Saturday, May 23, 2009

Juppo Sessho

I began a walk in the woods, as most, carrying much more than the items in my pack. April 30th, 2009 I set out with a group of friends to conquer a small bit of the Appalachian Trail (AT)--a mere 24 miles in three days. We set off in the morning as day hikers, the bottom of the trekker scale. 

At the pinnacle of the AT trekker hierarchy are the through hikers, those souls with the temerity to challenge the AT from stem to stern in one epic slog. Next, stand the segment hikers who devour the AT in multi week segments. These are the men and women with jobs who attack the daunting AT during bouts of vacation. But, I set off, with my friends, as a duffer, one who merely plays at the solemn task of casting off a watch, hygiene, and any care for the outside world for the solitude of over a thousand miles of forested trail. The AT is, indeed, a world apart with it's own nouveau hippie culture complete with peculiar customs and courtesies; chief of which is the primacy of the through hiker. To me, the distinctions are pretensions; most everyone is there for the same purpose--to experience an ancient simplicity. The experience is not imparted based on the duration of one's pilgrimage but is granted to those who measure their plodding steps with care. The exertion that the AT exacts and the staid majesty of the forest's ancient wooden sentinels quickly divest one of all but the most necessary and elemental burdens.  

And, so, we set off North bound on a portion of the AT which meanders along the boarder of North Carolina and Tennessee.  In three days time, we were to emerge from the verdant wood in Erwin, TN at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel and Outfitters. For the first day, we were scheduled to trek 8 miles from Sam's Gap to the Bald Mountain shelter. Sam's Gap lies at approximately 3,800 feet above sea level. Between me and the first shelter lay Big Bald, another 1,716 feet in elevation at 5,516 feet. It might as well have been the summit of Mt. Everest. 

I quickly discovered that I was incontrovertibly a duffer at this business of AT trekking. My pack, including a fanny pack, tipped the scales at 55 lbs. I had everything one could ever hope to use in the deep and dark woods. Items that I still consider essential: a S&W model 686, stainless steel finish, chambered in .44 magnum (for use against disagreeable four and two legged mammals, or against any surviving dinosaurs that may still be lurking amongst the trees); 18 rounds of additional .44 magnum ammunition (six rounds in a speed loader); head lamp (invaluable as I  relocated my tent during the middle of the night); and my Sweet Water pump (which rescued me from perishing of thirst on the second day). An item which I wish I had carried: a portable cardiac arrest machine for use during my near heart-stopping assent to the Big Bald. 

Big Bald was breath taking. The summit is kept bald of trees and offers a panoramic view of the Smokey Mountain Range. I reached the summit, long after the rest of my cohorts, in a stiff wind that gusted to 30 mph or so and in fading light. So, I didn't have long to appreciate the view of the blue-grey rolling hills and mountains under a grey and blustery sky. I synched down my boonie hat and plodded on. I reached the Big Bald shelter about 30 minutes after the rest of my group. I consoled myself with the thought that I was lugging about a much heavier pack and was, de facto, much tougher. Never mind the stupidity of carrying about items that I would never end up using, such as an extra cooking pot and lid or 10 extra lithium batteries for my 107 lumens surefire flashlight--bright enough to permanently blind a charging grizzly bear at 100 yards. Light was fading fast, so I set about setting up my tent in a stiff wind, bending the trees in creaking groans.  My journal entry for that evening was, "8 miles + 55 lbs of gear=PAIN." 

That evening, I was exhausted but could not find sleep. I felt anxious, uncomfortable, with a vague sense of foreboding. The trees groaned uncomfortably, bending painfully in the buffeting gusts. I unzipped my tent and stuck my head out to gaze at the sky. It was then I noticed that I had expertly placed my tent next to a dead tree, slumping 40 feet from the leafy loam to a precarious rest on an adjacent tree. For me, this became both a moment of appreciation and understanding. Appreciation for the still small voice of Providence and a wider understanding of the nin-po principal of Juppo Sessho. 

Juppo Sessho no Jutsu means literally, "contact in ten directions."  "One can interpret this as indicating that Budo and Ninjutsu exist both inside and outside the box; indeed at a level totally beyond everything else." Masaaki Hatsumi, The Way Of The Ninja: Secret Techniques. Juppo Sessho is a vast idea that suggests a different mode of thinking and perception. It includes the idea of foresight and perception. Soke Hatsumi says that the vast majority of people go through life "sleep walking." People move through their daily lives insulated from those about them and the environment they live in. This is death. Modernity propagates this sleep walking as it limits man's potential by ignoring the Divine, the spiritual, and limiting man's experience to a shabby and primitive materialism. There is a connectivity between humans and to fail to realize this leaves one vulnerable. There is a connectivity with our natural environment and to fail to realize this isolates man from his natural possession. The Ninja maintained a vigil, a conscious communion with God's creation and, therefore, were able to sense a reality hidden from men of lesser awareness. For me, there can be no complete Juppo Sessho apart from Divine enlightenment. How can one be truly aware if you do not enjoy an awareness of the ultimate reality--a personal relationship with God? 

The tree did not fall. It would certainly make a better story if it had. Perhaps, it did not fall because I moved. Who can say? I moved my tent in the middle of the night. And, I fell into a restful sleep, lulled by the breath of the Divine, whispering to me through naked branches and rustling leaves. 

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being." Acts 17:28   

"In other words, the combination of the two great elements of the Dragon and the Tiger, having foresight and being certain of victory, is seen to be an important aspect of Budo. Martial artists who cannot develop this natural ability to predict, sense, and see through things will never achieve the proverbial '100 victories in 100 fights,' let alone '100 lives in 100 lights' (i.e. gaining enlightenment in each existence.)" Masaaki Hatsumi, The Way Of The Ninja: Secret Techniques pg. 176

Monday, May 11, 2009

Peter's Sword

Modern Americans are taught to be passive. The prevailing philosophy in the public schools imbues the student with a compliant character, binding him in a lord-serf relationship to the State. The modern man, therefore, acquires a distaste for weapons and martial art as, somehow, morally reprehensible. This is as his Statist taskmasters wish. It is impossible to subjugate a man possessed of the will to persevere, of a mind adept at critical thinking, and who has obtained the means of physical defense. Often, the Statist (whose modern incarnation is the Liberal Fascist) will make a perverse appeal to Christian principle in support of his effeminate doctrine of impotence. As the Father of Lies so often does, the Statist speaks in half truths and perverts the doctrines of Christ into a misshapen ethos of passivism.

It is written otherwise.

It may come as a shock to many that Christ specifically instructed his disciples to acquire weapons, swords, to be specific. To the same disciples that He directed the exhortation to turn the other cheek, Christ commanded: "and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36 This command came just before Christ allowed himself to be taken captive by the chief priests. It is interesting to note that Christ placed the acquisition of a sword even above that of rainment. As essential as articles of clothing are to modesty and human dignity, the command to keep and bear arms was held to be superior in relation. And, so, the disciples responded that they possessed two swords. And, Christ in his perfect equanimity said, "It is enough." v.38. And so, the disciples went forward, armed to meet the chief priests and their minions, possessed of the full measure of human dignity--armed as free men in the presence of their Sovereign Lord. As the fateful moment was upon them, confronted by the servants of Satan, Peter asked his Lord, "shall we smite with the sword?" This is the prayer of every warrior, of every "sword saint." In the quiet before the battle is enjoined the bujin still asks, Lord "shall we smite with the sword?" For the victor does not conquer by the strength of his own arm, but by the might of the Almighty. Peter acted with his characteristic rashness and struck off the ear of the High Priest's servant. Undoubtedly, Peter's desire was to strike off the servant's head. At this display of righteous but impetuous wrath and aggression, Christ gives the answer that Peter should have waited for, "Suffer ye thus far." v.51 Then, Christ simply heals the servant's severed ear. No further remonstrations are given. No condemnation is uttered by Christ for the act of violence. It is an episode which sheds Divine light on the God-given right to possess and bear arms. And, it is a Divine repudiation of all who malign the warrior spirit, the urge in good men to defend what is right.

So, those who teach men to cower in the shadows, to wait for a salvation from the State, to live their lives as slaves devoid of the human dignity found in the sword, are at enmity with God himself. The passivist cannot hide behind contorted doctrines to which the name of Christ is applied. And, the Christian bujin must recognize a duty to defend what is right with his sword--whether it be made of steel or whether it be fashioned out of the ephemera of thought. Ultimately, the Bible itself is the spiritual sword, unbreakable and immutable; cutting the soul and bringing men to repentance. These are dark days indeed. The people perish from the lack of vision (revelation). It is now more important than ever that men be willing to battle for what is right as our forefathers did when an English despot bore down upon them with the machine of tyranny.

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee withersover thou goest." Joshua 1:9

"When circumstances necessitate, however, those who do not fear the strong and protect the weak should be called true warriors." Masaaki Hatsumi

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bujin Do Not Forget

You can pause the music at the bottom of the page while watching the video.