Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby seeker242 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:45 am

jikai wrote:"and if they fail to complete it, they carry a rope and a knife to use so they must immediately hang or kill themselves by ritual disembowelment.
"

When you said that it is un-buddhist to kill oneself, in a funny sense you were right. That is largely the point-i.e One must be dedicated to such an extent that failing to complete the practice would result in one performing the worst possible act. Therefore, one 'has no choice' but to strive on. Keep in mind the fact that the Kaihogyo is a practice designed to inspire, to do that which most of us do not. I imagine in many ways that the clause regarding killing oneself is as much a phsychological Gyo as much as anything else.

Gassho,
Jikai.


From the wikipedia: In the first 100 days, withdrawal from the challenge is possible, but from day 101 onwards the monk is no longer allowed to withdraw; he must either complete the course or take his own life. The mountain has many unmarked graves from those who have failed in their quest, although none date from either the 20th or 21st century.

I find it hard to believe that no one has failed the challenge in the past 100 something years!
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby oushi » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:32 pm

Simon E. wrote:
oushi wrote:No, I have no will to speak with someone who is twisting everything.

So there is a human being beyond the solipstitic platitudes ?

No, human being is a solipsistic platitude.
Say what you think about me here.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:05 pm

seeker242 wrote:
From the wikipedia: In the first 100 days, withdrawal from the challenge is possible, but from day 101 onwards the monk is no longer allowed to withdraw; he must either complete the course or take his own life. The mountain has many unmarked graves from those who have failed in their quest, although none date from either the 20th or 21st century.

I find it hard to believe that no one has failed the challenge in the past 100 something years!


I don't find this implausible. Why? Because the yogins who are admitted to this practice are very, very good at this. They have been trained in it from youth. People who are not clearly capable of finishing it are allowed to start; they get weeded out much, much earlier in their training. There is more:

It is worth remembering that this is an esoteric practice. Extraordinary methods are at work. It is not just "self-power" that takes one through. Mantra practice is very, very effective.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Seishin » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:23 pm

The dedication of these monks is awe inspiring. Just to add to what Jikan said, not many monks go for the kaihogyo. Far fewer still pass the first 100days.

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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Sara H » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:47 am

Seishin wrote:In which tradition did Buddha say this?

That would be the Buddha Himself, see the story of the life of the Buddha. Even children know this.

However asceticism is part of the practice, eg. Eating one meal a day is asceticism.


That is not asceticism in the way that the Buddha was referring to it as, or the kind he was cautioning against as being not part of a Middle Path.

The Buddha was against practices that pushed the body to the point of being potentially lethal, or making oneself ill or injured, or damaging the body. Such as the types that He Himself had practiced, and the types that the Tendai sect are now practicing.
He said they were unnecessary and unhelpful. He likened it to a string on a musical instrument being tightened to the point of snapping (see heart attacks from the Tendai practice)

Having one meal a day is fine if you are doing a more gentle practice.

Having one meal a day when you are traveling potentially more than twice the distance of an olympic marathon, with only 2 hours of sleep a night is suicidal.

The Buddha would not have endorsed a practice that caused people to have heart attacks from sheer exhaustion and malnourishment in ratio to the energy and calories expended.

Bodhidharma sat meditating facing a wall for 9 years...


I sincerely doubt that Bodhidharma spent nine years facing the wall without adequate food to keep him alive.

Sitting still in meditation requires very little calories. And unless he had an assistant to bathe him, and feed him, and prepare his food, and change his chamber pot, he got up sometimes to go to the bathroom, and cook, and eat. He also likely slept at least some. There's a limit to how far one can sleep deprive oneself before one's body just sleeps with one's eyes open. (in fact, according to one story,[if it's accurate] we know he fell asleep, because apparently he got so frustrated [anger, acting on anger] with himself,[probably not realizing that there was indeed a physical limit to sleep deprivation] that he cut his own eyelids off [not a smart thing to do, nor would it stop his body from going to sleep], it wasn't until later he realized a middle path. But he likely beat himself up quite a bit before finding it) Not to mention that sitting in a cave, is not exactly extraordinarily dangerous.


In Gassho,

Sara
Last edited by Sara H on Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:43 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Sara H » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:55 am

Regarding the whole setting oneself on fire thing, and other things..

You know, when Koho Zenji was asked the question of why, if in Buddhism, killing oneself is absolutely forbidden, so many monks immolated themselves during the Vietnam war, he said
"Perhaps, they were not real Buddhists."

