Spirituality in Martial Arts Class?

A friend wrote critically of codes and creeds in martial arts schools. He feels people just want fitness and self-defense and do not sign up for what he calls “Boy Scouts or Sunday School”.

He has a valid point. But what of people who want more than fitness and fighting from their martial arts study? What of those who want a program for handling well all types of “enemies” that could try to stop us?

No, MMA ring champions do not seem to live by codes, but the samurai have a code, the Jedi have a code, the American fighting military has a code. The wilder and wider your range of possibilities, the more you will need a philosophical guide to prevent you from falling into the enemy’s control.

We created our “3-part Seekers Creed”, and then our “14-Point Code of Mindful Action” ethics code, and then “8 Aspects of Self Actualization”, and then “6 Parameters of Heroic Living”, and “9 Cuts of Personal Power Activation” all based on translating 2,500-year-old Asian spiritual codes. Code overload, we have!

But… adult businesspeople and young schoolchildren love to tell us stories of how some aspect of the code helped them score a victory of some sort in life. Codes work for us as an integral irreplaceable key component of our gutter-honest self-defense philosophical martial art of “intelligence in action”.

Glimpses of What Could Be

Buddha at Sakya Pema Ts'al in the Himalayas
What would it feel like if you could, after years of working hard at understanding life, sit under a tree and vow not to get up until you truly grasped the deepest most authentic nature of how reality works and how the mind operates in that reality? What would everything in the world look like to you at that moment? What would you look like to everything in the world?

Buddhist art has for over 2,000 years tried its best to depict an answer to those questions. Sometimes friends ask me why there are so many images of the Buddha when the Buddha himself asked people not to turn his image into a thing to be worshipped.

Do not be confused. The Buddha image is not what is to be revered. The Buddha experience as suggested by all images as forms of art is what we seek. Such artwork encourages us, and we take that encouragement to heart.

Here is the inspirational image from the main hall of my friends’ Sakya Pema Ts’al Monastic Institute at the base of the Himalayas. I will enjoy visiting and seeing this up close and personal.

And yes, I acknowledge it will be easier seeing that image than it will be seeing what that seer saw.

Phurba Pierces Problem States

Friends have asked me about some of the techniques that keep me intrigued with my Tibetan teachers who share with me their ageless lore of the Dorje Phurba “demon-defeating dagger”. Are you up for trying out an exercise?

The phurba dagger is a very real tool – a 3-edged blade like the famous commando daggers once used in western warfare but now banned in warfare for being just too fiercely deadly. Hand-held phurba spike daggers can be made of silver, gold, copper, or iron, or carved from wood of white, yellow, red, or black colors. However, the phurba is most important as a symbol of focused intention even more powerful than the hand-held blade.

What would you do with a weapon that could pierce through conditions in your life that stood in opposition to your fulfillment? What would you change right away if you had a tool that could nail into powerless paralysis any situations that caused lack or frustration in your life?

So here’s exercise one: Find one small condition that nags your life right now. Find something that you want but cannot seem to get, or something you dislike but cannot seem to dump. For this exercise, start with something relatively small, some little thing easy to identify, something that you will clearly recognize as being cured if or when a positive change comes about. We will save the big things for later.

Maybe you find some toxic condition you want to relieve – too much debt, excess body weight, unsafe car, co-workers or friends who bring you down, poor health, too much stress, overworked, etc. – something to purge in order to purify your life.

Maybe you will find some acceptable condition you want to expand – Mildly “OK” home or career or health or relationships or financial security or knowledge or appearance, etc. – but it could be and should be more satisfying and enriching.

Maybe you find your life missing key people, or positioning, or access to the kind of influence that would allow you to advance and accomplish – you lack the right allies, lovers, mentors, opportunities, titles, or outright patron sponsors – people or conditions to attract and bind to you in order to give your life the boost in momentum it needs.

Maybe you find your life invaded by people or groups or situations or conditions that seem to target you specifically and hold you back from what is rightfully yours – rivals, competitors, jailers, saboteurs, or outright enemies – some identifiable force to conquer and nail down out of the way in order for your life to be free to blossom.

Exercise One, part Two is to sit and take a deep breath and very clearly and explicitly identify with a vision in your mind’s inner eye and in as few strong words as possible just what you want to change. Stay with that for a few moments and repeat this step over and over to be sure you are focused. If you are comfortable with spiritual adventure, you could even press your palms together with the fingers of each hand gripping like claws the knuckles of the other hand as illustrated as Kuji no In Ge-baku-ken mudra in Chapter 5 in book 2 of Ninja; The Complete Collection. I will show you a minor adjustment of that sometime when we are together personally.

