Spirits . . . Things that go bump in the night
There are a number of books concerning enlightenment that treat the experience as religious, and that's fair since most of the literature in the West comes from Buddhist translations or pseudo-scientific investigations by occultists. (It might be recalled that the founder of Zen, Da Mo, the Bodhidharrna, is the same fellow credited with beginning Shaolin Kung Fu and developing marrow-washing and brain-energizing chi kung.) For a Christian perspective on enlightenment and meditative practice I strongly recommend Meister Eckhart or St. John of the Cross. Even more interesting might be the Gospel of St. Thomas, recently dug up at Nag Hammadi; it's the only gospel written by an actual witness, as the other Gospels were rewritten long after Christ's death and based on hearsay. My understanding is that it was considered apocrypha and did not survive beyond the fifth century as a source of doctrine.
There also is a burgeoning body of literature concerning shamanism that is gaining in popularity; much of it flows out of the somewhat questionable work of Carlos Castaneda (who went a bit native) and more scientific investigators such as Doore and Harner. Back at the turn of the century we had the Golden Dawn crowd, Gurdjieff, and wild fellows like Crowley. Some left rather interesting cookbooks. My own experiences following no particular teacher but being perfectly happy to experiment on myself have left me convinced that no single practice has a corner on the market. If you want to do it yourself, chi kung is a valid, scientifically replicable system for achieving not just incredible strength and health but much of what the Hindu refer to as siddhi, Westerners as magic, occultists as power, and Taoists as the Way, or in the general vernacular-enlightenment.
All of these folks, myself included, regard or regarded themselves as sane, responsible presenters of useful information. I'm sharing my experience. Nobody taught me. All shortcomings are my own. If you don't like what I'm putting in the public record, then get to work on your own. You don't know until you've experienced. When I have a problem I go to an expert. If I can't speak his language, I observe and try to find competent translators. There seems to be a lot better stuff around these days than when Madame Blavatsky or William James were writing. My belief system was more shaped by Poul Anderson, Andrea Norton, and Robert Heinlein than any of the above.
When I was a graduate student at Penn State, I had a conversation with Norris Durham, a physical anthropologist, about a paper by someone positing the hypothesis that dominant males in protohuman primate groups achieved their status by being able to shock their subordinates — something akin to electric eels. We laughed ourselves silly over that one. I'd yet to be exposed to the internal arts, and chi was still a foreign concept.
Modern man is a lot larger than our Medieval forebears, yet the knights were able to dress up in heavy (by our standards) armor and go after each other with clubs and swords for days on end. That kind of endurance strikes me as chi-driven and leads me to the conclusion that the Chinese royal families and Shaolin monks weren't alone in their discoveries. Orientals only had to contend with ignorance, not the Inquisition, book burning, the Dark Ages, fundamentalists, Luddites, and Puritan Roundheads — challenges that eradicated most Western esoteric knowledge. What was saved was in code to protect the human alchemists, and before long the codes were followed, not the hidden meaning. However, we did get chemistry and astronomy.
Western materialism is pretty hard to compete with, as it is a lot more fun and delivers faster feedback than working on taking conscious control of your body's electrical system (or mastering the secrets of Holy Water). I've found all the techniques in chi kung described in European alchemical texts, and the symbols for transformation are almost universal. All you need to know is in the Grail quests. What was that Green Knight all about? Islam has Khezr and Sufis.
We've all heard of the strength of the insane, of manic or maniacal strength. There is a great little horror movie called Eyes of Fire about an Irish faerie in North America around 1750. The story is told from the viewpoint of the observing children and occasionally shifts to what the mad girl or faerie sees. I found the movie quite remarkable because I have seen through her eyes. Whoever was responsible for that script did excellent research. Everyone who has ever watched it was mesmerized by the story. Thomas Szazz, the famous psychologist, has written that much of what passes as insanity is only extremes of behavior and interpretation. Anyway, when the hormonal systems supercharge for fight or flight, the brain gets a load of chemicals that can wildly alter your perception of the world as you knew it. If you are fearful, your focus is narrowed to all that can go wrong and you plunge into paranoia. Your imagination fills in the gaps of your perception and you hallucinate all that frightens you. If you cannot discriminate between the real and the imagined, you may act on your "feelings." You have discovered Hell and no one else seems to share it.
