Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

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Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by Virgo » Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:22 am

I found this interesting bit in a translation of a manual I am reading originally written in in 1676 by Fujibayashi:

"In heaven and on earth the Five Elements are found in the concept of in and yo, spring is followed by summer, summer by autumn, autumn by winter, then spring comes again. Everything is born, then grows up; when having grown up, it changes; when having changed, then it is settled; when settled, it then stores or conceals itself; then it is born again, just like a ring without end. Therefore, nothing continues to exist in the world forever but nothing ceases to exist forever simultaneously. When it dies, it only goes back to the Five Elements.

As evidence of this, think of when a man dies. Water found in the body turns back to water as it was, the body becomes dry, fire or heat turns back to fire again as the body gets cold with no heat emitting any more, metal turns back to metal so the body loses its strength, shrinks and does not function. After that, whether cremated or buried, it goes back to earth. The chi that connected the body will scatter and the bonds of nature will break down. You should be aware that your body will return to the Five Elements, the Five Elements return to in and yo, in and yo will return to the ‘one chi’ and the ‘one chi’ reaches the principle that is the core9 of the universe itself. The principle then starts the cycle from the beginning, just like a ring and it has no end.

Therefore, the principle of emptiness appears as the ‘one chi’, then as in and yo, and next as the Five Elements, just as water changes to snow or ice. The Five Elements temporarily take the image of a human being but it is not a complete life but is in fact life in non-life, and even though the body appears to die, it is not a complete death but death in non-death. Primarily, when you die, you will return to the principle of emptiness. Therefore, once you penetrate this principle completely, you will understand what looks like birth or death is in fact not birth or death in the true sense. Also births and deaths are repeated for eternity while there is actually no change occurring at all. This whole cycle should be left to nature and follows the turns of fate. If you keep the principle in mind and penetrate it, you will discover the very origin of the Great Path, which is a very deep esoteric truth and you will reach the status of ‘no-birth’ and ‘no-death’. Common mortals who are confused and fall do not know how this principle works.10"

Cummins, Anthony. The Book of Ninja: The Bansenshukai - Japan's Premier Ninja Manual (pp. 47-48). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.

Kevin...

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 am

That’s good stuff. I thought ninjas were Tendai though. That sounds like yamabushi.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by Virgo » Wed Aug 22, 2018 6:16 am

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 am
That’s good stuff. I thought ninjas were Tendai though. That sounds like yamabushi.
That's interesting. Do explain please.

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 pm

I’m just guessing- you’d want to get someone who’s more familiar w East Asian tantra than I am of you really wanted to learn something.

But the very limited picture I have of historical ninjas ties them to Tendai, but way on the mikkyo (tantric) end of Tendai. I might just think this bc Steven Hayes is a lay Tendai priest.

I thought yamabushi/Shugendo because of the 5 element theory and the looseness of ideas in the writing. It’s a beautiful passage- unique style and content.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:42 pm

Makes me think of Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido founder)’s writing. Saturated w Buddhist influence but original and drawing from multiple sources, very grounded in the natural world. He was influenced by Shingon and Shugendo big time (not zen really, as a lot of his later interpreters would have it.)

“Yamabushi” is just a name for Shugendo practitioners. It means “those who sleep in the mountains” because that’s where they’d do ascetic practices. Some of them would go find a cave in late fall and not leave until spring, like a brown bear.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:50 pm

Rereading the passage, I’m wondering if it’s Buddhist or not- it’s brief, but no Sila, Samadhi yes, but the Prajna element is murky. Makes me wonder what the writer’s actual aim was.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by DGA » Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:42 pm

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:42 pm
Makes me think of Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido founder)’s writing. Saturated w Buddhist influence but original and drawing from multiple sources, very grounded in the natural world. He was influenced by Shingon and Shugendo big time (not zen really, as a lot of his later interpreters would have it.)
Have you attempted to read Ueshiba's writings? As far as I can tell from reading around in The Essence of Aikido (John Stevens, translator), Ueshiba was 1) mostly interested in modern-era Shinto teachings, and 2) a disorganized thinker.

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by DGA » Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:43 pm

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 pm
But the very limited picture I have of historical ninjas ties them to Tendai, but way on the mikkyo (tantric) end of Tendai. I might just think this bc Steven Hayes is a lay Tendai priest.
I don't know anything about ninjas (but I do have some questions).

Is Mr Hayes a lay Tendai priest?

