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Spirit of Body and Mind as One

Spirit of Body and Mind as One

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Published by Memento__Mori
Tendai Buddhism
Tendai Buddhism

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Published by: Memento__Mori on Oct 14, 2010
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Spirit of Body and Mind as One
A little over two years ago, several Shadows of Iga members travelled to Japan on atraining tour of places significant to the historical legacies that make up the base of base of our training program.One of the spots visited was the Hiei Mountain
, a site of some of themost intensive
training imaginable. While wewere there,
Tendai Mikkyō
Kakudō Tanno
was completing a pivotalportion of his s
ennichi kaihōgyō
running meditation ordeal. Accompanying Tanno’sfamily, who had arrived on Hiei Mountain
 earlier in the day, the Shadows of Iga group followedthe winding forest trail to the
structureafter midnight. We were there to watch as the monkTanno emerged from his ordeal of going for nine fulldays of meditation without water, food, sleep, or eventhe chance to lie down. Tanno stepped from the temple a few hours after midnight, andmoved past the Shadows of Iga contingent supported by the light of flickering flametorches and the shoulders of fellow monks.Recently, Kakudō Tanno completed the entire seven-year program known as
sennichi kaihōg
(„1,000 days of circuit discipline training for self-perfection“). The program consists of intensive study work and the demanding physicaland spiritual challenge of daily runs through the rough mountain forests that stretch outaround the mountain peak of Hiei-zan’s Enryaku-ji temple
Gyō, or intense self-development training
Temple structures on Hiei Mountain
In the fifth year, the candidate subjects himself to the nine-day
ordeal,during which there is no eating, drinking, sleeping, or reclining. During the seventh andfinal year, the monk completes the Kyōto Omawari, an 80 kilometer walk down HieiMountain and through the streets of the city of Kyōto, for 100 days in a row. Once the
(„intensive training for self-perfection“) is begun, there are no allowances for stopping; noteven sickness or injury are acceptable reasons for resting. After completion of the
, themonk is given the title of 
(„Great Adept“) as his single reward. In thepast 400 years, only 47 people, including Kakudō Tanno, have completed this ordeal. Suchintense training has as its goal an extremely high level realm of experience in which bodyand mind are felt in their ultimate unity. Such a unified experience of all the constituentaspects of the individual is far from the ordinary person’s experience of the body and mindas two different elements often in contention with one another. Inside the mind, body, andspirit of a monk who has just finished the 1,000 day ordeal, there is said to take form anexpanding brilliant universe that modern western rationalism cannot begin to capture.KakuTanno was born in YamagataPrefecture in 1954, the son of a governmentemployee. He studied engineering andgraduated from Tsuruoka Industrial HighSchool. (ed. note — more commonly, monkscome from families that have a history of spiritual orientation.) But Tanno came to feelthat his future would already be cast in stone if he were to choose the role of a salariedcorporate worker. Upon making thatrealization, he chose a far different route, onethat was 180 degrees from what he hadexpected. „You cannot speculate on the future.There is no way to know what is ahead of you.Therefore, anything is possible.“ Tanno tookthe
rite of ordination as a mikkyōpriest at Enryaku-ji in 1975. In 1984, he beganthe
sennichi kaihōgyō
, and completed theseven year practice on September 18, 1990. Kakudō Tanno is now the
(head monk) of Daijo-In
at Hiei-zan’s Enryaku-ji, and carries the designation of 
Dai- Ajari 
. Tanno says he chose to undergo the extremes of 
sennichi kaihōgyō
because he felt„if the practice will let me fulfill it, then I would like to do it.“ In the following interview for Musubi, reporter Yutaka Sato interviews Kakudō Tanno upon the completion of his 1,000-day ordeal.
 Yutaka Sato
: Since you just finished
sennichi kaihōgyō
, I would think that the bottoms of your feet would be covered by blisters and callus. But when I look at your feet, they arevery smooth and soft, like a young woman’s feet. That was not what I expected.
Kakudo Tanno
: They’re pretty, huh? I developed the muscles in my toes to the pointwhere‘I can use them like fingers. I can grab things very well with my feet. Since I had todevelop them so well for walking in the mountains, I feel that I recaptured the innate abilityof my feet. However. my ankles and knees ended up deformed.
 Kakudō Tanno emerges from his 9-day seclusion
: 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
by walking?
: 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 wordsmantra 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
kenbutsu monpō
. 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.

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