This book was not at all what I expected. I wanted a book on the mental aspect of ninjutsu, a book that described the mental exercises of historical ninjutsu and how we can learn and apply these principles in modern training. What I got instead was the spiritual autobiography of Kevin Casey. The subtitle of the book is “Harnessing the Mental Strength and Physical Abilities of the Ninjutsu Masters.” The book, however, makes virtually no reference to any ninjutsu master other than Stephen Hayes. After reading the book, the reader is left with the strong impression that Stephen Hayes’ and Kevin Casey’s spirituality is much more closely connected with Tibetan Buddhism than with ancient ninjutsu.
This book has little to do with historical ninjutsu or with ninjutsu in general as a martial art. It is, rather, the spiritual autobiography of Kevin Casey as told through various stories and events in his life. It is filled with adoration for Casey’s mentor, Stephen Hayes. Casey writes with an air of arrogance that is apparent in all his stories. Even the self-deprecating moments in the book have an air of false humility. In one of his stories, Casey goes into great detail to tell the story of how he was in charge of security during a speaking engagement for the 17th Karmapa of Tibetan Buddhism. The reader is left to wonder what this lengthy story has to do with the subject matter of the book. Granted, it is a very important event Casey’s life and he used the occasion of this book to tell it, but it has nothing to do with harnessing anything from ninjutsu masters. Within that story, he told of how his wife argued with some vegetarians over a tray of meat. It was certainly wise of Casey to brag on his wife in his book, but again, the story has nothing to do with the supposed subject matter.
Casey’s stories take some rather bizarre turns at times. Casey focuses his mental energies on and draws strength from an Oriental god known as Fudo Myo’o who has blue skin and wields a flaming sword. Casey apparently believes in the literal existence of this deity who has manifested himself in physical form to both Casey and his wife. Fudo Myo’o appeared out of nowhere to change his wife’s flat tire. Fudo Myo’o also appeared in physical form to go on a late night wilderness run with Casey. I was struck with the impression that belief in the literal existence of Fudo Myo’o is as odd as believing in the literal existence of Thor.
Even if one can look past the somewhat self-serving purpose of this book and its bizarre spirituality, the book still suffers from lack of editing and leaves many unanswered questions: If there is a Kuji One, is there also a Kuji Two, Three, Four, etc.? The chapter titled “The Nine Powers” does not list nine powers. Casey insists that the Kuji powers can be learned only from a qualified teacher; yet, he gives no guidance on how to find or screen these qualified teachers. Where are they found? What are their characteristics and qualifications? How can one discern a true teacher from a charlatan? He lists a mantra, the pronunciation of which is apparently important. He tells us how the vowels are pronounced but does not say which syllable is stressed. If the proper syllable isn’t stressed, the pronunciation of the word remains unknown. Who is Hanzo?
To be fair, the book does contain a number of mental exercises that are probably helpful in meditation. I have no doubt that Casey is a fine man and meant well; I just think his book title is misleading.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a book on the mental disciplines of ninjutsu, you will be sorely disappointed in this book. If you are interested in reading the spiritual autobiography of Kevin Casey, or if you are interested in learning more about the spirituality of Stephen Hayes, this book will suit you just fine.