Portrait of the Artist as a Grandmaster

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" Tust what is a martial artist, Master? How do I recognize a Iteacher of quality and goodness in these times of greed and I false idols?"

^^he mission of the artist, regardless of the medium of expression, is to elevate his or her perceptions through study, practice, and intelligent insight to the highest attainable level within their capability and then communicate that knowledge or expression to their peers, and if teachers, to the wannabees. I believe there is a tenuous genetic component to art associated with intelligence. The problem that confronts all in the pursuit of original expression cf creativity is the easy slide into mediocrity as a result of popular acceptance when one settles for the least common denominator.

In academics this can be seen in the ABD who enjoys the teaching but never finishes his or her dissertation and ends up in the junior ranks of professors, or is not granted tenure after four or five years of excellent teaching. In religion this is the con man who claims the calling and fakes the healing and establishes systems for adulation and worship rather than giving guidance from his own experience of becoming. In the martial arts this is represented by the shodan who teaches as if he or she were a master because in the eye of the public a black belt represents mastery, but in the eyes cf traditional martial artists it's about the same as a Bar Mitzvah. Only godan and above are considered original thinkers with spiritual as well as technical expertise to offer. Hat-sumi says, "Give the shihan the adulation they earn rather than the rank they've attained." The master martial artist is not just a gifted physical technician but has an additional role as a teacher and spiritual guide, which is seldom understood in the West or practiced in the East. Sensei means one who has gone before, and shihan means you finished the trip but have not necessarily reached your destination.

How many men in long-ago Florence understood what Dante was all about? How many in Poland understood Copernicus? Darwin and Huxley had to deal with near riots when they published their ideas in England. Hatsumi is regarded as an unidentified flying object in Japan. Good original work is seldom embraced by the more traditional masses until long after the pioneer is dead, with the exception of dance, novels, music, and maybe movies.

Now it has to be recognized that an artist in many ways resembles an outlaw. Just as the great writers and painters and poets (and inventors) must separate themselves from what has gone before to create the new, so must the artists lift themselves above their cultural milieu. Often that process requires extreme breaks from tradition or cracking the cosmic egg to see reality in new ways; seeing with a different perspective leads to different behavior. Where the outlaw destroys, the artist builds but the psychological root of the actions may be similar. Van Gogh assaulted our sense of shape and color. Monet, the effect of light. Wagner, our ideas of acceptable sound. Picasso, our ideas of form. Dali, our relation to imagination. Artists who are creative depart from the norm. The criminal, however, is usually not too bright and his destructive nature soon attracts the means of incarceration rather than liberty. The spiritual adventurer goes within and the terrain has both dangers and rewards, but to the outside observer little seems to be going on beyond someone just sitting around. It's not an easy sell. Those ideas associated with Crazy Wisdom and shamanism have so far made the most sense to me. The martial artist must not allow himself the gift of complacency regarding skill level when there are schools of clever people studying to beat the system.

Hatsumi remarks that the concept of martial artist is grossly misunderstood in America and probably in Canada and Europe as well. It's a problem involving a free-enterprise society that has industrialized its school systems to reflect a quantity-over-quality reward system; where someone can become wealthy by mass producing to fit the lowest common denominator or estimated taste. The destruction of the creative element starts in elementary school f the child comes from an enriched home. The child from a deprived environment soon comes to love school more than home. If children cannot rely on the teachers for useful information, they quickly turn to their peers. The public elementary school is where only the most intelligent and effective teachers-whose manner encourages a joy in learning — should serve, as that is when the child's brain is most hungry and learning most pleasant. Wk tend to waste it on pap.

In the martial arts, showiness often wins out over effectiveness in the short term. For example: You're proud of having a teacher who can show you how to do actual killing techniques in a fist fight. Do you realize what will happen to you if you actually murder or seriously injure someone? Dim mak is real; if your victim survives the initial onslaught he may find himself with serious handicaps unless he knows an acupuncturist. The highly skilled martial artist can drop you with a touch. The fist fight seldom goes beyond one punch. The good stuff all flows out of being attacked. Has he taught you how to conceal the body or hire an effective attorney? Are your meditation techniques disciplined enough to sustain you in prison where an athletic body can be the object of desire for many. No? Dumn. (I like spelling dumb this way, as being silent seldom equates with stupid in the gathering of intelligence. It is so much harder to learn when your mouth is moving.)

You're proud of having a teacher who is showing you how to aggressively move into proximity of another human being to exchange kicks and blows in a fight. Has he taught you that real human beings use weapons when they fight and treachery to win? That when you kick above the knee you will almost assuredly lose your genitals to a skilled opponent, and that most real fighters like a sneak attack and enjoy assaulting others from the rear, particularly when they are blinded by their own blood? Has he shown you some methods for dealing with multiple opponents, as many people only fight in groups, sport? No? Dumn.

