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The theory of five elements

System of 5 elements, or the theory of 5 Mahabhut.

Many of us are familiar with system of elements based on Chinese system which became popular due to horoscopes  «Year of the Water Tiger», or «the Fiery Bull». «Water», «Fire» — names of elements are similar to the Tibetan system, but despite external similarity the Chinese and Tibetan systems of elements have very various maintenance, describe different levels of life and they cannot be considered identical.

Components of the Tibetan system is «5 Great Elements», or «5 Mahabhuta» — Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Here they are traditionally listed as density reduction.

It is not necessary to confuse substances of the earth, water, fire to concepts of Elements in spite of the fact that words naming them coincide. In water substance in the seas and the rivers contains not only first element of Water; in soil — not only an element of Earth, in atmosphere — not only Air element. There are always all five elements in all phenomena of our world: water also contains Fire element it can be with different temperature; the element of Earth and Air can be shown in it in a different measure: ice — firm (is more than Earth element), steam-gaseous (Air and Space elements). That is, in everything that we perceive always participate all elements. It is said that if in any phenomenon one of the elements is absent we do not perceive it.

Some researchers of the Tibetan medicine name Elements «world bricks», but this materialistic understanding and it is inexact. Elements are an expression of various functions, various qualities of phenomena of the Universe. They are not a material; they are something that characterize function and materials, and non-material phenomena. The theory of 5 elements is absolutely universal and with its help it is possible to describe all interactions, including of course health and disease. One Tibetan scientist projected it even on an atom structure: the weight of atom — is Earth element, a charge of electron — Fire, electron’s movement — Wind, bond of a kernel and electron — water, distance between them-Space…

Everything that expresses the qualities of density, weights, stability — it is qualities of Earth element; everything fluid, elastic, cooling — manifestation of Water element; all is hot, sharp — manifestation of Fire; all mobile and easy – manifestation of Air; the element of Space makes room for everything, contains all 4 elements in itself.

(See below the table «Quality of elements»)

It is possible to describe a character of the person by means of elements (steady, easy, «hot»); it is possible to characterize seasons — damp, windy; to define properties of food-easy, oily, heavy, dry.

Diseases are also described by characteristics of Elements. There are diseases of cold and heat, the qualities of some Element intensify in various conditions: strengthenings of Air element is expressed by intensification of mobility, for example, the person cannot sit for a long time without movement, he has a lot of thoughts; by the intensification of Fire element raises temperature of a body, etc.

Thus the health is considered as a balance of Elements, and disease as its disorder. Therefore the motto of the Tibetan medicine is that: «Health is a balance of (elements) ».

This balance of elements of our body is constantly influenced by various factors-elements from «outside». These are elements of foodstuff, elements of seasons, elements of a way of life. Knowing, what qualities of elements prevail in that or this phenomenon, we can know how it will influence us, and therefore we can use this knowledge for balance restoration. For example, with increase of the Fire element in our body, we can use foodstuff with cooling qualities of the Water element. Thus, for balance restoration, that is for healing, we select the element with a quality-antagonist (see № 2. «Qualities antagonists»).

№ 1. The Qualities of elements.

The qualities of the Earth elementThe qualities of the Water elementThe qualities of the Fire elementThe qualities of the Air elementThe qualities of the Space element
HeavinessDullness

Softness

Oilness

Hardness

Dryness

Viscosity

LiquescenceCoolness

Heaviness

Dullness

Oilness

Flexibility

Humidity

Softness

Viscosity

WarmingOilness

Dryness

Hardness

Easiness

Oilness

Mobility

Maturing

Brightness

MobilityEasiness

Coolness

Hardness

Porosity

Hardness

Penetration

Impermanence

All-penetration

 № 2. Qualities antagonists

  • Easiness (Air element) — Heaviness (Earth element of the Earth)
  • Sharpness (Fire) — Dullness (Earth)
  • Heat (Fire)  Coldness (Water)
  • Hardness (Air)  Oiliness (Earth)

Etc.