Just because a person is wearing a monk's robes, does not mean that everything they do is a Buddhist act.
A monk killing themselves(or engaging in physically injurious, potentially lethal, or self-destructive behavior) is not a Buddhist act, any more than a monk saying that touching his penis will bring you enlightenment is.



In Gassho,

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Sara H » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:57 am

A better way to say that last line would be:

A monk killing themselves(or engaging in practices that push the body to the point of breaking, and sometimes succeed in breaking it) is not a Buddhist act, any more than a monk saying that touching his penis will bring you enlightenment is.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Seishin » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:18 am

Sara, you are starting to become very rude and condescending now.
That would be the Buddha Himself, see the story of the life of the Buddha. Even children know this.
This is completely uncalled for.

Your first position was that the Buddha did not teach asceticism, I've proven he did.
Your second position was that the Kaihogyo is extreme. In many ways I'd agree, and all western science (as you rightly stated) says this shouldn't be possible. Yet it is possible and this is where mikkyo and Fudo Myoo comes into play. This is the major difference between our two view points and our two traditions. We will never agree on this, so I'm done.

Gassho,
Seishin.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby yegyal » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:23 am

Sara H wrote:
Seishin wrote:In which tradition did Buddha say this?

That would be the Buddha Himself, see the story of the life of the Buddha. Even children know this.

However asceticism is part of the practice, eg. Eating one meal a day is asceticism.


That is not asceticism in the way that the Buddha was referring to it as, or the kind he was cautioning against as being not part of a Middle Path.

The Buddha was against practices that pushed the body to the point of being potentially lethal, or making oneself ill or injured, or damaging the body. Such as the types that He Himself had practiced, and the types that the Tendai sect are now practicing.
He said they were unnecessary and unhelpful. He likened it to a string on a musical instrument being tightened to the point of snapping (see heart attacks from the Tendai practice)

Having one meal a day is fine if you are doing a more gentle practice.

Having one meal a day when you are traveling potentially more than twice the distance of an olympic marathon, with only 2 hours of sleep a night is suicidal.

The Buddha would not have endorsed a practice that caused people to have heart attacks from sheer exhaustion and malnourishment in ratio to the energy and calories expended.

Bodhidharma sat meditating facing a wall for 9 years...


I sincerely doubt that Bodhidharma spent nine years facing the wall without adequate food to keep him alive.

Sitting still in meditation requires very little calories. And unless he had an assistant to bathe him, and feed him, and prepare his food, and change his chamber pot, he got up sometimes to go to the bathroom, and cook, and eat. He also likely slept at least some. There's a limit to how far one can sleep deprive oneself before one's body just sleeps with one's eyes open. (in fact, according to one story,[if it's accurate] we know he fell asleep, because apparently he got so frustrated [anger, acting on anger] with himself,[probably not realizing that there was indeed a physical limit to sleep deprivation] that he cut his own eyelids off [not a smart thing to do, nor would it stop his body from going to sleep], it wasn't until later he realized a middle path. But he likely beat himself up quite a bit before finding it) Not to mention that sitting in a cave, is not exactly extraordinarily dangerous.


In Gassho,

Sara


Adults don't usually quote from children's books to prove a point. And just because you "sincerely doubt" the traditions claims in regards to Bodhidharma, doesn't give you license to retell these stories to suit your needs, as your claim that it was "later that he realized a middle path" has absolutely no basis in any of the traditional accounts that I have ever heard or read.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Sara H » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:52 am

Seishin wrote:Sara, you are starting to become very rude and condescending now.
That would be the Buddha Himself, see the story of the life of the Buddha. Even children know this.
This is completely uncalled for.

Your first position was that the Buddha did not teach asceticism, I've proven he did.
Your second position was that the Kaihogyo is extreme. In many ways I'd agree, and all western science (as you rightly stated) says this shouldn't be possible. Yet it is possible and this is where mikkyo and Fudo Myoo comes into play. This is the major difference between our two view points and our two traditions. We will never agree on this, so I'm done.

Gassho,
Seishin.


It's not completely uncalled for. Nor is it rude, nor is it intended to be rude.

This is basic Buddhism.

The lifestory of the Buddha.

