Summary: Great Insight Into the Warrior Philosophies and Religions of Japan.
Comment: Ninja Realms of Power is an overview of Stephen Hayes' explorations into the Japanese spiritual traditions of `Shugendo ~ seeking power in the mountains', `Mikkyo ~ secret doctrines of the Himalayan kingdoms', and `Sennin ~ Taoist practices for the goal of immortality. Stephen Hayes, one of the West's most well-known and respected authorities on Ninjutsu, also includes a chapter on `Ninpo Taijutsu'.
Looking at Sennin we see that the practitioner works physically and mentally at consciously experiencing the bridging of the gap between the in and yo (the yin and the yang) elements around him. The Sennin learns to transcend illusion and gain a vision of the universe as a single unified process as opposed to an overwhelming collection of seemingly conflicting and unrelated parts.
Looking at Mikkyo we see a priest with a collection of swords. The Mikkyo priest points out that the blade of the sword is forged for the purpose of protecting the sanctity of life. The cutting edge affords the bearer that reserve of confidence and power that permits gentle and courteous behavior.
The Shugendo is a blending of many related spiritual practices, including `Zudagyo ~ Buddhist teachings', `Dokyo and Omyodo ~ Taoist philosophies', the `Zomitsu ~ the nonreligious forerunner of the Mikkyo', `Shinto', `Jukkyo ~ Confucian teachings', and a wide assortment of Japanese folk beliefs.
Stephen Hayes also gives a detailed description of the `Goma fire ritual' and his participation, walking across the hot coals and burning embers of the fire. (This section also includes a number of great photographs of the ritual.)
In the chapter on `Ninpo Taijutsu' various martial arts techniques are demonstrated, but more importantly we see that only by progressing to realms of harmonized energy does the warrior begin to glimpse the potential for invincibility.
Ninja Realms of Power is a "must have" book for anyone studying shinobi-no-jutsu (ninjutsu), but also for anyone interested in the warrior philosophies and religions of Japan. A well written text, with several photographs and drawings throughout. I highly recommend this book to both the casual reader and dedicated student.
Summary: Ninja Enlightenment
Comment: As a student of Stephen K. Hayes, I have always eagerly devoured anything he has written, and this one did not disappoint. This particular book is more about the historical roots and philosophical underpinnings of the higher life-path or life-way of 'Ninpo.' 'Ninjutsu' could be said to refer only to the physical techniques, the punches, kicks, throws, and use of weapons that instantly spring to mind when we hear the word 'martial art.' Then we can also work on our intellectual development through the study of history, languages, chemistry, physics, music; all the arts and sciences. Then we can also work on our spiritual development (see Abe Maslow's "Further Reaches of Human Nature"). This triple approach to our human development, body & mind & spirit, is Ninpo. Shidoshi Hayes, a Grandmaster in his own right, listed in "Who's Who in the World", and an ordained Buddhist priest, explores in this book all of the spiritual traditions that have left their mark on Ninpo, the higher life-path. Shinto, Buddhism, shugendo, and Daoism are the major focus.