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Aragyo - Two weeks have passed

Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:52 pm
by KanseCapon
Today is 14th November. It has now been two weeks since the start of the “Dai Aragyō”.

The Nichiren Shū Dai Aragyō is a practice with a very long history dating back hundreds of years. It is held at Nakayama Hokekyoji temple in Japan once a year. “Dai” (大) means “Great”; “Ara” (荒) means hard or rough, and also has the connotation of extra/additional; “gyō” (行) means “practice”. Aragyō is therefore an “optional severe practice” which Priests have the opportunity to attend.

It starts on November 1st, and lasts throughout the cold winter for 100 days until 10th February. Once they enter the Aragyō hall on 1st November, the Aragyō practitioners are not allowed to leave until the completion. They wear the white robes that Priests wear when they die, as they enter with the knowledge that they could die at any time during this severe practice. For one hundred days they eat two meals a day consisting only of rice gruel, miso soup and a couple of pickles. They perform cold water purifications seven times each a day, and chant the Lotus Sutra all day sitting in the painful seiza position, sleeping only for around 3 or 4 hours.

Hearing about such a practice, we naturally wonder, “It seems very hard…Too severe! Why do they do such a practice?” We should understand the human mind. Our human nature always craves for a condition of comfort and relaxation. We want to enjoy life. When faced with the choice between an easy or hard way, we tend to favour the easy way. However, human beings can thrive in the face of challenges. Our hidden potentials only come to the surface when we are faced with difficulties or challenged. Those who attend Aragyō do so intentionally to practise austerities in order to bring out the hidden potentials in themselves, purify their negative karma, and gain power in order to help others. Therefore, the first 35 days are called “Jigyō” or “period of self-practice”, and the remaining 65 days is called “Ketagyō” or “period of practice for others.”

The Buddha, having practised asceticism for many years concluded that was not the way to attain enlightenment. He heard a music teacher instructing his student on tuning the guitar: “If the string is too slack it will not make a good sound, but on the other hand, if you tighten it too much it will snap. To obtain a good harmony, you should know the correct amount of tension and relaxation.” The Buddha therefore abandoned his ascetic practices, and attained enlightenment by sitting under the Bodhi tree in meditation. Even though the Buddha said that the way to attain enlightenment is by following the Middle Way, the Aragyō practitioners sacrifice their own enlightenment and practise this severe regime, and enter the Aragyō hall in the knowledge that they might die, for the sake of others.

Attending Aragyō the Priests can gain spiritual power and learn special methods of prayer to remove sickness and give health, give prosperity, give love and respect, and remove spirits and afflictions.

When I first visited Japan I was fortunate enough to see the start of Aragyō. The atmosphere of more than one hundred practitioners chanting the sūtra loudly, fast and with lots of energy was extremely powerful. The atmosphere that day was full of tension as they contemplated what was ahead of them, and was quite emotional. Since then, I cannot help but think of the Aragyō practitioners each year and the hardships they are enduring out of their great compassion for others...If you have a moment, please think of them.


Re: Aragyo - Two weeks have passed

Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:56 pm
by narhwal90
Good luck, brothers... :)

Re: Aragyo - Two weeks have passed

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:34 am
by KanseCapon
On 10th February, the Aragyō-sō (Aragyo Monks) emerged from the confines of Aragyo after 100 days of hard practice and chanting the Lotus Sutra.

Here is a video of Jōman-e:

May they use their practice and any fruits they may have gained to help many suffering people and benefit the world!