Welcome Puys to this new series of articles.
In our endeavor to deliver the
best and most relevant advice to our users, we bring to you an absolutely fresh
series of articles titled, ‘Learn to Learn’. What is the
purpose of these articles? These articles are meant to be a potpourri of
advice, tips, tricks, motivation, self-help and strategy. The wide spectrum of
topics covered by these articles means that each and every person can derive at
least some value from these articles. Feedback is duly appreciated for this
series and you can always provide suggestions for topics that you want us to
cover in the series by simply commenting on the article.
Time for the action to begin! The
first topic that we are going to place under the scanner is our ability to commit
and perform a task to the best of our ability. Far too often we are distracted
by the smallest of things and this leads to a dip in our performance. Let’s
take a sneak-peak in the world of spirituality and see if we can find something
that motivates us to correct our flaws.
The Marathon Monks of Japan
Before we actually talk about our
ability to commit to a task and perform them with the utmost sincerity, let’s
read a small story about ‘The Marathon Monks of Japan’. These
monks belong to the Tendai school of
Buddhism and perform a spiritual practice by the name of ‘Kaihogyo’, in which they practice an
extreme form of asceticism and run around a mountain by the name of Mt. Hiei. The question that should be
lingering in your minds should be ‘what is so special about these monks’. Before lessons are derived from their lives,
let’s read more about the practice of ‘Kaihogyo’.
The Tendai Buddhists believe that enlightenment can be attained in the
current life through selfless service and devotion. The Kaihogyo is a seven year challenge in which a monk can withdraw
from the challenge within the first 100 days. From day 101 onwards, he is no
longer allowed to withdraw.
What constitutes this 7 year
exercise? The following rigorous exercise is what the Kaihogyo is all about:
Year 1: The monk runs for
30 km per day for 100 straight days.
Year 2: The monk runs for 30 km per day for 100
Year 3: The monk runs for
30 km per day for 100 straight days.
Year 4: The monk runs for
30 km per day for 200 straight days this time.
Year 5: The monk runs for
30 km per day for 200 straight days. Also, in this year, the monk has to go
seven and a half days without food, water, or rest of any kind. This is one of
the most daunting parts of the whole exercise.
Year 6: The monk must run
for 60 km per day for 100 straight days.
Year 7: The monk must run
for 84 km per day for 100 straight days and this is followed by a run of 30 km
per day for the last 100 days
This completes the 1000 day marathon. Some marathon, right?
Where is the trick in this?
Well, the trick is a simple one.
The monks can only withdraw within the first hundred days and from the 101st
day onwards, he must either complete the exercise or take his own life. Now
this is some level of commitment to one’s task. Since 1885, only 46 men have completed this challenge.
What do we learn from these
This brings us to the most
important part of this article: how is this story relevant for us? This tale of
extreme devotion teaches us some very important lessons:
Devotion to your cause
The monks are a perfect
illustration of single-minded devotion to a cause. Far too often, especially in
the modern age, we allow ourselves to be distracted because of the most trivial
of reasons. Avoid this temptation and next time you feel the urge to check your
phone/use a social networking site/watch videos while you are working on
something, just recall the dedication of these monks. This should provide enough
motivation to avoid the frivolous activities we involve ourselves in.
Put a price-tag on the outcome:
In the case of marathon monks,
the premium they have placed on the exercise is their life itself. Such an
extreme commitment might not be required of you but make sure the exercise you
commit carries a certain price tag. The modern day world, with all its
comforts, has spoiled us to a certain extent and it is important that we truly
understand the cost of failure.
Focus on the process, not on your
What would happen if the marathon
monks begin to think that it takes too much time to complete the Kaihogya and decide to shorten the
exercise? Would that work? Won’t they feel they have cheated the system? Wouldn’t
it make their spiritual exercise futile? It is obvious that shortcuts would kill
the value of Kaihogya. You also need
to adopt a similar mindset when it comes to the tasks you commit yourself to:
do not take shortcuts and do not focus on how long it is taking to complete the
task. You simple focus should be on the sense of achievement you would feel
once you complete the task. The end result is your nirvana (if referred to in
terms of spirituality.)
How do we proceed from here?
Now that you have read the
complete story here, all you need to do is
Identify your Kaihogya and commit to it
Make sure nothing comes between you and your
And set a price-tag on failure.
After all, it is all about
pushing yourself to the limit in order to achieve your goal.