“From totally void emptiness, a totally clear light appeared. That light…came into being as a luminous wheel, whirling spontaneously. From the self-produced energy of the wheel, weightless wind came into being. The moving energy of the wind grew stronger and stronger and…from the energy of the wind, heat came into existence. From the clash between the heat of fire and the cold of the wind, moisture and water came into being. Subtle and coarse particles gathered in the water, and when their energy developed, they came into being as the Golden Earth that Supports Everything.”
from the Tibetan Bön text: The Precious Citadel where Everything is Gathered as translated by Donatella Rossi in The Light of Kailash
The five elements are the basis for all the exists. They are the element of Earth, the element of Water, the element of Fire, the element of Wind and the element of Space. In Tibetan culture, a comprehensive understanding of the five elements is essential for the practice of medicine, astrology, and ritual. Even householders have an understanding of the role of the five elements in the day-to-day processes of ordinary life. In Bön Buddhism, acknowledgement of and teachings about the five elements pervade the tradition. Even a basic understanding of these forces can be beneficial to our health, our happiness and even to our spiritual practice.
The five elements exist from a very subtle level, in the form of pure light, to the very gross level of manifestation and form that we can see and feel. Each of these elements have their own distinctive qualities which are represented by a unique color, shape, sound, and direction. The gross elements can be seen and touched. The subtle elements are more about experiences and states of mind. As for our physical bodies: the Earth element rules our flesh, the water element rules our blood, the fire element rules our internal heat, the wind element rules our breath and the movement within the body, and the space element rules our consciousness. Should one of these elements become weakened, we often compensate for this by experiencing that element in the external environment. People whose Water element is diminished may crave being near the sea. Others who need to reinforce their Earth element choose to be in the mountains or on the land. When done with awareness, this can be an effective method of restoring these elements within ourselves. Learning more about the qualities of the five elements can help us to recognize when one or more of them is in excess or is diminished and to use our knowledge to right the balance.
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