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Authentic Kuji-in

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Anyone know where to find any information on authentic kuji-in and related Shugendo/mikkyo practices? I ask because this seems to be a fairly obscure subject area, at least the material available digitally and in English, and some of the source material I've encountered seems questionable. 

 

For example, for those who know about this topic, is kuji-in really an authentic mode of spiritual practice employed by Shugendo practitioners? I know from my limited readings that these practices are differentiated from the esoteric practices within Tendai and Shingon, though related. It seems kuji-in is popularly associated with ninjutsu, but this doesn't really interest me so much as its traditional association with and use by Daoists, the Onmyodo in Japan, and Shugendo practitioners.

 

I've come across information dealing with the mantras, mudras, etc. but am unsure about some of the accompanying visualization I've happened upon on the net. Namely, one Francois Lepine who calls himself "Maha Vajra" has many visualizations attending the mantra/mudras for kuji-in described on websites, books and even youtube videos, and yet there seems to be no way to know if this is authentic to Shugendo/mikkyo or not.

 

In any case, if anyone has any relevant information, input, experiences, reading recommendations on the aforementioned subject matter, namely kuji-in and Shugendo, I'd be glad to hear whatever you can share.

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This information from the Wikipedia article is essentially correct:

 

The kuji are first introduced in the Taoist text Baopuzi (抱朴子) a poem written by Ge Hong c.280-340 ADE). In it he introduces the kuji in chapter 17 titled DengShe/ 登涉 (Climbing [mountains] and crossing rivers) as a prayer to the six Jia (generals of yang), ancient Taoist gods. in Daoist Magic, the Chia Spirit Generals are powerful celestial guardians and part of Tammon-Ten's (Vaiśravaṇa), The God of the North, Celestial Thunder Court.

The kuji come from line 5 which reads,

Line 5:

抱朴子曰:“入名山,以甲子開除日,以五色繒各五寸,懸大石上,所求必得。又曰,入山宜知六甲秘祝。祝曰,臨兵斗者,皆陣列前行。凡九字,常當密祝之,無所不辟。要道不煩,此之謂也。”

Translation: (To enter a famous mountain, choose an opening day, which can be determined by its cyclical binary. Hang silk of the five colors, each piece five inches wide, from a large rock, so that you may be sure to succeed in your goal. Further, while entering the mountains you must know the Six-Chia secret prayer. It goes like: "May the presiders over warriors be my vanguard!" This nine word prayer must constantly recited in secret. It means, "May all evils flee me and the essential procedure present no trouble.") (Write, 1966)

The Chinese ku-ji actually forms a grammatically functional sentence when translated. The kuji come from this section of the chapter and are written as Chinese: 臨兵斗者,皆陣列前行; pinyin: lín bīng dǒu zhě jiē zhèn liè qián háng which can be roughly translated as "(Celestial) soldiers/fighters descend and arrange yourselves in front of me", or “May all those who preside over warriors be my vanguard!” Other translations are possible as well especially in Japanese esoteric Buddhism. According to the Baopuzi, the kuji is a prayer to avert difficulties and baleful influences and to ensure things proceed without difficulty. To this end it can be said that the primary purpose of ku-ji is shōkanjō (consecration, abhiseka) and chōbuku (exorcism). [Waterhouse 1996] (Wikipedia on Kuji-in, Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

part of Tammon-Ten's (Vaiśravaṇa), The God of the North, Celestial Thunder Court.: In Daoist usage it would be Xuanwu, Mysterious Warior also known as Zhenwu, Perfect Warrior, and the Dark Emperor of the North.  He is the patron or all Daoist martial arts, and Military Magic.  Mount Wudang is his sacred mountain.

 

The two handed mudras are not part of Gehong's original teachings, but were added from Buddhist sources at an early date and both Buddhists and Daoists use them.  Jerry Alan Johnson has a discussion of them on pages 86 to 90 of Daoist Weather Magic and Feng Shui, which includes an illustration of the Thunder Court and the names of the important Thunder Marshals who are its principle spirits, as well as the six Jia spirits (These are also mentioned in detail in Saso's Teachings of Taoist Master Chuang and in other works by Jerry Alan Johnson) which it summons.