If your viewpoint is positive and you are loving, the perceptual world that emerges is much different. Dr. Abraham Maslow described it as "peak experience" and practically everyone has one from time to time. Your world is beautiful and so are all your acquaintances. You move with grace and power, as there are no fears or barriers to your accomplishment. Your hallucinations may take on a Walt Disney flavor. If you start having too much fun and see yourself as God, even though your vision is benevolent and harmless, you too can be given the rubber room. Yin and yang. Moderation in all things seems to be the Way. (I recommend attempting associative preference for a demigod at first.) As you gain control of your hormonal system through proper exercise cf the breath and posture, the changes will affect your total persona, and until you learn to relax into it, delusions of grandeur is the price you pay for lack of humility. You get it (the Self) under control or it gets you. You're still you, just more amplified, with some additional talents and viewpoints that very few people you know share unless you're an adept or an esoteric martial artist of high level. You are playing in the fields of dreams and the stuff of legends.
As one of the early changes, you become more nocturnal and see farther into the infrared spectrum, allowing you not only to see the heat envelope around others but also where their energy fields are strongest. This is a considerable advantage when applying shiatsu or using therapeutic touch. After you have learned to "see" energy as a side effect of controlling binocular vision and enhancing your hormonal or chakra system through relaxed breathing techniques, the energy around people's bodies will be readily apparent even in bright light as long as the background is relatively flat. Fortunately most people don't have much energy or the faintest idea how to use it, so you're probably further ahead to keep your extra bit of info to yourself, as most others don't see it. This is well described in the healing literature concerning alternative medicine.
I recall once being described by a ninja acquaintance as "someone who sees what others can't." No, that's too nice. What she actually said was, "Oh, you're him, you're Dr. Morris. I've heard cf you. You can see things that other people don't and there are rumors you're into green belt sacrifices. No thank you, I'll find another training partner." Such is life in the big city and the relatively small world of martial artists.
People who have strong energy project their id into their aura and it can be seen. If you can't see it, you can certainly feel it. Hayes describes a time when Tanemura dropped him with an energy strike, and I've "seen" Hatsumi use energy a number of times. At the shidoshi training, celebrating his thirtieth anniversary as grandmaster, he threw a rather arrogant young Israeli godan, and asked him to explain what had just happened to him. The Israeli's comment after the throw was, "I tried to hit Hatsumi, everything went black, then I was in the air and landed on my head. I don't know how I got from the punch to the tatarn" (special mats built into the floors of a dojo). He was quite perplexed.
What I saw was Hatsumi take the energy from his punch, add it to his own, and send it back into the young man, overloading his circuits/channels/meridians and causing him to momentarily black out while Hatsumi completed the throw with his usual aplomb and amazing grace. Hatsumi then rebalanced the fallen warrior as he helped him to his feet. I have seen Leo Sebregst, a Wu Shu SiGung, perform in a similar fashion. The ability to use sexual energy for both attack and healing is quite rare in the West but a common legendary theme in the East, where the link between medicine and martial arts is tradition. Both Hatsumi and Nagato are bone doctors. (Sebregst only uses the healing side under duress; he is not a medical practitioner.) Some of the stories concerning Hatsumi's cures and healings border on the miraculous if one does not comprehend energy use. The stories are verifiable.
Yoki no kamne, kyojutsu, or Yojutsu (the ability to project "weird airs" or illusions) is one of the side effects of having developed your chi. In chapter thirteen, "Mirror, mirror . . .," I describe the passive use of this skill. Yojutsu requires the projection or channeling of intention. A skilled adept can project energy and faces to frighten an attacker, or encircle him with unexpected weirdness or bolts of energy and feelings. Hindu adepts describe this as directing chitta (life force), and its use is a closely guarded secret of yog-ic magicians. However, Ormond McGill in his book Hypnotism and Mysticism of India (Westwood, 1979^ provides useful descriptions and techniques. Interestingly enough, this type of phenomena can best be discerned in dim light or darkness. Bright sunlight or electric lighting can wash out the projection, but light does not wash out the effect. The Tibetans refer to this as "creating tulpus," and supposedly a master can create an illusion so real that you can engage it in conversation. I've never seen that, but I read a research paper paid for by the C.I.A. back in the seventies that discussed the possibilities. What I have seen is similar but not so grandiose, and on one level resembles channeling and on another is probably a side effect of energy transfer.
A powerful person's aura has a bright corona that extends out from the head and shoulders approximately six inches to a foot. If they usually think in a particular pattern this will be revealed by color shades in the field. A normal person's corona is approximately a quarter-inch to an inch thick and diffuses quickly as it extends from the body. A person who has been working with their energy or spiritual development does not diffuse so quickly but is surrounded by a fairly coherent field that extends outward from three to thirty feet. It looks like a cloud of mist. It usually appears as a halo or glow about the individual. Usually the close-to-the-body corona is all you'll see without practice or optimal conditions. It will occasionally be picked up by television cameras if the angles are right.
