Here is a thread that talks about this topic. Please have a look using the search facility, before posting new topics. We have such a treasure house of resources, all archived Hence we are not like general chat rooms, rather we look to get good in depth answers to subjects, that are archived, and can be easily accessed by search
There is an intense exam held by the scholastic Japanese Hossō sect, a variety of East Asian Yogācāra Buddhism, that a German recently passed. This thread reminded me of it.
From the linked article:
The examination process is no simple task. The examinee must undertake three grueling and strictly regulated weeks of pre-examination training, which they spend in isolated study. For the duration of the training, the monk must memorize lengthy Buddhist texts written in Kanbun, a form Classical Chinese used in Japan from the Heian period (794–1185), including learning the correct intonation for recitation.
During this period of rigorous training, the subject is permitted to eat only two meals per day: breakfast and lunch, and must sleep while seated upright. The student is allowed to leave the study room on the 1st, 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st, 26th, and 31st days of the month but only to visit certain other places, such as making pilgrimages to the nearby Kasuga-taisha Shinto shrine.
The oral examination itself, known as ryugi , lasts two hours, during which the subject is required to answer doctrinal questions from the examiner in a dialogue style. Although the contents of the exam are revealed beforehand, the questions must be answered in correctly expressed Kanbun.
Ahead of his exam, Saile was quoted say saying: “I am nervous, as this is an ancient event that has been carried out over 1,000 years. I hope to perform in the exam satisfactorily and meet everyone’s expectations.” ( The Mainichi )
Hosso school monastics are permitted to undertake the exam only once in their lifetime. In the past, failing has resulted in the monk’s expulsion. Saile is the first Kofuku-ji monk to sit for the the exam in eight years. It also marks one of the rare occasions that a foreigner has passed the exam.
In the context of an extended meditation retreat, your need for sleep starts to go way down (as you’re simply not exposing yourself to so much stimulation and activity). In that context, refraining from lying down for a few days or even weeks can be very beneficial.
However, I don’t recommend it as an extended practice. There were a couple monks at my temple (one has since left) who took on this practice more permanently, and both developed serious back problems from the slouching, sleeping-while-sitting position.
my understanding of the optional austerities (dhutanga) prescribed by the teacher is that one invest energy in the present in order to arouse even greater energy.
my friend, if you would be so good as to point out for me – a sleepy slothful man of low energy and prey to many vices – a still more skillful way of developing the path than arousing energy, i will bow down to you in gratitude.
I noticed that I didn’t clarify, by sixth factor, I meant right effort or energy.
I noticed you seem to be doing a practice (austerity) in order to arouse energy as the end.
It made me think instead of developing a means to get to energy as the end, why not develop that directly as a means to happiness or Nibbana as the end.
Perhaps reflection on the prospect of (y)our own eventual death could help arouse urgency, which seems related in that it could help overcome cloth.
Another simple solution could be to eat more moderately and healthy foods - this is often related to energy levels. Walking meditation seems like it could help overcome stagnation.
For me personally, I think trying to studying and practicing the Dhamma-Vinaya as a whole seems sufficiently challenging and engaging to arouse energy - perhaps learn parts of the Dhamma-Vinaya that I wasn’t aware of previously.