The Esoteric side of Ninpo

Krevon

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I study Bujinkan. And in it as a certain point, we are encouraged to seek out enlightenment and spiritual awakening. I can't help but wonder as I research over the internet, that I never see this brought up on message boards.
Is it something that not done or not just not talked about abroad?
 

Chris Parker

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I think it's more that it's a deeply personal journey, beginning with those first steps into a dojo, learning first to master your body and it's strengths, weaknesses, limitations and potentials, then moving onto taking control of your emotions, through experiencing mushin and zanshin states, and eventually then moving onto aspects of spiritual development by understanding your own mortality through the techniques and training you are exposed to. The most obvious form of this is of course the sakki test, as in it you are (supposed to be) facing your own mortality, throwing away your life in a moment of faith in your own ability to naturally evade, with your deeper survival instincts taking over. At this point, there is no way to describe how you do it, if there is, then you have missed the point. And that's the beginning.

As you progress, every action takes on such profound learning potential. This is echoed in the prayer/affirmation from Kumogakure Ryu spoken at the beginning of most classes, and often at the end as well: Shikin Haramitsu Dai Komyo (loosely translated, within every action there exists the potential to find teh enlightenment we seek). In all martial arts, this experience exists, but the exact way it is found is individual. Takamatsu Sensei became very ill, and went into the mountains. In his moments where he didn't know if he would live (in fact, he believed he would definately die), it allowed his mind to be more aware, and that was his satori moment. Hatsumi Sensei has said that he gained satori in the mountains of the city, what the Westerners sometimes call the concrete jungle.

The origins of such thoughts and principles (at least in Togakure Ryu) seem to come from Daisuke Nishina (Daisuke Togakure)'s early training and education in the Shugendo of Togakure Yama, where the practitioners face their mortality in each and every training device, including things like fire walking, and hanging by one hand off a cliff for long periods of time. By constantly exposing yourself to danger and potential death, your awareness becomes heightened, and that leads to enlightenment/satori.

One last word on enlightenment. It is not what most think it is. Most people tend to have the impression that enlightenment is passive, peaceful, a very positive and loving way to look at the world, and that is not it. Enlightenment is just like the word says, everything is lightened. In other words, you begin to see the world the way it is, without the veil of your personal worldview, or the limitations that society places upon you. And that can make you very angry. Persons such as Jesus of Nazareth, Moses, the Prophet Mohammed, Ghandi, and others are very good examples of just that idea. Although many think of them as being loving and peaceful, they were for the most part frustrated and angry at the way the rest of the world was behaving, leading to their actions in each case.

Oh, and one last thing. The term "esoteric" refers to particular knowledge only gained after certain requirements are met, it is something held back for only a few. So not many will happily just "give it away" on a forum, not even me. This has all been deliberately vague in details.

Hope that makes some sense to you!
 

Brian King

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Chris, I tried to rep you for the post but must spread more around first, so will publicly say nice informational post and thanks for taking the time to put down your thoughts.

Regards
Brian King
 

Bruno@MT

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One last word on enlightenment. It is not what most think it is. Most people tend to have the impression that enlightenment is passive, peaceful, a very positive and loving way to look at the world, and that is not it. Enlightenment is just like the word says, everything is lightened. In other words, you begin to see the world the way it is, without the veil of your personal worldview, or the limitations that society places upon you. And that can make you very angry. Persons such as Jesus of Nazareth, Moses, the Prophet Mohammed, Ghandi, and others are very good examples of just that idea. Although many think of them as being loving and peaceful, they were for the most part frustrated and angry at the way the rest of the world was behaving, leading to their actions in each case.

Then I must be very enlightened :)

Only half kidding though.
Let me first say that I am definitely not comparing myself to the examples you listed. It's just that when I was younger, I had a couple of insights that changed my life. It was as if something was suddenly flashed out of nowhere directly into my brain, which caused me to look at the world in a different way.

My life is better for having had those insights, and I can remember them very well. They didn't make my life easier though. And they had nothing to do with my MA training whatsoever. I also agree with Chris that this is something that noone can tell you. You have to get there by yourself. Not because I don't want to help people, but because the way of getting there will be different for every person.
 

Chris Parker

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Absolutely, Bruno! Remember the phrase is "within every action...", martial arts are just one vehicle. I don't know that Ghandi was a Tae Kwon Do Black Belt, for example (although I must admit I enjoy that imagery).