Esotericists have names for these fields, such as the "soul body" and so forth. They believe this field is what survives after death and in reality is your true self and the basis of most religions. Healers perceive it as living energy and use it to stimulate the damaged cells of their clients to return to healthy growth. It is a gift of the spirit that heals. A teacher exchanges energy with his or her student, transferring the feeling of a particular action. What is transferred depends on the skill of the teacher and the receptive skills cf the student. Teachers in the esoteric martial arts are revered by their students, because the student recognizes that without the gift of energy or spirit they would never have been able to develop on their own. At some point the teacher has to cut the students loose so they can develop their own talents free from dependency, Those that are self-taught often think they have succeeded from lack cf peer feedback and must guard against paranoia with humility.
I attended a PakKua (internal organ strengthening techniques)
seminar taught by one of Mantak Chia's students in the Detroit suburbs and was quite impressed by the fields emanating from his body. I almost cracked up at a number of points when he would demonstrate a technique for us and say, "Mantak Chia stands behind this," and a ghostly apparition of Mantak Chia would appear in his aura standing behind him. After the seminar was over I gave him a quick lesson in aura viewing in exchange for some of the useful insights he'd given me. Giri.
Sellers Smith, a student of ninjutsu and a martial arts friend, attended a Common Boundary convention in Washington, D.C., with me where a renowned healer was presenting. She is a channel who uses therapeutic touch, energy transformation of the chakras, and sound vibration for psychic healing. While she was working on a volunteer from the audience she allowed her guiding entity to come through her. Sellers and I both saw her aura expand to include this big ball of energy that wasn't there before. It appeared as energy, not as a recognizable person. At least not to us. When my student Dr. Richard Grant studied with Leo Sebregst in South Africa, I was surprised to find Leo's head looking out at me from Rick's aura one evening when we were cracking jokes in Johannesburg.Seems he likes a good laugh, too.
Kevin Millis was showing me some naginnta techniques (sword blade on a bo staff, usually used by women or shamans) one night in his Irvine dojo. His skills and control were so overwhelming that if I weren't a hobbyist (thus having no pride) I would never have dared to pick up a spear again. He was giving me the worst thrashing of my life without hurting me or even causing much pain, but everything I tried to do was absorbed, put me off balance, and resulted in me being crushed to the floor with some extremely vulnerable part of my anatomy exposed to his blade. It was an impeccable demonstration of weapon mastery. As I was having my butt so thoroughly kicked I still can't properly describe it, I was filled with this feeling of complete and utter terror for the error of my ways for even thinking to strike at a teacher. (He was pissing me off.) As these waves of remorse washed over me I shifted my vision and "saw" a Japanese Noh dancer complete with mask, long white hair, splendid costume, and whirling nag-inata moving with some of the wildest taijutsu I've ever seen. Every time this entity moved through Kevin to do something totally beyond my ability to predict or respond, it would rear back in a victory dance, imitating a rock and roll guitarist doing a heavy metal riff (Kevin was once a rock and roll guitarist and still plays professionally) rather like MTV from hell. Then it would come after me again, flipping me out by wielding a long, giant stone penis and attempting to crush me with it. The first three of the five hellish crimes in Buddhism are matricide, patricide, and the murder of an enlightened teacher. I was giving him my best shot. Ele didn't seem to be holding anything back. I have seldom been more frightened and yet had more fun. If you think you're a good martial artist, this kind of a lesson is horrorshow dark horse indeed!
Hatsumi says the spirits of the tradition flow through the grandmaster, and this little vignette concerning Kevin's boogie man might illustrate what that means. I later asked Kevin if he knew what a Noh dancer was or had ever attended classical Noh theater. He said he didn't have any idea what I was talking about. Seeing the spirit do air guitar maneuvers with the naginata convinced me it was having a good time, even if I wasn't. The exchange between Kevin and the Noh dancer was impressive. (Some Noh dancers were considered to be shamans. Actors and dancers were two of the traditional disguises of the ninja involved in intelligence gathering.)
This is yojutsu or mental projection as performed with a spirit guide and probably a little gift from Hatsumi or just the luck of the Taoist draw while wandering around in Japan. According to the ancient Taoists, spirits are attracted by the enlightened and align themselves appropriately — a spiritual illustration of "The Law cf Attraction." Healers get healers, scholars get scholars, and warriors get warriors. The more powerful you are, the more spirits you attract. My hypothesis is that the guiding spirit achieved enlightenment in its life and now gets to play, but I've no idea as to how to test it other than check out of this existence, and I'm having too much fun for that. I do know that yojutsu is real and most people who have chi can project feelings and faces before them that can be seen in the dark. Probably explains the boogie men reported by children.