Has he spent many hours teaching you how to be polite and fit into the company of strangers? How to safely avoid broken bottles, ashtrays, tire irons, chairs and other fun instruments of homicide available in most social situations? How about the avoidance and use of firearms and edged weapons? Has he shown you how to climb and move on various surfaces in free and cluttered conditions? No? Boring. You're spending most of your life on flat, smooth surfaces?

Does he somehow confuse the ruled elegance of sport with the brutal ugliness and chaos of battle when you carry no weapons and are far from home? Does he emphasize perfect repetition over practical utility? Does he enforce a lot of ritual that has no meaning to you? Can he explain down to minute detail how to execute the perfect fist, punch or kick? Are the movements powerful-and jerky? Are you paying this person to teach you how to save your life? Study on this!

A martial artist so thoroughly understands the basics of his tradition that he or she can depart from the expected and respond both creatively and effectively to the actual situation with the appropriate strategy that ensures winning. The enlightened martial artist has the further obligation to preserve life or release it as a sacrifice. His or her sensitivity should be so great that they can pull down the eyelids of their opponent as they lay their hands upon his face at full speed from a totally relaxed posture as a response to the opponent's chosen attack. Staged kata seldom seem to account for how bodies react when they're being torn apart, or for that matter, what the performer would really be doing f on the receiving end of serious aggression.

I've never seen a real fight last longer than seconds when one cf the opponents was properly trained to accept and create a changing reality. A master or martial artist is not limited to one decisive strike but can escalate and control the situation by flowing with it and judiciously modifying their opponent's behavior through pain and imbalance. Such skill requires a deep understanding of all aspects of human behavior. Hostility and aggression prevent flow and slow learning. Humor and joy at being presented with an opportunity to teach on many levels is a characteristic of a mature martial artist. (I have seen the great practitioners break into laughter when giving a lesson in surprise tactics.) Fear paralyzes. A martial artist cannot fear his subject matter, however debased, or he will lose many opportunities for growth and practice. Study on this.

An artist studies form and beauty through his own experience of the world. A master artist is recognized by his own school as a teacher. A grandmaster is recognized by other schools as being able to teach their art. Hatsumi has been passed the shihan or head of school scrolls of at least nine famous Japanese schools to preserve. This is a ferocious undertaking. Within each of those schools are probably nine more traditions if the Buddhist liking for the number nine and esoteric numerology holds true, making Hatsumi the head of eighty-one disciplines. I understand he has taken some other scrolls out of kindness just to ensure the learning won't die. It is the equivalent of attaining nine earned Ph.D.s and a smattering of honoraries from extremely physical and cynical men. Inside of that he's a bone doctor, calligrapher, painter, actor, writer, fair vocal musician, magician, and only God knows what else. According to people I've talked to in Japan, he is considered in the top levels in each of these fields of endeavor outside ninpo, a Japanese Renaissance man. I know he astounds me.

Most good schools of the martial arts have their own etiquette, codes, belt knots, favored weapons, history, kihon (formal basics), breathing techniques, emergency medical techniques, and mental disciplines. In addition to the open techniques that are taught the public, there will be hidden techniques that are only shown the student after he or she commits to the system of instruction inherent to the school — unless he or she demonstrates their attainment prematurely. Usually every shown technique has a mirrored hidden technique as well as subtle helpers that may or may not be shared. I think these are referred to in Japanese as ura (hidden) and omote (shown publicly) but check into it yourself with a good teacher who speaks the language. It's a subtle area for investigation. Attainment of the hidden is always a rewarding adventure as it requires creativity, not just rote learning or repetition of what you are shown. Often the hidden techniques are not shared until the student achieves the rank of sandan in a traditional art—which accounts for the terrible combat and street record of some of the Korean systems based on Japanese ryus, where promotion by travel is of mythical proportion. Technicians tend to punish departure from the tried and true as taught to them. A combat martial artist studies war or life-preserving behaviors, not contests or games, so is always concerned in the ways of preserving peace. Artists aren't stupid and want to be allowed to do their thing.

I once heard Stephen Hayes say that Hatsumi thought Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's sword saint, had led a sad life. I'll tell you why it was sad. He was in at least three wars, the first one on the losing side. The losers are supposed to commit suicide because they were dumb enough to put all this to risk by following the wrong side, and nobody with any sense wants them around. It's a small chain of islands. There is no escape from the condemnation of your neighbor. Losers aren't supposed to contribute to the sperm pool. But he didn't commit seppuhi (ritual suicide).

