Marathon runners eat your hearts out —- The Tendai Monks of Mt. Hiei.
The Tendai Monks of Mt. Hiei in Japan are an ancient Buddhist order that trace their origins as far back 806 AD. Masters of mental and physical discipline, among their regular meditation and religious worship, the Tendai Monks practice an ancient endurance challenge that ranks as one of the most grueling endurance challenges of all human history.
The Tendai Monks like to prove their mental discipline through acts of physical endurance. These devoted Buddhists take the saying, “where the mind goes, the body will follow” to the highest extreme. Called the “Kaihogyo” (circling the mountain), the Tendai Monks walk a series of roads and trails which circle Mt. Hiei. The full Kaihogyo takes seven years to complete altogether, with the first year being a trial period, and the remaining six being the ultimate challenge.
Most monks typically only do the first year of the Kaihogyo, which is a challenge in itself. In that year the monks walk 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) a day for 100 consecutive days. During the walk, the monks only take breaks to pray or meditate at the various shrines that circle Mt. Hiei. When walking the monks wear their traditional monastic garb, as well as hand woven straw sandals for footwear.
If a monk completes the first year of the Kaihogyo, he may petition the remaining monks to complete the remaining six years of the challenge. Originally in ancient and medieval Japan, there was no turning back after being accepted to complete the Kaihogyo. Those who failed to complete the challenge committed ritual suicide. Today in modern Japan, the suicide clause of the Kaihogyo has been removed from the challenge.
The remaining of the Kaihogyo follows as thus, on years 2 and 3 the monk must walk 30 km a day for 100 consecutive days. On years 4 and 5 the monk must walk 30 km a day for 200 consecutive days. On year 6 the monk must walk 60 km (37.3 miles) a day for 100 consecutive days. Finally on year 7 the monk must walk a whopping 84 km a day (52.2 miles) for a consecutive 100 days, followed by a “cooling off” period of 30 km a day for 100 consecutive days. During “rest periods” of the year, the monk is expected to complete all his monastic duties, such as administering to the public, meditating, worshiping, conducting scholarly studies, and completing chores around the monastery.
Those who complete Kaihogyo will have certainly achieved an amazing feet, walking 38,500 kilometers (23,860.7 miles). That’s only about 1,500 km short of walking the circumference of the Earth. Few have ever completed the challenge. In fact since 1885 only 46 monks have successfully completed the full 1,000 days. One of the oldest was a monk named Yusai Sakai, who completed the Kaihogyo at the age of 60 in 1987.
Unlike a number of the elaborate metropolis’ and statuary left behind by the Incan people the rings at Moray are relatively simple but may have actually been an ingenious series of test beds. Descending in grass-covered, terraced rings, the rings of rings vary in size with the largest ending in a depth of 30 meters (98 feet) deep and 220 meters (722 feet) wide. Studies have shown that many of the terraces contain soil that must have been imported from other parts of the region. The temperature at the top of the pits varies from that at the bottom of the ringed pits by as much as 15 degrees Celsius , creating a series of micro-climates that not coincidentally match many of the varied climate conditions among the Incan empire. It is now believed that the rings were used as a test bed to see what crops could grow where. This proto-America’s-Test-Kitchen is yet another example of the Incan ingenuity that makes them one of the most remarkable of declined societies in the planet’s history.
The Grande Ballroom was designed in 1928 by Charles N. Agree in the Art Deco style with Moorish influences. The jazz venue featured a floor on springs in its ballroom, giving people the illusion of floating while they danced.
In 1966 it reopened as a rock venue, transformed by Russ Gibb, a middle school social studies teacher and radio DJ, into a home for the psychedelic and garage rock scene. Soon the Detroit counterculture crowd was pulsing in the glare of one of the largest strobe lights ever constructed to music by emerging local acts like MC5 and the Stooges, as well already legendary bands like the Velvet Underground, the Who, and Pink Floyd.
In 1972, the Grande Ballroom closed. Fixtures were stolen, windows shattered, and plaster fell from the ceiling. Like the blight overtaking the neighborhood surrounding it, neglect has left it in a dire state of disrepair.
There is a knot of pain just behind my right eye that throbs in time with my pulse. My eyes feel raw. My mouth is dry. Last night’s booze-induced heroics are a distant memory. In the harsh light of day, I feel simply terrible, and yet, next weekend, I’m liable to do it all over again.
When it comes to legal intoxicants, alcohol is essentially the only choice available. It is the world’s most widely used drug, and can be safely deemed toxic, addictive, and linked to violent behavior. As the failed American experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and 30s demonstrated, the desire for easy intoxication will seemingly always be a part of our society. But with a massive pharmacopeia and scientific infrastructure at our disposal, why do we still rely on such an imperfect means to accomplish that goal?
This is the kind of PR that gets me to click the play button: “In their music is a reformulation of the Latin music world; the starting point was digital cumbia, but today, Chancha is forging unprecedented mergers between Brazilian rhythms, Paraguayan harp, Andean mysticism, the solitude of Argentine folklore from the Pampas, and spatial projection, all of which have been processed through a futuristic strain of post-dubstep electronic music.”
Art, animation by Paula Duró and FX and edition by Mariela Bond. Look for his upcoming album Amansara LP being released by Wonderwheel Recordings (USA, Oceania), Crammed Disc (Europe, Asia) and Charco (South America) in late September 2014.