DSCB57

Did the Kuj-In mudra system originate in China?

Recommended Posts

Since there is evidence to show that the Ninja arts originated in China, and the practice of Kuji-In is somewhat integral to those arts, I wondered whether Kuji-In also originated in China, and whether it has a Daoist or Buddhist equivalent practice which is specifically Chinese? It is interesting to note that both Buddhist and Daoist cultivation schools make use of Mudra hand gestures, so it would make sense if it were true that the Kuji-In mudras either originated in Buddhist or Daoist cultivation methods of Chinese origin. So I would like to discuss these possibilities, as I am interested to learn how the original system differs from the Japanese version (if a Chinese version does or did actually exist). Thank you. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not an expert, but check the wikipedia page on Kuji-in, it provides some clues, although much is still obscure. Nonetheless, it seems clear that it's of Buddhist origin (Vajrayana), which originated in India and spread to China and Japan, mixing with Daoism and else.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, gnome said:

I'm not an expert, but check the wikipedia page on Kuji-in, it provides some clues, although much is still obscure. Nonetheless, it seems clear that it's of Buddhist origin (Vajrayana), which originated in India and spread to China and Japan, mixing with Daoism and else.

Hi Gnome, thank you for your reply. I did check the Wikipedia when I first started to develop an interest on the subject, but I wanted something more in-depth that I can really get my teeth into. But what you say is interesting. I still wonder whether there is a Daoist equivalent to this practice. I have been practicing a Japanese version of this for some time, and do find it a powerful practice, but I do not fully trust the source, and am also aware that there are quite a few variations of the Mudras used, and even a relatively slight change can make quite a difference.

This may turn out to be a blind alley, if it is true that the origin is from the Vajrayana Buddhist schools in India. I hope some other members will chime in. 

It may also be interesting to start another thread comparing the Indian Mudra systems with their Daoist equivalent, although I have only really found in-depth information within the topic of Daoist magic in books I have read on the subject, which is probably in some way related to the Kuji-Giri practices, which is not where my interest lies in principle. Mudra are used in one form or another throughout the martial arts and cultivation practices of many schools, and their proper use has probably been forgotten for the most part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why should it be a blind alley? Every religion or philosophy has something in common. The four heavenly kings of Vajrayana and other devas have an analog in chinese mythology, since either cultures, or any for that matter, always had those concepts, in one way or another. But you would have to be wise of both vajrayana and daoism to recognize the common points, and that is in itself burdening. If there was a daoist practice of kuji, it's lost, or we would had knowed it by now. Either way, like I said, chinese gods and indian devas are the same ones, we all aspire the same, only language and cultural expression is different. But do keep digging, I would love to know more details as well :)

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted these elsewhere on the Dao Bums, I hope that they are useful:

 

On 4/23/2015 at 6:24 PM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

This information from the Wikipedia article is essentially correct:

 

Quote

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.

 

and

 

On 4/24/2015 at 4:50 PM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

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

 

Quote

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.

 

ZYD

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 02/04/2018 at 8:03 PM, Zhongyongdaoist said:

I posted these elsewhere on the Dao Bums, I hope that they are useful:

Thank you Donald, I have learned a great deal from this, although my interest is more toward the Kuji-In practice than the Kuji-Giri.

Do you happen to know where I can find photographs or detailed drawings of the Daoist version of the two-handed mudras of the Kuji-In? I would like to be able to compare those I learned, as well as find a good resource for the study of the function of mudra in Neigong practices etc. I don't remember where I read this, but I do remember one description of the Kuji-In practice as being equivalent to practicing cultivation using only the hands, but having just as powerful effect as one would experience from a Yoga asana or Qigong practice. Combined with deep meditation it can certainly help one enter a Samadhic consciousness, especially if combined with Dharanis. Very interesting to also learn that Dharanis are referred to as spells in the texts you quoted. That seems quite different from the Mahayana Buddhist description and use, although I can attest to their power. 

 

Rather than being a Kuji-In spell, in fact the Kuji-In actually use these as mantras In Japanese, the version I learned is:

Rin 

Kyo (incorrect transliteration)

Toh

Sha

Kai (this is obviously incorrectly transliterated)

Jin

Retsu

Zai

Zen

Which is obviously very similar to the version you quoted above, although I was not taught to use them as a complete sentence as you quoted it:

Rin     - lín  

Pyó    - bīng

Tô      - dǒu

Sha    - zhě

Cai     - zhèn

Chin   - jiē

Retsu - liè

Zai     - qián

Zen    - háng

However the real difference is the translation, "Come down, soldiers and fighters, and line up before me!" I wonder why there is no mention in the texts you quoted of the fact that each of these individual syllables/ideograms are actually expressed in the Kuji-In mudras themselves? There is also no discussion of the actual effect of each mudra, which is very much a part of the actual practice during the meditation focused on each of the Kuji-In ideograms.