Musashi killed many master sword teachers in duels, which has grave karmic consequences in societies where skilled teachers are revered. He could find no student good enough to follow him as a master in his youth, and in his middle years they feared for their lives. He was chock full of useful combat information, if you want to live when your back's to the wall. For most of his life the average samurai thought it would be a great honor to kill him and at the same time establish their new school of the sword and famous reputation. He was ronin (a wave man). None would give him shelter in fear of the retribution and blood guilt they would be sheltering in their homes. He spent much of his teens living in the woods and sleeping in caves. He was observant, he learned from the animals. When he was thirteen he killed a teacher of the sword. In Buddhism it's a sin to harm a teacher. In his late teens he killed damn near a whole school when they demanded a group duel. Them against him in a big park near Kyoto. The samurai code allowed them to do this; they were all insulted. Musashi went early and hid above their line of sight in a tree on the highest ground. They being strategists also sought the high ground but felt safe in their numbers. He waited till night, then surprise attacked. Leaping down from the tree, he cut down the heads of the Yoshioka family school, one of whom was a mere child. He escaped in a running retreat through the darkening woods back to the city to supposedly end that bloodline and this particular feud.

He was an active, athletic man and stayed that way. He walked a lot. The duelist lifestyle leads to hasty travel. Musashi states in code that he was a student of Taoist breath techniques and had developed the third eye. He strongly recommended hiding combat skills in natural movement. One of the stories about him has him killing a tengu, which means he trained with ninjas. In his recently published fictional (but much loved in Japan) biography, the author has Musashi stating in middle age that he was fortunate to have never met an enlightened swordsman in his youth. For most of his life he didn't own much more than a sword. He raised a stepson, who may have died a hero, in a very haphazard manner. Hi never married though he did have a lover, whom he could not marry due to his miserable existence. The saddest part of his life was that he was a greater artist and strategist than swordsman. He was a fine sculptor of wood. His brush paintings are considered national treasures, and I've seen his cast sword guards in museum collections. He was an artist of enduring excellence and worthy of study. He died of old age around sixty after writing in one night a book on swordsmanship containing all he knew about it.

Most of The Book Of Five Rings is in code or very old language. Musashi exhorts his readers to consider the book as a spiritual guide, but most readers don't know how to read that way, as they are martial and military students. He did not get his skills overnight. He retired from accepting duels at fifty-five. Most people remember him as a duelist, but he was a great artist and friends with priests, geishas, and poets, particularly Takuan Soho. I don't think he cared a rip about what is commonly thought of as swordsmanship. After he was thirty-five he fought most of his duels with wooden training swords (bokken)or what was available when he was attacked. He killed the Emperor's sword teacher with a boat oar after spending the night at a geisha house. He called his way cf fighting "two swords" as he had a secret one that came from the left. He was an upright man. He lived in a very bad time and had to educate himself with what was at hand. I like his book a lot. It is generally misunderstood by most readers as a text on winning swordsmanship rather than endurance, chi, and survival when you are the preferred target of many. It is full of traps for the unwary swordsman, as Musashi knew his enemy well.

A long time ago when we didn't have such professional means to distance us from who we were killing, being able to win a duel without incurring blood guilt was considered part of being a gentleman, but a master could completely change the attacker's mind, It takes a lot of time learning to flow under extreme stress if you haven't the heart or flexibility for it. You hate to give up clarity because some dirtball wants to fight. You are allowed to administer rude and abrupt lessons to the overly assertive if they attack or actually threaten you, as that is part of the way. Teaching the esoteric side of a martial art seldom pays well, as you're supposed to drive your students away, particularly if they seem inclined to abuse their power, or you can see that their heart is not in it and they would be better served elsewhere. This can be a creative process and a lot of fun. People usually will not pay to be abused if they are not learning. If they're smart you probably don't have to go full force more than once a night to illustrate a point. You would like them to leave as friends if you've come to respect and love them, but you still must send them away. Sometimes it can be extremely painful to both parties, particularly if you have promised something you cannot deliver as they won't do the work to get it. Learning is two-way.)

If you're a ninja grandmaster you teach people different styles and disciplines within the styles, so they have to get to know each other if they want the hidden. You're supposed to lay false trails and ambushes for the unwary and yet keep their friendship. It can be like being trapped in a shaggy dog story. Rumors and politics abound in Togakure Ryu ninjutsu, but everyone is usually treated fairly or as they deserve, from my observations of Hatsumi. As we say in the sheltering mountains of Pennsylvania, "You give a fool enough rope and he will hang himself." A master of the dual mandala exhibits both sides at once. Many of the higherlevel instructors have their own political agendas but cannot slip it to you in four ways.

