Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Secrets of the Ninja (5)

Meditation
 

The emphasis on meditation to cultivate the mind and body is characteristic of all Far
Eastern martial arts. Nowhere is this more true than in Ninjitsu, the Silent Way.

Ninja place as much importance on the spiritual and mental aspects of their art as on the
physical. The ability to think, to reason and remember, is highly prized among a society where
the mind is the ultimate weapon. To this end, they developed exercises to sharpen their perception
and psychological insight. These techniques also serve to rejuvenate the body, calm the
mind, and cultivate the inner strength. It was said that the ancient Ninja could sense hidden enemies,
foresee the imminent death of a sick or aged person, and predict the breakup up of a marriage.

This was not because they were "psychic" but rather because they had developed their
powers of observation and intuition to a high degree through these and other special exercises.
 
Inner and Outer Strength

There are two kinds of strength, just as there are Yin and Yang. The outer, physical
strength is obvious, fades with age, and is dissipated by excess. The inner strength is by far the
more powerful of the two, but it must be developed through constant practice and study. The Qi
(also Chi, pronounced "chee" and Ki in Japanese) is the life-force of the Universe, which flows
within and through and around all things. It can be collected, cultivated, and circulated within
the body to perform the will. But, not one in ten thousand will ever know the true Qi. This, like
many transcendental subjects, cannot be adequately described in word or print. But, it can be
experienced. The practice is known as Kuji Kiri, the Nine Cuts. The key to the Mind Gate.

The purpose of any path of enlightenment is to "show the student his true face." If it
does not do this, it has failed as a philosophy and is useless. The phrase comes from a tribal legend,
when men first contemplated the nature of the universe.


The story goes that once upon a time a tiger was chasing some goats, trying to catch one
for dinner. During the chase the tiger was injured and, as she lay dying, gave birth to a tiger
cub. The goats, having never seen a baby tiger before, adopted it into the herd. As he grew, the
cub was not a very good goat. He didn’t have the right kind of teeth for chewing grass, and he liked to climb up in the trees and sleep, which made the other goats jealous.

One day, another tiger came along and started trying to catch one for dinner as before.

He came upon the young tiger, cowering in the brush.

"What are you doing? Asked the old tiger.

"Hiding," replied the younger.

"Why?"

"I’m afraid you’ll eat me," answered the young tiger.

"Come with me." Laughed the old tiger. Whereupon he took the young tiger to his cave
and bade him eat of a freshly killed antelope. The young tiger told him he was a vegetarian. But
the old tiger made him eat; telling him the meat would make him strong. After a while, he took
the young tiger to the lake and told him to look at his reflection before he took a drink.

"You see, your face is the same as mine. You are not a goat. You are a tiger. You must
act like a tiger. That is the nature of things."

This is the purpose of meditation. Man perceives reality as a filtered reflection in the
pool of his subconscious mind. Ripples of annoyance, the wind of imagination, and waves of
emotion often disturb this pool. All of which distort the perception of reality. The goal of meditation
is to "calm the waters" of this pool, so that the student can see himself and the world
clearly.

The secret of meditation is regular practice. Perseverance, diligence, and quiet determination
are required. If performed on a daily basis, continuous improvement can be expected.

Meditation is not a process to be hurried; do not expect instant result. But, slowly,
softly, after a few weeks, you will notice than an old injury no longer aggravates you, or that
you are sleeping better. Then will come the subtle sounds and sensations. A feeling of lightness,
a tingle up the spine, the sound of your own heartbeat. These are signs of steady progress.

Two periods per day are recommended. One soon after rising and one before going to
bed. The exercise should be done in a quiet darkened room, neither too warm nor too cold. The
clothing should be loose and comfortable, there should be adequate ventilation to provide fresh
air, and noises or other distractions should be avoided.

Breath control is the key to proper meditation, which may be defined as the art of consciously
altering the state of mind. To accomplish this, one physically adjusts the pH (acidalkaline
balance) of the blood by regulating the rate of respiration.

This training is not for the purpose of gaining, exploiting, or manipulating power. It
should not be practiced with those goals in mind, as this will hinder good progress. It is about
calming the mind, healing the body, and improving oneself to be in harmony with the flow of
the universe and set a good example for all.

Meditation, sitting quietly, listening to yourself breathe, is the first exercise of Ninja Invisibility.

~Ashida Kim