I used to devote much of my spare time to the writings of Stephen K. Hayes, a legend in the martial arts community who once served as the physical security detail for his holiness The Dalai Lama.
I remember being particularly fixated on those sections of his books concerning the spiritual arts of the shinobi, such as the kuji-goshin ho, which was purported to, if executed by one with the proper understanding, afford the user ‘supernatural powers’ such as invisibility and psychic precognition – the kind of stuff that makes a skeptic roll the eyes.
What it was about this subject that captivated me so much was its curiousness and relation to existential questions of life and death. Are psychic phenomena real? If so, what implications are therefore extant respecting the existence of an after-life? Could shinobi really apprehend a premonition of danger after devoting themselves to such practices as Kuji-in/ Kuji Kiri? Were any of them really ‘psychic’?
In a world which holds to a materialistic paradigm, ‘No’ is the default answer to such questions.
The idea that shinobi had any supernatural powers at all is considered superstitious by the Historical Ninjutsu Research Team headed by A. Cummins. And this is not without basis, for authentic ninjutsu manuals DO call for such things of a superstitious material such as carrying around the liver of a black dog to avoid detection by one’s enemies.
We live in an era well-defined by science, and any phenomena contrary to this paradigm is unworthy of our attention.
Yet, there is a caveat to this impulsive assertion. A phenomenon, no matter how absurd, is legitimized by its subjection to and survival through the rigors of science.
And science HAS confirmed the existence of psychic capacities.
As evinced in the document covered in a previous post, ‘Anomalous Cognition’ (aka psychic functioning) has been statistically demonstrated under rigorous and repeatable scientific conditions. Not only that, but the evidence that is the basis of this conclusion was scrutinized by the now President of the American Statistical Association Prof. Jessica Utts. She confirms in the paper titled “Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning”, that psychic capacities are not only real, but that they must be studied for their effects instead of continuing the discussion of whether or not they exist:
“I believe that it would be wasteful of valuable resources to continue to look for proof. No one who has examined all of the data across laboratories, taken as a collective whole, has been able to suggest methodological or statistical problems to explain the ever-increasing and consistent results to date. Resources should be directed to the pertinent questions about how this ability works.” – Prof. Utts
With the notion that psychic capacities are real, we can now peer deeper into what has been written of the Togakure Ryu ninja’s spiritual practices which were thought to facilitate, among other
things, the development of extra-sensory perception (ESP).
In part 2 of this post, I will develop the thesis that the alleged spiritual practices of the shinobi may have afforded them the supernatural capacities attributed to them by modern authors.