An artist likes to personalize his lessons so that they will be fixed in the witness's very soul. The lessons become messengers to all those who would wish to see reality, which to an artist is creativity. The strategically creative consciousness state translated from Mikkyo Buddhism as the "mind and eye of god" never stops, it continually evolves. You're allowed to rest and make mistakes, but you have to keep going. Keep playing. It is not just the difference between the professional and the layman, but the lover and the slave, or the living and the dead. In tarot the hanged man is dancing. Hong Kong Phooey, the cartoon character for children, stereotypes with humor the life of a martial artist in America. It can become serious business at the drop of a hat but most of the time it can be your hobby. (Just your way of stretching and getting a first-rate, three-level workout. Things you don't use, you lose. A real martial art has utility in every aspect of your life. The United States needs more teachers of the heart.) Strategy has many faces.

A teacher of the art of enlightenment has the additional problem cf being known by his or her students as well as his or her own actions, words, and deeds. Art requires human beings. Martial artistry is the stuff of legends. The students and their achieved levels are a reflection of one's skill as a teacher as well as the tradition as a whole. The difficulty of the curriculum, the numbers engaged, and price are measures of popularity and appeal but the enlightened are mostly concerned with transformative power necessary for survival in all its variations. A college instructor has to accept who pays for the class. A graduate of Penn State does not have to play football. A graduate of an enlightened ryu must manifest sentience above physical competence. The competence is fun. One of the reasons Hatsumi could say with confidence a few years back, "I am the only true ninja in the world," was that he'd been visiting those who purport to teach authentic ninjutsu. You have to gather your own intelligence when your observers are naive. The ryus of invisibility hardly advertise. I usually don't put Skilled at Death Touch (Dim Mat) on my resume when interviewing in the Midwest.

A maharishi (great sage/seer/teacher) is saddled with the additional burden of offering guidance and personal experience (wisdom) to the benighted if they ask and are willing to pay the price of truth. This is not trivial. The Togakure Ryu considers forty years of training—twenty for the yang and twenty for the yin—a normal course of study, with no guarantee you'll figure out the hidden. To learn all this stuff will take the rest of your life at whatever point you wish to enter. (Hong Kong Phooey worked as a janitor so he could study what he wanted, because he wanted to be good enough to be a teacher. The warning is clear.) You as a consumer have the additional problem of entering an evolving system.

I think it helps to have someone show you the basics. The greater the teacher's ability to transmit the traditional standards, the more you will enjoy and value your experience of the hidden, particularly if you have the open-hearted ability to treat people with respect, curiosity, and friendly reciprocity. The study cf martial arts is a lot more fun than golf or tennis and has managed to be an embarrassing but absorbing interest of mine for more than thirty years. If you can avoid the sports and use the techies, you get to meet very intense and alive people, many of whom are compassionate and fun. In ninjutsu, like anthropology, they tend to be older as they've rejected the callow pursuits of their youth, usually after a long rough ride.

Quality in art is supposed to be transferable to any subject that interests the artist. Hatsumi's traditional watercolors, brush work, and calligraphy are as good as any I've ever seen. When he works in oils he tends to prefer the impressionistic and modern primitives. One of his oils featuring a huge golden spider with a naked woman in the web struck me as particularly perverse and funny considering his role in life. Many knowledgeable readers of Sun Tzu would pay a mint to put it on their wall, if they knew of its existence. It was in a Tokyo exhibit that I couldn't afford. The lives of Da Vinci and Cellini reveal diverse interests beyond the smearing cf colors. Da Vinci's secret journals reveal a grave robber studying anatomy, and both he and Michelangelo were military advisors. Cellini was a swordsman as well as a sculptor and the only man to escape from the Pope's jail twice.

The Zen concepts of art include the possibility of the perfected movement that exists for the moment and then disappears, known only to the doer. Haiku (short Japanese nature poems) attempt to capture the feeling of a particular moment. Ninpo is taught more by how a movement feels than how it looks, as each practitioner attempts to make the basics personal. Hatsumi says this concerning the basics of ninpo: "The ninja's role in society is to protect the good. . . . Technique is nothing; the kihon hoppo is for children, a first step. . . . Movement from the heart is hard to see and understand but everything." This statement applies to any activity where the intention is the attainment of quality.