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:18 pm

DGA wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:42 pm
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:42 pm
Makes me think of Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido founder)’s writing. Saturated w Buddhist influence but original and drawing from multiple sources, very grounded in the natural world. He was influenced by Shingon and Shugendo big time (not zen really, as a lot of his later interpreters would have it.)
Have you attempted to read Ueshiba's writings? As far as I can tell from reading around in The Essence of Aikido (John Stevens, translator), Ueshiba was 1) mostly interested in modern-era Shinto teachings, and 2) a disorganized thinker.
I’d kind of share those opinions, but what you characterize as “modern day Shinto” would be what I am calling Shugendo.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:20 pm

DGA wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:43 pm
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 pm
But the very limited picture I have of historical ninjas ties them to Tendai, but way on the mikkyo (tantric) end of Tendai. I might just think this bc Steven Hayes is a lay Tendai priest.
I don't know anything about ninjas (but I do have some questions).

Is Mr Hayes a lay Tendai priest?
I think that’s right, although I saw on another post that he’s problematic and non orthodox (surprised? Ya me neither) That post linked to a thread on him that I didn’t look at at the time- search if you’re curious, maybe it’s interesting?
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:25 pm

Outside martial arts, this was O Sensei’s main practice, I am led to understand; links to bio of his teacher.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotodama

‘New Religion’ really; latter-day Shinto and Shugendo both miss the mark I suppose
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by DGA » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:32 am

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:20 pm
DGA wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:43 pm
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 5:35 pm
But the very limited picture I have of historical ninjas ties them to Tendai, but way on the mikkyo (tantric) end of Tendai. I might just think this bc Steven Hayes is a lay Tendai priest.
I don't know anything about ninjas (but I do have some questions).

Is Mr Hayes a lay Tendai priest?
I think that’s right, although I saw on another post that he’s problematic and non orthodox (surprised? Ya me neither) That post linked to a thread on him that I didn’t look at at the time- search if you’re curious, maybe it’s interesting?
I'm familiar with the backstory of Mr Hayes in relation to Tendai-shu. It's quite a story. Some of it is fictional. I was asking as a rhetorical question, though.

Mostly, I'm not comfortable with claiming that because Hayes says he is a Tendai priest, and Hayes is a ninja as of the mid-1990s, that there is a long historical continuity between the ninja scene and Tendai-shu. Maybe there is? I wouldn't know because I know almost nothing about ninjas.

There are connections to the present between Yamabushi/Shugendo & Tendai-shu, though.

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by DGA » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:42 am

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:25 pm
Outside martial arts, this was O Sensei’s main practice, I am led to understand; links to bio of his teacher.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotodama

‘New Religion’ really; latter-day Shinto and Shugendo both miss the mark I suppose
Yes, Kotodama is an important practice, and an interesting one. But what's the context for that practice in Ueshiba's case?

By neo-Shinto I was referring to Omoto-kyo. If you review the Stevens book I mentioned above, you'll see that's the center of gravity for Ueshiba's thinking.

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:15 am

DGA wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:32 am
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:20 pm
DGA wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:43 pm


I don't know anything about ninjas (but I do have some questions).

Is Mr Hayes a lay Tendai priest?
I think that’s right, although I saw on another post that he’s problematic and non orthodox (surprised? Ya me neither) That post linked to a thread on him that I didn’t look at at the time- search if you’re curious, maybe it’s interesting?
I'm familiar with the backstory of Mr Hayes in relation to Tendai-shu. It's quite a story. Some of it is fictional. I was asking as a rhetorical question, though.

Mostly, I'm not comfortable with claiming that because Hayes says he is a Tendai priest, and Hayes is a ninja as of the mid-1990s, that there is a long historical continuity between the ninja scene and Tendai-shu. Maybe there is? I wouldn't know because I know almost nothing about ninjas.

There are connections to the present between Yamabushi/Shugendo & Tendai-shu, though.
Yes, dig. I'm flying blind in this area. I no longer have any reason to believe that ninjas were or were not connected w the Tendai-shu.

This is as much as I could get from Wikipedia in a quick search; it's kind of interesting- other than putative mudras (read mikkyo read buddhadharma) there's no mention of them being buddhist or not:


Kuji-kiri
Kuji-kiri is an esoteric practice which, when performed with an array of hand "seals" (kuji-in), was meant to allow the ninja to enact superhuman feats.

