In the summer of 1985 I began a series of experiments on myself following ancient Chinese and Japanese practices concerning the transformation of self. The result of this eclectic approach was the awakening of the kundalini, a very pronounced change in my perception, and a radical shift in physical health. Since the events of '85, I've developed a strong interest in Chinese traditional medicine and transpersonal psychology, as these two disciplines seemed to contain the most useful descriptions of what was /is happening to me as well as the best methods for protecting my sanity. I might add that very little of what I read at that time was particularly helpful, with the partial exception of Ken Wilber, John White, some tantric texts from Tibet, and Patanjali. The most useful information came from healers and martial artists. Only the martial artists seemed to exhibit the powers I was having to contend with and, depending on their degree of sophistication, had any understanding of the enormity of their gifts. As the years have gone by I have noted that many martial artists search for the esoteric in their art and find none. This book is meant to be a guide for them as to well as create some spirited discussion among the supposedly enlightened.
The lesser kan and it (opening the first four chakras or learning to run the microcosmic orbit) have become very easy to replicate in those who are willing to make the time to learn to breathe properly, and the transition to Kundalini is becoming so smooth that even the untrustworthy over-thirty crowd is going through it without taking damage. (Hindu term for connecting your genitals to your brain via the spinal column. The safer Chinese method for making this same energy connection is called the greater kan and li.) Just what implications the actualization of Western-educated enlightened masters holds is yet to be seen. Even the Chinese could not wish for more interesting times.
It is traditional for someone who is proposing a "way" to describe themselves or their lives so that followers may imitate them. I see little value in that exercise beyond establishing one's credentials, as my experiences leave me to believe that a teacher can only be a guide. If you're truly seeking enlightenment there comes a point when no master or scripture can help you, as you are on your own. However, as I work on this I will share whatever I feel is relevant but include my mistakes as well. Sometimes they're pretty funny but I expect you to make your own pratfalls. This is what Musashi (Japan's sword saint who wrote The Book of Five Rings) and others referred to when they declared they had no teachers.
You will have to find someone knowledgeable at some point to test your experience. I like banging heads with good martial artists. Adventure in the realm of Sun Tzu (ancient Chinese strategist who is credited with writing The Art of War) and the intuitive psyche through the purging fires of paranoia and other frightening and possibly liberating states of consciousness necessary to achieving flow in the martial arts isn't what most people are reaching for when they elect to put on canvas pajamas. Humanists, Transpersonal, and possibly Jungian therapists study the branches of psychology that are closest to dealing with the realities of the esoteric martial arts, which include disciplining the shadow when on the warrior path.
This book, following in the tradition started by Lao Tzu (purported author of The Way of Power or Tao Te Ching), is meant to be a guide for your thinking and practice. I will offer suggestions drawn from my own experience and that of my friends, and if they make sense to you—go for it. I will include nothing that I've not experienced myself. I will occasionally throw in a little code work for those who like to laugh with delight when they catch a riddle.
This book is structured according to the learning principles of the Hoshinroshiryu, which means some parts are written in the manner of a scroll. A scroll shows you the basic principles or formulas but expects you to complete the information in ways that work best for you. It is not a call for rote imitation. Each chapter is a layer of learning that helps you to understand the next chapter. The fundamentals are hardest and then by the time you're into the latter chapters you have the vocabulary and perspective to experiment with the meaning. I've attempted to illuminate the general theory and then follow the theory with applications or anecdotes that illustrate what has gone before. I am not going to footnote a lot of the research, but if you chase down the books offered in the bibliography you will be getting a graduate education in energy work and strategy. When you read a scroll without experiential knowledge of the subject matter, you will have difficulty unless you have an experienced teacher. One approaches a scroll from the viewpoint of a child — knowing nothing!
None of the chapters are truly meant to stand alone, but once you've read through the whole book, I highly recommend you try out some of the exercises with a good friend. You should not expect high-level results until you have mastered the meditation chapter and begun to develop your own source of internal chi. It is also my expectation that you become involved with a somatic art that will stretch you physically, as following the prescriptions in this text will move you mentally and spiritually. This is a grim-moire or cookbook for self-development. We begin by establishing credibility for the skeptical.
My Ph.D. is in Communication and my Sc.D. is in Psychology. I've worked most of my adult life as a teacher or consultant to Fortune 200 companies as a humanistic or third force (Maslow as opposed to Freud) psychologist. I've taught at major universities as well as a small private college and am once again teaching at a community college as well as accepting a dean's position with Eurotechnical Research University in Hilo, Hawaii, in The School of Polemikology. I've been married and divorced twice and raised six wannabe successful step-children. I've achieved master-level black belt rank in two esoteric martial arts (ninpo and chi kung) and earned black belt rank equivalents in combatic jujitsu and nei shen kung fu, as well as received honorary licenses in karate and kenpo. The lessons cf aging, parenting, and marriage are similar but not equal to academic and martial ranks, as the standards for personal and social acceptance are somewhat higher than biological ability. I served as a medic in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam era but was fortunate enough to avoid the mass unit combat, spending most of my tour in Germany with the Third Infantry and then collecting my GI Bill. I've never been much of an athlete but was and am a compulsive reader. When I was a graduate teaching assistant at Penn State I was rated in the 98th percentile of all teachers at that university, somewhat to the chagrin of my advisers who thought I was shell-shocked.