An artist is involved in transformation, not replication, but must demonstrate competence. A martial artist is tested continually in ways other than success in the marketplace. Some never get to prove the efficacy of their study. One of my red belt (beginner after white) college students of Arab descent was attacked while studying in Spain. He dropped the attacker screaming to the floor by unbalancing him with a nerve center grip while delivering a mallet kick to his calf. He quickly strolled from the bar before anyone noticed what had happened in the men's room. His wealthy father who had wanted him to take up tennis as being more useful now supports his fall from acceptable sport. Another student, a sandan who teaches high school math, told me he pictures how the problem is done and focuses on the forehead cf the recalcitrant student. Breathes it at him or her and watches in wonder as they suddenly seem to figure it out. Another sandan who is an actress shamanisticly becomes her character and draws the audience into the action through radiating intent. She's riveting to watch — American kabuki. When I taught at Penn State one of my prettier students was attacked by a fairly competent rapist according to his rap sheet. His black eye, broken elbow, and dislocated shoulder made him very easy for the police to identify She didn't even get a bruise. Budo is not the same as publishing a fine novel, or being in the movies, but martial artistry in the realm of single and small group combat with a little spiritual develop— ment thrown in for the sensitive seems as good a way as any to get a life.

Art requires passionate interest in people, material, or action. Grace or harmony of movement appropriate to the situation is part of art and is supported by the laws governing self— defense. Those who follow the light do not fear the darker side of endeav— or. Warriors understand conservation, hunting, and the necessity for pruning back the excessive. Enlightened warriors remember the Golden Rule and can mirror their attacker's intent, but that type of neurolinguistic programming fades before the art of trans— formation necessary to love your enemy and give him every opportunity to surrender while protecting your interests. It's more fun and keeps it challenging.

Pressing down on a bone—shattering wrist and shoulder lock is a comfortable position for skillfully negotiating with a barbarian. A well—applied ninja shoulder lock is the equivalent of religious conversion for many ruffians who thought they could fight and did not know how to fall. Praising your enemy's weakness can be a blessing in disguise.

Insincerity is another matter altogether. Every religious writer I have ever read seems to ignore that the searcher must build the connection to the Void with his or her own inner direction. I have yet to see it happen from the other direction. Paul Brunton gives an excellent exterior description of the Void or Sacred Emptiness in his book TheSecretPath.

Hatsumi describes one of his colleagues in the Togakure Ryu as a man whose swordwork was so skilled that he witnessed him draw his sword and cut the wing from a bird in flight. Takamatsu, a man who could so terrify attackers that they would see death as attractive, did not give the scrolls to this incredibly skilled person. Think for a moment what it would take to clip a wing with iado (Japanese art of sword drawing) let alone sneak up on a bird. Balance, silence, speed, prediction, or timing as the wing must be open, familiarity with your weapon. All good left-brain, right-handed, masculine stuff. The right-brain, left-handed, feminine stuff regards this act of butchery from the viewpoint of, what kind cf asshole kills birds to demonstrate his domination of nature when he isn't hungry? On a spiritual level where one is lifting spirits to flight, what are we to think of a man who cuts off wings? Is this a statement that makes the dangerous attractive — or praises weakness?

One of the problems with the concept of art concerns external direction and response to feedback. When one is embedded in the web of circumstance, it is often difficult to remember that going with the flow is following one's truest nature. Your life is your art. It is more fun to be part of something legendary. Following your heart seems to lead to the greatest emotional rewards and even occasionally ties into fiscal returns if the investment in quality is great enough. Leaping outside the realms of conventionality continually results in growth if your basics are good enough to sustain you when confronting the unknown. The journey within eventually leads to exterior connections only faintly described by adventurers lacking in communicative ability. Research this well.

Chapter Eight

Seeing and Feeling the Aura

One's Aura is the subtle field of energy surrounding and generated by the human being, of which the thickest and heaviest part is called the body. I've researched quite a few different books on the aura and must point out that there is some of diversity in what people claim to be able to see. The aura as seen by a skilled healer who is guided by a spirit differs from that which is usually seen by the martial artist. The part which is easiest to see is light and denser than the air in which the body is immersed. It extends out from the body's surface approximately one-quarter to one-half inch on most people and is referred to as the functional or etheric body in the literature of Western mystics. On a powerful individual it may radiate up to ten times the norm.

The next layer out which can be easily seen if you stay relaxed is somewhat egg-shaped, colored by the fluxions of the hormone system, extends out a yard or so on intense people, and is called the emotional body or nin (spirit) in Japanese. It is said to have great healing and protective powers if dominated by the next two layers. It is a presence easily read and felt with practice. The fields at the edge of perception are called the mental body (socialized thought or learned self), the energy field (soul, avatar, or bridge power), and the circumference of the personality (realm of the arche types, immortals, and inner deities as well as the connection to the universal or Void). I will discuss the subjective reality for an adventurer in these three realms of energy or power in the third book of this series.