Enlightenment can come in waves, in parts, or in a sudden all-in-one moment. But most commonly in small bits at a time... sometimes refered to as "a-ha" moments. And it is not necessarily profound to others, but has, as you say, important effects for you. Total enlightenment is another thing altogether...
 
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Krevon

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I had to write an essay on the book The Essence of Ninjutsu by Soke Hatsumi. The theme of the paper is the theme of the thread here, and I'll refer to my paper at my posts here.

As I began to research, I came across several definitions but finally settled on enlightenment being a freeing of ignorance, of false beliefs and prejudice.
Each concept listed here is like a life cycle of its own. A seed planted, in order for that seed to become something more it must die out yield and itself. Once that is done, growth can begin again. We bear fruit, which contains a seed and the process continues a new. Each time Ignorance dies, false belief dies.we are refined through the enlightenment process.
 

Yugen

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I used to inquire about the mysteries of ninpo all the time. But I realized that as I got older and the more actual training I did, the less concerned I became with pursuing that particular thing. Training itself will eventually lead one to mature in many different ways, and I think as we mature, our perspective changes. As a result that which have seemed mysterious and extremely desirable to one at 25, will seem less like a goal, and qualities that we did not even know to look for will have emerged in our lives.
I guess "perseverance" is the most mysterious thing, that is the hardest to fathom as we start out. I would say today, that the two things that shine the brightest in the ninpo heavens, for me, is perseverance and renshu!

All the best,
B.
 
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Krevon

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I used to inquire about the mysteries of ninpo all the time. But I realized that as I got older and the more actual training I did, the less concerned I became with pursuing that particular thing. Training itself will eventually lead one to mature in many different ways, and I think as we mature, our perspective changes. As a result that which have seemed mysterious and extremely desirable to one at 25, will seem less like a goal, and qualities that we did not even know to look for will have emerged in our lives.
I guess "perseverance" is the most mysterious thing, that is the hardest to fathom as we start out. I would say today, that the two things that shine the brightest in the ninpo heavens, for me, is perseverance and renshu!

All the best,
B.

It's always hard to explain how you grow into something. Whether it's training of life, but since we're on a martial arts board........the intangibles of stumbling through a technique when learning, getting the mechanic but still a hiccup in the middle somewhere, and then understanding the concept and flowing through it, learning the nuances and henka.
I've studied for a long time 18 years before the Bujinkan. Before that, I was able to work hard and get good technique. But after three years in the Bujinkan I've found I have to let my mind and spirit work in concert to really grasp the concepts I'm being taught.
 

SensibleManiac

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Chris Parker, I was going to PM you but I figured it should be said in public.
You have a few good books in you and should definitely consider writing at least one.
Sorry for hijacking this thread, but your posts in it are a good example of your voice, that should be in print.
At the very least you should write a blog then compile that into a book.
 

Kage-Ronin

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To the OP:

You might try reading;

Mind of the Ninja: Exploring the Inner Power by Kirkland C. Peterson.


It is an interesting read.

Best Regards
 

stephen

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I study Bujinkan. And in it as a certain point, we are encouraged to seek out enlightenment and spiritual awakening. I can't help but wonder as I research over the internet, that I never see this brought up on message boards.
Is it something that not done or not just not talked about abroad?


Hi,

I'm not sure we're 'encouraged to seek enlightenment' as such. Although, pretty much every word in that phrase other than to can be taken a bunch of different ways so it's also hard to say...

Personally, I've been told and I agree with the idea that all knowledge and any sort of 'enlightenment' comes through the physical training. So I try to become as physically skilled as possible and gain insight into the more esoteric ideas through that avenue. I think this will help me stay grounded in reality and avoid getting punched in the face in training.
 

Archangel M

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Be careful of anybody claiming to be able to guide you to "enlightenment". Being skilled in martial arts has the same "enlightenment potential" as marathon running IMO. Don't put yourself in a subservient position to ANYBODY excepting very limited circumstances.
 

SensibleManiac

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Definitely agree that enlightenment is something that should come from the "inside" if you will.
Any activity can be a vehicle, from Yoga to Surfing.
Not that I am claiming enlightenment, aside from a few "moments" here and there, I'm still a work in progress...:drinkbeer
 

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