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The Five Elements

The five elements – space, earth, water, fire and wind – are essential to an understanding of Tibetan cosmology. The elements are the foundation for all phenomena. Not only is the entire physical universe, including our bodies, comprised of these elements, but they are also associated with mental states and with time. The elements each represent a particular energetic quality. But they are also composed of atoms, which means that they are in the world of form. And so, like everything with form, they exist interdependently. They need each other and they affect each other.

All qualities and characteristics can be described in terms of the five elements. It is not a complicated system, so it is a very effective way to draw conclusions about the attributes of particular phenomena. Each element actually contains the qualities of all elements, but there are always two that are stronger, and this is how they become different. The space element is the perfect balance of the other four elements.

Each element embodies a different energy, a different characteristic tendency, and a different reaction to a situation. In this way, we can predict certain behaviors and draw conclusions about how phenomena will interact. In fact, Tibetan Astrology is based on an understanding of the behavioral patterns of the elements. Throughout the course of the day, the natural balance of the elements in the external environment shifts as the earth’s position changes relative to the sun. The composition of the elements in our environment has a direct influence on our bodies and our minds. Therefore, by knowing which element is predominant, we can choose our activities accordingly so that we work with the natural rhythms of nature. Being in harmony with natural patterns means that we have a greater chance at being successful at what we do. For example, the space and water element times are very effective for practicing Lu Jong. The practice will go more deeply at these times and be more powerful.

There is a distinction made between outer, inner and secret elements. Outer elements are the building blocks of nature: the soil, the rivers and oceans, the volcanic fires and atmospheric winds. Inner elements are those that comprise our bodies: our flesh, blood and breath. The secret elements refer to aspects of our minds, including our emotions and various mental states.

Each element is associated with a positive emotion when it is pure and in balance. If the element is deluded and in disharmony, a negative emotional quality manifests. Similarly, if the elements are in harmony in our bodies, our systems function smoothly. If not, disease and disorder is the result.

The Lu Jong practice stimulates the pure aspects of the elements and encourages their harmonization. In this way, Lu Jong creates physical health, mental balance and a deep inner peace.