Seeing into these fields of energy simply requires using your night vision in the daytime and two other easy abilities: 1. being in a relaxed, open state of mind, and 2. having enough control over your eyes to shift your focus in and out of 20/20 so that you can notice some phenomena you normally ignore. For example, where there is injury to the fields they will move more slowly and that creates a shadow or an opening in the field. There are critical points on the body that could almost be said to glow from the amount of energy that runs through them. Depending on the point's function it will pull or push energy into the fields around the body. In the martial arts some of these points are called pressure points, because if you whack them with a strong pressure you disrupt organs.

The relaxed individual glows in a different way from the uptight individual. Powerful and dangerous animals give off very different vibes than the dangerous and weak, or the powerful and playful. Certain character traits which can be seen in the aura with a lot of casual practice tend to predict first moves under stress that are simple enough to be survival mechanisms. It is useful to know when one is likely to take a stand, or is in love. I used to glow pink at ninja seminars because I was having so much fun and loved doing it. I'd taught Dr. Jon Kayne, the vice president of Bel-lvue College in Kansas, how to see auras and took him to a ninja seminar so he could put it to use, as it is easiest to see around intense performers. When he told me I was glowing pink, I almost fell down laughing. Pink is for pregnant girls in love, according to my experience.

Color predicts in funny ways as I just described, but the descriptions tend toward biology. When your hands become sensitive enough to feel and follow the points, there are opportunities for healing as well as serious harm. It takes experimentation on hundreds of bodies to get super-accurate, but if you can hit through a pine board you can miss by a little, and if you can break a patio block, you can miss by a lot.

When I was a college professor, I had psychometric data on all the managers who went through our Self-Analysis for Leadership course. I took a sample of one hundred volunteer managers and showed them how to "see" auras. Most were able to distinguish colors in the heat envelope or electrical fields surrounding the body within twenty minutes. The fourteen conventional perfectionists who weren't ever able to distinguish the differences or see anything going on at all were fun to observe as they, of course, thought everyone else was bonkers or hypnotized. This little evening exercise usually created some very interesting discussion. I usually finished this session with the following statement and question, "This has been around you all your life, but because it's subtle, it's very easy to miss or forget. What else have you been missing because you didn't know what to ask or chose not to learn?"

I consider statistics as proof of relationships, as do most scientists. Colors positively correlate with the Go Dai or chakra system and related scores on appropriate psychological inventories. It's not all significant but it's strong enough to be interesting. People normally don't have very bright auras. (This is also true in England, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, South Africa and Japan.) Brightness seems to relate to energy. The colors shift a lot. People who meditate and people who do tai chi, chi kung, or taijutsu usually have bigger, brighter auras with easier-to-discern colors. Many entertainers have large bright auras. A blues singer puts out like a torch. It seems to relate to what we call charisma, but the media can't seem to define.

People who can't control their blink rate, who are color blind, who are significantly (<.05)more conventional, perfectionist, and rigid in their psychological make-up, or who try real hard won't see auras. That piece of information from a three-year study I couldn't get anyone to publish. Auras and retinal retention are completely different phenomena. See if you can get your retinal retention to change and move with the thoughts of the person you are observ ing. People who can go into relaxation response with their eyes open, who are (<.05) significantly more flexible, less conventional, and perfectionist, usually will see auric phenomena once shown how. It's really just a matter of using your binocular vision to shift your focus to one of greater dilation to take in more light. American Indian traditional healers refer to it as using "soft eyes."

Here's the method I usually use to show someone how to see auras for the first time:

1. Sit facing a friend or subject placed against a white, grey, or light violet background in a room with dimmable lights. You may have to experiment with the lighting. I prefer the lights to be dim, but not dark.

2. Have the subject hold a finger approximately six inches in front of their face. Go into relaxation response and focus on the finger, so that it is sharp and clear and their face is slightly out of focus or blurred.

3. Once your eyes get used to being slightly out of focus, look above their forehead and between their ears and shoulders. You'll probably get a thin corona of misty lighter color or white. Let your eyes shift out to about three inches above the head and then down around the shoulders. You'll probably get color. If you don't, have the subject close their eyes, breathe deeply, and think about something they really enjoy and like. Observe the shifts, particularly around the head. Ask the subject to pause, take a deep breath, and begin thinking about something they really dislike. Observe.

4. Memorize how you feel as you are doing this, not what you are doing. Play with it. Practice under different conditions. Practice makes it easier. Being in a relaxed or meditative state is also helpful.

