Teachings on Matter

The 4 Elements

The four elements were known to most cultures of the past (although in some cultures there were 5). To get any handle on matter, making it an object of the conscious mind in order to diminish its hidden influence over that mind, one has to somewhat learn to classify it.

Only in this way a person may learn to master matter, becoming its ruler, rather than being the ruled by it.

The 4 elements, are so to say the material into which your kammical energy will reincarnate.

If you become master of these elements …you can enormously speed up your own evolution…or we can say, cut down all unwholesome evolution and accelerate the evolution of the wholesome forces.

The Earth Element

The earth element manifest as hardness, roughness and heaviness on the one hand, and softness, smoothness and lightness on the other

The earth element is susceptible to mental forces such as lethargy, depression, worry, dullness, rigidness … but equally to things like strength and confidence

Mastering the Earth Element

May be done…

• by using the Wind-Element to curb it smooth

• Or by using some amount of Water Element to moisten it smooth

• Or through strong exertion melt it smooth

• By paying attention to it in such a manner that it balances lack of grounding

The Water Element

The Water element manifests as flowing and binding (cohering)

The water element is susceptible to mental forces such as excessive emotionality, doubt, delusion such as dreaminess, wavering …but on the other hand site, things such as ease (easy flowing) and depth of feeling, …might equally easier manifest based on the water element

Mastering the Water Element

May be done…

• by using some amount of Earth Element to solidify it

• Or by using some amount of Fire Element to evaporate some of it

• Or by using the Wind Element to temporarily stir it into a more solidified form

• By paying attention to it in such a manner as to balance conditions of shallowness, rigidity, hardness and roughness or imbalances in temperature

The Fire Element

The Fire element manifests usually as heat, but sometimes being used synonymous to temperature, the absence of heat, which is cold, also is categorised under this element. On the material side its function often is, to soften things.

The fire element is susceptible to mental forces such as anger, rage, hot temperedness, passion, lack of self-control, lack of sensitiveness, …while on the other site there might be great creativity, self-initiative and strong will.

Mastering the Fire Element

May be done…

• by using the Earth Element to keep it going…preventing it from consuming itself

• Or by using a counter Fire Element to accelerate its self-consumption

• Or by using the Wind Element to support its growth

• By paying attention to it in such a manner as to balance conditions of imbalanced temperature, such as paying attention to heat when coldness is predominant or to cold when heat is predominant

The Wind Element

The Wind elements main characteristics in manifestation are pushing and movement, as well as sometimes resistance and stability (as in the atmosphere)

The wind element is susceptible to such mental forces as wavering, agitation, restlessness…on the one side and intelligence, quickness of wit, spontaneity on the other

Mastering the Wind Element

May be done…

• by using the Wind Element to control its direction

• Or by using some amount of Earth Element in conjunction with Water Element to solidify it

• Or by using some amount of Fire Element to produce counter pressure (when in conjunction with the other Elements)

• By paying attention to it in such a manner as to balance conditions of excessive solidity, rigidity, slowness and weakness

In Practice

In meditation practice, one can, either as a practice in itself, or whenever the practice with one’s primary meditation subject (for example anapanasati) is getting stagnant, ask oneself questions like “What is the predominant element in the body at the moment”…waiting for an answer, one might repeat to oneself the names of the elements (earth, water, fire, wind…). When an answer comes, one may ask further as to how to balance it out with the other elements. When one notices, that one has a condition of repeatedly one element being predominant or in excess, one should try to extend ones meditation practice beyond the sitting and ask oneself more often during the day as to what the predominant elements in the things one is contacting are and whether they are balancing the elements in ones own body or are rather producing imbalances. This can be done during any activity. For example one might notice that much hectic and activity is producing an excess in the wind element, or during eating one may try to remain aware of as to whether what one is eating is rather producing things like lightness and energy (conditions of balance) or rather things like heaviness and lethargy. And noticing thus one should try to adjust ones eating habits.


