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)