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These Monks Spend Seven Years Completing the World’s Hardest Endurance Test

Traditionally, any monk unable to complete the pilgrimage must take his own life.

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The Japanese monks of Mount Hiei Japan perform a seven-year pilgrimage of Kaihōgyō. During this, they must walk endlessly. The 1,000 day pilgrimage, which typically involves walking the equivalent of one trip around earth, has been completed by less than 50 monks in over a century.

Traditionally, monks who are unable to complete it must take their own life.

Kaihōgyō is performed at night, while everyone else is sleeping because temple duties occur during the day. The purpose is to offer prayers to the Buddhas and for people’s well being. Thought the monks are stopped before they reach 1,000 days—to promote the idea of continuing their spiritual journey for the rest of their life—they do face one last, incredibly daunting challenge. They claim they must spend nine days without food, water, sleep, or rest.