On Wednesday Oct 21, 2015, Buddhist Monk Kogen Kamahori emerged from a dangerous nine-day ordeal that included no food, no drink and no sleep—while reciting precious sutras.
To many Buddhists, the feat of mental discipline is both admirable and valuable, both as an example for others, and as a legitimate austerity method of denying craving and practicing merit.
Yet, for many in social media circles, the feat brought instant derision, insults, scorn and disbelief—some would say, typical of the “age of degeneration” (in Buddhist terms) or the “age of cynicism” (in modern terms). Some of these comments included:
- “I find this feat impossible to believe… you can’t go without liquids and sleeping for nine days.”
- “So what, I kinda did that in Ibiza many moons ago.”
- “I don’t believe this. The man is highly unlikely to survive nine days without water…”
- “I question whether it’s even true and real? This whole stunt is devoid of reason…”
- “Easy enough to hide a stack of Kit Cads and CC Lemon under those flowing robes.”
The best comments included a criticism followed by a perfect riposte:
- “A feat as impressive as it is pointless.”
- “Your comment is pointless, but not impressive.”
(Editors Note: For those who feel it is pointless, here’s a nice feature on why some Buddhists value sutra recitation>>)
Never-the-less, social media cynics aside, the grueling nine day ritual is an admirable endurance feat. Denying all craving—even the need to eat, sleep, drink—while pursuing the merit of reciting 100,000 sutras is a feat not appropriate for derision, but, rather, for admiration. Aside from merit, the nine day contemplation clearly is a venerable attainment, and demonstrates very advanced concentration and discipline.
Kogen Kamahori is a monk at Enrakuji Temple in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. His spiritual ordeal was witnessed at Mount Hiei, a holy mountain near Kyoto. When he emerged, he was greeted by 600 admirers and media. He appeared in white robes, and although able to walk on his own, despite lack of food, drink and sleep, he was assisted by other monks.
The ordeal is part of a seven-year training, that also includes 1,000 days of walking around the Holy Mountain.
Please Help Support the “Spread the Dharma” Mission!
Be a part of the noble mission as a supporting member or a patron, or a volunteer contributor of content.
The power of Dharma to help sentient beings, in part, lies in ensuring access to Buddha’s precious Dharma — the mission of Buddha Weekly. We can’t do it without you!
A non-profit association since 2007, Buddha Weekly published many feature articles, videos, and, podcasts. Please consider supporting the mission to preserve and “Spread the Dharma." Your support as either a patron or a supporting member helps defray the high costs of producing quality Dharma content. Thank you! Learn more here, or become one of our super karma heroes on Patreon.
Other Popular Stories
Buddhist Ganesha: popular Ganapati’s many forms include enlightened Yidam, protector, and “bringer of success”…
The Five Strengths and Powers or pañcabalā in Buddhism — the qualities conducive to Enlightenment: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom
Having trouble focusing during meditation? Lack of sleep may be the issue; 70 million US adults suffer a sleep disorder
Practice Overload and Too Many Commitments: Advice From the Teachers — Don’t Become a Spiritual Materialist
Holy Day of Chokhor Duchen and Sangha Day: How to celebrate Buddha’s First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma — this year on August 1, 2022
The bridge between science and Buddhism, atoms and no atoms, theism and athiesm; Yidam deity meditation and the Cognitive Science of Tantra
Mo Dice and Mala, Bamboo Sticks, Tarot, and other “divinations” — insightful self-guided Buddhist practice or superstition?
Author | Buddha Weekly
Dave Lang contributes to several online magazines. He is Buddhist, more or less a "Chan Buddhist" — and his special bow goes to Bodhidharma, his Dharma Hero. He is also an avid martial artist.