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Ascending Paths

with An-shu Stephen K. Hayes

A 3-part online Blue Lotus Assembly Mind-Science training
December 3, 10, & 17, 2022

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Earlier this year An-shu led us on a spiritual Yamabushi experience through the steamy summer mountains in Carolina.  For hours we hiked the steep trails to the sounds of birds, the rattling of the shakujo ringed staff, and the blaring of the horagai conch shell horn.

Weariness crept in and many began to lower their gaze.  Their heads grew heavy, and their eyes stared to the ground inches in front of their feet as they shuffled along.

"Remember to look up!" An-shu called out to the group.  Several times he repeated this helpful advice.

"Remember to look up!"



It is so easy to become consumed by the busyness of our lives.  The never-ending list of tasks and to-dos can convince us that we don't have the time or energy to do the things that are so important. 

In Shugendo, as well as in martial arts, we often grow by having a physical experience that when repeated enough times, opens a door in our mind to a different way of viewing things.  

Remembering to look up when we feel exhausted on a hike can prime us to stop and take notice of the beauty around us when we are buzzing around from one responsibility to the next.


Taking a little time can somehow make it feel as if we have more time, not less.  And perhaps our list of chores doesn't look so insurmountable; our energy somehow renewed.



The six practices we will cover in this Ascending Paths Series can be powerful tools that help us keep the big picture in mind when we fall back into the head-down, charge-forward mentality that is so pervasive in our culture.  

These practices complement one another and can help pull us back on track when we're feeling off.

We have structured this 3-part series so that we can cover two complementary practices each week.

I hope you can join us!


Six Practices to
Help you Climb Higher

  • Plan the Path with honest awareness of dangers and helpful waypoints to help you stay on course!

  • Protect and Purify your spirit to keep your sights on the goal!

  • Announce and Affirm your vow and commitment to making the world a brighter place!

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These are the goals of the practices we will be studying in this Kasumi-An Blue Lotus course!

Sound ambitious?  With some diligence and determination, encouragement from a supportive community, and belief in your higher potential, you may be surprised by all that you are able to accomplish!

"I take responsibility for what surrounds me in the world!"

Passage from the Has-Sho Do, 8-Fold Path of the Noble Ones

"Each of us wants to be of value and significance and positive influence in the world of which we are a part.  Therefore, we find ourselves pulled to take up these wisdom attainment practices.


Advancing towards the holiness of wholeness is the highest and most noble obligation of the human being."

An-shu Stephen K. Hayes 

The Discipline of Shugendo

Climb and Seek the Power of the Peak
Cross the Stream and Find the Ancient Dream



Envision yourself in Japan, at the dawn of written history, when venturing into mountain wilderness meant leaving behind the safety and familiarity of your village to embark on a journey full of terrible and unknown dangers. 


In these times, no sane person would casually go for a hike through the mountains as we might do today on a long weekend trip for leisure. 


The mountains were too full of risk, wrought with natural threats such as treacherous terrain, poisonous plants and aggressive  animals. But also dwelling in these wild heights are the spirits of long-passed ancestors, some of whom entered the spirit realm in a state of confusion, regret, or pain.  Not all would have gone on to find a peaceful resting place in the light.  Malevolent lost spirits restlessly await to usurp the mind of  any who would wander into the mountain peaks' other-worldly twilight. 

A traveler's mind, their own human consciousness, could be completely and forever lost in confusion and despair to the will of disembodied entities should they climb too far from the protection of the valleys and plains below.

"A few courageous individuals nonetheless risked sanity, health, and livelihood to challenge the peaks in search of the very powers of nature itself."

These spiritual explorers are now known by the titles of Yamabushi "those who submit themselves to the mountains," and Shugenja "those who gain realization through experiential practice."

The mountain seekers faced tremendous physical and spiritual obstacles to obtain new vision, powers, and abilities that they would then employ to aid and serve their communities when they descended once again to their villages below.

Amazingly, these mountain seeker rites and passages still exist for us today.  Shugen practitioners across the world still work to cultivate spiritual power for the purpose of aiding and serving their neighbors.

In this 21st century, we can learn much from these ancient practices to achieve spiritual alignment.  "We need an inner technology to lead us as fragmented individuals into reunion with the grander whole of rich green nature beneath our feet and star-studded cosmos above our heads."


-Stephen K. Hayes


The Blue Lotus Assembly
Living and Sharing Spiritual Brightness

The Blue Lotus Assembly is a vibrant and self-sustaining spiritual community.  We are dedicated to sharing authentic practices for realizing enlightened human potential with all people who seek a deeper, truer, more siginificant experience of life.

The Blue Lotus Assembly is a distinctly Western order. We operate under our own authority, autonomous and self-directing in our organization and charter.  Yet, our members enjoy a connection to long-established Japanese and Tibetan "esoteric mountain practice" root precedents and teachers.  

Ultimately, the goal of this practice is that of personal transcendence of the ordinary smallness of spiritual vision to achieve full self-actualization.

How much are you willing to change on your quest to become the "you" that you wish be in the future?



This course will offer training in six practices found within An-shu Hayes' "Enlightened Warrior Gyo-Ja Practitioner Recitation Handbook."