Energy is a condition of balance of the elements. Wherein the solidity (earth element) of the elements are kept pliant (wind element) by the fire element, while all the elements adhere together through the quality of the water element.

Balancing the elements thus, how you feel will improve….
As you start feeling better, your mind becomes calmer…As your mind becomes calmer, you will have more choice as to what of your mental contents you want to allow to continue and what not.

Modern equivalents:

Kamma-born: Nervous System, Sense organs, inner organs, reproductive organs

Mind-born: Hormones, (emotional energy)

Nutriment-born: Food when assimilated or while getting assimilated

Temperature-born/ Nature-born: undigested food, blockages in the nervous System (incl. Cancers etc.), foreign material in the body

The body transforms physical food into energy¹,

energy gets distributed to the 5 sense-organs , as well as to the organs of reproduction….for a person possessing mindfulness /possessing meditative training that energy may be transformed into the higher faculties, such as the capacity to apply the mind to any subject desired

If the mind is applied to an wholesome object (/or objective) mind-born kalapas of good quality will arise

…body and mind become pliable, physical diseases are less likely to occur, and those already arisen will be positively affected

When mind-born kalapas of good quality spread throughout the body, the mental body is not receptive for very coarse influences (as mental states….evil, unwholesome states are unlikely to arise at such time )-(absence condition,dis-association condition, presence condition, support condition)

Whenever coarse materiality is present in the body, the mental body is receptive for coarse, unwholesome mental states

…energized 5 sense-organs as well as the organs of reproduction…will stimulate the mind into activity (materiality being decisive support condition for mental activity)…that mind thus arisen, will again be a decisive supporting cause for subsequent mental activity (subsequent mental states)…that mental activity thus arisen, might sooner or later become a decisive supporting cause for physical or verbal activity (kamma condition), which in turn will give various results (vipaka condition)….thus allowing for continuity of our world (…the world will continue for us)

….but with the arising of true knowledge, path-consciousness

can be made to arise…thus, then with the arising of path-consciousness, when this materiality, when this mentality arises, it is known …before its gratification has been known, now, the danger therein is known, arising from this the escape from it will be made known (will become clear)

Another Example

Calculating ahead…

If we can estimate in a certain perhaps reasonably familiar situation (using the faculty of mindfulness and memory)…”such and such thing is going to happen” (based on previous experiences)…”it is not likely to be in any way threatening…”

Then we won’t waste time looking here and there as ordinary people do…we can go back into our own body…calculating… I have so and so much energy left (in the abhidhamma model..so and so many generations of nutriment born kalapas will be produced by the food I have eaten…/or it will produce new generations for so and so long) …with that I may be able to sit still for such and such a long time…if I speak,.. I have so and so much energy left in the body…it will not be sufficient to feed more than the basic parts of the brain…so speaking, I might speak with delusion, which may bring about future suffering

A pure mind can purify the body (there is a control center in the brain which can balance the elements in the body)…so a bhikkhu /a meditator can calculate …having eaten such type of food, such variety of food …if I meditate, it will take about so or so long for my body to balance things out…if the elements are balanced I can contemplate the Dhamma…


Tension means, kamma-born matter (i.e. the brain) (due to some past unwholesome kamma) is requiring more nutriment-born matter than available (either because the digestive process has not yet properly “caught fire”, or because the fire has already consumed all the available material)…

…relaxation means (in Abhidhamma terms) …nutriment born matter (spreading throughout the body) is feeding kamma-born materiality…

Possible solutions: remaining in the sphere of kamma-making that the mind is already attuned to (f.ex. sense-sphere) and acquiring kamma related to higher spheres at a slower pace (changing the body (..the kamma-born matter) towards a more refined functioning more gradually).

Or on the level of the body, taking medicines that either improve digestion, or that add more fuel for usage (f.ex. vitamins etc.).

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