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Water – A Symbol Of Vitality And Change

(Dr. Phil. Sirinya Pakditawan) – Water – a symbol of vitality and change. This metaphor was recognized by sages thousands of years ago.

Life means balance

The core of Taoism lies in man’s deep respect for nature and its manifestations. Life here means above all a balance between the five phases of change: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

The fire element, which stands for warmth, strength, and expanding energy and is essential for maintaining life, is contrasted with the cooling and cleansing water as the key to longevity. As a basic element of life in ancient China, it was crucial in choosing where to settle.

Water as a model for healthy living

The Tao wants to combine community spirit with individuality, order with spontaneity, and unity with diversity. Movement and change are therefore elementary, and water is only healthy when it moves. Laotse, the leading figure of Taoism, symbolically describes the flow of life from the origin, the source, to the ocean.

Water, as a model for a healthy life in harmony with the flowing movement of nature, is not a mere embodiment of the feminine, the yin principle, but can transform itself into yang, the masculine, but it always returns to the state of yin reach. For although water under the influence of fire rises as vapor and mist, sooner or later it will return to earth in the form of rain.

Constant dripping wears away the stone

Since water is more earthbound and therefore more dependent on gravity than air or fire, it always seeks the quietest and deepest spot, and finds access to any location, no matter how well hidden it is. It turns out to be one of the most powerful elements:

“A steady drip wears away the stone.”

Analogously to this German proverb, water is usually represented in the Chinese oracle and wisdom book I Ching with two broken lines, which contain an unbroken line between them: outside “Yin”, i. H. soft and permeable (waiyin), inside “Yang”, i. H. hard and energetic (neiyang).

Because of its passive and yet all-pervading quality, water is the model for change and movement and thus the best metaphor for the Tao: It has no constant form, so it is not stubborn and deadlocked, but makes its way freely around all obstacles.

Always new forms

The strength of water is also evident in its capacity to be antistatic at its core, and thus in a way “individual” and “autonomous”.

Because every drop is different from all the others, every snowflake is different from all the others, and every cloud has a different quality than the one before and after it, the water embodies the intangible and the non-normal, because what was just normal is the next moment is changing again.

It can therefore not be assigned to any category, and cannot be classified, since it constantly shows new forms with different characteristics.

Sexuality is rooted in the element of water

Here, in the ability to change, water and human beings are similar. The latter is considered by the Taoists to be a water being – man is actually water: in the union of male and female, the liquid becomes a shape, and water helps, as always at the beginning of metamorphosis processes, to build up matter and form, and at the same time serves as a store for information, that guarantee the survival of life.

Sexuality is therefore deeply rooted in the element of water, which carries the energy of reproduction and is therefore also a symbol for concentrated life force through the combination of flexibility (sperm) and receptivity for new egg cells). The uterus with its amniotic fluid provides the soil for the growth of new life and is an example of the female characteristics of receiving and nurturing, nurturing and nurturing, as well as rocking and caring.

Water – the basic principle of nature

In fact, a man appears as a water creature, as he consists mostly, of 65%, water, without which all bodily functions would come to a standstill. Every one of the billions of cells in the human body is composed of those basic elements, salts, and carbon compounds, that are also found in the sea.

Superbly adaptable and always seeming to yield through its softness, transparency, and ability to transform, ultimately assimilating and absorbing everything, water exemplifies the fundamental principle in nature.

Nothing is more perfect than water

Taoism postulates that human beings are able to perfect these inherent qualities of flexibility and gentleness to outstanding qualities. Laotse already praised the properties of the element: “Nothing in the world is more supple and softer than water, but nothing can do better than it to attack the solid and hard” (Tao Te King, verse 78).

Water is gentle, but with its unwavering power, it overcomes every obstacle. It is the origin of life and at the same time the energy of origin.

The kidneys house will and ambition

The same words can be used to describe water as well as the human spirit and feelings: If the energy is balanced, this is reflected in adaptability, willingness to change, devotion, and gentleness. This makes both soft and inflexibly strong at the same time. According to traditional scriptures, the human kidneys house will and ambition. The will to survive is an archaic force manifested on the physical level in potency, libido, and fertility.

In unwaveringness and clarity, in perseverance even in the face of great resistance, it resembles water: on the surface, the will may appear gentle, but on the inside it is inflexible and firm. Waiyin neiyang – Yin on the outside, Yang on the inside: externally adapting and defensive, internally energetic, controlling and guiding.

Kidneys – the treasury of life energy

For the Taoists, the kidneys are considered the treasury of the vital essence and the “heating of the body”. Here the life energy Yuan Qi2 is preserved and stored. Every living being receives this primal energy or “prenatal energy” at the moment of conception. It is the basic substance, the energetic reservoir, which u. a. contains the energy of the ancestors, also known as ancestral qi.

Life energy cannot be replaced and is constantly being used up. However, if you spare them, you can delay the process. Therefore, from the point of view of Taoist medicine, it is essential to pay attention to “retaining kidney vitality” in addition to being connected to the earth.

All Taoist exercises and meditation techniques, but also the martial arts aim to preserve the original energy as well as possible and to build up the second source of energy, breathing, and food energy, the Zong Qi, the “postnatal energy”.

Avoid stress to conserve energy

Above all, the art of conserving energy involves avoiding excess and stress and balancing the five emotions of anger, joy, worry, grief, and fear, thus creating a balance between yin and yang. Therefore, the male individual should not neglect his feminine component, nor should the female neglect his masculine.

Because if you exclude a part, you deviate from the “natural flow of water” and thus no longer listen to the Tao. For this reason, Lao-tse’s exhortation to man is: “Know their masculine and guard their feminine – let the world flow. Let the world flow, and the abiding power does not fail you, [thus] you return to infancy” (Tao Te Ching, verse 28).

A man should create his streambed to the rhythm of the water in order to remain connected to the original, the childlike.

Following the principle of water also means practicing non-action (wuwei): doing something without forcing it, letting something happen without effort, and letting the flow of what is happening flow.

The water, too, overcomes all obstacles softly and yieldingly, as does the willow, which with its flexible branches effortlessly survives every snowstorm, while the strong fir is uprooted because its unyielding branches break under the weight of the snow. However, the snow falls from the flexible willow, and it straightens up again.

Follow your intuition and allow change

Non-action requires trust in one’s own intuition, the “right-brained” thinking of the “heart-mind”. This results in a spontaneity that children still have. However, in Westerners, the left hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for planning and rationality, almost completely suppresses the heart and mind.

However, the intuitive, unconscious is of great importance for humans, as it can contribute to change in numerous situations. Because when a person makes a decision emotionally, out of inner inspiration, this usually results in profound insights that would not have been possible through rationality.

In this sense, intuition means following the rhythm of the water and allowing one’s own emotional urge for expression and change, which is nurtured from within.

Man is a water creature

Water ranks in the Taoist value system as “the noblest goodness” (Shangshan Ruoshui), which conquers everything else through endurance. If man follows his nature and originality, the universal principle of water, he proves to be a true water creature not only because of his physical condition. The water thus becomes his elixir of life.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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