Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 12:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 3:34 AM

Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

Posts: 958 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
 Shargrol, a tangent, I wonder if you could share your insights on the following.

So, the five elements here are "bundles" of psychological/emotional reaction chains. How do you see them connect with what these elements are, in common parlance, e.g. just... actual water... air... fire... earth... and space... I haven'treally heard anything beyond analogy so far. 

There was a period in my practice when I started to be extremely sensitive to the *feel* of the natural elements, e.g., really *getting* what water is, as a phenomenal element, etc. Particularly water, actually. I also spontaneously started sensing people in terms of combinations of the elements. Not as specific emotions, but as psychological traits. This was all during a period of greatly improved sensitivity in general, and the whole feeling emotions more deeply and clearly yet they moved much more quickly. All of this stopped being something new and now it doesn't seem like anything special, but it did at the time.

I find it interesting that you recommend 5 elements practice (which I've never tried, in fact) for a territory that corresponds roughly to "where" I think I was in terms of sensate development at the time. Of course this makes sense: you become more sensitive and feel everything more deeply, including phenomenal qualities, emotions, ... people etc. Both in terms of micro-phenomenology, but also then at the "gestalt" level.

And I must say, I read that Aro link you shared a couple of weeks ago (https://arobuddhism.org/articles/embracing-emotions-as-the-path.html), and the associations between specific emotions and specific elements (like air and busyness) strike me as counter-intuitive. Air does not feel like busyness to me. (Edit: Fire feels like busyness, frantic activity, groundlessness, agitation, etc., however...) Perhaps the difference is that I was sensing character traits in others more than specific emotions. Do you feel emotion types in relation with the elements or is this just a convention?

Ok, I reread the "distorted" reaction types in the aro link, and if I think of this in terms of character rather than emotions, like if I think of the tendencies of people I associate with the quality of water... air.. earth... etc., then these reactions perhaps make more sense... Hmm...
 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 7:39 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 7:39 AM

RE: The Five Elements - Information and Practice

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This is a split-off thread from Papa Che Dusko's practice log so that we can focus on the Five Elements. 

Please carry on!

- Chris M
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Mind over easy, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 10:22 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 10:22 AM

RE: The Five Elements - Information and Practice

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Hey Oliver, I've possibly been in a similar stretch of practice and Shargrol brought up five elements practice to me, which I have worked on a bit. There's a lot of good resources around which it seems you have your hands on, but if you haven't seen it, I really liked this poem, which helped lay some of the groundwork understanding for how the elements represent experience and our reactions. 

https://unfetteredmind.org/five-elements/

I admit that I'm still relatively new to the five elements style practice, but from my limited experience and understanding- the practice/framework is largely based around learning to see the immediate reaction to the moment of experience, and how in a very quick instant after experience, how the mind forms an impression or view. In a split second, you can see how the mind goes from the pure experience, to establishing a "view/perspective", how "I" relate to "that experience". Again, I'm not very experienced in the practice, but practicing in this way, you can see how the mind impulsively and immediately reacts to momentary experience, and see more directly how this reactivity comes to be. At my amateurish state of practice, I've found it's helped me to tune into the very low-level complexes of resistance, tension, clinging, a very instinctual way of looking to establish the self in relation to experience.

Anyways, thought I'd chime in to share that poem and my novice experience with the practice emoticon 
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 12:51 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 12:49 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

Posts: 958 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Chris for splitting the thread, and thanks Mind over easy for your thoughts and the poem emoticon Dakinis! Not my world emoticon

Will share some thoughts soon: for now I have changed the title of the thread to something a bit more meaty ;)

In terms of my initial interest here, my concern was more about the actual reasons for chosing such and such element for such and such reactions, because this tibetan derived system just doesn't vibe with my intuition of the elements, so it was more out of curiosity, but I think this will turn into something different. 
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 12:54 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 12:54 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

Posts: 958 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Copy pasting my last post meant for @shargrol, from Papa Che's log: 

"I've just gone over the two passages, it seems to me he is describing something like a shorthand formula for dependent origination, basically, but I didn't spot an explanation related to the link between actual water/fire/air/earth and the types/levels of reactivity? Perhaps I missed it."
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 1:48 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 1:48 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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I think that would be extremely helpful to get a lifelong Aro practitioner to join this discussion. This person tends to avoid DhO but I'll give it the ol' college try.
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 1:50 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 1:48 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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It's a common misunderstanding that dependent origination exists within time. It's commonly expressed that way, but the dependency aspect is the most important aspect for established meditators. Can't have this occuring without that co-occuring. This is the advanced version of DO. If this isn't seen, then self remains embedded in subject, space, time... and awakening is some always in the future event.

Five elements definitely exists in time, but just for a fraction of a second. Five elements is also one of those things that is taught many ways, but the WUTYL approach is at the level of "urge" not emotion or psychology. By urge I mean something just a little more than a sensation and not yet an emotion. Very primal. Earth "grasps", water "pushes", Fire "intesifies", Air is "meaninglessly busy", Void "goes blank". It's over literally in 1/10 of a second. It's just about as fast as "knowing". This is the advanced version of 5E. If this isn't seen, then the self is always in fixing mode and can't really rest in emptiness.
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:17 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:17 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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Any thoughts on the original question? emoticon 
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:26 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:26 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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Great, Chris.
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:49 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/10/24 2:49 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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(It's explained in WUTYL e.g. water moves around obsticals, earth solidifies, fire burns, air is only known when it is in motion like a breeze)
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supermonkey :), modified 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 2:43 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 2:22 AM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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I think pp. 226 - 232 of WUTYL talk about what you are interested in. There is also a retreat recording with transcripts on the five elements/dakinis by Ken McLeod.

