The way of all warriors is not to hide within fantasy or to search only for the ‘light’ (as is the way of many modern ‘new age’ practices) but to embrace the darkness as well, for it is only in our shadows (when the light is behind us) that we see ourselves truly reflected, and only then that we can address ourselves and heal our pains so that the world itself is healed.
The Ninja are a mysterious warrior elite said to be so spiritually advanced they "know 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 archetypal energies 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 know little about the origins of the Ninja, the ‘children of darkness’ - mysterious shadow-warriors who maintained their eerie mist-shrouded mountain secrecy in the Iga and Koga Provinces of Japan from around 900 AD, practicing the arts of stealth and invisibility.
Legends, however, tell of the Ninja warrior’s supposed descent from tengu, savage demons that were half man half crow and were able to bend the laws of nature and control the human mind.
Probably closer to the truth, according to Stephen Hayes (the first American to be accepted as a personal student of Masaaki Hatsumi, the thirty-fourth master of Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu) is that these warriors were ex-military men who fled China after the collapse of the T’ang dynasty and settled in Japan. Here they became teachers of martial arts, philosophy, and mysticism adapted from the esoteric knowledge of India and Tibet and the spiritual practices of Chinese monks and shamans.
“They expounded systems of integrated mind-body awareness, based on personal understanding of the order of the universe [and an] unconventional way of looking at situations and accomplishing things… The original Ninja were mystics, in touch with powers that we would describe as psychic today. Their ability to tune into the scheme of totality and thereby become receptive to subtle input from beyond the usual five senses was strange and terrifying…”
Their spirituality or mysticism, however, was not based on empty and impractical religious teachings but on highly advanced combat skills and practical arts of deception and warfare, where warriorship was linked to natural law. Spirituality was not regarded as an external projection onto distant deities, as our religions are in the West, but as a way to inner knowledge, self-mastery and personal power.
To arrive at their understanding, the Ninja developed a comprehensive and holistic map of the human psyche and life cycle, which linked the inner and outer worlds – the world of creativity and imagination and that of time, space and nature – to give a full picture of life and the challenges facing every warrior on his path to liberation and happiness, as well as the means of overcoming these trials. This map revolved around the elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth, and the qualities of Fear, Power, Clarity and Fatigue. The map can be looked at as offering four gates that we must all step through if we want an authentic spiritual life and one that has meaning for we who we really are.
In the modern world we are still at war, looking for peace, and our personal freedoms are still constrained by people and institutions that tell us who we are, how to behave, how much power and freedom we may have – work demands, tax demands, commuter timetables, celebrity fashions… the list is endless. Spiritual warriors know these things as ‘tyrants’. They are not so different from the demands and dictates of the power-crazed emperors that led to the formation of the remote mountain communities of the Ninja rebels.