by Reverend Jikai Part l l In the last issue, we d~scussed the background of Japanese m~kkyo, and how it was to transmitted

from Ch~na Japan. Before continuing with the story of this transmission, and of the development of the "later mikkyo" in Japan, t would bewell at this point to make digresson In order to discuss a subject a br~ef which has a great bear~ng upon the ninjutsu tradition. This concerns the fabul0~~lS mysticwarrior known as E no Gyoja E no Gyoja n n

ations formed very close associations with Shugendo temples, and, finally, controlled those Shugendo shrines. The word shugen-do means the way or path of obtaining mystical realization through the performance of rituals of the magical Dharma (teachings of the ur~iversallaw). From the earliest times of the introduction of Buddhism into Japan, the mountains attracted those strong religious personatitles who w~shed to practice the meditations and rituals of Buddhism in the qu~et seclusion of the wilder-

2 so known as E no Ozunu), was the n f~,~23-2~shugendo, whch has been closely assee 2'53 both ri~njutsu and m~kkyo r~ght dc:.- -2 --z cCeserlt day - ,. e3 about three generations tn , , @ before 2e- 2.2 - i- the founder of Tenda~ -2 mikkyo, .;z-,z 32 S T , the founder of Sh~ngon mlkkyc -e *crM n+ later mlkkyo", transm~ttedto ~ a p c Te~da~ and Sh~ngon denom~nat~ors s -c' <nzBb6bn . s ; to E n no Gyoja However, the earlier fc,ms C -nlkkyo were already pouring Into Japc- zur- 3 'he l~fet~meE no Gyoja H was ab e 'c s eps of n e these early mikkyo teach~ngsw~th tnsse cF both Ch~neseTao~sm the nat~ve and Japarese Sh~ntobel~efsto make the beg~r~n~ngs of as Shugendo Much later, the "pure m~kkyo" temples taught In the Tendai and Sh~ngon was also absorbed by Shugendo and both Buddhlst denom~nthe Tendai and Sh~ngon
: l h ,+



n n


ness Also, the Buddhist be1ief is that mountains are the symbols of the Buddhas ("en~ghtned ones"). Thus, E no Gyoja was one of those to n build hermitages among the isolated peaks As a result of his practices, E no Gyoja was n able to develop many powers considered by the Japanese of that period to be magical. E no Gyoja attracted numerous dsciples; n they and their spiritual descendants have come to be known as yamabushi, or mountain priests. There is no doubt that many of the magical practices iriitiated b y E no Gyoja n were later taught to the early ninja, or at least +a those who passed them on to the ninja.With tqe passage of time, long and close associations were developed between certain of the yamabushi and certain practionersof nnjutsu E no Gyoja developed the practice of n making a long pilgrimage between certain of the loftiest mountains, in particular between


The ninja carried e a u i ~ m e n similar to t the Shugendo followers.

the peaks of Mt. Kimpu i n Yamato province and Mt. Kumano in Kii province. SO important did this become, that several generations later, t h e f i f t h p a t r i a r c h of t h e Japanese Tendai denomination, Enchin, personally undertook this pilgrimage so that he could "walk in the footsteps of the great En no Gyoja". The famous Shugendo shrine which presently exists on top of Mt. Kimpu was personally founded by En no Gyoja, and is associated with theTendai Buddhist head-quarters on Mt. Hiei. After the "pure mikkyo" was introduced into Shugendo, the great mountains themselves were identi'tied with the two great mandalas of esoteric Buddhism; Mt. Kimpu represented the Kongokai mandala, while Mt. Kumano represented the Taizokai mandala. As is the case with all mikkyo practices, in Shugendo there is the requirement of a long period of purifacatory preparation before one is permitted t o enter a Shugendo shrine for the purpose of receiving instruction. The usual practice is the requirement of a ninety-day period of purification, usually in the form of the long pilgrimage through the mountians, during which timeone may not eat meat, must drink only water or tea, and abstain from sexual relations. Even after the training has started, in between the performance of the magical rituals there are very difficult practices, including standing under icy waterfalls for long periods while reciting or hanging upside down from the edge of a cliff. Such practices are believed to produce the "energy" which ensures the success of the magical rituals. Present-day Shugendo is acombination of Buddhist yoga, with its breathing practices, and esoteric Buddhism, including the contemplation of the two great mandalas, the recitation of mantras, along with the original Taoist and Shinto beliefs. Although Shugendo cannot properly be called pure Buddhism, its close association with Buddhism cannot be denied. The images of En no Gyoja which are found in many Tendai temples in Japan depict him as carrying an ascetic's staff in one hand, and a Buddhist rosary in the other. No less a personage than Dengyo Daishi visited Mt. Kimpu prior to his departure for China, in order to pray for the success of his mission. By following the mikkyo practices of the total unification of body, mind. and speech, those who practice Shugendo form a natural communion with all of the great spirits who inhabit the sacred mountains through which they make their pilgrimages. As they walk, they chant various Buddhist sutras as well as

appropriate mantras. They offer the traditional Japanese sake rice wine at various small shrines along the way. It should be noted that this is certainly not an orthodox Buddhist practice. The yamabushi a n d others w h o f o l l o w Shugendo, wear aspecial white costume. They also carry special equipment with them which would remind students of ninjutsu of certain instruments used by the nrnja. Perhaps the most important piece of equipment is a kind of small box strapped to the back, known as the o i or shoulder box. This is used to carry smaller pieces of equipment within it. The yamabushi also carry a small ax known as a nyubuono and a short sword known as a sankotsuka-ken. These could be used for the purpose of cutting through the thick forests of the mountains, but obviously could also be used for purposes of defense. The sword has a handle in the shape of a three-pronged vajra, (the power-symbol used by the ninja, as well as in Tendai mikkyo). Eventually, the sword took on an even greater ritualistic meaning, and today, is used i n the mystical ceremonies such as the gorna orfireceremony. Weshould note, at this point, that the goma ceremony is the most important ceremony in both Tendai mikkyoand Shingon mikkyo. Here then, is seen another strong connection between esoteric Buddhism and Shugendo. The yamabushi also carry a ricecontainer known as the bussho-bachi. Theseare beautiful bowls made of copper and may be of different sizes. They are used to offer rice to the Buddhas and to the gods. Also carried is the iron hotwater kettle known as the tetsu-yugarna which could also be used in purification rituals. Finally, the yamabushi carry with them the hide or markers. These are small pieces of wood or boards. Sanskirt letters are written on the top of the board. Then the nameof the person who wrote them follows, together with the date. As the yamabushi passed through the mountains, these were placed sporadically as reminders to those who would come after them. Finally, it should be remembered that the followers of Shugendo, seek not only magical powers to be used in the world, but follow a path which they believe will lead them to enlightenment. Our discussion of mikkyo will be continued in the next issue of Ninja Realm. For more information contact: Reverend JikaVKongosatta, I N P.O. Box 212 Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 Please include return postage.


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