Enlightenment without pureness of body as well as mind?


I have just learnt about the Shingon Buddhist monks of Japan and their extreme ways of achieving Enlightenment.

The mainstream Buddhists beleive that enlightenment will take many reincarnations and can not be achieved in a single lifetime. This branch of Buddhism believe(d) that it could be achieved in one lifetime if the body as well as the mind was pure, they see no difference between the body and the mind, i.e. the body is not just a vessel for the soul in this lifetime.
When these monks were sufficiently ready,i.e. can achieve certain meditation techniques, they would purify their bodies by eating a strick diet that lasted for 6-7 years and resulted in death, all the while they would continue rigorous exercise.

The diet would consit of seeds and nuts for the most part, and then toward the end, bark and leaves from a pine tree, and in the final days a spring water deposit that contained high levels of arsenic.

They would then bury themselvs alive, and meditate until dead.

Why did they do this?

They believed that they would be brought back to life when the buddha returns and needs help, and to be of any help they must have achieved enlightenment. The purification of the body was absolutely necessary for enlightenment and that it could not be achieved by preparing the mind alone.

As a result their bodies were mummified by the process and can be seen to this day, still sitting in the lotus position, in the Churenji and Dainichibo Temples, Japan.


I can see the way they were thinking and feel that there must be some truth to this, you can't spend all day eating burgers and not exercising and expect to be able to prepare your mind for enlightenment. Fasting is said to improve concentration and hearing and bring other benifits, and the fact that these monks could effectively fast for years raises interesting questions about what is a healthy diet.

The brain is an organ like many others in our bodies, they all operate better if they are fit and free from toxins and fatty deposits. Fitness must a key factor in achieving enlightenment, or at the very least aiding it.



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