Tom lent me a copy of Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master at the Airenjuku Christmas drinks last week (which turned predictably WWE, thanks to a bottle of tequila that James passed my way). A really fantastic read - a book which I'd like to re-read in years to come. Thoroughly recommended if you're interested in this kind of thing.

"We got up at four in the morning, went down the mountain, and bathed in a river. Before breakfast we did the Hojo fifteen times. After that we rested a while then practiced thirty more times. After lunch we rested and did the Hojo fifty-five more times until dusk. We did zazen in the evenings.

By the third day I could shout more loudly and powerfully during practice, but my voice was so hoarse I could not speak at all. At night my body was so hot that I could not sleep. Food would not go down my throat; I had only water and raw eggs. My urine was the color of blood. The arms that held the wooden sword could not be raised. We were resigned to death. I could not go before Yamada Sensei and say, "I failed." Onishi and I got out our notes and letters and burned them all as we prepared to die.

On the fourth day a strange thing happened. The same arms that had difficulty in even holding the wooden sword went smoothly up over my head. As my arms went down, I felt a strength that was not physical coming out of both arms. It felt as if this downward cut extended to the other end of the world."