant to work hard to support our lives. When you think to the basics of what it requires to feed, water, and otherwise care for our bodies, we have outsourced almost all of it. As a result, we must "exercise" to make up for all of that which we gave up to someone else to do on our behalf. Most of us have trained our bodies to no longer support themselves, by sitting in furniture all day (to make it more comfortable for us to work all day). When really we should be consistently changing our positions and spending far less time on comfortable furniture. We start to hurt, so we spend even more time in comfortable surroundings which only weaken our bodies structures further. The key to reducing pain and stiffness is moving MORE, not less. And allowing our bodies to support themselves rather than handing that job to furniture. In that vein, monks have access to little cushy furniture and so at least are providing more support for their bodies than the general population does.

    Jeffrey
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    The Buddha gave up body mortification when he realized the body is not the source of our bondage but the mind.
    We must exert ourselves in develpoment of right view, attainment of wisdom, and value the body as a useful instrument.

  • paulysopaulyso usa Explorer

    touching on what dhamma dragon had to say,when the body is weak cognitive function suffer.the body needs the mind,and the mind needs the body.comutual,coarising for insight and wisdom.

    JeffreyDakini
  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    I've always found that my thinking is much more clear after a good workout (running in particular). I'm also very mindful when I work out, all of life's troubles and other nonsense just float away as I am fully experiencing the moment.

    Certainly couldn't be a bad thing, in moderation.

    Jeffrey
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