Dhamma Letter No. 106
Satipatthana 30: Kayanupassana 19: The Reflection on the Material Elements 3: How to observe 4 Elements
The body and mind can be observed through these four elements. Since mind observation is an advanced stage, first observe the elemental characteristics through the body, which is in a rough state. It can be observed in sitting meditation, walking meditation, and daily life. Again, you can do Samatha meditation, which focuses on taking only one object, and vipassana meditation, which observes all the phenomena occurring in all six senses. (See Dhamma letter no. 103)
An object is formed by the combination of these four elements. The four elements, earth, water, fire, and wind, are not a concept commonly thought of, but rather refer to the properties and characteristic actions of each element.
Earth (地) - Hard and yielding / Rough or soft / Heavy or light: Think about the parts of the body that can sense hardness in 32 parts of the body (Dhamma letter no. 101) - Especially the bones. So where can you feel the softness? - flesh. Concentrate on your body in this way, observing the characteristic elements of each earth.
Water (水) - the property of flowing or cohesive (a physical force that maintains a constant shape). Water flows without sticking to any shape, and has the property to bind other substances. It is made by clumping the soil to make it hard, or by clumping the flour to make it into a lump. The nature of this water is that it has no form, but it has the property of creating form. Think about how to combine and form.
Fire (火) - Warm / Cold: Heat makes to melt, and cold makes it cool and frozen. Your body may feel hot or cold.
Wind (風) - Movement / Pause: If any movement is detected, it is the action of the wind. The wind shakes and scatters other objects, but sometimes it stands still. Our temple is located in a remote California desert, and the internet works well on a windy day. However, on days when a very strong wind blows or the wind stops moving like a lie, the Internet does not work. I'm not a scientist, but here's an example I've gained empirically by living here. In this way, the elements interact to create phenomena.
In this way, life in the cosmic world or on Earth is a relic created through the action of energy by these four elements. It can be said that this was empirically derived already from the Buddha 2600 years ago through deep meditation. It is being revealed in modern times through atomic and quantum science.
If you recognize the properties of each of these four elements through your senses and thoughts in your daily life, you can practice Samatha meditation by focusing on one intense sense, or you can practice vipassana meditation through the ever-changing feelings.
To be continued...
May you get the results of your desired practice through steady practice.
Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
Edited by Euna Bonovich
If you have any questions related to dhamma & meditation, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at Bhikkhuni.Kosalla@gmail.com .
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Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!
Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !