Ninja Philosophy of Ichigu Wo Terasu 隅を照らす

ninja philosophy

Ninjutsu, like many martial arts, is one branch from a deeply rooted tree in ancient Buddhist religious philosophy and practice. The movement was preceded by the word which resonates when the movement is pure. Just as there are many movements, there are many supporting ninja philosophy that allow the practitioner to transcend the physical, mental and spiritual challenges they face. Ichigu Wo Terasu is one of these Ninja philosophy that we will attempt to shed some light on today.

Ninja Philosophy of Ichigu Wo Terasu 隅を照らす

ninja philosophy
Priest Saichō, founder of Tendai in Japan.

By definition, Ichigu Wo Terasu 隅を照らす means to light up one corner or to be a light that brightens it’s surroundings; enlightened. This ninja philosophy is a Tendai belief which has it’s origins in Mahāyāna Buddhism passed to them thru Chinese Buddhism brought by the Japanese Buddhist Saichō (最澄, September 15, 767 – June 26, 822).

The light or illumination, Terasu 照らす, is a common theme among all major religions and usually implies that we are in a state of natural darkness with that light being something we draw closer to eventually becoming that light in our own lives. The true practice of Ninjutsu brings a more profound understanding of a peaceful life filled with light. The greatest teachers in this art have a light shining deep within them that either draws people closer or sends them back into darkness where they find comfort.

Patience is the key to making this Ninja philosophy work for you. Kamae is the light being proper form in Spirit, Soul and Body. When the practitioner humbly submits all through rigorous and a continual practice, then, the light (kamae), illuminates the dark and unsure places turning the practitioner into that light. Without the light present in kamae, the movements are done in darkness where imperfection can appear as form as the mind attempts to fill in the blanks. Even the most seasoned practitioners claim they know nothing as the light is always striving to shine brighter.

Three Ways to Express the Ninja Philosophy 隅を照らす

  • Cherish all life
  • Act in service to everyone
  • Appreciate grace

Guarding against Darkness

Darkness is the natural opposition to the light and if left unchecked, will try to extinguish your light source. These obstacles first come in the form of self as we are always our own worst enemy. The thoughts we choose to accept should be of the light and this is where must challenge ourselves to express our kamae in the three ways mentioned above.

Our perception of people is the next obstacle to achieving the Ninja philosophy of Ichigu Wo Terasu. When you are a light and that light is evident in your life, negative people will draw closer to you in what appears to be admiration. In a way, we must develop our own facial recognition abilities to be able to identify the true nature of our enemies in our midst before they get close enough to attempt to extinguish the light. Those who dwell in darkness will only bear your light long enough to either get what they need or derail you into darkness along side them. Deep down some people neither have the capacity or the will to truly walk in the light and when you’ve identified these people the course of action must be immediate and without hesitation. On the contrary, there are some who will benefit by becoming light in their own life and those people will grow with you. In the beginning, as a practitioner draws closer to the light they may experience more opposition but with a determined effort to drawn closer to the light, darkness diminishes and true strength will be a great reward.

For ongoing and upcoming Tendai events around the world check out ICHIGU.NET

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