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Experts in disguise, infiltration, espionage, and counterintelligence, the ninja had spiritual values and magical traditions that distinguished them from the soldierlike samurai. Their art of ninjutsu, invisible as well as indispensable, was transmitted in secret schools and relied on only a few books, which were written in code.
The Shoninki, one of the most important of these coded manuals, was written in 1681 by Master Ninja Natori Masazumi. Presenting all facets of the art of concealment, espionage, and physical prowess, including methods of disguise and survival techniques, this source text also contains teachings on spiritual meditations, psychic powers, the art of face reading, controlling the emotions, and magic spells. Revealing the connection between the ninja and the yamabushi--warrior monks who were endowed with supernatural powers--this classic text confirms the path of the ninja as an authentic spiritual discipline, one of self-realization and detachment and the way to mind-body harmony.