There are a few different version of it, but on this they all agree:
After He practiced his years of ascetic practice, he found that it did not work, and so took a simple, healthy meal, and decided to do the basic and simple meditation he had practiced as a child.
He resolved to sit until he had found enlightenment, and he did.

Afterwards, His very first teaching, he thought the other ascetics who had previously abandoned Him, thinking He had gone soft; the teaching that asceticism was like an extreme, as was a life of indulgent luxury. It was in this teaching that He used the analogy of a musical instrument.

This is not condescension, this is the Buddha's First Teaching.

It's well known in all traditions.

He did not support pushing and straining the body to the verge of breaking, and sometimes breaking it, as a means of spiritual practice.

That is well established Buddhism.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby coldwater » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:27 am

According to some sutras (which were referenced previously and you can read the Digha Nikaya to see a lot of talk about asceticism, in fact the Buddha says "I do not denounce it, whoever says so is lying") the Buddha often referred to himself as an ascetic and condoned asceticism with proper motivations- that were aimed at reducing klesas and leading to liberation. Rather than asceticism for the purpose of blindly following ritual, self-mortification, fame, praise, profit or to lord it over others. He was engaged in self-mortification and penitence when he renounced the extreme forms of asceticism. Again, many links have been provided previously for your on this subject.

Kaihogyo, as a living tradition, is currently not a self-mortifying practice nor a form of penitence. People do not die and it is not 'impossible for a human' or else humans wouldn't be doing it.

It isn't clear what the issue is for you? What do you want to prove? That a minority of people who love the dharma in a larger tradition that also loves that dharma is doing something Buddha said not to do...then what happens? That some people have been figuring it out themselves (Buddha's last teaching) and found something that works for them but not everyone? That some people 100s of years ago did crazy stuff sometimes? Then we can know who is "REALLY" a Buddhist while who is just "kinda-Buddhist" or not at all?

Regarding Thich Quang Duc, interesting that you quote a Japanese priest (and...who is this person you quote? Could you provide a link?) about a Vietnamese monk. What Thich Quan Duc did that was really pivotal in ending the persecution (of which there were deaths and violence against) of Vietnamese Buddhists by the government. I also think your equation and judgment of that act to 'touch the penis to enlightenment' scam is pretty crass. I don't see how a false monk trying to get laid is in any way similar (in scope, effect or intention or what have you) to a monk making a radical political statement to end the abuse of the larger Buddhist community in their community.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Seishin » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:28 am

Sara H wrote:It's not completely uncalled for. Nor is it rude, nor is it intended to be rude.


It was condescending when you likened my knowledge of Buddhism to that of a child.

You, however, have seemed to ignore my posts AND references to Buddhist teaching, as well as those of others proving that the Buddha did in fact teach asceticism. You also seemed to have missed when I said that in many ways I agree that kaihogyo is extreme. Also, never once did I say that the Buddha did not teach the middle way between extreme asceticism and extreme indulgence. This you have assumed.

Until you admit that the Buddha did teach asceticism, until you admit that I never said the Buddha did not teach the middle way and because myself and others cannot have a decent conversation with you I am no longer going to reply to your posts.

Gassho,
Seishin.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Jnana » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:56 pm

Seishin wrote:In Theravada there are plenty of references to a middle path between extreme asceticism and indulgence. However asceticism is part of the practice, eg. Eating one meal a day is asceticism.

Bodhidharma sat meditating facing a wall for 9 years (supposedly), this is asceticism.

The 13 ascetic practices of a Buddhist monk http://en.dhammadana.org/sangha/dhutanga.htm

You see, a Buddhist monk is considered an ascetic.

Indeed. It might be useful to differentiate some terms. The Buddha was a śramaṇa, which can be translated as "ascetic." Asceticism includes a spectrum of disciplines, practices, and vows related to abstinence from worldly pleasures. Other ancient Indian śramaṇa movements included the Jainas and the Ājīvikas.

So while the Buddha was an ascetic, what he rejected was the extreme of devotion to self-mortification (ātmaklamathānuyoga). This is explained in the Lalitavistara Sūtra as:

    devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, not connected with the goal, painful in this very life and in the future where it results in pain.

The idea behind self-mortification is to intentionally inflict severe pain on the body, including intentionally causing injury.

