So today I'm cruising Facebook and an interesting article pops up about the Marathon Monks of Kyoto, Japan. Since I'd heard of them and their Kaihogyo tradition, I checked it out. This little localized tradition is something a few of the the Tendai monks do. Fascinating. It's a daily practice of rising early for walking meditation around the local mountain while stopping to pay respects to various shrines. Then the monk has to squeeze his regular chores into the remaining half day and get in 4 hours of sleep. Up to a 1000 days without a break. It's an exercise in discipline and patience.
But the real test is the 6 day fasting prayer session at the end with no sleep allowed, other monks taking shifts to help you stay awake. It ends in a vision quest type experience for the monks who have done this.
But, imagine my surprise to find out this article from Lifestyle claims the monks run, not walk this marathon. And according to the article, the monks must carry a knife around and kill themselves if they don't complete it! So if they break an ankle while running one day and can't complete it, they stab themselves to death?? And the mountain is supposed to be littered with unmarked graves of the monks who have failed. You'd think the temple could at least pop for a proper cremation and burial of the poor guy. Apparently the "reporter" who wrote this watched a few old Japanese Samurai movies too many.
Alas, this is how myths get made.