The Five Elements and Man.
Ayurveda evolved in the meditative minds of seers of truth - the rishis. For thousands of years their teachings were transmitted orally from teacher to disciple, and later they were set down in melodious Sanskrit poetry. Though many of these texts have been lost over time, an abundant body of Ayurvedic knowledge survives.
Originating in Cosmic Consciousness, this wisdom was intuitivcly received in the hearts of the rishis. They perceived that consciousness was energy manifested into the five basic principles or elements.
This concept of the five elements lies at the heart of Ayurvedic science.
The rishis perceived that in the beginning the world existed in an unmanifested state of consciousness. From that state of unified consciousness. the subtle vibrations of the cosmic soundless sound aum manifested. From that vibration there first appeared the Ether element. This ethereal element then began to move; its subtle movements created the Air, which is Ether in action. The movement of Ether produced friction, and through that friction heat was generated. Particles of heat-energy combined to form intense light and from this light the Fire element manifested.
Thus, Ether manifested into Air and it was the same Ether that further manifested into Fire. Through the heat of the Fire, certain ethereal elements dissolved and liquified, manifesting the Water element, and then solidified to form the molecules of Earth. In this way. Ether manifested into the four elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
From Earth, all organic living bodies including those in the vegetable kingdom such as herbs and grains, and those in the animal kingdom. including man, are created. Earth also contains the inorganic substances that comprise the mineral kingdom. Thus, out of the womb of the Five Elements all matter is born.
The five basic elements exist in all matter. Water provides the classic example: the solid state of water, ice, is a manifestation of the Earth principle. Latent heat (Fire) in the ice liquifies it, mani- festing the Water principle; and then eventually it turns into steam, expressing the Air principle. The steam disappears into Ether, or space. Thus the five basic elements; Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, are present in one substance. All five originated in the energy issuing from Cosmic Consciousness: all five are present in all matter in the universe. Thus, energy and matter are one.
Man as Microcosm.
Man is a microcosm of nature and so the five basic elements present in all matter also exist within each individual.
Human Being and the Seven Major Chakras
In the human body are many spaces which are manifestations of the Ether element. There are, for example. the spaces in the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, abdomen, thorax, capilaries, lymphatics, tissues and cells.
Space in movement is called Air. Air is the second cosmic element, the element of movement. Within the human body, Air manifests in the larger movements of the muscles, the pulsations of the heart, the expansion and contraction of the lungs and the movements of the stomach wall and intestines. Under a microscope. even single cells may be seen to move. Response to a stimulus is the movement of afferent and efferent nerve impulses which are sensory and motor movements. The entire movements of the central nervous system are governed by bodily Air.
The third element is Fire. The source of Fire and light in the solar system is the sun. In the human body, the source of Fire is the metabolism. Fire works in the digestive system. In the gray matter of the brain cells, Fire manifests as intelligence. Fire also activates the retina which perceives light. Thus, body temperature, digestion, the thinking processes and vision are all functions of bodily Fire. All mctabolism and enzyme systems are controlled by this element.
Water is the fourth important element in the body. It manifests in the secretions of the digestive uices and the salivary glands, in the mucus membranes and in plasma and cytoplasm. Water is absolutely vital for the functioning of the tissues, organs and various bodily systems. For example, dehydration resulting from diarrhea and vomiting must be treated immediately to protect the patient's life. Because this element is so vital, bodily Water is called the Water of Life.
Earth is the fifth and last element of the cosmos that is present in the microcosm. Life is possible on this plane because Earth holds all living and nonliving substances to its solid surface. In the body, the solid structures - bones, cartilage. nails, muscles, tendons, skin and hair - are derived from Earth.
The five elements manifest in the functioning of the five senses of man, as well as in certain functions of his physiology. Thus, the five elements are directly related to mans ability to perceive the external environment in which he lives. They are also related, through the senses, to five actions expressing the functions of the sensory organs.
The basic elements - Ether, Air. Fire. Water and Earth - are related to hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell, respectively.
Ether is the medium through which sound is transmitted. Thus, the ethereal element is related to the hearing function. The ear, the organ of hearing, expresses action through the organ of speech, which creates meaningful human sound.
Air is related to the sense of touch; the sensory organ of touch is the skin. The organ of action for the sense of touch is the hand. The skin of the hand is especially sensitive, and the hand is responsible for the actions of holding. giving and receiving.
Fire, which manifests as light, heat and color, is related to vision. The eye. the organ ot sight, governs the action of walking and is thus related to the feet. A blind man can walk, but that walking has no definite direction. Eyes give direction to the action of walking.
Water is related to the organ of taste, without water the tongue cannot taste. The tongue is closely related in function to the action of the genitals (penis and clitoris). In Ayurveda. the penis or clitoris is considered the lower tongue while the tongue in the mouth is the upper tongue. The person who controls the upper tongue naturally controls the lower tongue.
The Earth element is related to the sense of smell. The nose, the sensory organ of smell, is related in function to the action of the anus, excretion. This relationship is demonstrated by the person who has constipation or an unclean colon: he experiences bad hreath and his sense of smell becomes dull.
Ayurveda regards the human body and its sensory experiences as manifestations of cosmic energy expressed in the five basic elements. The ancient rishis perceived that these elements sprang from pure Cosmic Consciousness. Ayurveda aims to enable each individual to bring his body into a perfect harmonious relationship with that Consciousness.
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