Narrow Road (10) – troiku – December 15, 2015


flowing or still
the mystery of water
element of life

flowing or still
in these dark winter nights
water reigns

the mystery of cool water
hidden in the mist
falling from the clouds

element of life
where does it flow from here
no one can tell

© G.s.k. ‘15

When I studied shiatsu  the theory of the five elements intrigued me. Take for instance, water.  Water represents fluidity, adaptation, the flowing and the formless things of the world.  It’s season is winter, it’s colour is black (or dark blue), beyond rivers, springs, lakes and rain, water includes plants because they adapt and grow according to where the sun shines and change with the seasons, blood and body fluids and sexual energy are also representative of water as are the emotions of adaptation, evolution and can be associated with defensiveness, flexibility, being subtle and charisma.  It is believed that living things are born with a fixed amount of “vital energy” or life – also represented by water and once consumed death takes place.

In the past the Japanese (as did the Chinese) believed that ejaculation consumed the male’s vital energy, so he was encouraged to learn how not to ejaculate (or conserve his seed) in order to preserve his vital energy as long as possible and avoid precocious ageing, although sexuality was and is encouraged at the same time  because it is considered to be one of the most potent of cures known to mankind for a myriad of ailments.  Women, whose sexual body fluids are retained within them are considered luckier than men for this very fact and it is believed that women live longer than men for precisely this reason.

Carpe Diem #880 secrets unveiled of the Deep North: coolness, cloud peaks, not permitted to tell

As I was still descending, I saw an old smithy built right on a trickling stream. According to my guide, this was where Gassan, a local swordsmith, used to make his swords, tempering them in the crystal-clear water of the stream. He made his swords with such skill and devotion that they became famous throughout the world. He must have chosen this particular spot for his smithy probably because he knew of a certain mysterious power latent in the water, just as indeed a similar power is known to have existed in the water of Ryosen Spring in China. Nor is the story of Kansho and Bakuya out of place here, for it also teaches us that no matter where your interest lies, you will not be able to accomplish anything unless you bring your deepest devotion to it. As I sat reflecting thus upon a rock, I saw in front of me a cherry tree hardly three feet tall just beginning to blossom – far behind the season of course, but victorious against the heavy weight of snow which it had resisted for more than half a year. I immediately thought of the famous Chinese poem about ‘the plum tree fragrant in the blazing heat of summer’ and of an equally pathetic poem by the priest Gyoson, and felt even more attached to the cherry tree in front of me. I saw many other things of interest in this mountain, the details of which, however, I refrain from betraying in accordance with the rules I must obey as a pilgrim. When I returned to my lodging, my host, Egaku, asked me to put down in verse some impressions of my pilgrimage to the three mountains, so I wrote as follows on the narrow strips of writing paper he had given me.

a crescent moon faintly seen
over Black feather Mountain

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

cloud peaks
how many have crumbled
on the mountain of the moon

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

not permitted to tell
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)


16 thoughts on “Narrow Road (10) – troiku – December 15, 2015

    • In oriental (more specifically Japanese) medicine the elements are 5! They’ve created a whole philosophy around these elements and each element is connected to two body organs (or functions) … and they can be yin or yang … and energetically they can be kyo (empty) or jitsu (full) but it is also believed that each person is more influenced by one or another of the elements from birth … and it is possible to understand a person better by the influence of his/her elemental influence. I’d say that from how you write and those few life choices I know about through your writing that you are probably in your element with water … but of course it’s a bit more complicated than that, here is a very brief and macrobiotic oriented article about the elements (I’ve never gotten into macrobiotics myself, but the explanation is pretty straight forward.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hank … the theory of the five elements and how they work together is really fascinating … of course anything can be taken to an extreme is harmful .. as in all things oriental there’s a lot of influence of Tao (which becomes a Buddhist mix with Tao in Zen) – so the middle way is what one seeks .. one might also conclude that as women by custom were limited in their sexual expression … that might be why they lived longer 😉 Glad you enjoyed the troiku! Georgia


  1. Reading your beautiful troiku, I found so zen, I smiled when I saw your interesting explanation. We are finally understanding more what the Japanese and Chinese knew for so long. My first experience with acupuncture and homeopathy in the late 70’s was a Japanese practitioner. It was so interesting how he took my whole history of mental and physical before making a diagnosis…made more sense too, of course. My great-grandfather was 70 when my grandmother was born…guess that’s why he lived long 😉 his wife, a widow of 40 was so embarrassed and shocked.


    • I really loved studying shiatsu and all that went with it … and as you say to make a diagnosis you must know more than just about a symptom. Everything, including the tone of voice, how one holds oneself, how the lines on their face cross or not etc. Absolutely everything helps understand your patient. It’s absolutely fascinating.


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