Exercise One, part Three is then to watch very carefully over the next week for any and all signs, coincidences, omens, hints, whispers, or offers that could indicate a possible solution to your challenge. Just remember to pay attention and look for even the most subtle of communications as to an answer. See what catches your awareness directly, obliquely, or in moments of distraction or even dreaming.

Try it and write me a comment on what you experience.

Dalai Lama in “The Sunday Indian”

The Dalai Lama – WAR AND PEACE

by Spriha Srivastava | December 5, 2010 17:38

What has a Ninjutsu Master got to say about His Holiness The Dalai Lama? A lot more than you know, for Stephen K Hayes was security advisor to His Holiness for the better part of the 1990s, and continues to be a spiritual friend.

What was your first impression of the Dalai Lama and how real was he compared to your perception of a Godman?

I first met the Dalai Lama in India in 1986. I was very much moved by the energy of his very presence and by his bearing. I later learned the Tibetans sometimes call him Kundun, which means “the presence”. I was impressed by the intense way he paid attention to each question I asked, and the way he answered honestly and directly. I was no statesman or business figure or celebrity, but he nonetheless gave me his entire attention for the hours I spent with him at our first meeting.

Read the rest on The Sunday Indian web site

Ganden Shartse Monks on Tour

Friends who visit my home sometimes compliment a large hanging thangka scroll picture of the historical Buddha displayed on the landing at the end of of my 3rd floor hallway. The large painting shows Gautama Buddha and some of his disciples, painted in rich colors and embellished with highlights of actual gold.

I was given the scroll as a present by the senior lamas of Ganden Shartse Monastery during a visit to Mundgod, India, in 2002. I had promised my friend Thubten Jinpa (translator for the Dalai Lama) I would assist the Ganden Shartse monks to get USA visas to facilitate a fund-raising tour through the United States.

Help Build a Temple

Got a few extra dollars looking for something important and valuable to do?

An-shu Stephen K. Hayes is working to assist his friend Lama Kunga Dhondup, principal of Sakya Pema T’sal Monastic School in Pokhara, Nepal, in fundraising to build a traditional Tibetan temple at the site of his monastery for young Tibetan monks.

An-shu says, “My young monk friends hosted me and a few of our SKH Quest Center Black Belt students in their monastery a few times in years past. They generously helped me translate ancient Tibetan texts that teach important exercises for the liberation of the human spirit. These are teachings that will add great value to our spirit-building training in the Western world.”

Here is where we need to help. “Temple construction is well underway – and along comes a world economic disaster. Funds pedged to my friends disappeared. I promised the Sakya Pema Ts’al monks I would do all I could to help them finish the financing of their temple building. Rumiko and I have the Blue Lotus Assembly charity that we use to send donations to great causes like this. If you have a few dollars you can share, please join us.”

Instead of automated donation, contribution checks can also be sent to:

Blue Lotus Assembly

c/o SKH Quest

6236 Far Hills Avenue

Dayton, OH 45459

Avalokiteshvara – Kannon – Chenrezig – Yoga Meditation

Wednesday June 30, 2010 8:30 – 9:30 pm

An-shu and guest Sakya Lama Rigzin Wangdu from Sakya Pema Ts’al Monastic Institute in Pokhara, Nepal, presented a meditation practice in generating awareness of our inherent proclivity towards compassionate intelligent encouraging engagement with the world, through identification with our own inner nature of being a “heroic bright light who hears the sorrows of the world”.

Earthquake Victims in Tibet

April 14 was Rumiko’s and my 30th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with joy and then were dismayed to hear about the Tibetan earthquake tragedy that day. More than 1,700 people have died and an estimated 10,000 mostly ethnic Tibetans were injured and left homeless in near-freezing temperatures after an earthquake struck a region of Kham, Tibet. More than 85 percent of the houses in Kyigudo, a town of 100,000 people nearest the epicenter, were destroyed along with a major monastery.

I encourage friends to donate relief funds, either directly to an appropriate organization like The Tibet Fund Emergency Earthquake Relief, or by sending a donation to Rumiko’s and my charity Blue Lotus Assembly to form a collection we will donate as a group.

May 13 update: I made a presentation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on stage in front of the audience when he visited us, and requested that he add ours to his contribution to relief work. We collected over $3,000 in donations. That goes a long way in Tibet!

