The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

( 3 )


The greatest athletes in the world today are not the

Olympic champions or the stars of professional sports, but

the "marathon monks" of Japan's sacred Mount Hiei. Over ...

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The greatest athletes in the world today are not the

Olympic champions or the stars of professional sports, but

the "marathon monks" of Japan's sacred Mount Hiei. Over a

seven-year training period, these "running buddhas" figuratively

circle the globe on foot. During one incredible 100-day

stretch, they cover 52.5 miles daily-twice the length of an

Olympic marathon. And the prize they seek to capture is the

greatest thing a human being can achieve: enlightenment in

the here and now.

This book is about these amazing men, the magic mountain

on which they train, and the philosophy of Tendai

Buddhism, which inspires them in their quest for the supreme.

The reader will learn about the monks' death-defying fasts,

their vegetarian training diet, their handmade straw running

shoes, and feats of endurance such as their ceremonial

leap into a waterfall. Illustrated with superb photographs,

the book also contains the first full-length study in English

of Mount Hiei and Tendai Buddhism.

John Stevens lived in Japan for thirty-five years, where

he was a professor of Buddhist studies at Tohoku Fukushi

University in Sendai. Stevens is a widely respected translator,

an ordained Buddhist priest, a curator of several major exhibitions

of Zen art, and an aikido instructor. He has authored

more than thirty books and is one of the foremost Western

experts on aikido, holding a ranking of 7th dan Aikikai.

Stevens has also studied calligraphy for decades, authoring

the classic Sacred Calligraphy of the East. Other John Stevens

titles that are likely to be of interest include Extraordinary Zen

Masters and The Philosophy of Aikido.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Japan's Mount Hiei is home to the monastery of the "Running Buddhas'' or "marathon monks'' who pursue enlightenment via 1000-day marathons that must each be completed in a seven-year training period. Stevens, a professor of Buddhist studies, offers a dense discussion of the origin and spiritual principles of Tendai Buddhism, out of which the runners' vision was born; a look at the marathon itself; and introductions to several monks whose portraits add human interest. Something of a novelty item, with value for students of comparative religion. EC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781626549951
  • Publisher: Echo Point Books & Media
  • Publication date: 2/28/2013
  • Pages: 166
  • Sales rank: 361,504
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei is the awe-inspiring story of the t

    Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei is the awe-inspiring story of the trials and triumphs of the Running Buddhas of Tendai Buddhism. The severe conditions under which these monks trained cannot but lead the reader to see life in an entirely new perspective and question superficial self-imposed limitations. The story of these monks—running distances surpassing a marathon daily in handmade straw sandals—attest to the power inherent in the unification of mind, spirit, and body. These marathon monks stretch endurance to its limits to achieve enlightenment—the highest state of human existence. Ultimately, this book emphasizes that great potential exists even in the most tremendous undertakings. A delightful and powerful read unlike any other spiritual athletic account. 

    I’ve included the Table of Contents for your convenience:
    Part One: The World of Tendai Buddhism
    The Treasure of a Nation: Saicho, Founder of Japanese Tendai
    The Magic Mountain: The History of Hiei
    Study and Practice: The Way of Tendai Buddhism
    Mount Hiei Today
    Part Two: The Marathon Monks
    Mountain Pilgrimage: So-o and tge History of the Hiei Marathon
    The Path of the Spiritual Athelete
    Running Buddhas: The Men Themselves

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

    Treasure of a nation I found this book completely engrossing. J

    Treasure of a nation

    I found this book completely engrossing. John Stevens does a great job at describing the secrets of the "running buddhas" through their pursuit of the 1,000-day mountain marathod on Hiei. I see here that some people complain of the photo quality or design, but from my perspective, this is no issue. The photo documentation of the Doiri (nine-day fast) shows most beautifully how Utsumi transformed physically and even mentally by the radiance found in his eyes. It's actually quite the miracle that the book even exists, for I heard that the author lost its original files in a move. All in all, I am so inspired!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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