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Meditation on The Four Elements

Should a person desire to practice Four Elements meditation as a subject for establishing mindfulness, he should frequently recite to himself the names of the primary elements and further on, extend the recitation to include the main characteristics of the elements. Thus he might first recite earth, water, fire, wind,… earth, water, fire, wind… earth, water, fire, wind…and when he for example notices, that the name of a certain element seems to resonate with something he is experiencing now, he starts reciting more of the specific characteristics of that element. Thus one might when getting stuck on the earth element, start to recite,…solidity, weight, texture, solidity, weight, texture,…and then perhaps further on go deeper into one of those…solidity, weight,…solidity, weight,…weight, weight,….heaviness, heaviness. When he thus found a proper word for it, he goes on asking questions,…heaviness, …heaviness, …how to solve?, how to balance?… The important thing thereby is, that he comes to a condition of sustainment of mindfulness, what words one uses to achieve this end is secondary. When mindfulness becomes thus longer sustainable, some intuition may arise as an answer to the posted question… Maybe an answer comes such as ‘movement (air-element) can balance heaviness’, or ‘heat can burn it up’…And when such answer arises, he should try to make some adjustment in his activity in order to follow the intuition. Ideally will be when during the solution process he also can still keep the meditation going, reciting to himself easily recite-able words, that at least off and on seem to resonate with his experience. The recitation may at times become almost like a song. This is no problem (if it is not in an unsuitable place or condition), but rather is almost desirable, as this fulfils the factors of sustainment for longer and may move even into a condition of joy…

The characteristics of the others three elements, (as mentioned in the main post ‘Keys to the Abhidhamma System‘), are, liquidity, depth and clearness as characteristics of the water element; heat, energy and radiation as characteristics of the fire element and movement, fluctuation and subtleness as characteristics of the air element.

Alternatively to the above listed characteristics, a person might also use the traditional one’s used in some Abhidhamma texts..Which are hardness, roughness, heaviness, and softness, smoothness, lightness for the earth element, flowing and cohesion for the water element, heat and cold for the fire element and pushing and supporting for the wind or air element. As mentioned above the words are secondary and may be modified to suit a persons own understanding of the particular element.

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