This phenomenon is complex and varied. Body temperature, electro-chemical-biologicalfields, traits and intention, nutrition, and being able to see into the ultraviolet spectrum are all involved. Mystics and healers use the aura as a diagnostic device. Real martial artists have it as an ace up their sleeve regardless of their physical skills. Being able to see the aura and how energy moves through a person can be an enormous aid to the selection of fighting or teaching strategies as the descriptions given in Mikkyo and

Shingon Buddhism seem to be based on extensive empiricism.

This also can provide endless hours of entertainment and fun insights once you've mastered the eye trick so you can do it while you're moving. Don't take it too seriously or draw conclusions until you've "seen" many people under different circumstances. Some of the stuff I've seen written by supposed esoteric experts was way off the mark from my experience. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). I could usually verify what I was seeing by bringing in a student or friend. Not always trusting my own interpretation cf esoteric matters, I highly recommend that you experiment and draw your own conclusions. Following are some things to look for with no guarantees of consistent replication.

I've noticed that when people do not believe what they are saying (an unkind person might regard this as lying), their body aura around the heart and along the shoulders will often flash a drab green. The ninjas refer to this as Negative Wind and associate it with misplaced idealism, which I've also seen described as jealousy. Auras often get redder and bigger with alcohol consumption. People with bright yellow auras tend to be assertive, not saintly. Indecisiveness and/or lack of integration may be shown by the body aura being very different from that around the head.

Bars, dances, airport terminals, churches, and other places where people congregate can be very educational when you can read intent and see auras. Most people can't hide their intent so being able to "see" it provides a beneficial non-verbal clue to the wise observer; for example, the darker shades and mixes of the primary colors—brown (inflated ego, needs to win), beige (dependence and cowardice), olive drab (lying and jealousy)-seem to indicate negative traits or character disorders. Healers also see the darker areas as blockages in energy flow. I've never seen a black aura as such except when watching an example of possession by a goddess. I've never seen a chakra either but they are very easy to feel. When you occult your fields to hide or project chitta (living energy that obeys your intent), you can make it pretty dark. The deep visionary thinkers put out some indigo that can look like black under the right conditions. I tend to put the black auras and plane crash or elevator fall tales into the teller-probably-flashes-olive-drab category or someone watching a death angel at work. Usually people who meditate will have a wider corona surrounding their bodies. If the energy moves in the brain, a result of meditation and certain types of prayer, the alpha wave cap may project out in an actual vertical halo effect (I have only seen this effect in church choir singers). Healers will often have little whirling balls in their auras like little stars and nebulas. I travel in some odd circles and visit some exotic places and keep my eye out. You should, too!

The first time I met ninja shidoshi Stephen Hayes was at his invitation to attend one of his Dayton dojo seminars (1982 or 1983). He was teaching what esotericists familiar with Japanese concepts refer to as the Go Lad (five great understandings) but in a way I'd never seen before. No mystical trappings, just directed meditations, specific body movements, and self-defense techniques that were incredibly powerful yet flowed. By the second day of this unique and earthy training, I noted that the coronas and auric fields surrounding the heads and shoulders of all fifty participants were now pinkish red or bright red rather than the usual wimpy mix you see in any typical gathering. I was impressed and intrigued. The ninjas could do something I couldn't do and furthermore could whip butt! My money was well spent.

The next seminar I was able to attend had the Wind as a topic, and many of the same people were present as well as new faces. By the second day all the participants had nice little apple-green auras and I distinctly remembered two-thirds of them were red the last time I'd seen them. These guys were jumping two chakras in months. Very interesting. A few in attendance noticed this phenomenon of light around the body when we were doing some exercises in handicapped light conditions. Hayes treated it very lightly and went on to other things. The next seminar addressed the Void, and I decided to take my friend and colleague Dr. Jon Kayne along, as he would make a good witness to some of my observations, being a clinical-type psychologist and statistician. By the third day the aura colors all matched the course content.

Kayne was able to see this also. Folies a deux (French expression for contagious craziness) confirmed.

I wrote a paper on the Go Dai, psychometrics, and archetypes that was greeted with such excitement by the journals that no one would publish it. Each one said the subject matter could be handled better by some other journal, which said, "It's not quite what we do. Send it to _." I would occasionally show this paper to a friend. After collecting some more data and running the appropriate statistical tests I used it to obtain a Sc.D. from Eurotechnical Research University. I'm probably the world authority on the subject now.