Here are some of my associations. It's actually a fun exercise. emoticon For me, fire is the most obvious, earth the least. Happy to hear if any of these are relatable and to hear about yours. emoticon

Fire: I feel a burning desire, I need to consume something, I feel incinerated, I am burnt out.
I think at least in terms of the immediate micro-second fire reaction the emphasis is not so much on the heat of the fire itself but more on the consuming aspect. Maybe think of when you look into a candle flame or bonfire, how you are sort of engrossed by it. It consumes you. I also tend to feel a bit tired after having looked into a bonfire for some time.
I think it's not too difficult to notice that when there is a lot of open space/not knowing, there can be a tendency to let yourself be consumed by something in the visual field. And there is a subtle but not so subtle difference between just blankly staring (which is  more void, I guess) and being consumed in the details of an object.
That's also the open space reaction. I am quickly consumed by the details of something.

Air: I am like a leaf in the wind, my thoughts are spinning like a whirlwind, I feel torn apart.
I understand the "torn apart" in terms of air as having been sucked into a tornado and torn into pieces by the centrifugal force. ("torn apart" and "tornado" do not have a common origin btw emoticon) Thinking a lot can make you feel dizzy, also somehow like after spinning in a whirlwind.
The micro-second open space reaction is a sense of freefall.

Water: I evade, I move around, I become liquid, I am swept away, I feel frozen.
Evading and moving around have also some air taste to me. But I think the kind of movement that is referred to here is different: becoming water, I move around obstacles like a stream around a stone, air makes me move around like a leaf in the wind.
The micro-second open space reaction isn't really clear to me, but I tend to see it as something streaming/pushing against the side of my body.

Void: I have no clue, I'm empty on this, my mind is blank, there is nothing I can do, I'd rather vanish.
The open space reaction is some sort of blanking out.

Earth: this makes me feel stiff and tight. I feel immovable, like stone.
I don't really see the open space reaction clearly in my experience.

I think a good example for illustrating the psychological aspects is a dinner table situation, which for some reason becomes uncomfortable at some point. Some people will start talking a lot, consuming the scene, so to say. Or they start up a fight, heating up the situation (fire). Some people will move to the toilet (water). Some people will get up and do the dishes (air). All of these deem better than the feeling of not knowing what to do with the discomfort.
Another example could be having a smoke. Here you can be looking for different qualities in the same action. You can go smoking just to be somewhere else (water), to have something to do (air), or to feel some intensity, like the feeling of the smoke in your lungs (fire). It's interesting, here you can ask the crucial question whether you consume a cigarette or are consumed by the cigarette. emoticon Earth could be having a cigarette to just stop everything else and void could be to simply vanish in the habit.
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 5:51 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/11/24 5:42 AM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

Posts: 1746 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Start with the vimuttimagga maybe.
My perspective from reading the vimuttimagga- 

The 'Elements' are the algorithms that create the base illusion/VR/Matrix of reality that are the rules we experience.

Then the vimuttimagga lists the-
DERIVED MATERIAL QUALITIES
  • Eye
  • Ear
  • Nose
  • Tongue
  • Body
  • Matter as sense-object
  • Sound as sense-object
  • Odour as sense-object
  • Taste as sense-object
  • Femininity
  • Masculinity
  • Life-principle
  • Body-intimation
  • Speech-intimation
  • element of space
  • buoyancy of matter
  • impressibility of matter
  • adaptibility of matter
  • integration of matter
  • Continuity of matter
  • Decay of matter
  • Impermanency of matter
  • solid food
  • The basis of the material element
  • The material quality of torpor
Then dependent origination kicks in....
Just my humble opinion
read the vimuttimagga and see what you get out of it,
shrug,
~D

PS. The way wacky deep dive-
The (computer like) consciousness that creates the VR and the Element algorithms, also experiences itself as fractal parts that are "Elementals'/beings evolving as we are.
Fun stuff to think about or experience when/if it does.
Of course all of it might all be just an analogy....or not emoticon
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Pawel K, modified 1 Month ago at 5/17/24 3:08 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/17/24 3:08 PM

RE: Dependent Origination, Ontogenesis, and Five Elements

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It would seem its possible to treat any mind that comprehends in some way complex enough phenomena as form of virtual aggregate.
My mind naturally does this with little exposure to given 'system'. For example when I solved a lot of math equations then I would also see everything thought lenses of these equations as an additional view. When I worked with electronics then I'd see everything through its rules. When I worked on complex automation systems I would see the same patterns in mind and really everything, etc. It at times feels pointless to let that happen but it isn't because then these things which arise together will be able to more freely arise together when needed and increase ability to comprehend very complex systems - like for example mind.

It is something that comes very easy when your mind naturally has right concentration to the point anything can arise alone and in any combination so these lenses as I always called them which are parts of mind which deal with complexity can work on and through stuff which arise along with them.

Water for example is a complex system and yeah, its possible to have vastly increased consciousness of fluid dynamics focusing on element of water.
I would guess it might be helpful to make mind more flexible through practices such as five elements. It also feels it has something to do with Five Aggregates. Help mind to use them through practicing on something similar but which is more conceptually removed.

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