These exercises are associated with Deshi-Gashira (弟子頭) Senior Disciple of Shugendo, and Gyoja (行者) Avowed Practitioner on the Path of Purification, but are presented in a way that everyone can gain benefit, regardless of holding rank or not.

They are foundational to the Shugenja's view of themselves, their spiritual practice, and the entire world.

The six practices in this training are,

  • Shisho Tai (4 Noble Truths)

  • Hassho Do (8-Step Accomplishment Plan)

  • Juyon Kai (14-Point Protective Promises)

  • Sange Mon (Purification Practice)

  • Kujo Shakujo (Bodhisattva Vows)

  • Kigyo Mon (Affirmation of Commitment) 

Vows and Initiations

Participants of this training will have the opportunity to take initiatory vows with An-shu Stephen K. Hayes of both the first level, Deshi (弟子) Disciple of Shugendo, and the second level, Deshi-Gashira (弟子頭) Senior Disciple of Shugendo, at the end of this series.

There is absolutely no requirement or expectation for you or anyone to initiate, vow, take oaths, or make promises in this training.  Those ceremonies are offered as an option for encouragement to those who wish to make a personal statement of their commitment to the practices.  

Because they are completely optional, initiation dues are not included in the ticket price of this series.  Separate payment arrangements for initiation certificate and kesa will be made directly with An-shu Hayes at the time of the ceremony.

Required Reading


These practices are found in the

"Enlightened Warrior Gyo-Ja Practitioner Recitation Handbook" written by An-shu Stephen K. Hayes.


This book will be required reading material for all participants of the training.  If you do not already have a copy of this book, you can purchase it for only $12 by following the link below.

Community as a key to lasting growth

Sangha is the Sanskrit word for community or assembly. It is one of the keys to success on the path of personal development.

Quite often people attend classes or seminars with great teachers, but the learning support ends with the closing speech. After a few days, the energy of the event fades and the positive momentum of meaningful change fizzles out. We fall back into our old habits.

This teaching series is designed to keep the momentum going!

First, An-shu presents a lesson.  We then follow up with a discussion led by senior community leader and ordained shugenja, Jim McFarland.
Bring your burning questions to Mr. McFarland and he 
will assist you in integrating the teachings into your daily life.

Plus you'll gain access to our discussion group on Facebook, wherein members of the community seek answers, share wisdom, and contribute to the advancement of others on the path.

Each of us brings a lifetime of experience and a unique perspective to the group. Your insights may illuminate something from the lesson that someone else missed.
And theirs may do the same for you.


Ascending Paths Series

3 live online (Zoom) trainings (2 hours each)
Forever-access to recordings. 

+ 3 Instructional sessions with Stephen K. Hayes (60 min each)

+ 3 discussions with Jim Eisho McFarland (60 min each)

+ 3 Bonus Mid-Week "Mindful Action Meetups" with Bryan Griffin on FB Live

Live sessions Saturdays 2-4pm EST

December 3, 10, & 17, 2022

Reserve your seat for $149 and get immediate access to our Facebook community. 


Stephen K. Hayes

Primary Instructor

An-shu Stephen K. Hayes is everyone's image of the iconic master warrior sage.

Black Belt Magazine calls him "A legend; one of the ten most influential martial arts masters alive in the world today" for good reason. He is peerless in his ability to share real and honest ninja combat secrets enriched by unparalleled insights from the Himalayan meditative mind sciences.

His gift is his ability to deliver a complete and all-inclusive approach to personal security and personal power. His genius is his ability to present complex esoteric concepts in a practical, useful, and understandable way.


Jim McFarland

Discussion Leader

Jim McFarland is a student of An-Shu Stephen K. Hayes and holds the rank of yondan (4th degree black belt) in ninjutsu.


Mr. McFarland is a Rei-Bu Gashira 霊峰頭 (senior ordained practitioner) of Japanese Shugendo mountain transformation practice and holds the Buddhist name Eisho. He also studies and practices Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism.  

Mr. McFarland is a Masters level clinical counselor with 30 years of experience and specializes in helping people suffering with anxiety.

He is the author of a new series of self-help courses titled “Attack Your Anxiety and Rewire Your Anxious Brain” released in the U.S. to help a broader audience find relief from anxiety. 


Bryan Griffin

Community Organizer

Bryan Toutoshi Griffin began training in To-Shin Do with An-shu Stephen and Rumiko Hayes at the Hombu dojo in 1998 and currently holds the rank of rokudan (6th degree black belt).


Mr. Griffin became a Rei-Bu 霊峰 (ordained practitioner) of Kasumi-An Shugendo in 2022.

He is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and served as a scout sniper in combat deployements to both Iraq and Afghanistan.  

He has a degree in business administration and runs the Raleigh Quest Center, where he shares the valuable self-defense and self-development training of To-Shin Do with all who seek to unleash their potential!

Ascending Paths Series

3 live online (Zoom) trainings (2 hours each)
Forever-access to recordings. 

+ 3 Instructional sessions with Stephen K. Hayes (60 min each)

+ 3 discussions with Jim Eisho McFarland (60 min each)

+ 3 Bonus Mid-Week "Mindful Action Meetups" with Bryan Griffin on FB Live

Live sessions Saturdays 2-4pm EST

December 3, 10, & 17, 2022

Reserve your seat for $149 and get immediate access to our Facebook community. 

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