One of the things that impressed me about Stephen Hayes in those early years was that as he moved through each stage of a technique, his aura flashed to the appropriate color corresponding to the body movement. He had definitely trained his intent. Sometimes he would shoot little rainbows out of the limbic regions of his head as he explained something. He'd trained as an actor and writer in college but fell in love with the machismo of the martial arts as he perceived them until he ran into Hatsumi. Acting, as well as dance, are two of the traditional Western paths to enlightenment as well as a ninja specialty necessary for information gathering in hostile or ambiguous situations. A spy may have to maintain a role for years, and his or her death can be the reward of a bad performance. Hayes already understood how to get into a part so the direction and shaping of intention was easy for him to understand, internalize, and teach in a dramatic and easily grasped manner. He's a brilliant teacher. He's got a great sense of humor when he's not being frustrated by Hatsumi or his own sense of righteousness. If you want to learn taijutsu of the spirit, Hayes is one of the round-eyes that can teach you. Particularly if you enjoy a more systematic, heroic, and formal approach to learning this ancient and chaotic tradition.

Many of the other high-level shidoshi teach more from the perspective of the kihon hoppo or basic moves. I prefer the Go Dai but then my perspective is more inclined to the esoteric and psychological. I am not interested in holding myself up as an exem plar of masterful taijutsu. There are many teachers of taijutsu who are much more demanding and thus better at the technical aspects than I. There is also a strong tendency to favor what you learn first as the basis for what follows. The ability to see and use information from your opponent's aura far transcends the simple kick, punch, or throw, no matter how beautifully and powerfully executed. Not all the shidoshi in Bujinkan are inclined toward the bioelectric or androgyny. After they age and lighten up a bit, they may enlarge their studies. In the Hoshinroshiryu, seeing and reading the aura is the kihon hoppo.

The first time I saw Hatsumi, he was running continuous bright, lime, neon green a foot wide and was so easy to see he would flash in bright sunlight. Now his aura runs white most of the time, at least when I've had the privilege to attend some function where he is teaching or when we could party together. I've seen him run every other color when doing taijutsu. Kevin Millis, who sees Hat-sumi much more often than I do, has confirmed this observation of the White Dragon on his mountain.

One of Kevin's students is a Zen priest into shiatsu and massage. It's a privilege to get on his table. Since Bill has been working on Kevin, he shines like a Christmas tree. Sometimes the auric corona around the body looks a bit like the old movie scenes when the actors were shot against an outdoor movie backdrop. When I showed Ishizuka-sensei how to see auras, after his wife had demonstrated the tea ceremony for me, he asked me if Hatsumi knew how to do this. I said I didn't know if he knew how to see them, but he certainly had one that was easy to see and he'd be a good subject to study, which made Ishizuka (The Steel Man) laugh with delight.

Feeling the body's electrochemical fields is relatively easy. First raise your hands in front of you with your palms together. Relax, breathe slowly. Separate your hands and wave the fingers of your right hand slowly past the palm of your left. You may feel a faint sensation as if the palm were brushed by a feather. Pay attention to the palm, not the hand that is waving. You may have to close your eyes. Move the waving hand away until you no longer feel the sensation. Move it back in. Switch hands. Notice the difference in sensitivity and handedness. The Chinese refer to this polarity as yin and yang. There are pictures of Rumiko doing this exercise in Stephen Hayes' Ohara books on ninjutsu.

Find someone else to play this with. Run your palms over their body at an inch or so distance. Move away. See what you feel. Come closer. See what you get. Start paying attention to what other people feel like in various situations. Pay attention to what you feel when you are around them. Practice distancing. Learn what you can from it. Don't rationalize the feelings, just build your catalog. Ninjas have interesting exercises like dodging fists and swords and shuriken blindfolded. (You start slow with padded weapons and work up to speed.) In the Hoshinroshiryu we observe our leaders and lovers. Healers identify blocked meridians, damaged chakras, and other potentials for disease. Each requires a great deal of sensitivity to rather subtle sensations. Remember blind Master Po of the glowing cataracts in the sixties television serial "Kung Fu."

Seeing the aura requires relaxed concentration. I have run into a few people who do it with considerable effort and the occasional "psychic" of genetic luck. I think it's easier if you learn how to relax into it. The just-try-harder types don't seem to have much of a success rate. When you can "see" other people's auras or spirits and have practiced "feeling" until you can trust your catalog, you will find that your sense of humor as well as compassion will have to expand if you want to maintain all of your acquaintances. This exercise provides a gateway to greater intuition skills such as empathy and telepathy and is considered a great boon by the healers who have mastered the process. If your lifestyle requires quickly identifying people who seem to be too good to be true, I throw in this little bone—a consistently grey aura is often indicative of a bullshitter in the thinner spread of the material world. Check it out.

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