Philosophical thinking and introspection have been important themes of the age-old Spiritual Journey on which some of the wisest people known to us have walked. Whether it be religious guidance, ”profane” self development or an entirely different spiritual endeavor, one of the most of the important of the requirements for an individual to overcome all the predicaments in their life has been the acknowledgment of one’s own self, which forever grows inwards, deeper and deeper. The idea of looking inside the abyss that we all are is recurring and is found in many ancient scrolls, texts, tablets. However, such ideas are of relevance even today, finding their place in today’s world and works of art produced in it.
In the popular manga Naruto Shippuden, which primarily focuses on a fictional Ninja world, there is a concept of a Ninja technique, an illusory technique known as the Izanami. It is considered to be one of the most brilliant illusory techniques in the manga and is a counterpart to another illusory technique, the Izanagi. Only those with the special ocular power known as the Sharingan can activate both of these illusions. On the surface these two techniques merely sound like childish fiction made up to spice a manga for kids, however, both of these illusions hold within themselves a great deal of reality.
We shall first understand what is the Izanagi .The Izanagi is an ultimate illusion cast upon oneself and was primarily used by the ninjas who belonged to a powerful ninja clan, known as the Uchiha clan. Whenever something undesirable would happen to an Uchiha, such as a fatal injury or one of their warfare tactics backfiring, the Uchiha would use the Izanagi to cast an illusion upon himself/herself and alter their reality. Magically they would recover from whatever afflicted harm on them and would be ready to fight. However, the Izanagi only functions for a very short period of time. Furthermore, it comes at a grave cost. The Sharingan eye used to activate the Izanagi is rendered blind after the user has recovered from the harm, and the light of that eye is forever taken away.
The members of the Uchiha clan used the Izanagi in wars against other clans, but ultimately widespread use of the technique led to intra-clan conflict, wherein every person would use the Izanagi to alter reality as per their whims so that they could satisfy their selfish desires and accomplish their aims. This led to an ubiquitous abuse of the Izanagi in the clan, and hence the clan suffered grave harm as a unit.
To regulate this rampant misuse of the Izanagi, another illusory technique was born. The new technique, the Izanami, was a countermeasure to reprimand those who abused the Izanagi. The Izanami functions in a slightly more complicated manner than the Izanagi. “To begin the technique, after selecting any arbitrary moment, the caster uses their Sharingan to remember the physical sensations both of their body and that of their opponent’s during that instant like a photograph (represented as: A). The user must then intentionally replicate the same sensation and in the same way, memories that instant with their Sharingan (represented as: A’)Izanami overlaps and connects these two identical bodily sensations (A and A’), as well as the flow of time between them, creating an infinite loop of events that entraps the opponent’s consciousness.”
And ultimately the enemy is trapped within an infinite loop, where their consciousness will forever go through the same moment again and again, regardless of the efforts they make to escape this illusion. The person on whom the Izanagi, although physically lays motionless, their consciousness goes through the same experience again and again. The only way to escape the Izanami is for the target to consciously and thoroughly acknowledge one’s true self.
The cost of one using the Izanami, however, is the same as using the Izanagi. The Sharingan eye used to cast the Izanami will be rendered blind, for its light will never return.
The development of the Izanami was succesful and ultimately the clan was able to deter those who abused the Izanagi for personal gain and the Uchiha clansmen were able to establish a fair control over this intra-clan strife.
The Izanagi and the Izanami represent, in my opinion, the two different sides of life, and are symbolic of the desire that moves us in life and the wisdom that guides us beyond it.
The Izanami is a technique that merely allows the Uchihas to do in the physical realm what we all do in our mental realm: warp and distort reality and avoid its pangs to save our weak selves from the harm that we incur.
All of us regardless of what we’ve been through, always try to mould reality as it happens so that our weak and arrogant selves can feel secure and certain in the face of all that we confront, hence we establish this false peace of mind. Motivated by desires that make us hungry for power, recognition, glory and anything that our eyes can see, we become primarily selfish, being driven by motives that are often petty and worthy of contempt. In doing so, we merely become collectors of more and more experiences, to feed our egos and protect them from any sort of harm. Perennially in modifying the reality in our heads therefore, we are denying the world of its right to act upon us to leave its imprint on us. This vicious cycle further blinds us towards our own selves, as all that we set eyes upon are the motives that guide us. The Izanagi combines the use of mental distortion, denial and other such mechanisms to misperceive reality in the realm of personal space and ego with the physical use, and hence is a ninja technique reflective of the all that we rely upon to cacoon ourselves from the harsh winds of reality.
The Izanami acts as a savior ,therefore, to rescue us from this megalomaniacal drive, and puts in cognizance of the cyclic nature of the failures we’ll encounter if we only work to obtain more and more, without giving a single thought about the moral implications of our actions. Using denials and distortions, we only envelop ourselves in a vicious cycle of the same experiences, wherein we become slaves to our desires and whims and our life ends up becoming an infinite loop, one similar to the loop that the Izanami creates. Forever we’re stuck in this loop, doing the same thing of feeding our ego and our whims again and again, and in the process trapping our consciousness in a mundane repetition of the same anger, the same hatred and the same greed and lust again and again.
We can only break out of this ongoing imprisonment of our consciousness in the viscous cycle of never ending desire once we truly acknowledge ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our sins and virtues. A true deep look inside the never ending and ever growing universe inward of our souls holds many secrets and lessons for us to learn, for if our efforts to prosper alter our destiny, the nature of our character decides the very same. A living example would be Donald Trump. He is a rich, powerful man whose attempts to win the Presidential seat are looking nothing short of successful, for he has an entire sea of followers. However, his true nature, the entire idea that inspires from him so much hatred and despise of communities that he believes to be threatening, the entire idea of this narrow mindedness simultaneously makes him a hard-headed bigot .Nothing more .Nothing less. Trump may even win the elections, heck he may do whatever else he likes he is powerful, but still he’ll be nothing more than the epitome of the arrogance and the ignorance that makes an American afraid of the ‘’other’’ people, and that is what will decide his destiny.
Trump isn’t the only one however. If I were to name all those successful people who ran and got ahead in the race of greed and lust, I’d be out of ink. And that is what the Izanami teaches us. It is not merely a ninja technique in a fictional ninja world, it is a symbolic savior, a hope that makes us conscious of the pitfalls in our character, pitfalls that entrap us forever in the same cage of a cycle, and allows us to look further deeper, to the one person who can save us, and that is ourselves.