Please join us in keeping the victims of this earthquake in our thoughts and prayers and assisting financially if you are able. So far, the following friends have contributed:
Curtis Adkins
Jacob Bassham
Boulder Quest Center
Brent deMoville
Maison Dhondt
Daniel L. Dunn
Tori Eldrige
Michael Erwin
Tony Griffin family
Richard Harrington
Jackie Haviland
Marissa Hayes
Reina Hayes
Stephen & Rumiko Hayes
Rick Jurvis
Christos Karatsalos
Jesper Ljungquist
Joel Minton
Eamonn Mullaly
Neal Nemhauser
Russell Nemhauser
Newbury Park Martial Arts
Steve Pavlovic
Michael Piper
Robain Polly
Kyle Smith
Marco Tillmann
Richard Titcombe
Jerry C. Townsend
Gail Whipple

All About Meditation

Meditation is the technique of controlling and guiding the focus of the mind and its thought process. You gain the ability to direct what your mind is doing, as opposed to having random whim control the contents of your mind. Different types of meditation evolved to develop different skills required to reach differing goals.

Stephen K. Hayes’ Volume I Spirit of the Shadow Warrior and Volume 2 Warrior Ways of Enlightenment, and the SKH Quest books Action MeditationFirst Steps on the Path of Light and How To Own The World all have chapters dealing with some of the mind techniques available through the Blue Lotus Assembly training:

PRESENCE Meditation

Learn to be fully present in your life. Recognize how your mind’s restless nature works to prevent you from fully enjoying the richness of each experience, and then cultivate the ability to dwell in the “exhilarating calm” of being totally in the present moment and place. What a refreshing space to be in this world of overcrowded, overloaded, and overstressed senses, decisions, thoughts, demands, communications, and choices that so often overwhelm us to the point of numbness or oblivion. How would life be different if you were more able to move through your days with a sense of centered peace? PRESENCE mindfulness meditations are often described in words that negate frantic pace and busy attention with titles like calmingor centering or tranquility, or the Japanese term shi which translates as “stopping” the mind-spinning.

INSIGHT Meditation

Learn to look within for verification of truth as you question all your answers. Develop the capacity to recognize habitual dead-end thought and feeling patterns that can seem so natural, but that actually stem from cultural, social, family, and community conditioning. What an empowering breakthrough it is to realize we have access to the answers to the vexing questions as to why life can be a confusing, exasperating, discouraging, and heartbreaking experience. How would life be different if you had more power to determine the quality of your interactions and encounters? INSIGHT meditations give us the opportunity to explore how our emotions, beliefs, habits, thought processes, and interpreted memories condition and determine our experience of life, who we are, and how we operate in the reality we are creating.

STRUCTURE Meditation

Learn to engage powerful traditional tools for disciplined progress. Build a carefully structured form for daily awareness conditioning as a method for moving ever closer to thinking, speaking, and acting like the ideal person you have always wanted to be. What an inspiring opportunity to have these age-old statements of principle with which to re-align continuously in our commitment to living in integrity. What could you accomplish if you lived every decision from a pre-determined code for heroic living? STRUCTURE recitation meditations are sometimes seen as seeming to state the obvious, but the practice has a way of becoming ever more challenging and stimulating and inspiring in the most personal of ways the longer we work with and reflect on the techniques.


Learn to tap into the direct experience of your highest purpose in life. Discover ancient secret methods for accessing bright inspiration that dwells within grand and timeless archetypal potentials as healer, spiritual champion, protector, guide, or provider of blessing. How liberating it is to let go of any sense of being off-purpose or beaten-down, and instead find within a truer, nobler, grander identity as a spiritual beacon for self and others. Who would you be if you were totally living up to your potential? INSPIRATION visualization meditations are doorways to our truest or highest self that dwells hidden beneath layers of mental and emotional shielding developed over years of conventional trial and error identity forging on the to way defining ourselves and our roles in life.


Learn to embody the perfection of spiritual truth that can be grasped by working through the challenges of our deepest fears. Perfect ancient secret methods for transforming into spiritual elevation even those aspects of personal makeup that conventional spirituality often disdains. How healing it is to attain initiation into the deepest realization of why we have been given a precious human life, and how we can use every inclination, feeling, conflict, and discomfort as a means for elevating life into a brilliant realm of sacred qualities in action. Who would you be if you could transform into trophies all lingering shadows of guilt, shame, resentment, or regret? TRANSMUTATION highest yoga tantra meditations are magical processes for recognizing in the mundane workings of our bodies and personalities the keys to highest spiritual transcendence.


These different types of mind functioning each led to the development of a particular school of meditation. Each mental power is desirable – no intelligent being would turn down the offer of any of these powers. It is also true that each mental power must be cultivated and earned. Meditation is the practice by which hindrances to these different mind powers are overcome. Because the natures of these powers are different, the types of training are therefore different.

