Harmony and Disharmony of the Five Elements

“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 Yungdrung Bön text: The Precious Citadel where Everything is Brought Together as translated by Donatella Rossi in The Light of Kailash By Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

The Five Elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth are the basis for all the exists.  These elements are in constant relationship with one another, and it is this harmony, disharmony, balance or imbalance that determines the health or disease of organisms as well as the development or disintegration of dynamic systems.  Many cultures around the world acknowledge the importance of the Five Elements in both mundane and spiritual activities.  Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, each element has its own distinctive qualities which are represented by a specific color, shape, sound, and direction.  Within our physical bodies, the Earth element is related to our flesh, the Water element is related to our blood, the Fire element is related to our internal  heat, the Wind (or Wood according to astrology) element is related to our breath and movement within the body, and the Space (or Metal according to astrology) element is related to our consciousness.

Among the Five Elements themselves, one way of describing their interactions is through the  five kinds of relationship: Mother, Friend, Self,  Child, and Enemy.  The relationship of ‘Mother’ is the one of greatest harmony.  The relationship of ‘Friend’ is very harmonious.  The relationship of ‘Son’ is considered to be neutral.  The relationship of ‘Enemy,’ as the name indicates, is considered to be the one of greatest conflict.  The relationship of ‘Self’ occurs when the same elements encounter one another.  This can either be good or bad depending upon the specific element involved.  Therefore, the possible relationship combinations for the Five Elements are defined as the following:

Mother: these relationships are considered the most harmonious

  • Earth is the mother of Metal
  • Metal is the mother of Water
  • Water is the mother of Wood
  • Wood is the mother of Fire, and
  • Fire is the mother of Earth

Friend: these relationships are considered to be very harmonious

  • Earth is a friend to Wood
  • Wood is a friend to Metal
  • Metal is a friend to Fire
  • Fire is a friend to Water, and
  • Water is a friend to Earth

Son: these relationships are considered to be neutral, and are in fact the ‘Mother’ relationships in reverse

  • Earth is the son of Fire
  • Fire is the son of Wood
  • Wood is the son of Water
  • Water is the son of Metal, and
  • Metal is the son of Earth

Enemy: these relationships are considered the least desirable and most destructive, and are in fact the ‘Friend’ relationship in reverse

  • Earth is an enemy to Water
  • Water is an enemy to Fire
  • Fire is an enemy to Metal
  • Metal is an enemy to Wood, and
  • Wood is an enemy to Earth

Self: When two of the same elements meet, the quality depends upon the elements involved

  • Earth to Earth and Water to Water are both considered to be a good combination, but not as positive as the Friend relationship
  • Fire to Fire and Metal to Metal are both considered to be a bad combination, but not as negative as the Enemy relationship

There are many ways to apply this knowledge in daily life.  For example, by understanding the relationship between the element of the lunar year and an individual’s astrological elements, it can be determined what kind of elemental forces will be active for that individual for any given year.  The year 2017 is ruled by the element of Fire, which is actually the energy of wangtang, or personal charisma for people born in that year.  For those born in Earth years, the Fire Element (lunar year) to Earth Element (individual birth year) is in a Mother relationship as regards the wangtang.  Therefore, these people might feel very strong personal power and charisma during this lunar year.  However, for those born in a Fire year, it is a Self relationship considered to be bad.  This indicates that it is possible for these people to experience a decrease of power and influence, and perhaps even encounter bad luck.  Knowing this, before any negativity develops, this individual could benefit from activities and/or practices that would increase their wangtang such as wealth practices, making offerings, or other virtuous spiritual activity.  This is but one example of how the Five Elements directly influence our daily lives.  With this knowledge, we can support our health and prosperity as well as support our spiritual practice and growth.

Posted on June 10, 2017, in Five Elements, Tibetan Astrology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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