Now, let’s talk about “five elements”. It is very important to understand this concept before we can go into Kundalini, chakras, etc. In Chinese culture, there are also five elements, but they are different from the five elements we will learn here. The five elements here are space, air, fire, water and earth. Some people also call “space” as “ether”.
When we say five elements, we are not talking about anything, but rather, the states of existence for a given substance. So the same substance can exist either as earth element, water elements, or fire element, air element or space element.
Let’s take an ice cube as an example. An ice cube is a very solid thing, so it is “earth” element. Now if you put the ice cube in a dish and warm it up, it will melt into water. It’s the same substance, but now it is in “water” element. When we say “water” here, we don’t mean the water we drink, but the liquid state of anything. Any liquid is basically “water” element.
Then, if you continue to heat the water up, it becomes warm water, hot water or boiling water. It’s still the same substance, but now it’s in the fire state. Heating it up more, it becomes vapor. It’s the same substance again, but now it’s in “airy” state. After being vapor, it becomes one with the “space” or “ether” element. So remember, the same substance can be either earth element, or water element, or fire, air or space.
An important thing to understand is that as something goes from earth state to water state, from water to fire, from fire to air, and from air to space, you will have less control over it; on the contrary, as it comes from space state, to air, fire, water and earth state, you will have more control over it. As in previous example, when it is an ice cube, you can hold it, touch it, taste it, see it, pass it on to another person and so on. But when the ice cube melts into water, it is hard to hold the water, because water will slip out of your hand. And when water becomes vapor, you can’t even hold it.
In the previous article of this series, we mentioned that our body is made of these five elements. Now let’s find out what is the earth element in our body, what is the water element and so on.
As we said earlier, earth element is anything that is solid. And the solid parts in your body are muscles, bones, teeth, organs, skin, hair, etc. They are all earth element. The Liquid parts in our body such as blood, saliva, tears, sweat, and urine are water element.
As for fire element, it includes our digestive system, because digestive system is doing the same thing as fire does. When you put something into fire, fire will remove the physical aspect of the stuff, and release the energy from it. Similarly, the digestive system removes the physical aspect of food and release the energy from it. In addition, your thinking is also fire element.
The air element in your body includes breathing, flatulence, etc. Finally, space elements in your body are lungs, nostrils, wind pipe, food pipe, intestines, etc. So our body is made of these five elemental energies. They’re energies which become physical substances.
If any of the five element is not working properly, the body part pertaining to that specific element will get sick. For instance, if the earth element is not properly working in the body, then you will have problems pertaining to teeth, skin, hair, bones, etc. If your water element is not properly working, then you will have problems related to blood, urine, sweat, saliva, etc. So it’s important to understand that we need to balance and maintain the energies in the proper states.
With the knowledge of five basic elements in mind, we should also be aware of the five different dimensions of our existence. We said that body is basically made of the five elements, organs of knowledge, organs of action, and mind. However, there is another way of to look at the body. We can look at it as different dimensions of life or existence.
Our physical body consists of earth, water, fire, air and space. This is known as “Annamaya Kosha”. “Kosha” means a layer or a dimension of our existence. The physical body is part of ourselves. It is basically formed and nourished by the food we are consuming. The Sanskrit word “anna” means food. So “Annamaya Kosha” basically means the layer formed by food.
我们的物质身体由土、水、火、气和空五大元素构成。它被称为“物质能量层”（Annamaya Kosha）。“Kosha”的意思是我们存在的一个层面或一个维度。物质身体是我们自身的一个层面。它的形成和维护主要靠我们所摄取的食物。梵文中“Anna”一词的意思是“食物”，所以说“Annamaya Kosha”的意思就是指由食物构成的层面。
Next, we also have organs of action. Organs of action are reporting to organs of knowledge. Organs of knowledge are actually controlled by mind. So basically mind controls these organs of knowledge and organs of action directly and indirectly. Apart from this, mind also has intellect, will and ego. The intellect is our thinking, and the will is “I want to do this”, “I don’t want to do this”, etc. So all of these things of mind, organs of knowledge and organs of action, are known as “Manomaya Kosha”. It is your mental body. Remember, you can see your physical body, but you cannot see your mind, but you know mind exists. Annamaya Kosha is physical in the sense that you can touch, see, etc., whereas Manomaya Kosha is subtle, meaning you know it’s there but you cannot see it.
Next one is known as “Vijnanamaya Kosha”. Vijnanamaya Kosha is our intellect body. It has three conponents: 1) all the past memories, 2) spiritual ignorance; and 3) spiritual knowledge. Past memory does not only mean memory about today, yesterday or last year, but also memory about your childhood or even memory about your past lives. Spiritual ignorance is what makes us think that we are just physical beings even though we are all beings of energy. Spiritual ignorance is what creates negative emotions and negative thoughts such as selfishness, anger, exclusiveness, etc.
On the contrary, spiritual knowledge is basically realizing oneness of all beings. It is based on love. Earlier we mentioned that intellect is part of Manomaya Kosha. In fact, there are two kinds of intellect: 1) practical intellect, which tells us how to drive a car, how to operate a cellphone, or speak to someone, etc., and 2) spiritual intellect or higher intellect. The practical intellect is part of your mind, therefore belongs to your Manomaya Kosha, as mentioned earlier, whereas the spiritual intellect belongs to your Vijnanamay Kosha.
The fourth one is known as “Anandamaya Kosha”. It is the blissful body. “Ananda” means “bliss”, i.e. perfect sense of relaxation. For example when you are in deep sleep, no dreaming at all, you are in this state. That’s basically Anandamaya Kosha.
In summary, Annamaya Kosha is very physical，because you can see it, touch it, etc., whereas Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha are subtle, because you can sense them but you can’t touch them, see them and so on. However, there is a little link between the physical thing and the subtle things. This is your energy body, known as Pranamaya Kosha. If the energy kosha is not working properly, then all the other koshas are going to be impacted. In the next article, we will talk about the energy kosha in details.
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