When Hillsdale College informed me my job was being eliminated, my second wife informed she wanted a divorce, as she knew there was no way I could stay in Jonesville and make a decent living. She wanted to stay there because the kids were happy in their schools. I was filled with this incredible grief because I'd truly loved this particular job and felt I had learned how to be a very good father and loving husband. I thought my family would go with me. I was used to moving and starting over. Preachers' kids move every five years. At that time my student Suzanne Carlson told me she could feel my sorrow palpably across a distance of more than fifty feet. She said it was hard to do anything when I was feeling so sad. Bad vibes, passive yojutsu.
When I was traveling with Hayes on one of his ninja tours of old Japan we visited many interesting sites and temples important to the historical ninja. One of the experiences that had a powerful effect on me was a visit to a particular temple in which the energy was the color and feeling appropriate to what the temple was dedicated to. Supposedly this is a skill of the Shinto priests in site energy selection. It is an art and service for charge among certain Chinese sects and Shinto priests that previous to this jaunt I'd thought of as charlatans. Temples for strength had red energy; one for water/female was orange. Togakushi was green and blue and white. It certainly surprised me. I've been in a lot of old buildings in Europe and Africa and never picked up a thing. Of course at that time in my life I wasn't capable of looking, so maybe I shouldn't be that impressed, but I've checked out a few American institutions since and was disappointed with the exception cf the Lincoln Memorial. The only other source of wild energy like that which I've experienced was at Joshua Tree National Monument, climbing with Kevin Millis, or where there is a lot of quartz crystal in the ground.
One of the interesting places we visited in Japan was Koya-san, home of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. There was a celebration of his spirit's annual return to earth one night when we were there. It seems to me it corresponds to our All Hallows Eve. Together with Michael Fenster, a very smart young medical student who is now a shodan in ninjutsu and a sandan in hoshin, I wanted to observe this event. We decided to walk through an amazing old graveyard and memorial ground that is a huge park in the center of the city. There are memorials to the forty-seven ronin, to Musashi, and to American dead from a plane shot down in WWII, as well as aborted children, poets, shogun, and samurai, all interred together or at least recognized as a part cf the history of this mountain city. Graves and memorials piled on top of each other, from ancient to modern, sitting cheek to jowl, rooted in the rocks and giant trees for a thousand years.
A young Zen monk, Kuboda, was staying with the Mikkyos so that he could give us a lecture in English and a demonstration cf how his Renzai sect taught meditation. He told us we were nuts to go through that graveyard at night without protection. Not being superstitious, we ignored his heartfelt warnings, not having the faintest idea what protection might be necessary as we were skilled martial artists and could probably handle anyone nutty enough to mug people in a graveyard.
We expected quite a crowd to attend this important religious holiday and were subsequently surprised to find ourselves whistling in the dark on a very lonely walk up the mile or so to the shrine. I'd been showing Mike how to read energy and we were having a lot cf fun watching how some of the old, old family shrines oozed a menacing brownish energy rather like the fog in a grade-B British horror movie. I don't know in detail how Mike perceived some of this, but he jumped around quite a bit, looking over his shoulder while suppressing gibberish. It just looked like foggy energy to me, but then I'm used to having this so-called gift. I'd worked for it and no unexpected weirdness was going to spoil my walk, so we compared notes and hastened right along. No sense making closer inspection when we had a church service to attend. The next time a Zen monk warns me about protection I'm going to ask a whole bunch of questions (and not about the local crime rate).
When we arrived we were again surprised to find that the ten or twelve Americans outnumbered the Japanese in attendance. There was a small choir of chanters screaming rhythmically what sounded to me like "Turkey in the Straw" sung in Chinese. It must have been the intensity of their plea not the beauty of the call that attracted the spirit. As one group of chanters faltered from exhaustion, they would be replaced by alternative wailers.
It seemed to be working. The little shrine behind the big temple where Kobo Daishi's mummy was kept had a major energy form made up of lots of little sparkly lights that reminded me of the "Beam me up, Scotty!" effect on Star Trek. I decided that prudence required that I ignore it. Michael kept taking off his glasses and cleaning the lenses and putting them back on, then taking them off and cleaning them again. As a physician he is a very astute observer and does not trifle with observations that might question his credulity. Finally he says, "Do you see that weird light whizzing around?" FoJies a deux confirmed, I shook my head, "Yeah, but I don't have the faintest idea what it is. Let's move right on out of here at the next break." I then blocked off his throat chakra, as I remembered reading somewhere that was supposed to protect one from psychic assaults (and it had worked for a couple of my students who liked to give each other headaches and nightmares), and we boogied.
