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Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime

NamadaNamada Veteran
edited March 2015 in Buddhism Today

The Marathon Monks

The Tendai monks believe that enlightenment can be achieved during your current life, but only through extreme self–denial.

For the Tendai, the ultimate act of self–denial — and the route to enlightenment — is a physical challenge known as the Kaihogyo. Because of this challenge, the Tendai are often called the “Marathon Monks.”

But the Kaihogyo is much more than a marathon.

The Kaihogyo

The Kaihogyo is a 1,000 day challenge that takes place over seven years.

And if the Marathon monk say yes to this challenge, they have to pass the test and not fail
if they fail they have to take suicide. So its a strong commitment.

Actually They have 100 days were they can make a drawback, but after 101 days, there are no return.

If a monk chooses to undertake this challenge, this is what awaits him…

During Year 1, the monk must run 30 km per day (about 18 miles) for 100 straight days.

During Year 2, the monk must again run 30 km per day for 100 straight days.

During Year 3, the monk must once more run 30 km per day for 100 straight days.

During Year 4, the monk must run 30 km per day. This time for 200 straight days.

During Year 5, the monk must again run 30 km per day for 200 straight days. After completing the fifth year of running, the monk must go 9 consecutive days without food, water, or rest. Two monks stand beside him at all times to ensure that he does not fall asleep.

During Year 6, the monk must run 60 km (about 37 miles) per day for 100 straight days.

During Year 7, the monk must run 84 km (about 52 miles) per day for 100 straight days. (52 miles per day!) And then, he must run 30 km per day for the final 100 days.

There are Also one session with nine days with out wather and food. And just chanting.

So now its just for us to join them :+1:


  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    And after that, they're supposed to be Enlightened?
    Why don't they just 'sit', like the Buddha did? :confounded:

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    Yeah, I'll sit that one out, thanks.
  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Yes then they are enlightened ;)

    if not they have to be very good to trancend their suffering after so much pain,

    maybe they think its to easy to sit :pleased:

    (there is one interesting documentar about them in youtube
    just search for marathon monks)

  • That sounds more like to run away and masochism, not to encounter.

  • I think it's the supreme effort and single-minded focus this training course develops that's the important ingredient, not the running. It's not like every Olympic level marathon runner is enlightened, and they probably run as much if not more in their training.

    So perhaps there's no difference between this and someone who learns to sit in meditation 8 or more hours a day, every day, for the same amount of years.

  • NamadaNamada Veteran

    They are not running actually, they walk, and yes its walking meditation with focus on the breath, and they are also using a funny hat, this hat helps them to keep their upperbody steady while walking, if the hat wiggle alot then they are not doing it correctly. So yes they keep a single-minded focus just like in sitting meditation.

    This monk in the documentary he passed, and everyone helped him, with food, perfect hand made sandels and so on, he also survived nine days without food and wather (i didnt think that was possible?).

    After 7 years he became a living buddha according to their tradition.
    He is a hero in Japan, and many tourists visits his monastery :)

  • PöljäPöljä Veteran
    edited March 2015

    "And if the Marathon monk say yes to this challenge, they have to pass the test and not fail if they fail they have to take suicide. So its a strong commitment."

    Sounds pretty macho. Sparta sport muscular Buddhism. No time for losers.

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Very Macho yes

    The mountain has many unmarked graves from those who have failed in their quest, although none date from either the 20th or 21st century.

    Not many have passed this test Only 46 men have completed the 1,000-day challenge since 1885.

  • Isn't Buddhahood a realization rather an attainment?
    And isn't this realization always in this lifetime(this moment) rather in the past or future lifetimes(moments) for the past is a memory and the future is yet to come?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    I'm pretty sure Buddha said self denial is an extreme to be avoided for the Middle way.
  • zenffzenff Veteran

    Self-punishment, the way I see it, is the expression of some deep psychological problem and I feel sorry for the poor people who get caught up in it. It is harmful not helpful.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited March 2015

    I'm still stuck on the premise, "attain enlightenment."

    I don't mind if that is anyone's stated goal, but I do think that without knowing precisely what that means -- what, precisely, constitutes "enlightenment" in your book -- the entire matter hinges on fairy dust and belief.

    And if there is one thing that practice teaches, it is that belief is not enough. Belief separates and betokens doubt. Does "enlightenment" separate and betoken doubt? If not, what does it betoken and how can anyone be so sure? Are they sure because an "authentic" text says so? But the job of practice is to authenticate, not to accept as authenticated.

    As I say, I'm stuck on "attain enlightenment."

    If you can't say what it is you want to attain -- if you don't already know -- isn't the scenario slightly loony? (I want to attain something but I don't know what it is). On the other hand, if you do know what enlightenment is, how could anyone attain what they already know?

    Color me confused. O.o

  • PöljäPöljä Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Poor monk who pass out during the last kilometre of the last day of the challenge. So close to the enlightenment...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes ... all that tea and no cookie.....

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited March 2015

    I think they forgot about the middleway.

    they carry around a sword while walking, and if they cant walk anymore and give up, its just to chop of your own head...

    And then, if the body still walks, then you are a buddha.. ;)

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    @Namada said:

    There are Also one session with nine days with out wather and food. And just chanting.

    This is the toughest one...
    Do they provide proper delicious vegetarian food during other sessions?

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Really, this sort of thing is a holdover from the strain of asceticism that invades Buddhism from time to time. Remember, this is from an Eastern tradition that includes writing a sutra with your own blood to gain merit, burning off your finger as a sign of repentance and even ritual suicide by slowly turning your living body into a mummy before you die that also supposedly turns someone into a sort of zombie Buddha.

    Now me, with my Western skepticism, I would ask, "How do you know that guy who walked for 6 years and fasted for six days, or died from only eating pine needles, is now a Buddha?" But that only takes us down the rabbit hole. Different definition of Buddha. Different view of what it takes to be a Buddha. Apples and oranges.

  • NamadaNamada Veteran

    They only eat vegetarian food at the monastery, when he walks he eats 3 meals a day, containing lots of carbohydrates in each meal.
    So I think the food are very good. Its not like in the thai forrest tradition.

    One walking session takes 5-6 hours when his body are ok.

    But one time he had to walk backwards because his joints hurted a lot, normaly he used 15 minutes from a to b, but now walkingbackwards he used 45 mintues.

    And other times when his body said no, he used 18 hours and just slept for 2 hours.

    He smiled and said it was really pain full!

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited March 2015

    Maybe Its better not to speak about enlightenment, know one knows what it is anyway..

    some get crazy about it other not.

    Just follow the path the best you can, and see what happens!

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran
    If they don't finish the course the monks could always opt to join the SAS. Sounds a lot like their training program.
  • I love these guys. No nuns have been crazy enough to do this. Bravo. It inspires a very deep felt Japanese respect for impossible effort.

    Listening to the monks it is clear they have been humbled and purified by their experience.

    I first came across them in a beautiful coffee table book of text and pictures at Amravarti library. I thought the monks were an example of supreme effort, insane intensity and the power of the mind to overcome all obstacles of pain, avoidance and other impediments. These guys are hardcore practitioners, that make our little mind wrestling sessions look paltry.

    Go Tendai. Enlightenment or death. Good effort. <3

  • howhow Veteran

    Just when I thought the Samurai had no place left to play.

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