 

It's transmission to Japan was probably through Buddhist sources, though no one knows for sure, there is a great deal of Daoist teachings (and Confucian too!) that came over to Japan from China.

 

I don't know a lot about Japanese practice, but the idea that it is a legitimate Onmyodo and Shugendo practice makes a lot of sense to me.

 

 

 

Edit: Rushed, I forgot to put in link to Wikipedia article.

Edited by Zhongyongdaoist
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Zhongyong's post is pretty accurate from what I can tell...not that I'm in a position to judge what he says, or what anyone says of this subject...

I was told by a source I trust that one could find a legitimate or original version of the kuji-in mudras, in Tiantai Buddhism in China. Not to be confused with the more popular Tendai Buddhism.

The thing about such practices...it's best done in the midst of complete training. For instance, Buddhism comes with teachings, and isn't only about mudras and what appears to be esoteric. To just do the mudras without the teaching makes the practice meaningless, powerless, and ineffective. It might seem to have some effect, but it's not comparable to the whole training.

Francois Lepine is a source one could learn (a version of) the mudras from...but it's divorced from a legitimate spiritual training.

Shugendo seems really interesting...a couple of guys from Europe (I think France and Germany) have gone to Japan and trained in it. Definitely seems more esoteric than Buddhist oriented...so if that's your thing, that might be a worthwhile life goal. The training is pretty rigorous and intense...lots of surviving in the wilderness completely on your own. Not sure if they exactly do kuji-in, but they definitely do similar mudras etc.

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Sifu Chris Matsuo has at least two recorded workshops on practical applications of kuji hand seals. They may not be on display for sale, but you can request them by contacting him.This may not be what you exactly requested though, but his teachings are excellent and practicable.

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Thanks for the replies fellas, I will have to look further into the resources you mentioned. 

 

As to Francois Lepine, I don't get the best vibe from the man, seems very "New Agey" and not very legitimate, traditional, or profound based upon my limited observations, but who am I to judge whether he is authentic or presenting authentic teachings or not? Ultimately his teachings or particular system don't interest me, I was just curious whether anyone knew if the visualizations that he has described for the mantras/mudras of kuji-in were the real deal or not.

 

 

Definitely seems more esoteric than Buddhist oriented...so if that's your thing, that might be a worthwhile life goal.

 

Yes, I've been interested in Shugendo since I first became aware of it, though my primary interest is Daoism, and of the living traditions of the latter, Quanzhen/Neidan. That said, I am also highly interested in Mijiao/Mikkyo/East Asian "tantra"/esotericism and thus the combination of that element with Daoist principles and practices via Onmyodo into Shugendo makes Shugendo an area of interest for me. Unfortunately all of the aforementioned interests are esoteric and likely require initiation, lineage, a teacher, etc. and I don't have one, so I just do what I can on my own in preparation for if and when I do find that.

 

For those interested in Shugendo as well, here's an interesting video I came across a while back dealing with the topic:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCrbE2eEt64

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Hi,

 

If you want "authentic" mikkyo practices, you will have to go to a Mikkyo school. It is that simple.

 

Kuji is simply one aspect of a traditions teaching, it is not the whole thing. If you look at the schools that contain "kuji" then it is clear that it is simply one of the practices taught. Yet many seem to want to sell it as stand alone.

 

There is a Shugendo line that was trying to move outside of Japan. Yet even the Shugendo of today is hardly the Shugendo of ancient Japan. I have no idea how much it is a foreigner money marketting thing? (these things happen).

 

http://www.koryu-shugen.com/?page_id=288

 

But there have been issue, mainly due to your 'friendly neighbourhood 80's Ninja' being an asshat;

 

http://shugendo.org/node/18

 

You could try contacting the guy from the above blog and ask him.

 

But, apart from going to a Buddhist, Shugendo, or Daoist lineage that contains the kuji rites and learning it with in that tradition, you are simply left with those that are teaching it separately regardless of where they allegedly got their practice from.