It would also be interesting to be able to compare these with the Sanskrit or Pali versions, in order to hear how they would have sounded originally. Often the Japanese, Chinese or Tibetan versions of Sanskrit mantras and dharanis tend to depart considerably from the original pronunciation, and I feel that this is important. However what makes this both problematic and confusing is that in many cases only the Chinese versions remain, and have in fact been re-translated into Sanskrit. I am a firm believer in the power of the vibration of sound, and I confess that I am not at all convinced that the effect of using mantras with the Chinese or Japanese transliteration would be comparable to the effectiveness of the original Sanskrit or Pali from the Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhist Sutras.

In fact I had hoped to find some mantras which were purely Daoist in origin, in order to see for myself how powerful they were. I am sure such mantras must exist, but I have only managed to access those which are transliterated from Sanskrit. The same goes for the mudras.

Edited by DSCB57
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The original practice was Chinese and Daoist (in Ge Hong's Baopuzi), and was simply a protection prayer...it wasn't like seed syllables that had individual mystical effects due to their sounds, as it's used today. It was basically like us saying today, "Heaven protect me"...that's it. More of an intention thing than a sound vibration thing. There were no mudras.

Later on, someone took mudras that may have originated in India or Buddhism, and combined it with the 9 syllables of this Daoist protection prayer. Maybe they made that combination due to the similarity of the deities involved. They may have altered the mudras from their source prior to that combination, or maybe others altered them after that...definitely today there are many variations.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Aetherous said:

The original practice was Chinese and Daoist (in Ge Hong's Baopuzi), and was simply a protection prayer...it wasn't like seed syllables that had individual mystical effects due to their sounds, as it's used today. It was basically like us saying today, "Heaven protect me"...that's it. More of an intention thing than a sound vibration thing. There were no mudras.

Later on, someone took mudras that may have originated in India or Buddhism, and combined it with the 9 syllables of this Daoist protection prayer. Maybe they made that combination due to the similarity of the deities involved. They may have altered the mudras from their source prior to that combination, or maybe others altered them after that...definitely today there are many variations.

Thank you Aetherous. So, how did the Kuji-In practice become such an important practice for the Ninja clans, or is this only a recent development? I assume that this took place before the formation of the Japanese Ninja clans? Perhaps they had something to do with the addition of the Buddhist mudras? And what is it that makes the Kuji-In so powerful? Is it the mudras themselves, or the combination between the mudras and the 9 syllable prayer of which one syllable was assigned to each mudra? How did this develop into the Kuji-Giri magical system, or was it the other way around?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, DSCB57 said:

So, how did the Kuji-In practice become such an important practice for the Ninja clans, or is this only a recent development?

 

Ge Hong's Baopuzi was in the 4th century. Shinobi were in 12th - 17th centuries...I don't know the history of them using kuji-in, maybe it was during this time.

I would assume they used it because it's meant to be protective.

 

34 minutes ago, DSCB57 said:

I assume that this took place before the formation of the Japanese Ninja clans?

 

That's a good question...I don't know who combined the prayer with the mudras.

 

34 minutes ago, DSCB57 said:

And what is it that makes the Kuji-In so powerful?

 

The hand contains all 5 elements, and each arm is like yin and yang...or in other words, the universe/reality is in our hands. To alter the hands alters the universe, inside and outside, or alters reality.

 

34 minutes ago, DSCB57 said:

Is it the mudras themselves, or the combination between the mudras and the 9 syllable prayer of which one syllable was assigned to each mudra?

 

My personal experience was that the mudras are powerful, and the syllables weren't really, in and of themselves...but their association with the mudras perhaps gave them power.

 

34 minutes ago, DSCB57 said:

How did this develop into the Kuji-Giri magical system, or was it the other way around?


Another good question. I don't really know that much, and simply came to some conclusions after reading the Wikipedia article.

Something interesting: I met a Japanese woman who I once saw perform the 9 cuts of kuji-kiri. She claimed it was a Japanese cultural thing for protection...although I'm not sure it's all that common.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Lao Xie teaches 9 hand seals trough his videos. In one clip he draws both, the Japanese grid and taoist "grid" which looks like an atom like shape. And what he says, than this 9 seals are the core. The complete system has 387 mudras in total. Now, if that are just hand/finger mudras, I dont know, probably whole body mudras included too. You should check LX out ... :) 

Edited by Jox
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wondered whether Kuji-In also originated in China?

