Is there any canonical basis supporting the practice of imposing additional austerities (practices which cause acute physical pain, which are enforced because they are “the tradition”) not mentioned in the thirteen dhutaṅgas, nor anywhere in the Pali Canon for that matter?
Here’s a good article on “the 13 ascetic practices”.
Examples of “modern” dhutaṅga-like practises might be:
- The need to walk barefooted (because a senior monk is doing so), even if one’s feet are bleeding.
- The need to copy a senior monk’s body posture, even if it will cause acute pain (say, from sitting on the floor during a long Dhamma Talk, where one has inflexible hips, being unable to use cushions, and not being able to get up, but rather being able to only shift ones legs around, while still remaining sitting).
- Not being able to sit in a chair for health reasons (for example, when a Doctor has given advice to take it easy on poor knees, etc), even though chairs are available in the monastery (or at least used to be available, before they were intentionally thrown away).
Where should the line be drawn, where “it’s healthy to toughen the monks up”, and thereby make them fit into “the tradition”, and “atta-kilamatha” (self-mortification)?
Perhaps an alternate title for this question might be “When is ‘atta-kilamatha’ (self-mortification) a good thing?”