In Hindu philosophy the accent is upon Unity of all life. This is perceived as the ultimate Reality. All differentiated forms and lives, energies and actions are within this universal Consciousness and exist because of a spark of the divine that is inherent and connects each to the great Life Source.
Each individual life is animated by the 5 Bhutas or types of energy that we know as Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Akasha or Ether. It is the study and final understanding and amalgamation of these differing energies that allows us to aspire to come to a degree of comprehension of the divine – that Allness or totality we call God.
The basic concept of the Bhutas is patterned by understanding Earth (Prithvi, Kubera) as matter, or the physical world; Water (Varuna, Jalam) as liquidity, or the emotional world; Air (Vayu) as the all permeating nature of thought in the mental world; Fire (Agni) as the energy of spirit and aspiration; Ether (Akasha) as the mysterious quality of space or Love that unifies and harmonizes all things and processes in the universe.
Although these elements are recognized and named differently in most philosophies as well as in modern science, their properties are agreed upon as the fundamental energies and agencies of great Nature and the building blocks of what we know of life immediately around us and perhaps beyond into the far reaches of the Cosmos.
In ancient Western philosophy seeking to discover the truths of spiritual life that would explain the nature and method of evolution of the soul rather than the body of man the natural elements played a vital part. The exercise in study of the 5 elements was seen as the ABC that led the student towards understanding and control of first his body, then emotions, mind before venturing into the secrets of his own soul and finally to the spiritual truths that govern human consciousness. This is the path familiar to all who seek to advance in conscious evolution of their individual life.
We are best to begin by taking a fresh attitude in observing how nature uses these elements in the natural world and in observing the qualities and results of the activities of each element using our senses and thought appropriately.
The language of the Elements is a constant one using qualities and even symbolism to give distinction to things of the material world (Earth) and the subtler spheres of the emotions and mind and the strange and elusive energies that inspire our souls. Meditation upon each of the natural elements in turn promises a reward in greater sensitivity, increased awareness, fresh realization and profound spiritual experience.