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Tantric Elements and their significance to the Practitioner.

Eastern esoteric tradition has always held that there are FIVE Great Elements, and that they exist within the subtle body, as microcosm for the Universe, as well as in the phenomenal world. Each of the five elements is important, has its own properties, color, mantra, etc. Modern scientific thought speaks of the four elements; leaving out the fifth and most important, that which pervades all three realms or worlds, and serves as a doorway from one to the next: ether. In the modern world, the true meaning and symbolic significance of the elements has been lost or abandoned.

To begin, a simple chart of the elements & their properties.


Earth Nose Scent LANG Square Yellow
Water Tongue Taste VANG Circular White-blue
Fire Eyes Sight RANG Triangle Ethereal space

Indian Ayurvedic medicine, dating centuries back into B.C., is the world's first system of medical practice. As early as 3rd Century B.C., not only were common physical ailments being healed by Ayurvedic practitioners, but surgery, skin grafting, psychotherapy and cosmetic surgery were commonly practiced and documented!

The relevance of Ayurveda is that the five elements made up an important process of diagnosis, (al h pulse-taking and extensive medical histories); as well as treatment. According to the Susruta Samhita, an Ayurvedic medical text from approximately 300 B.C., "The five fundamental principles enter into the composition of all matter. The predominance of any one of these principles determines the characteristic of a particular form of matter. An imbalance in the principles, to the detriment of the others, must be corrected by diet, exercise, medication and focused touch."

Tantric Yoga texts state that the element of Ether, or "Space" relates to subtleness and diffusion; Air to formation and movement; Fire to heat and expansion; Water to coolness and contraction; and Earth to density and solidification.


The Inner Fire and Inner Water are complimentary and related to the principles of expansion and contraction; male/solar energy and female/lunar energy respectively; as in Taoist Chinese Yang and Yin, or Tibetan Tantric Yab/Yum. The faculties of sight (fire) and taste (water) are characteristic of this expansion/contraction, which manifest erotically in the male and female body during sexual arousal and lovemaking. Fire and Water are seen as inherently orgasmic; and Tantric cosmology's "creation myth" suggests that the Water element must cool the Fire element enough so that life forms are able to emerge without being destroyed before their birth. Similarly, sexual union harmonizes the Inner Fire and Inner Water--and the Creation Potential is manifested, i.e., possible conception of a child. Tantric tradition does not neglect the "mundane" aspects of sexuality, such as simple release; nor does it ignore the more "traditional" concept of sex as procreation, for in actuality, the act of creating a new life is the ultimate sacramental product of heterosexual lovemaking. Rather than the Transcendental Siva/Sakthi Union; when a child is conceived, the Tantric couple rather takes on the aspects of Brahma and Saraswati, the Creative Principles. After the child's birth, Visnu/Laksmi, the Preserver, steps in through the Tantric parents to sustain the child. In the meantime, of course, Siva/Sakthi are still readily accessible to the Tantric couple, whether childless or a "family," leading to transcendence and ultimate Union *as* a couple.

The HEVAJRA-TANTRA, a Buddhist Tantric text, states: "The five Great Elements are physically produced in the body during lovemaking. Through the harmonization of the male and female sexual organs, hardness and erection are produced, calling up the Earth element. From the flow of charged sexual secretions, the Water element emerges; and the Fire element evolves through the passion and physical friction of Jewel and Lotus. The Air element is called forth by the movements of love, and the Ether aroused by the ecstatic Bliss."

NOTE: Hevajra is a Sanskrit word meaning "Indestructible." Hevajra is a Hindu tutelary deity, always visualized in ecstatic sexual union.

As more fully explained in the text on Prana, Tantric Yogis and Yoginis believe that all e lements are contained within the Prana, the vital breath. During Prana breath techniques, by focusing the mind completely on the element's shape and color, and repeating the seed-mantra associated with each, it is possible to consciously draw in specific elements with the Prana, and "hold" or channel them into the Heart Chakra. Unlike the vital breath of Prana, which is stored within the solar plexus (Power Chakra), the distilled elements should be stored in the heart chakra, which leads to Siddhi, or the development of certain paranormal powers. Tantrically, these powers should be used as an aid to Union and Transcendence, and not sought as an end, in and of themselves. Many powerful Yogis, having developed Siddhi, become egotistic about their abilities, and find themselves, to their dismay, de-volving rather than e-volving!

While practicing Prana and meditating on the specific elements, one should place the fingertips of both hands lightly over the breastbone, in the area of the Chakra, to ensure that the energy of the elements is channelled to the proper place, and not allowed to escape. The fingertips traditionally are believed to have important paraphenomenal qualities, which is why touch, properly applied, can indeed heal. Any  sincere Fundamentalist Christian faith healer could learn much by studying the Sutras, Samhitas, and Tantras!

During completely abandoned and surrendered lovemaking, the senses are unrestrained. While this may sound bad, it isn't--for the breath of love will naturally balance the elements in the body.

Ayurvedic training holds that the sexual secretions are transformed due to the dominance of one element or another during the act of love; truly spontaneous and ecstatic lovemaking harmonizes the entire being and gives the physical body the power to *heal* itself from a variety of psycho-physiological ailments.

The Siva Samhita states uncategorically: "The inner being is of a vibrating nature; here expounding, here contracting. It is essentially composed of a mixture of Potent Voidne ss and Creative Energy, living together in the Temple of the Body. The physical and subtle bodies contain all the elements essential for Self-realization and there are no limits to individual potential once this is recognized."

"Heaven and Earth open and close; Yin and Yang develop from each other. Humanity is modelled after Yin and Yang, and embodies the sequence of the seasons and elements. If one abstains from sexual union, one's Spirit will not develop, since the interchange of Yin and Yang come to halt. It is possible to derive great benefit from enjoyment of the senses through sexual union; so substituting new elements for old ones."


Yogini Padma Ushas Suryananda, with other texts as credited.



This page last updated: 02/27/2018

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