Why would anyone intentionally harm themselves? Or be motivated to harm another? Because… there are trials in life that are helped by going on the ordeal path, either before or after it. To prepare or to heal from the trial. To feel in control. And because they honestly believe it’s valued by their god(s) and/or society.
So who would go on such a journey? A warrior, a priest, a shaman, and their mentor or acolyte. A prisoner and their guard, a heretic and their inquisitor, a victim and their guide, a master and their slave. But they would only go if the person who asked them to had gone before them. Or would take the journey with them.
They don’t just suddenly go either. They take time and preparation to get into the right headspace. To make peace with their god(s), to say goodbye in case things go wrong, and to prepare their estate. They will be gone for awhile, if they survive at all.
They need to pre-learn some tools to endure as well. How to survive and take care of themselves in harsh conditions. Many schools ask them to endure heat and cold, pain, imprisonment, burial, drowning and fire. How to do without food and water. How to control their body functions, even their breathing. And to do without the creature comforts of the world as well as the people they usually rely on for succor or support. To rely solely on themselves or their partner in the journey.
They need to learn good decision-making and priorities as well. So when they get to the ordeal, they can be relied on to move smart and well. Which mnimizes their risks wherever they go. Till their practice comes to the point of intuition. Till their every action is a matter of faith.
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The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi (‘meditative absorption or union’). … The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings of Theravada Buddhism, taught to lead to Arhatship.
Noble Eightfold Path –
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And at the end, they make a choice how far the path will take them. Will they become chaste, or a eunuch? Most who begin the journey have failed or been harmed in some way. They no longer want to be ruled by sensuality and all it’s traps. And they want to become their own master, or at least be in the hands of someone they trust with their life. Because that person has proved they can be trusted. By going on the ordeal path with them. And succeeding.