 

Best,

Edited by snowmonki
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I find that if I do the hand mudras that I feel better and it helps my energetic processing.  For me, that's the bottom line.  Various theories as to why, history, etc, on this particular practice I haven't found to make a difference on results.  On that basis, I find that the pictures in wikipedia are sufficient.  (Though Sifu Matsuo recommends a variation of one of the mudras that I do find makes a difference in results.)  (Also, I haven't worked with other aspects of the practice, only the hand mudras.)  That's just me, and I understand that your orientation may be quite different.

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Thanks for the further suggestions. Another inquiry came to mind--is it feasible or contradictory to practice mikkyo or Shugendo in conjunction with Daoism or with one primarily following Daoism? I know historically Daoists have, at various times, used Sanskrit mantras and mudras, and I know that Michael Saso is involved with both Daoism and Tendai. Shugendo apparently has those affiliated with either Buddhism or Shinto, and as mentioned has Daoist elements as far as I am aware (I believe Yin-Yang, Wuxing, etc.), so a Daoist venturing into Shugendo seems feasible based on these grounds.

 

The reason I ask is because while I am attracted to both (Quanzhen/Neidan and Mikkyo), I also don't want to fall into some weird New Age mishmash that is counterproductive rather than truly transformative. What are your thoughts on the compatibility and mutual application of Daoism, particularly Quanzhen, with mikkyo and/or Shugendo?

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This is from the chapter on "Daoism in Japan", The Daoism Handbook, ed. Livia Kohn, p. 830

 

Shugendô practitioners are known as yamabushi. They undergo ascetic practices in the mountains to acquire supernatural powers and learn to divine good and bad fortune. Their practice focuses on fortune-telling, faith-healing and prayitig against calamities, as well as on the weaving of dhárani-spells and the writing of protective talismans. They are called upon to perform rituals that heal, invite good fortune and repose the souls of the dead. Much of what they do goes back to Daoist sources. For example, one of their key rites is a protective ceremony performed before entering the mountains that follows a formula already found in Ge Hong's Bao-puzi (Book of the Master Who Embraces Simplicity, CT 1185, ch. 17) of the fourth century. Common elements include the wording of the spells, the ritual procedures, the gods worshiped and the practice of abstaining from grains. The main difference is that the Baopuzi intended its rite for the solitary mountain entry of a single Daoist, while yamabushi undertake their practice in groups, believing that they will become buddhas in this life.


Then again, not unlike the fangshi of ancient China, many Shugendô practitioners make a living concocting and selling medicines, which they moreover call dan )J-, the term used for the cinnabar elixirs concocted by Chinese alchemists. Famous examples include the Mankintan (Cinnabar Worth Ten Thousand Pieces of Gold) from Mount Asama Ii in Ise, the Furôtan T 7t PJ- (Cinnabar Against Old Age) from Mount Hiko and the Hankontan(Cinnabar for Returning the Soul) from Mount Tateyama a, It in Echü M rp. Their talismans also integrate the Daoist-based formulas used by yin-yang diviners and their ritual movements follow the ancient Daoist Tubu or "Pace of Yu." Among their key spells is the Celestial Masters' formula "Swiftly, swiftly, in accordance with the statutes and ordinances," which is found on talismans, sacred banners and roof tiles even today (Maeda 1989; Miyazawa 1994). Finally, they make use of the so-called kuji Iciri it a demon-dispelling spell of nine characters that first appears in the Baopuzi (17.6a). It runs: Rinpyótôsha cai chinretsu zalzen or "Come down, soldiers and fighters, and line up before me!" It is often arranged graphically in a grit of five vertical and nine horizontal characters (see Miyake 1993; Kubo 1962; see Fig. 1). (Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

The text is rough because the OCR software doesn't recognize Chinese characters and I don't really have time to clean it up, but this clearly shows Sugendo practice of the kuji-in and many other Daoist practices.  The chapter as a whole is very informative, but obviously I cannot quote it at length.  If I have time I will comment more.

 

 

 

 

Edit: Connected the line containing "Rinpyótôsha cai chinretsu zalzen", which was divided.  When you come across some nonsense letter combinations in the middle of text, that is the software trying to make sense of Chinese characters.

Edited by Zhongyongdaoist
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