 

I stumbled upon this information accidently when i bought a mantra course from a highly respected vedic teacher.
according to what he learned from Indian history the priest class lost influence and many of the high level mantras leaked to the normal population.

 

He mentioned that Buddha struck a deal with the priestclass by introducing buddhist doctrine and distracting people from these mantras so that balance could be restored. (india was a cast society you could not move outside your cast)

 

The story seems very crazy but after that i always noticed that the shaolin masters wore those prayer beads around there neck and chest.And that that method of chanting and moving the bead with the finger is one of the fastest and strongest way to advance quickly.

 

after that course i have always seen the prayer beads around the neck of a shaolin warrior as a secret hidden right in the open.

 

  • having said that there are two kuji practise that are almost identical.
  • However the indian version uses different and much longer mantras.
  • The seals are identical.

If you every would like to get indepth knowledge about mantra and there correct aplications that i would recommend Thomas Ashley Farrand courses. I am not a friend or students of them i just did one course.

 

To anwser your question i believe it originated in Indian and migrating to Japan where it was modified by warrior priests.
I do not see the proud japanses warrior mumbles something in an indian language to get protection.

 

The indian version can be learned from Master MahaVajra. However i cannot recommend him as positive or negative.
His skills are advanced but somethings he teaches is way above my comfort level and i lack understanding if this should be really a"good" thing that one should be doing and things that would not create karmic debt. but thats just my limitation and not a critique on this master.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember learning nine mudras from a DVD by Stephen Hines a long time back. 

 

I could never work out whether you're supposed to hold each mudra for a period while continually reciting the associated syllable, or if you are supposed to quickly run through the mudras in pace with the recitation of the entire prayer.

 

Anyone who practices this do let me know. Not knowing has always bothered me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen Hayes' DVD shows him reciting the 'Om Mani Padme Hum' mantra whilst repeating the Nine Cutting Fingers over and over fairly rapidly.

However I feel that it is far more powerful if once you master the mudras, you instead practice them as slowly as possible and hold each one for around half an hour in deep meditation, whilst repeating the specific mantra for each mudra, as taught by MahaVajra. I no longer practice this, but I did for over a year, and as I say I did find it a powerful practice. 

Practicing moving rapidly through the mudras is a good exercise for both the brain and the hands, as it develops power in the hands as well as dexterity, but my personal feeling is that one needs to allow time for the energetic shifts between each of the mudras, which is why I thought of combining the Kuji-In with a very slow version of the Bagua Circle Walking (with the eyes closed). I found this a very powerful exercise.

However, since practicing some of the high level Bak Fu Pai cultivation meditations, I now feel that the breath control sequences employed in this system are far more powerful for the activation of mudras, and would very much like to explore the possibility of the existence of such sequences as applied specifically to the Kuji-In mudras. 

I wish I could access the knowledge which would allow me to discover such things for myself, as there is so much disinformation here and elsewhere, and so much controversy that I find it all really disheartening. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/25/2018 at 1:34 AM, Vajra Fist said:

Does maha vajra have a legit lineage? I got the impression it was something he made up.

 

There are those who say he comes from an authentic lineage, then there are the detractors who say he does not. The truth is that I do not know, nor do I care either way. In my opinion it is not the lineage which is important, but the quality of the student and the effectiveness of the practice. As someone stated at one point, a good and worthy student can gain more from an inauthentic system than a poor unworthy student is able to gain from a practice from a highly reputed lineage based tradition (paraphrased in my own words). The question you should be asking is 'does it work?', 'does the practice enable one to advance in one's cultivation?' 

 

The Dharani/mantras MahaVajra gives for each of the Kuji-In mudras are authentic (inasmuch as they are in Sanskrit and seem to make some sense), however according to one source (John Vajra) they are out of context and cannot be compared with the power of the Sakyamuni Buddha's Dharanis. But then again John Vajra knows next to nothing about the Kuji-In system, so he may have been mistaken and speaking out of turn.

 

All I can say is that I practiced these for a couple of hours daily over a period of nearly 2 years (before accessing the Buddha Dharanis), and they certainly had an effect on my cultivation, and probably helped prepare me for the high level cultivation systems I am now practicing. But I feel that the key is to use them as a meditation practice, with the eyes closed whilst focusing on each mudra of the Kuji-In for a fairly lengthy period. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites