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The Spiritual Practices of the Ninja: Mastering the Four Gates to Freedom

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 13 Mar 2006

The Ninja are a mysterious warrior elite said to be so spiritually advanced they knew the mind and will of God. Regarded with awe as masters of invisibility and “warriors of the shadow-self,” their legendary skills include the ability to command the elements and transform themselves into Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Void--the nothingness from which all things stem. In this book Ross Heaven reveals the training exercises and mental discipline used by the Ninja to develop these extraordinary physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual skills. Central to Ninja philosophy is the understanding that there is no higher power than the actualized human being. The Ninja believe there are four gates to freedom, and to pass through them we must overcome four initiatory ordeals. Succeeding at these enables us to combat fear, find true power, clarify our vision, and overcome the soul fatigue that is at the root of our personal and social problems in order to embrace our positive energies and realize our talents. Ross Heaven guides us through these four gateways with exercises and initiations that utilize the energy of the lover, seeker, magus, soul warrior, and mystic as well as dealing with their shadow manifestations that may be causing problems in our lives. We learn how to break the destructive habits of the past and create a bushido, a personal code to live by. Without initiation, we cannot access and channel our energies; they remain uncontrolled or even work against us. Ross Heaven provides the key that allows us to turn these elemental forces into allies.

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ISBN-13: 9781594771071
ISBN-10: 1594771073
Pagini: 224
Ilustrații: 1 b&w illustration
Dimensiuni: 152 x 229 x 18 mm
Greutate: 0.35 kg
Editura: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Colecția Destiny Books
Locul publicării: United States

Notă biografică

Ross Heaven is a therapist and workshop leader in personal development and healing whose books include Vodou Shaman, Darkness Visible, Spirit in the City, and The Journey to You. He lives in England and teaches internationally.


from Chapter Five

The Initiation of the Lover:
Burning Through Techniques for Overcoming Fear

The only way to find the path is to set fire to your own life.
--Rabindranath Tagore

Fear is a thought-form, a manifestation of our personal or collective unconscious. But it is the body that remembers who we are. What we require, then, to overcome fear, is a signal from the body to the mind. This is an action, a gesture, a body-to-mind communication that things are about to change.

The gestures of the Shugendo Ninja were extreme--hanging from cliffs, walking through fire, sitting beneath freezing waterfalls--but a gesture for freedom does not need to be so vast and magnificent. It could be something seemingly very ordinary. Donna, one of my workshop participants, was concerned about the environment, the loss of beauty, and the kind of world we were leaving behind for our children. For her, a gesture of freedom would be to do something about this concern. Instead of dwelling on her concern and allowing her shadow self to define the world as a depressing and dangerous place and then teaching this to her children, she made a commitment to action--that on any journey she took, she would carry flower seeds and scatter them from the window of her car or train. This creative solution in the face of her concerns enabled her to take back power from her fears by doing something worthwhile for herself and others. It also sent a message of power and personal responsibility to her children, in a language they could appreciate.

Karma for the Ninja equates with the term giri, which means a sense of honor, duty, or decency. Karma--or giri--is about taking back our personal responsibility. It means that every action we take has a consequence for ourselves and for others in this lifetime. The more conscious we make our decisions and actions, the less possibility there is of “negative karma” or, more simply, the less chance of having to sort out the consequences of our unskillful or unconscious behavior, or to rely on others to do so.

Whenever we take a conscious action, we grab back our freedom and enhance our power because we also make a refusal to be bound by limitations and fears. We train the muscles of our heart to act differently by accepting responsibility for our actions. Then we can come to understand that it is not fear, after all, that we have been afraid of, but the dawning awareness of our own authority and power.

Warrior Training
Training for the Ninja began early in life, often as soon as the child could walk. Gentle exercises, masked as games, would be introduced to help the “little weeds” strengthen their physical and mental endurance. There were games consisting of running and swimming, or leaping over fast-growing reeds so that the child would begin by jumping a height of a few inches but by the end of the summer would be diving over reeds some feet high. Because things like this were done incrementally and presented as a game, the children would think nothing of it and would enjoy the experience; but all the time they would be learning about themselves, strengthening their bodies, facing challenges and fears and, through observing their own actions and those of others, would also come to understand the workings of the mind.

Sometimes, however, a child would reach a blockage point where his fears might get the better of him and he would feel unable to continue. Yaqui shaman don Juan Matus tells us that in his tradition, at such moments the mentor must be “ruthless, cunning, patient, and sweet,” helping the disciple to stalk his fears like a hunter after prey. This was a strategy also known to the Ninja, and they would be equally cunning in helping their young get beyond the reach of fear.

Their technique is still taught today. Students are told to locate someone within the dojo or clan who seems, from her behavior, not to share their particular fear, and to model themselves on that person. (The second student will have her own, perhaps quite different, anxieties, of course, and will also have found someone to model herself on. In this way, all students become mentors to each other.) The next time they go into a situation that would normally cause them anxiety, each student is told to act as if they are their mentor. Over time, students find that they become desensitized to fear through repeated exposure to it and because they have the strength of a role model to draw on. By acting as if they are unafraid, they become unafraid.

EXERCISE 5: Your Fear Mentor
My proposal to you is this: find someone who does not share the same anxieties as you. (This can be but need not be someone you know personally; it could equally well be a movie, TV, sports, or music star, or a character from a novel or comic strip.) The next time you approach a situation of fear, act in the way that person would behave. This does not mean dressing like them, making the same gestures, or using lines from their movies. It is about assuming their thoughts and freedoms.

Willingly and deliberately find situations that would normally cause you anxiety and then enter them with the full intention to experience that anxiety, but armed with the different viewpoint and abilities of your mentor. It is as if you have his or her psychological and spiritual strengths for that time. As you expose yourself to these same circumstances again and again, gradually begin to withdraw from your mentor’s image, until it is just you that enters into and experiences that situation. Learn from each experience and reward yourself for each success.


Foreword: The Four Gates to Freedom
by Mark Atkinson

Preface: In the Beginning . . .

Introduction: Who Were the Ninja?

one The Initiation into Being: Boldness Has Genius
--Beginning the Journey of this Book

two The Map of the Four Gates


three Ka (Fire): The Lover Meets Fear
--The Origins of Anxiety
Exercise 1--Shibou: The Conception Journey

four Fear, Free Will, and Freedom
--Seeing Fear for What It Is
Exercise 2--Wagami (Myself): Descriptions of You
Exercise 3--Meeting the First Fear
Exercise 4--Kineshioroji: Exploring the Body’s Truth

five The Initiation of the Lover: Burning Through
--Techniques for Overcoming Fear
Exercise 5--Your Fear Mentor
Exercise 6--Chambara: Playing a Role in the Theater of the Absurd
Exercise 7--Fire Movement
Exercise 8--The Inventory: Burning Away the Past
Exercise 9--The Breath of Fire


six Sui (Water): Dreams of Power and the Seeker’s Quest
--On the Nature of Power
Exercise 10--Your Life Mission

seven The Initiation of the Seeker
--Techniques for Recovering Power and Finding Purpose
Exercise 11--The People Who Press Your Buttons
Exercise 12--Cutting Ties to the Past
Exercise 13--The Worst-Case Scenario
Exercise 14--Understanding Your Emotions
Exercise 15--Cloud Gazing and Water Breathing: Sensing the Flow


eight Fu (Air): The Magus Facing Confusion
--Faith Versus “Truth”
Exercise 16--Konpaku: Meeting Your Soul-Self

nine The Initiation of the Magus: Letting Go of Confusion
--Techniques of Clarity
Exercise 17--The Two Roads
Exercise 18--Breaking Habits
Exercise 19--The Hooks of the Past
Exercise 20--Making Bushido


Chi (Earth): The Soul Warrior’s Fatigue
--Avoiding the Wide Arms of Sleep
Exercise 21--Ankokutoshijutsu: Deprived of Life
Exercise 22--Creating an Active Kami-Dama

eleven The Initiation of the Soul Warrior: Staying Awake
--Techniques for Overcoming Soul Fatigue
Exercise 23--Reconnection
Exercise 24--Earth Stone Meditation
Exercise 25--Restoring Your Soul


twelve Ku (Void): Spiraling into the Void
--Through the Gates for the First Time--Becoming the Mystic and Elder
Exercise 26--You Are All There Is
Exercise 27--Hearing the Primal Self
Exercise 28--The Kuji-In for the Void
Exercise 29--Finding Your Song


Workshops, Books, Tapes, and Trips by Ross Heaven

Acknowledgments and Thanks



"The Spiritual Practices of the Ninja is in the contemporary genre of work that seeks to explore spiritual truth as it developed in local traditions around the world and in the face of the practical challenges of uncertainty and survival."
"Ross Heaven is the Joseph Campbell of our times. He brings street cool to spirituality."
"Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell meet the Ninja warrior traditions! This is spirituality with attitude--a wide-ranging, sharp psychological analysis of what it really takes to create happiness and freedom for ourselves. This book tells the truth, and because it’s honest, it will help you find your path to power."
"Reading this book you can discover the qualities of a true warrior, truthfully presented."
"I just want to thank you for all your help in getting me to a point where I can accept my true self. I feel so different and see differently. This is where it begins for me!"
"You have been drawn to this book because life has chosen this moment to reveal something of itself to you. This is an extraordinary book. All that is required of you is your commitment and willingness to become all that you are. You are right on time to read what you are about to read."
"The reader is in for some interesting surprises when reading this book!"
". . . makes common-sense reading as we find new ways to deal with the challenges and fears that we are all prone to, and so regain our power and energy."
". . . offers a tight focus on mental and emotional self-improvement that can reap benefits in all walks of life."
". . . recommended reading for those who are actively engaged in therapy and courses aiming towards disclosing the fears created by modern living."