: Gyō is back to back with danger. Did you ever think that the
ordeal might be sodifficult that you would die?
: If you think of it as hard work, every day is hard work. It is also dangerous to walkoutside when a thunderstorm is going on during a typhoon. (It is all a matter of perspective.) Before the Kyōto Omawari
, I twisted my ankle and it swelled upvery badly. I was told by the doctor that it would take a month for that to heal. But nobodycan do the walk for me. On the third day of the nine-day
, I became sodehydrated that I was very depressed. However. my mind was working so hard and mysenses were so sharp. I could hear even the sound of incense ashes dropping. My bodytemperature was going down, so I felt it was hot, even though it was in the middle of October. Lastly, my body shrunk and I could cover my whole face with one palm. I felt like Iwas watching myself from the outside. Any fear of death totally disappeared.
: I heard that
is also called
("walking meditation"). But I thinkof
as sitting in a very quiet manner. What is the significance of this
: The fundamental of the running ordeal is
(„reverent self-perfectiontraining“). There are sacred sites, shrines and temples and rocks and trees all over HieiMountain, and to visit them all requires abouta 30 kilometer (approximately 20 miles) trip.In
, meditation is called
(ed. note: the Japanesecharacters translate literally as „cease“ and„observation“). When you can control your body and control the breathing, then you cancontrol your mind in any situation. Your bodyis up straight. You are repeating the
(„truth words“ mantra phrases). Your breathing is right. And you walk. Even thoughyour feet are moving, your mind is in the
(„absence of hoping,absence of thinking“) state.Therefore, both climbing speed anddescending speed are the same. So eventhough you walk 80 kilometers (50 miles) a day, there is not much difference in the timesfrom day to day. It also serves to concentrate your mind when you have to walk throughthe mountain forests at midnight in pitch darkness.
: Recently, people seem to be more and more fascinated with mysterious occult or „other-worldly“ phenomena. Did you ever have that sort of experience during your seven-year training ordeal on Mt. Hiei?
: I cannot say yes or no. Modern science cannot verify such phenomena. I would notsay that such things do not exist, but then I can’t demonstrate such phenomena for anyone, either. The purpose of this physical spiritual training is called
. What that means is that during the intense training, you eventually encounter
) („enlightened spirit“, or „force of the perfection that could be“, or „buddha“),and you comprehend the truth of these
teachings. That is enlightenment. Of course, the experience of enlightenment is different from person to person; I think that noone else could understand the specific nature of my enlightenment experience. However,
1I believe that by this term the practice of „circuit pilgrimage“ is meant rather than „reverent self-perfection training“
Tanno makes his way through the crowd, having gonewithout food, water, or sleep for 9 days.