Monday, February 16, 2009

Water, and how we relate to the elements

One way of understanding who we are as human beings is to realize our connection to the natural elements, Fire, Water, Earth, Wind and the Void. Most of us, through birth and through the way that we have been raised, emulate certain qualities of one or two of the elements through our emotions, thought processes, body movements, likes and dislikes, and this conditioning can both be a source of growth for us just as it can limit us into forming routines and habits.

A little bit of background may be helpful in visualizing this concept: a person who most identifies with the element of Fire may be very social and intense, and may have a great sense of initiative and an infectious personality. A Water person is generally pretty adaptable and is very good at caring for other people, and finds interesting ways to accomplish goals. Earth people are very steady and have great self-confidence, and generally are helpful in grounding others. People who identify with the Wind are great listeners, very sensitive, and unattached to one way of doing things.

Usually, a person has one element that is dominant, and another that is less dominant, and they manifest in different ways. Taking myself as an example, I was born and raised as a Water/Earth person, meaning that my tendencies are to adapt and flow with people and situations, while I like to be grounded and am very committed to people and ideas. One of our goals as human beings, however, can be to become more and more Void about our personalities and actions - meaning, to use Consciousness to utilize whichever element is necessary at any time, and become more Balanced by using all the elements in concert.

An example of this, which I think is very appropriate for the Water month of February, is the way that water moves in nature, perfectly. I took a walk through the UC Berkeley campus today, and spent some time in the eucalyptus grove that is just west of the campus center. From there one can walk along the creek that runs through the University. Just after the rains, the creek was running pretty freely through the small and muddy ravine by the grove. In watching it, an idea came to me that although the water has no established pattern of movement - it moves freely around stones, roots, branches, and debris while taking different paths every time - it always moves perfectly. One cannot judge its path, saying that it should move this way or that; rather, it moves where it needs to and where it is meant to, without judgement and without hesitation. It moves perfectly.

I think that one of the things to take away from this story is that as we study the elements to understand who we are, we have great examples in nature as to how we can become more Balanced. Even Water people can look for water in nature to find an example of the perfect motion of this element, without hesitation or notions of judgement. As Kancho Toribio says, we are perfect the way we are, and we are always working towards perfection.

Let's Keep Going!

Som Pourfarzaneh

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