The totally unexpected-even if harmless-sucks up a lot of energy just in the attention it requires. I still feel a little uncomfortable dealing with "The Undead." Particularly somebody else's. Mike and I are still good friends and are doing some fun papers together concerning death touch. He'll probably have to change his name so he can keep working. My reputation has already been ruined with reports like this.
I didn't realize this at first, but when you give someone energy, eventually it returns to you if the receiver no longer needs it or it just wants to visit Daddy for a while. You might not recognize the poor bedraggled little boogie when it shows up. The first time it happened I thought I was being attacked and sent it off with no praise at all for finding its way down the hall all by itself. The next time I was more gracious and curious and spent the night in joint study. After all, a loved one should not be abandoned regardless of where they've been or what they've been put up to. We all are capable of change even when we fall far short of expectations or the gentleness necessary to loving interchange at a higher level.
My first wife, anthropologist Martha Binford, had a wonderful childhood growing up among the Quechua Indians of Peru, as her father was William Howland Butler, a professional civil servant and ambassador to many countries in South America after World War I. Her mother was beloved by the Indians as a healer, and greatly feared by the rest of the family for her disgraceful sexual behavior. She claimed to be a high-level yogi and died as a remittance woman in Spain. Some of the stories Martha told me about her were verified by other members of the family. Her father was Surgeon General to India and the China Seas back in the days of gunboat diplomacy, and Martha's mother got to interact with some very strange people when she was growing up. This openness to esoteric phenomena led Martha to befriend a witch doctor or female shaman when she was doing her anthropological Ph.D. field research in Mozambique.
Martha attended a seance and tape-recorded it. When the spirit moved through the shaman her voice would change to a man's, and Martha said she spoke in a dialect of Zulu that was very old and no longer spoken by the Rjonga. She said the Zulu spirit was feeling rather shy because the old white spirit that was protecting her was different from anything it had ever seen before, and then it described her mother's father down to the old military medical uniform of the surgeon general. He was a very large man with a beard. Martha felt much safer in her studies after that conversation. Not speaking any of the above languages I can't verify what the tape said exactly but I think 1 can vouch for her honesty in translating. The drumming was similar to American Indian drumming popular with some of those studying shamanism these days, and the voice changed radically.
As you can see, my viewpoint on what I'm describing is pretty cross-cultural. Martha taught me to be a participant observer. You might say this report is a bit like what an anthropologist does but I am not interested in recording the visible history, just illuminating the hidden. Spirit is not just an attitude or something invoked by a pretty cheerleader. "To inspire" is not what a thrill it is to meet a personal hero. Our language is not without symbolic content. We have just elected to be familiar with the easier meanings of the words. The map is not the territory. The word may not be the meaning. If you can capture the meaning, you'll better understand kuji and juji.
The musha shugyo (solitary wandering of the Japanese hermit archetype) can be interpreted also as the journey within necessary to discover how your mind, body, and spirit really work. This can take many years depending on your diligence and knowledge and willingness to accept guidance in order to avoid damage. You are still on your own and have to do it by yourself. There are no teachers at this point; only your heart or inner light can sustain and guide you. If you want juji then you must seek out Hatsumi if you're following a ninja path. A high-level yogi or practitioner of chi kung may act as a helpful substitute. Jungian and Reichian psychotherapy can also provide some guidance, but you're still on your own.
Juji, according to Hatsumi, is more aligned with the mothering, female, or Wind aspects of energy-Yin, the absorbing-and if you like symbols, the dark tear on the Yin/Yang circle, which also is part of its opposite. Now we're talking androgyny, which is a little higher issue than gender. If you are going to "be all that you can be" there are energy exercises that open the mind to experiencing the universe from entirely different perspectives. I think these should be approached as if you were an exploring, intelligent child, as opposed to a warrior, warrior/priest, or mage. The perspective I've come to admire is more that of the sage. That may be just a by-product of my age and experience but it has led to the meeting of many remarkable men and a few women like Lee Bluesking or Shannon Kubiak who are also world-class martial artists.
The stronger spirit wins and knowledge is power. If your training is so limited that all you can do is march in a straight line smashing all before you, it's pretty evident that gaining the benefits of juji and kuji requires a long journey. Those whose only solution to difference is to murder the different in battle usually have limited options escalating far beyond normal perceptions of social intercourse. They tend to earn their destruction, be it losing the abilities they love due to age, arthritis, impotence, or the death-bringing sword in glorious battle, goaded on by spirits they should have learned to fear.
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