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The five elements philosophy in Japanese Buddhism, godai (五大?, lit. "five great"), is derived from Indian Vastu shastra philosophy and Buddhist beliefs. It is perhaps best known in the Western world for its use in Miyamoto Musashi's famous text Gorin-no-sho (The Book of Five Rings), in which he explains different aspects of swordsmanship by assigning each aspect to an element.
The five elements are, in ascending order of power, Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void.
Chi (sometimes ji) or tsuchi, meaning "Earth", represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. The most basic example of chi is in a stone. Stones are highly resistant to movement or change, as is anything heavily influenced by chi. In people, the bones, muscles and tissues are represented by chi. Emotionally, chi is predominantly associated with stubbornness, collectiveness, stability, physicality, and gravity. It is a desire to have things remain as they are; a resistance to change. In the mind, it is confidence. When under the influence of this chi mode or "mood", we are aware of our own physicality and sureness of action. This is a separate concept from the energy-force, pronounced in Chinese as qì (also written ch'i) and in Japanese as ki, and written alternatively as 気, 氣, or 气.
Sui or mizu, meaning "Water", represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Outside of the obvious example of rivers and the lake, plants are also categorized under sui, as they adapt to their environment, growing and changing according to the direction of the sun and the changing seasons. Blood and other bodily fluids are represented by sui, as are mental or emotional tendencies towards adaptation and change. Sui can be associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.
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