Pittsburgh Bujinkan Dojo



We explored/revisited the Sanshin recently and really just scratched the surface of what is there and why. Over and above the framework that studying the Sanshin gives us, and the concepts buried within those core movements, I was struck by the layers upon layers that diving into the Sanshin opens up.

I have personally studied Tibetan Mysticism for several years and I will be the first to say that this is NOT really an undercurrent within the Bujinkan, however I can not ignore the deep and interesting parallels within the 5 forms and how that translates to the elements, and their physical manifestations within Buddhist Stupas. You will hear it told within the ranks of the Bujinkan that the Sanshin "elements" are nothing more than a way to "count" the forms and not to read too much into the elemental references. With that said however - I see massive value in seeing how the way the forms are structured and how that correlates to what is posted below. Worth studying I think.

Chi No Kata - Earth
Sui No Kata - Water
Ka No Kata - Fire
Fu No Kata - Wind
Ku No Kata - Void

When you look at the structures of Stupas in Buddhism, you see a similar structure and progression...The building of a divine house if you will, both internally as humans seeking "enlightenment" and as physical representations of that self same enlightenment as a goal AND a model of those that have gone before. Sounds alot like a really good guide and goal as martial artists using the Bujinkan as the framework to get there, no?

So, Stupas:

Stupas speak of enlightenment on many different levels. The outer form of a stupa represents a meditating Buddha, seated and crowned. When seen from above, a stupa is a perfect mandala, a pure distillation of the universe.

But that is only the beginning of a stupa’s meaning. Every architectural feature of the stupa symbolically represents a facet of the spiritual path. For example, a stupa incorporates five basic geometric shapes that correspond to the five elements. Each element, in turn, corresponds to an essential attribute of a fully awakened being. The square base of the stupa represents earth and equanimity; the round dome, water and indestructibility; the triangular spire, fire and compassion; the semi-circular umbrella, wind and all-accomplishing action; and at the very top, the jewel-shaped tigle or drop represents space and all-pervading awareness.

On a more general note, the configuration of the entire universe as conceived in traditional Buddhist cosmology is a gigantic stupa—as is the structure of a person’s subtle body. Thus the inner level of experience relates directly to the physical cosmos, and a stupa is a gateway for merging the innate wisdom nature with the Dharmadatu or “field of dharma” that has no beginning and no end.

The Five Elements and Five Colors

The stupa also symbolizes the five elements and colors and their relationship to Enlightened Mind:

Base – Square – Yellow – Earth – Equanimity

Dome – Circle – White – Water – Indestructibility

Spire – Triangle – Red – Fire – Compassion

Parasol – Half Circle – Green – Wind – All-accomplishing Action

Jewel – Dewdrop (no shape/no color/void) – Space – All-pervading Awareness


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