What the Buddha advocated, on the other hand, was a moderate asceticism, which is a middle way between indulgence in sensual pleasures and self-mortification. Kallistos Ware clearly differentiates between moderate asceticism and self-mortification -- what he calls "natural asceticism" and "unnatural asceticism" -- in The Way of the Ascetics: Negative or Affirmative?:

    What basically distinguishes natural from unnatural asceticism is its attitude toward the body. Natural asceticism reduces material life to the utmost simplicity, restricting our physical needs to a minimum, but not maiming the body or otherwise deliberately causing it to suffer. Unnatural asceticism, on the other hand, seeks out special forms of mortification that torment the body and gratuitously inflict pain upon it. Thus it is a form of natural asceticism to wear cheap and plain clothing, whereas it is unnatural to wear fetters with iron spikes piercing the flesh. It is a form of natural asceticism to sleep on the ground, whereas it is unnatural to sleep on a bed of nails. It is a form of natural asceticism to live in a hut or a cave, instead of a well-appointed house, whereas it is unnatural to chain oneself to a rock or to stand permanently on top of a pillar. To refrain from marriage and sexual activity is natural asceticism; to castrate oneself is unnatural.
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Sara H » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:12 pm

:good:

Right, the Buddha would not have viewed forcing oneself to walk unnaturally long distances per day, to the point of possibly having a heart attack from exhaustion and an unnaturally weakened body, in poor sandals that destroy the feet, on very few calories, while intentionally sleep depriving oneself, and then if one failed, having a practice that traditionally said you should kill yourself with a knife provided, or hang yourself, as a form of "natural asceticism". Walking twice the distance of a marathon per day on 2 hours of sleep that self-mortifies the body so much that it might cause the heart to give out, is anything but "natural."

There's a big difference between celibacy, and living a simple monastic life, of cheap clothing and living on alms; and intentionally doing a practice that one knows full well may destroy one's body or cause to kill oneself.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:14 am

Sara H wrote:Regarding the whole setting oneself on fire thing, and other things..

You know, when Koho Zenji was asked the question of why, if in Buddhism, killing oneself is absolutely forbidden, so many monks immolated themselves during the Vietnam war, he said
"Perhaps, they were not real Buddhists."

Just because a person is wearing a monk's robes, does not mean that everything they do is a Buddhist act.
A monk killing themselves(or engaging in physically injurious, potentially lethal, or self-destructive behavior) is not a Buddhist act, any more than a monk saying that touching his penis will bring you enlightenment is.



In Gassho,

Sara


Please continue any discussion of "the whole setting yourself on fire thing" here:

viewtopic.php?f=66&t=12590
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Re: Are Tendai practices of "Marathon Monks" Asceticism?

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:28 am

Sara,

Your repeated and unfounded insistence on equating kaihogyo (and evidently some other TienTai/Tendai practices too) as suicide is unfounded and untenable. Unfounded because, as you have already been shown, your position is not based in fact but in this polemical material you persist in. Untenable because suicide is a volitional act of ending one's life, undertaken with the intention to kill; by contrast, any kind of meditation practice is undertaken with a completely different motivation, that of creating a cause for the liberation of all sentient beings, realizing one's inherent Buddhahood in order to be a beacon of light for all (that is a metaphor of self-immolation from the Lotus Sutra, apropos of "the whole setting yourself on fire" thing. See chapter 23). Also, for an act to be suicidal, it needs to lead to death. Kaihogyo is a killer of delusion and nothing more. Dressing up as one does for one's funeral, with props like a rope and a dagger, are part of the performance of the ritual.

Insisting as you do that kaihogyo practice is necessarily suicide is like claiming that chod practitioners are murderers because they OBVIOUSLY kill people in order to acquire the bone-trumpets and other acoutrement they use in their practice. No one would claim this and expect to be taken seriously, no matter how often or how vehemently he or she might repeat it. My point is that esoteric practice has its own internal logic. It may or may not correspond to Buddhist practice as you understand it so far in your practice. You are not exactly creating positive causes or conditions for yourself when you throw out baseless accusations about practitioners you do not know and practices you willfully refuse to understand in its own terms.

Here I am again, criticizing your actions online. I hope you understand I am responding to your actions and not your person. I am confident that you will attain Buddhahood. Here is why:

http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2013/04/lo ... ns-20.html

Elsewhere, someone asked what daily practice for a Tendai Buddhist looks like. I should have mentioned that you get to engage in verbal arnis with a delightful cast of characters on teh interwebz all day long.

This thread is done. Both teams played hard. God bless and goodnight.

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