The Nine Levels

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In Chinese medicine, the body is divided into three regions: the upper, middle, and lower. The upper refers to the region above the diaphragm; the middle refers to the area between the upper and the navel; and the lower refers to everything below the navel, including the legs. This trio is traditionally used to designate the internal organs of the body. The topmost section includes the heart and lungs; the middle includes the liver, spleen, and stomach; while the lower includes the bladder, kidneys, and the small and large intestines. In Western terms, the three regions refer to the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic cavities.

Where the Chinese speak of three regions, the Ninja define nine levels of power. This is because each of the three levels also generates an electromagnetic field or "aura," and each of these generates an accompanying specific frequency of vibrational energy, giving a total of nine. To harmonize these various components is the goal of meditation.

In Ninjitsu it is taught that one must know the nine levels of power. These are contained and represented in the finger-knitting positions of the Kuji-Kiri practice. Details of the characteristics and attributes of each position are given in another work, Secrets of the Ninja. Here they are presented as taught in the Japanese system, as one complete set of movements, flowing from first to last rhythmically, in conjunction with breath control. They are derived from the Tibetan lama chanting practice, whereby one may attain enlightenment. These are the oldest exercises of this type, and have survived from prehistoric times.

The nine levels of power are as follows:

1. Rin-"Strength" of mind and body; in Chinese, chu;

2. Kyo- "Direction of energy"; in Chinese, shen;

3. Toh-"Harmony" with the universe; in Chinese, tai;

4. Sha-"Healing" of self and others; in Chinese, sha;

5. Kai-"Premonition" of danger; in Chinese, kai;

6. Jin-"Knowing the thoughts of others"; in Chinese, jen;

7. Retsu-"Mastery of time and space"; in Chinese, tung;

8. Zai-"Control" of the elements of nature; in Chinese, hua;

9. Zen-"Enlightenment"; in Chinese, tao.

The Kuji-Kiri positions that embody the nine levels of power are used as a mnemonic device to train the Ninja both mentally and physically. The progression of movements from one to another symbolizes the movements of the chi within the body.

When one is only beginning to learn, however, each level of energy and power is contemplated in turn during individual sessions so that one may fully explore the potential of each. Then, after much practice, they may be strung together as a mystical in-sign, or occult salute, between members of the same ryu.

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