Embodying The Four Elements

I’ve posted a lot and generally talk about things in terms of The Four Elements model, and in person – I teach about that in great depth.

the four elements life alchemy

Understanding The Model

Every cell, organism or system follows a path of creation, stasis, degeneration and death.

The model of the Asian stupa, pagoda or chedi is a physical manifestation of the elemental philosophy, with the base signifying Earth, and then water, fire, air and void.


One thing you’ll notice is that each successive state is smaller than the previous.  The foundation is always given precedence.

This model can be expressed or applied several different ways:

  • Physical-Social-Mental-Post Personal Power
  • Gross-Subtle-Causal-Non Dual Energy
  • Shamanism-Monasticism-Mega religion-Syncretism
  • Pre Historic-Ancient-Modern-Post Modern


At end of the Ar or wind cycle for any and all manifestations of this model comes a brief period of “void”, “chaos” or “potential”.

This model also corresponds to –

The Buddha’s Four-Fold Model Of Reality (from Abhidhamma, rather than Suttas)

The fourfold model of reality:

  1. Material qualities (rupa)
  2. Mental states (cetasika)
  3. Consciousness (citta)
  4. Nibbana

The first 3 are conditioned and part of conventional reality (sammuti) and nibbana is ultimate reality (paramattha).

Conventional realities are the points of reference for ordinary conceptual thought (pannatti) and conventional modes of expression (vohara). They include things like people, animals, trees, plants and so on.

We understand them and name them based on their shape, color, form, function, etc.

However, according to the Abhidhamma these aren’t ultimately valid. The objects they signify don’t exist in their own right as irreducible realities.

Their mode of being is conceptual, not actual.

They are products of mental constructions (parikapana), not realities existing by virtue of their own nature.

Ultimate realities, on the other hand exist by virtue of their own inherent nature (sabhava).

These are all those mental and material phenomena that are the final, irreducile components of existence – the things that result from correct analysis of the phenomenal world.

So, just like we can extract sugar from cane, we can extract ultimate realities from conventional realities.

For example, a so called “man” is just a conceptual or conventional reality.

Actually, the “man” is just a combination of ultimate realities.

When we analyze conceptual or conventional reality within the light of Abhidhamma, we see that they don’t possess any ultimate truth. They are just conventional reality comprised of assembled, ever changing factors of mental and physical processes.

So, by examining the conventional realities with wisdom, we will realize that it is only the ultimate realities (paramattha dhamma) that independently maintain their inherent nature.

What that means is that we can also change the constituent habits, modes of being, and data input into the human psycho-physical complex to fundamentally change the way it perceives and engages with conventional reality.

Another well known model of this elemental language is found in the writings of Miyamoto Musashi, a seventeenth century warrior.

A Book of Five Rings: A Guide to Strategy has been an international classic for centuries and is now being read by a modern Western audience.
Drawing upon his experience in personal combat, he declared that predictability made one unnecessarily vulnerable to one’s opponents.

Real Power Is Cultivated By Mastering All Of The Elemental Strategies

He believed that if you had access to each of them, you would become spontaneously creative and unpredictable.

It’s similar to learning to play jazz.  First you need to master producing the sounds themselves, then the basic scales of your instrument.  Then, you learn to practice pre-established routines from sheet music, and finally – you can improvise.  You can play jazz effectively.

He called these strategies: Ground, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void (Space).

For Musashi, the essence of the Five Rings was to be found everywhere in Nature. That means that you already know these strategies, albeit not by these “exotic” labels.

In other words, even though we spend most of our time interacting with life and each other through the medium of words, the real secrets of change and power lie hidden beneath verbal language in the primordial wisdom of Nature.

“To realize the principle within your own heart,
do not just read, memorize or imitate, instead,
study hard to absorb these things into your body.”
Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings

An Encounter Is An Encounter Is An Encounter

From the point of view of your animal nature, it does not matter if what is approaching is a person, thing, work deadline, expectation, feeling, or a totally imagined event.

Through your responses, you create your world.

The way you respond forms a structure of thought, feeling, muscle, and energy that either supports you in being your best or serves as an obstacle to your positive desires and feelings.

The way you respond is also your mind-set.

Over time and through repetition, this becomes your personal infrastructure or “bureaucracy of

Every different way of moving through life and responding to encounters has its corresponding psychological and behavioral aspects.

The way you move through life can be seen and is dramatically affected by the way you move through space, and in The Four Elements we’ll work on total optimization of your psycho-physical complex, your movement, and the way you engage every thing in your life.

If you’d like to be updated when Life Alchemy is about to be released, or you’d like free training on mastering The Four Elements, or the 4 quadrants of your life (physical, social, mental and post-personal) just enter your email address in the form on the right.

I’ll send you regular updates, free training videos, and other awesome stuff, and I’ll never spam you, or promote irrelevant stuff to you, and I’ll guard your contact information with my life.  🙂


Leave a Reply