I've always been a popular professor due not so much to grading policies, but to the originality of my viewpoint and dedication to sharing myself with my students. My teaching style is somewhat theatrical, as I've trained in theatre arts and believe a skilled teacher should be at least as interesting as television or why bother to have one. I strongly believe that education should be experientially structured where possible and that someone should only profess what they themselves have experienced. The experience does not have to be positive.
A> I approach my fiftieth birthday I find myself with a seventh dan (black belt) ranking in Bujinkan (School of the Divine War Spirits) Ninjutsu (Intentional Skills) Ninpo (The Way of Intention) and the title of Shidoshi (master teaching license) , a sixth dan in Nihon karate jujitsu, and the title Oshihan (major master) granted by the Bunbu I-Chi Zendo Budo Bugei Remmei (the international organization for preserving the best scholarship concerningJapan-ese Zen traditions of conducting warfare or strategy), which is a bit embarrassing and difficult to live up to as a teacher of fundamentals. My eclectic skills of creating an actual working path to enlightenment (Hoshinroshiryu) have also been recognized by the Dai Nippon Seibukan Remmei, Kokusai Budoin, and the Zen Koku-sai Soke Budo Bugei Remmei (Japanese organizations for traditional martial artists, of which I know little as ninjas are more secretive) and elected membership in The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
I'm delighted to be part of a new college specifically created for martial artists as dean of general academics for Eurotech's School of Polemikology.
Enlightenment is a biological process which has intellectual consequences. It can only be achieved through disciplining the body, which allows for the resurrecting of the spirit. Resurrecting the spirit means strengthening and entraining the body's electrochemical fields and hormonal systems normally thought of as the parasympathetic nervous systems and gaining control over the "flight/fight response.'' People familiar with esoteric or occult traditions may refer to this as opening and aligning the chakras, or if you've read into Taoist medical practice, running the micro- and macrocosmic orbits to "harmonize" the mind, spirit, and body. Religious people may experience this as union with god as the spirit gains ascendance. Yogis and ninjas both may refer to it as following the light, and Zen practitioners as following the breath.
I see enlightenment as a process of reeducating the mental structures which support the ego (the learned self and particularly the negative aspect sometimes referred to as the superego) to allow the id—which is grown up and housebroken though somewhat childish to run the show. The result is not psychosis but transcendence if the practitioner is altruistic, trusting, and impeccable (pursuing truth not perfection, not sinning, or missing the goal) in his or her practice of intention. Once the process starts it is almost impossible to stop, as it is a natural biological need to be righteous. Once startled out of "business as usual" the subconscious continuously seeks to awaken.
Behavior beyond the practice of meditation and integration has little to do with the path. If the practitioners are happy, relaxed, and confident they will follow their own path to enlightenment, which is also a peaceful heart. If not, they will follow others and this external focus may result in dependence, addiction, or paranoia depending on their chosen teacher. My basic position is we are not to worship but to become. Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi (thirty-fourth grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu) posits that the ninja's primary responsibility is spiritual development and a deep knowledge of all religions. I suggest a good course in cultural anthropology or comparative religion if you have only studied your own, or if you're sensible enough to have a secular or transcendent viewpoint, an examination of shamanistic practices across cultures may benefit your appreciation of some cf the more esoteric aspects of ninpo.
As most of the techniques for spiritual development are drawn from religion it is necessary to understand that human beings and perhaps all living organisms are tripartite in that we all have mind, body, and spirit. Religion lays claim to responsibility for the spirit as science does for the mind and body. Religion is open to the same criticism as Skinnerian psychology. The socially learned self is shaped by the culture within which it is raised and thus only experiences the reality that is accepted for its group. In a modern industrial society consensus reality can be wildly complex, difficult to learn, and impossible to assimilate at all levels. Specialization and mastery are rewarded as they are replicable. Generalization, abstraction, and intuition are recognized by the wise, but as they are seen so rarely, may or may not be rewarded.
Intuition is often seen as female or left handed. In some cultures, even today, left-handed children are allowed to die at birth ensuring a more manageable left-brained population, which is more amenable to extrinsic logic. Whereas the left-handed raised in a right-handed world have to be more creative, ambidextrous, and use more of their brains in order to survive. The left is considered female and clumsy in a right-handed world. Creativity is seldom rewarded in traditional martial arts, which often slavishly follow the example of their founder. The traditional ways are nearly all right-handed. Tantrism is sometimes referred to as the left-handed way, as it forces one to transgress accepted social beliefs to deepen one's experience of reality. Some aspects of ninjutsu are influenced by tantrism.
