• Color of Green
• Sound of Shout (or lack of shout)
• Odor of Rancid
• Emotion of Anger (or lack of anger)
• Taste of Sour
• Sensory organ – Eyes
• Manifests in the nails
• Tissue – Tendons and Sinews (fascia)
• Season of Spring
• Power of Birth
• Direction of East
• The Climate of Wind
• Time of Day – 11pm – 3am
The list above.. is just that, a list. Though what lies in commonality within it, are some of the different manifestations of qi embodying the Wood Element. They can be observed in all things, because ‘the 10,000 things’ are all just different forms of qi that came from an expression of the Tao millions of years ago. We can observe it in nature, people, music, animals, and even ‘seemingly’ inanimate objects. For the sake of this webpage – in terms of discussing the Element itself, my spirit is drawn to discuss these observations through a particular microcosm – within the eyes of bamboo. When it comes time to discuss the Officials (the meridians that govern the Wood energy in our bodies), I will refer to the very same observations, though how we see them manifest in people.
In Buddhist/Taoist philosophy, bamboo represents resistance to hardship, its strong but resilient character; in Confucian philosophy it symbolizes loyalty, perseverance, and uprightness (justice). Deep within its purpose, vision and growth, bamboo has withstood the test of time, from one civilization to the next spanning centuries, surviving the throws of war, erratic and harsh weather conditions, developing countries, and industrialization. Through all of this, bamboo continues to grow straight, unyielding, never changing in color, and without ceasing to provide us with both physical and spiritual nourishment.
Due to its series of hollow segments separated by solid internodes – bamboo has unrivaled structural strength and flexibility, making it able to be used for scaffolding of buildings and suspension cables in bridges. A better alternative to the harsh and rigid qualities of steel (metal). I believe it is also within these qualities of structural strength combined with flexibility are we able to bring forth benevolence.
Bamboo has unrivaled growth, with an upward and outward force – reaching full height in a very short period (about two months)– grows faster than anything else in the world – one species in Japan grew almost 4 feet in 24 hours!! We can actually see an imbalanced side of the wood element here – an assertiveness turning into an anger-like energetic. Bamboo, if not appropriately taken care of or controlled (metal element), can run rampant, often resulting in frustration and anger of those growing it!
Also in its display of the energetics of spring, vision, planning, and decisiveness:
• As in a tree, new growth needs to go down first, before it can grow up; underground it is connected by a purposeful interconnected network of rhizomes; planning, making decisions, and then finally acting as a single plant as opposed to individual ones
• Elaborate barriers cannot stop the forward force of bamboo, only deflect it temporarily – its plan than makes the appropriate changes to stay true to its vision
• Purposeful in its flowering trends – once every 7 to 120 years depending on the species; though within that species, around the world, they will all burst into flower at the same time, portraying its qualities of rebirth, hope, vitality – a grove of bamboo actually survived at the ground-zero site of the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima in 1943, and then sent up new shoots within days!
THE LIVER OFFICIAL – Official in Charge of Planning
Physiologically, the Liver is storing our blood, releasing bile, producing clotting factors, involved with hormone mechanisms, detoxifying, and plays a major role in women’s menstrual cycles, just to name a few. How does all this happen smoothly and efficiently? Planning. The Liver official is the architect and has the master plan, the blueprint, for the body – and when there is a process not going according to plan, it’s a healthy Liver official that is going to be ready with the right changes or back-up plans to stay true to its purpose/vision.
It is this flexibility that is key to the health of our Liver official on a mental level as well. So many of us are caught up in our plans – especially with the ‘planning’ tools at our fingertips today – computers, cell phones, Palm Pilots, Day Planners, even just your everyday wristwatch or clock. It makes me wonder if these are helping or hindering our Liver officials. The point is, is that when a plan falls through or needs to be altered in some way, we don’t feel lost or get angry, or lose hope. It is a healthy Liver that is going to be able to make changes, readjust the schedule, make new plans, or better yet have a back-up plan already at its fingertips…then keep moving forward towards the vision and goals in mind.
On the spirit level, the Liver gives us the ability of vision (physically too!) – and this comes in the form of all seeing: insight, foresight (intuition), hindsight. If the images of what we are trying to demystify or ideas we are trying to express, or the path that we are trying to follow are muddled, how can the Gallbladder be expected to then make the right decisions? It is the power of clarity that is maintained by the Liver. There is a certain amount of satisfaction and an ongoing sensation of hope that happens when things go according to plan on a day-to-day basis. Now, take it to the next level, big picture – our own personal growth and development in this life. The vision of who/what/ where/when/why and how we’re suppose to be along the path of this life into the next. Staying true to our inner purpose in this life while maintaining flexibility in how we get there and the manifestations along the way is how we can maintain continued growth.
THE GALLBLADDER OFFICIAL –
The Official in Charge of Decision-Making
What’s the use of having fabulous, grandiose, elaborate plans if the foreman and his crew are all sitting around twiddling their thumbs?!
Physiologically, the Gallbladder’s role is to handle the bile, a pure secretion of the body. It is said to be the only official to be out of the loop of polluted energies circulating in the body. This purity is a driving force behind making mindful decisions on a moment-to-moment basis on the level of body, mind, and spirit.
So remaining on the physical level for a minute – above, I listed off some tasks the Liver has to do on a daily basis, its then the Gallbladder’s job to make sure it all gets done and how it gets done. For example, when we injure ourselves – it’s the Gallbladder official in charge of carrying out our inflammatory response mechanisms and blood-clotting processes so we heal the most efficiently. Though its not quite as black and white as that – there is a constant “checking-in” with the Liver official – referencing the blueprints, making changes, and then implementation. In accordance with this, the Gallbladder is also maintaining our balance, coordination, and general homeostasis. Both conscious and unconscious decisions – from the cellular level of making decisions regarding our metabolism to the grosser level of “Lift your left leg up, so you don’t trip over the curb!” or “I’m going to move my hand from this burning pot of tea” or “I’m going to find a tissue instead of using my sleeve to wipe my nose.”
“Finish writing about the Gallbladder official, or change the litter-box”? While not a question for the ages, but nonetheless, a decision that gets made and carried out on the mental level by the Gallbladder official. “Which is more important to me? Which is more in line with the vision set forth by the Liver? Is one more time-sensitive? Are there other people involved? What are the steps involved in choosing this one? What are the consequences in choosing that one?” This official is very much about “choice”. This also, of course applies to the spirit level – “Are these ideas or beliefs I can trust?”, “Is this path right for me?”, “Is this truth in line with my own?”, “Am I getting caught up in someone else’s dogma?” Again, checking in with the Liver – referencing the master plan, evaluating and comparing the options – then judgment can be handed down.