Meditation exercises described in Chapter 5 of Stephen K. Hayes’ Vol. 1, Spirit of the Shadow Warriordescribe shamatha “mindfulness” or “centering” meditation. You work to discover and access at will a centered and unmoved state of inner stability and clear vision and “stop your mind from spinning” to prevent thoughts from running away with you. This calming and centering of the mind, with emphasis on cultivating awareness of the “empty-of-distracting-forms” state of mind, might be thought of as most characteristic of Japanese Zen or Chinese Chan meditation.

Meditation exercises described in Chapter 4 of Stephen K. Hayes’ Vol. 1, Spirit of the Shadow Warrior and the SKH Quest Publications First Steps on the Path of Light and How To Own The World are vipasshana , or “insight” introspection meditation. In this meditation, you monitor the flow of realizations as they move through your observing mind and “watch your mind at work” to see how your mind does work. This watching the mind in action and gaining insight as to the functions of mind is most characteristic of Theravada (“School of the Sages”) meditation, especially strong in the countries of Southeast Asia, such as Thailand or Burma.

Meditation exercises described in Chapter 7 of Stephen K. Hayes’ The Mystic Arts of the Ninja and those in the SKH Quest Publications Action Meditation are close to mikkyo “esoteric” meditation practice. In “eidetic visualization” ritual meditation, you willfully program your mind to alter its conditioned perceptions of the world. Mikkyo is characteristic of Tibetan and Japanese vajrayana meditation. The exercises require you to be in a specific environment and “psycho-emotional atmosphere” in order to be transmitted. Therefore, such meditations do not usually appear in books because the initiation must be in the form of direct experience guided by a qualified teacher.

How To Meditate

Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind’s attention for channeling energy, properly integrating mind and body, and experiencing personal growth

Meditation Posture

In a quiet place, relatively free from distraction, sit in a straight-backed chair or on a firm pillow.

Your seat should be higher than your ankles. If your knees stick up way higher than your seat, use a firmer pillow to lift you higher. If you are uncomfortable on the floor, sit on the forward edge of a straight back chair.

Sit up straight. Allow your muscles to work actively to keep you upright. Leaning back leads to drowsiness.

Fold hands together palms-up. Fingers of one hand rest on top of the insides of the fingers of the other. Flatten your thumbnails with the tips barely touching. When you look down you should see the flat thumbnails and upturned palms beneath them.

Sit with spine straight but not stiff. Imagine a straight line running from each ear lobe to the top of each shoulder. Elbows are not too far in, not too far out. Tongue rests lightly against the back of your front teeth and the roof of your mouth. Rock slightly in all four directions to settle yourself in.

Keep eyes open just enough to be aware of light coming in under lowered lids. With eyes half-open and half-closed, gaze at the ground in front of you. Allow your eyesight to reach out in front effortlessly. Do not concentrate fiercely. Meditation with closed eyes can result in “inner television”. Shopping lists, old quarrels, and “if-onlys” begin to sneak onto the screen.

The Mind

Center on breathing to channel the mind. Sit lightly and observe your breath. Lightly examine its quality. Is it deep or shallow, tranquil or in turmoil? Observe your breaths as they arise and fall away. Repeat to yourself, “Breathing”, once for the inhale and once for the exhale. Repeat the process for ten repetitions.

If you find yourself thinking, do not be annoyed. Inwardly smile to yourself, remind yourself “not now”, and let the thought go. Observe in unattached fashion and return to following the breath without any self-criticism. Do this practice long enough, often enough, and ever so gently the thoughts begin to retreat and you will find the mental stability you seek.


Since the beginning of history, people have disciplined their minds to stimulate states of well being with the release of endorphins. Recent research indicates these potent natural substances are byproducts of physical and mental well-being in people who have a positive viewpoint of themselves and others.

Remember that enlightenment is not some external thing you have to “go get”. Its potential is inherent in us all. We find it within ourselves. Kukai (774-835) and Saicho (767-822), founders of the Shingon and Tendai esoteric traditions in Japan, advocated “realizing enlightenment in this very body”. The monk Hakuin said that all beings are enlightened, just as all ice is by nature water. Lin Chi (ca. 866), the founder of the Lin Chi school of Ch’an in China (Rinzai Zen in Japan), commented on this dormant potential in the core of all of us, “When you split open the cherry tree, where is the blossom? Yet in the springtime, see how it blooms!”

Click to go to SKH Quest Shop for Meditation for Martial Artists DVD instruction in mind centering practice.