In Western society higher IQs are associated with left-handed-ness and myopia from reading. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Picasso were lefties, as are many professional athletes, particularly in baseball. Spiritual death of the learned self is supposed to come from the left. Death of the ego is necessary to true enlightenment. The death of the ego or male right frees the intuition or the female left. Every enlightened martial artist that I've met has been left- handed or ambidextrous. Androgyny and ambidexterity as well as gentility are related. Learning to use both sides of your body opens areas of brain function, as it stimulates the nervous system. As we learn best that which gives us pleasure, it is important to choose a form of exercise which is perceived as pleasurable fun for you. Natural, relaxed, efficient body movement is essential to enlightenment as well as to developing the "chi" or "ki" or "wa" or "spirit"(different names for living energy) necessary for the siddhis (eight natural psychic abilities) or magic. Flexibility is also critical as "sound mind — sound body" can be jumped to "flexible body—flexible mind."
Physical flexibility is required to avoid injury in the martial arts and is emphasized in the more difficult softer arts such as tai chi or taijutsu or yoga. These are particularly beneficial for preparing the body for the changes that will occur as the process of enlightenment progresses. Rejuvenation of the endocrine system results in change.
If you are right-handed, start doing things left-handed. If you are a dedicated left-hander, start using your right. At every opportunity stretch and maneuver your spine and neck. Most of us don't seem to realize our brain is part of our spine and as Voltaire said, "only what we think we think with." The brain is part of the central nervous system. It extends from the top of our heads to the tip of our tails with less gross extensions to all extremities of our bodies. In other words no mind/body dichotomy. Stretching, dance, yoga, and shiatsu (massage techniques that affect the body's bioelectrical systems) can all be important tools for disciplining the body in a relaxed, pleasurable way.
An important point many seekers miss is that the more relaxed you are, the more efficiently the spirit can move within the body. Physical strength is nice but at a certain point muscularity gets in the way of self -development. You may notice that none of the godan and above in ninjutsu have the physical presence of an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean-Claude Van Damme (famous actors). If you are going to be a spy or gatherer of intelligence, an outstanding build is too easily identified.
Internal exercises drawn from Chinese medicine to develop healing energy are becoming better known in the West. Esoteric yogas that teach the practitioner how to use the sacrum and skull as pumps, the intestines as storage coils, and the blood, bones, and meridians as conduits are more effective for developing real power than lifting weights and have the additional benefit of activating the hormonal systems, which greatly slows the aging process, hence the more reasonable claims for longevity or immortality. This rejuvenation is best accomplished through active control of the breath. I've noticed that since going through the kundalini I only take about four breaths a minute.
In the course of this book I will have to discuss religion, psychology, meditation, physical practice, psychic phenomena, channeling, teaching and learning theory and relate those to the martial arts in general and to the study of ninpo in particular. People tell me my viewpoint is not shared by many. There will be times when what I discuss will contradict traditional practice, and some of what I talk about can only be understood through experience. I strongly recommend trying out the exercises from an attitude of no expectations and then carefully monitor your progress with a diary.
May I also state very clearly my goal was never to become a ninja but to advance myself as a human being. Ninjutsu is one of my hobbies, what I measure myself and my students against, and it is probably the only surviving combat-oriented Mystery School whose traditions have not been warped or lost because it's still operating and transforming the dangerous into the beautiful. Masaaki Hatsumi is a living buddha, gentleman, scholar, artist, doctor, actor, enduring fighter, good friend, and a lot of fun. This book is not about how to become a ninja, or a martial artist, but it is about mastery of subtle differences, inner adventuring, and what that might mean for you as a human animal attempting to become a complete human being by transcending your culture and your animal self. Stephen Hayes asked me one time as we were riding around in Japan what 1 thought of ninjutsu. My reply was, "Ninjutsu is the most effective way of dealing with violent paranoids that I've ever seen."
Learning ninjutsu has given me the opportunity to observe what happens when other Westerners get sucked into real spiritual training. Hatsumi-san is a living Buddha. The names of the nine living traditions that are subsumed by ninpo and manifested in his expression of Bujinkan Ninpo have names associated with Eastern sorcery and mysticism. As the names of the schools (ryus) suggest, these are not trivial subjects and there are parallels in Western mysticism. A knowledge of esoteric terminology from traditional Chinese medicine might give you an indication that if you are going to study in this graduate school . . . hang on to your hat, as the ride is going to get pretty interesting! (More about these schools in the next chapter.) Many American ninjas have only learned the Japanese sounds in naming these schools without researching their meaning, as if pronunciation were more important than understanding. They're the most fun to watch over time as their terror becomes visible to the compassionate view of those who have gone before them.
Ninpo is the equivalent of a graduate school for the person who can only negotiate nonverbally with a terrorist. We forget that historically the ninja warrior from the Togakure Ryu was regarded as a sorcerer, and folklore associates them with ruling over the tengu (demonic, raven-like spirits haunting the mountains in Japan). There is a very real shamanistic core to Bujinkan Ninpo that transcends ninjutsu.
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