The kuji ("nine characters") is a concept originating from Taoism, where it was a string of nine words used in charms and incantations.[99] In China, this tradition mixed with Buddhist beliefs, assigning each of the nine words to a Buddhist deity. The kuji may have arrived in Japan via Buddhism,[100] where it flourished within Shugendō.[101] Here too, each word in the kuji was associated with Buddhist deities, animals from Taoist mythology, and later, Shinto kami.[102] The mudrā, a series of hand symbols representing different Buddhas, was applied to the kuji by Buddhists, possibly through the esoteric Mikkyō teachings.[103] The yamabushi ascetics of Shugendō adopted this practice, using the hand gestures in spiritual, healing, and exorcism rituals.[104] Later, the use of kuji passed onto certain bujutsu (martial arts) and ninjutsu schools, where it was said to have many purposes.[105] The application of kuji to produce a desired effect was called "cutting" (kiri) the kuji. Intended effects range from physical and mental concentration, to more incredible claims about rendering an opponent immobile, or even the casting of magical spells.[106] These legends were captured in popular culture, which interpreted the kuji-kiri as a precursor to magical acts.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:16 am

Virgo wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:22 am
I found this interesting bit in a translation of a manual I am reading originally written in in 1676 by Fujibayashi:

"In heaven and on earth the Five Elements are found in the concept of in and yo, spring is followed by summer, summer by autumn, autumn by winter, then spring comes again. Everything is born, then grows up; when having grown up, it changes; when having changed, then it is settled; when settled, it then stores or conceals itself; then it is born again, just like a ring without end. Therefore, nothing continues to exist in the world forever but nothing ceases to exist forever simultaneously. When it dies, it only goes back to the Five Elements.

As evidence of this, think of when a man dies. Water found in the body turns back to water as it was, the body becomes dry, fire or heat turns back to fire again as the body gets cold with no heat emitting any more, metal turns back to metal so the body loses its strength, shrinks and does not function. After that, whether cremated or buried, it goes back to earth. The chi that connected the body will scatter and the bonds of nature will break down. You should be aware that your body will return to the Five Elements, the Five Elements return to in and yo, in and yo will return to the ‘one chi’ and the ‘one chi’ reaches the principle that is the core9 of the universe itself. The principle then starts the cycle from the beginning, just like a ring and it has no end.

Therefore, the principle of emptiness appears as the ‘one chi’, then as in and yo, and next as the Five Elements, just as water changes to snow or ice. The Five Elements temporarily take the image of a human being but it is not a complete life but is in fact life in non-life, and even though the body appears to die, it is not a complete death but death in non-death. Primarily, when you die, you will return to the principle of emptiness. Therefore, once you penetrate this principle completely, you will understand what looks like birth or death is in fact not birth or death in the true sense. Also births and deaths are repeated for eternity while there is actually no change occurring at all. This whole cycle should be left to nature and follows the turns of fate. If you keep the prsenshujinciple in mind and penetrate it, you will discover the very origin of the Great Path, which is a very deep esoteric truth and you will reach the status of ‘no-birth’ and ‘no-death’. Common mortals who are confused and fall do not know how this principle works.10"

Cummins, Anthony. The Book of Ninja: The Bansenshukai - Japan's Premier Ninja Manual (pp. 47-48). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.

Kevin...
Do you know anything about this Fujibayashi guy? and what's the Bansenshukai?
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:21 am

DGA wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:42 am
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:25 pm
Outside martial arts, this was O Sensei’s main practice, I am led to understand; links to bio of his teacher.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotodama

‘New Religion’ really; latter-day Shinto and Shugendo both miss the mark I suppose
Yes, Kotodama is an important practice, and an interesting one. But what's the context for that practice in Ueshiba's case?

By neo-Shinto I was referring to Omoto-kyo. If you review the Stevens book I mentioned above, you'll see that's the center of gravity for Ueshiba's thinking.
Omoto-kyo promulgated kotodama. I wonder if it's in vain to parse Neo-Shinto/Shugendo/NRMs too finely. Shugendo traces itself back to En-no-gyoja of course, but I think if he were to appear in early 20th c NE Asia, he might have more in common w Oniseburo Deguchi than any yamabushi of that day or ours. But that could only ever be speculation of course.
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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by DGA » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:03 am

Yes, that may be so.

I can confirm that there are contemporary Aikido practitioners that also engage in Kotodama.

I can also confirm that there are contemporary Dharma practitioners who also train in Aikido as part of their Dharma practice. Example:

http://www.daiyuzenji.org/

I don't think Ueshiba's own convictions limit the usefulness of Aikido to Dharma people who know what they are doing with it. More power to 'em.

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Re: Emptiness in the Bansenshukai

Post by passel » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:34 am

DGA wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:03 am
I don't think Ueshiba's own convictions limit the usefulness of Aikido to Dharma people who know what they are doing with it. More power to 'em.
I have a lot of sympathy with Ueshiba's convictions. I'm a big fan of movement practices and of religious creativity. The man was gifted, and left behind some great tools.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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