The Marathon Monks of Tendai

I heard mention of the marathon monks of Tendai in a book I was reading last week-end and made a mental note to look them up

A few days later and that mental post it fluttered down

Reading today about the running monks here and their do or die challenge made me realise how easy we ordinary people have it

And how hard because it’s so easy to live “less than” lives and never reach our full potential as human beings

There’s always tomorrow or next week or next year to try something again

There is always the “oh well – I tried” escape card

It smacks of a lack of fortitude, tolerance and holding the self accountable.

Perhaps there needs to be less reward and more responsibility in this life – more consequences

Heavy consequences – yet we are becoming softer and softer

Or so it would seem

An example of commitment?

If the marathon monks are not able to complete their kaihogyo they must kill themselves. To this end they carry a short sword and a length of rope at all times

The mountain on which they live is littered with the unmarked graves of monks who did not make it

Only 46 ever have made it all the way through their challenge. The rest have either died trying or committed suicide

*Note – things are not quite so dire these days – still very few undertake the entire challenge.

I’ve been thinking about this in my own life

The ease with which I let myself off the hook when I fail or simply fall out of love with doing something so I stop

But each stop. Each failure is a weight that we carry whether we acknowledge it or not

It becomes a burden we drag

What if instead we cut through the chatter and “great ideas”. Only committed to the things which truly called to us and got them done – no matter what.

After day 101 the monks can’t pull out – it is either do or die

I need that sort of commitment (not the die part)

But then I have to think

What is less than die?

And is that less commitment?

More on the monks in this article it’s interesting stuff..

Header Photo: Amigos Castle – Lightening Ridge NSW. I was there on a bike trip a few years ago.

Amigo, a miner, built this with his own hands. You used to be able to take tours through it and Amigo would make a bit of cash on the side. Council shut him down due to OH&S concerns.

Which is rubbish because if you watch where you walk the site is fine. Another example of over governance.

The reason I include it on a post about commitment, persistence and resilience is because Amigo (his story is very interesting) has both of these qualities in abundance.

5 thoughts on “The Marathon Monks of Tendai

  1. With every new invention, we are getting softer, as machines take over the physical day to day activities. Often wonder how soft the human body will become a 100 years from now.

  2. Isn’t that kind of the human condition… to always feel as though there’s more time to do something? Yeah, letting yourself off the hook might not be the best thing to do, but I cannot imagine dedicating myself to either something, or death. Maybe that’s why I’m not a monk…

    • Me too V. I guess that is what men and women who go to war do though. They commit to fight despite the threat of death. The monks commit to finding enlightenment or dying in the process. Then there are we normal people..

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