The 5 Elements of Zen Shakuhachi, the way of big breathing bamboo

In entry 1,  I refer to “all the elements of this path” and here is an overview that I have arrived at after 16 years of deep involvement.  Each intention, action, and tone on shakuhachi contains all of these 5 important elements, and the lists below them just help to shine light on my personal experience of these 5 elements.  You should explore them your own self and see what happens, what you feel.

Always evolving and, like the general worldly elements–air, fire, water, earth, space–always interpenetrating and cross-pollinating. Engage, absorb, beckon on and penetrate any and all of these at will…


sound, vibration, resonance, structure, texture, feeling, flow, power, combination, invisible relations, mystical transmission, rhythm, melody, breath, Life, styles, development, lineage, sages, songs, composition, voice, mind, heart, tone


presence, space, clarity, stillness, Tao, qi, awareness, consciousness, clear mind, open heart, Zen Buddhism, ancestors, sutras, lineage, koans, transmission, wordless teaching, interdependent co-arising, illumination, realization, meditation, contemplation, suchness


sun, trees, roots, soil, air, atmosphere, green, photosynthesis, grass, hills, mountains, valleys, water, river, lake, ocean, pond, creek, creatures, animals, Life, bamboo, Joy, fruit, Pan, nano-worlds, moss, cosmos, Earth, organism(s), death, space, light


depth, Life, air, qi, lungs, ribs, blood, oxygen, connectivity, interconnectedness, inter-relatedness, divinity, God, smell, taste, Joy, presence, awareness, health, movement, flow, clarity, vastness, expansion, wind, atmosphere


composition, imagination, tea, beer (fermentation), waffles, pancakes, albums, books, comics, TV shows, film, stories, songs, myth, art, color, Life, relationships, performance, learning, fun, enjoyment, celebration, reverence, gratitude, sex

In Entry 3, I will outline an example of applying these elements in shakuhachi practice.