The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

The crazy Marathon Monks defy physiological science. Among their grueling regimen of double marathons a day, flip-flop runs around mountains, and sitting in front a blazing fire for days on end, they also manage to stay alive for a seven-and-a-half day water and food fast while sitting perfectly still and erect…and awake. I don’t even pretend to imagine how they can survive that kind of ordeal. Of course, part of the training indicates that failure is not tolerated and can only be met with ritualistic suicide. I’m going to make a leap and say that this kind of faith is fanaticism. If enlightenment is so painful and life threatening, I’ll wait until the afterlife. Of course, as Isi points out, it also really exacerbates how lazy we all are. On a related note, I heard on NPR the other day that a prestigous back doctor says to continue doing the things you normally do when faced with troubles like herniated discs. I thought it a bit of ill-advised homeopathy, though the Monks of Mount Hiei might prove otherwise.

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